Boston, MA – Suffolk District Attorney Rachael Rollins has accused Boston Municipal Court Judge Richard Sinnott of “overstepping his role,” after he refused to dismiss charges against many of the three dozen protesters who were arrested at a "Straight Pride Parade" on Saturday.
Four Boston police officers were injured during altercations with angry protesters, many of whom were antifa who accused police of unjustly protecting those who were participating in the parade, the Boston Globe reported.
Some of the protesters blocked roadways to prevent motorcycle officers from being able to disperse the unruly crowd.
Protesters also attacked officers with “bottles of urine, bottles of chemicals, bottles of unidentified materials and rocks,” Boston Police Patrolmen’s Association (BPPA) Vice President Lawrence Calderone told WBUR.
Police deployed pepper spray during some of the altercations that ensued, and 36 people were ultimately arrested, the Boston Globe reported.
On Tuesday, Sinnott repeatedly denied nearly every attempt prosecutors made to dismiss charges against those arrested during the clashes.
One of the cases involved a 26-year-old man who allegedly formed a human chain with other protesters.
Prosecutor Jessica Erickson told the judge that the suspect’s behavior was “not appropriate,” but she argued that the community would not be any safer as a result of prosecuting him.
“Not appropriate?” Sinnott responded before refusing to dismiss the charge. “It sounds like he picked up the wrong fork at dinner.”
Sinnott agreed to dismiss only two pending cases on Tuesday – one against a 31-year-old man charged with resisting arrest and disorderly conduct, and another against a 63-year-old woman from Vermont accused of disorderly conduct, the Boston Globe reported.
Rollins blasted Sinnott for failing to bend to her office’s whims, and defended the prosecutors’ attempts to have the charges dismissed.
“The judge punished the exercise of individuals’ First Amendment right to protest,” the district attorney declared. “For those people now tangled in the criminal justice system for exercising their right to free speech — many of whom had no prior criminal record — I will use the legal process to remedy the judge’s overstepping of his role.”
A second judge, Judge Thomas Horgan, also refused to dismiss assault and battery on a peace officer charges against three protesters on Tuesday, the Boston Globe reported.
Horgan did allow them to be released on their own recognizance, and prohibited them from going to the downtown area except for work obligations.
Former U.S. District Judge Nancy Gertner said that prosecutors are the ones “in complete charge of the charges that he or she wishes to bring or decline,” WBUR reported.
“The judge is doing something that is lawless,” Gertner alleged. “The judge is pushing back, and the judge has no right to do that…The judge doesn't make criminal justice policy. That's not for him to make."
Defense attorney Christopher Basso said he is representing some of the protesters voluntarily.
“I think the general flavor of the room is that not even the district attorney’s office is deeply invested in these cases,” he told the Boston Globe.
U.S. Representatives Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Ayanna Pressley have both thrown their support behind the protesters, and urged others to follow their lead by donating to a fund to pay for their legal expenses.
Over $24,600 has been donated to the fund so far.
But Calderone said he was happy to learn that the judges are allowing the cases to proceed, WBUR reported.
He noted that four officers were injured during alterations with the protesters, and that they are all off the streets recovering from their injuries.
"We're here to make sure that the DA prosecutes all of these offenders to the fullest extent of the law," Calderone told reporters outside the courthouse. "That's what we're looking for."
The union vice president said that many of the people who were arrested are not even residents of the Boston area.
“We think that these offenders that are here, most of them outside of the city of Boston, not residents of Boston, came here as agitators,” Calderone told the Boston Globe. “Here for a specific reason, here to create havoc, not only for the Police Department but for the general citizenry that are around, for the visitors that are in downtown Boston trying to enjoy the last weekend of the summer.”
During the parade, self-proclaimed antifa member John Crowley said that violence was the only way to handle those who were marching in the Straight Pride Parade, FOX News reported.
“We’re covered in black so when we attack these guys we can’t be prosecuted,” Crowley boasted. “They are fascists, 100 percent. How else are you going to get them to shut up?”
Meanwhile, videos showing officers deploying pepper spray during altercations with the protesters have led to complaints about how police handled the situation, the Boston Globe reported.
On Sunday, Boston Mayor Martin Walsh issued a statement assuring everyone that his office takes “any accusation of police misconduct seriously.”
Walsh further alleged that the Straight Pride Parade organizers were the ones who caused discord by holding their event in the first place.
“I also want to be clear that sowing division between people is exactly the goal of Straight Pride organizers, and I will not stand for it,” Walsh said, according to the Boston Globe. “Just as the people of Boston work to make our values of love, inclusion, and acceptance known to all, our public safety officials work tirelessly to keep people safe from harm every single day of the year, and that will never change.”
Approximately 200 marchers participated in Saturday’s parade from Copley Square to City Hall Plaza.
They were confronted by approximately 600 protesters along the way.
Most of the 36 people facing charges in connection with the parade protest are due back in court in November, WBUR reported.