DA, Judge Tangle Over Prosecution Of 'Straight Pride' Counter-Protesters

Boston Straight Pride Parad

Counter-protesters pepper sprayed by police at the Straight Pride parade in Boston. (Joseph Prezioso/AFP/Getty Images)

BOSTON (WBZ NewsRadio) — Suffolk County District Attorney Rachael Rollins said that the Boston judge who refused her requests to drop some of the charges against those arrested at the Straight Pride parade and rally was “overstepping” his role. 

Thirty-six people were arrested at Saturday’s event. According to The Boston Globe, Rollins’ office asked in court Tuesday that nonviolent charges be dropped against nine of the protesters. Boston Municipal Court Judge Richard Sinnott refused in all but two cases.

Later that night, Rollins vowed on Twitter that she would continue to fight for the seven remaining arrested protesters. 

“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 legal process to remedy the judge’s overstepping of his role,” Rollins wrote. 

Rollins’ office did not ask for charges to be dropped against any of the protesters accused of assaulting police or committing acts of violence, and said she supports those arrestees’ prosecution.

“Make no mistake: some people were appropriately arraigned and will be held accountable for actions that put the safety of the public and law enforcement at risk,” Rollins wrote.

Police have faced some criticism for using excessive force toward protesters at the parade. The Globe reported Sunday that the BPD is reviewing officers’ actions during the event.

Larry Calderone, Vice President of the Boston Police Patrolmen’s Association, said he supports the officers’ response to the parade, and was happy with the judge’s decision to uphold the charges. 

“The judge on the bench has taken a different position, and as a representative of the patrolmen’s union, I can tell you we like that position,” Calderone said. 

The Patrolmen’s Association said demonstrators assaulted officers and threw urine at them. 

Boston Mayor Marty Walsh told WBZ NewsRadio’s Karyn Regal on Wednesday that he stands by his police department.  

“We had a very tense weekend in Boston,” Walsh said. “I don’t understand how all of a sudden now this has turned into a police issue when we had Straight Pride coming in with a bad message that a lot of people are concerned about. We had many counter-protesters who did not cause any harm.” 

Somerville Mayor Joseph Curtatone spent part of the long weekend responding to Twitter users who were asking why Somerville Police were present at the Boston event. He said the department assisted Boston Police in an effort to “protect public safety.”

“The primary concern at an event like that would be another Charlottesville type of incident,” Curtatone said in a Tweet Sunday. “When nationalists rally, everyone around the event needs to be protected.”

Curtatone also engaged with users criticizing the police presence at the parade. When one user asked why “literally all of the police presence pointed at managing the left wing counter protesters,” the mayor responded that things “shouldn’t have been done that way.” 

 

Rep. Ayanna Pressley expressed support for the counter-protesters at the Straight Pride Parade Saturday.

 

“To everyone feeling unseen and vulnerable today… we got you,” Pressley wrote. “Equitable outrage. Our destinies and freedoms are tied.”

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