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CASE DISMISSED! City of Denver drops charges against Occupier Patrick Jay


DENVER, COLORADO- Prosecuting attorneys for the City of Denver were granted their own motion to have their case against Patrick Jay dismissed for lack of evidence! Prominent civil rights lawyer David Lane was informed this weekend that all charges against Patrick have been dropped.

Patrick was arrested last December while returning to his car after a ?#?BlackLivesMatter? protest. He was seized by SWAT officers while VIDEOTAPING the snatch and grab arrest of fellow activist Max Mendieta. Patrick was charged with obstructing traffic while marchers staged die-ins at prominent Denver intersections. *

According to police, HALO cameras recorded Patrick and others blocking vehicles. The cameras might also have confirmed that their actions prevented cars from running over the marchers laying prone on the pavement. We’ll never know because the DPD now says the footage is gone. After defendants declined to take plea deals, Patrick’s defense attorney David Lane learned the HALO footage would not be available for discovery because the surveillance files had been accidentally overwritten! In view of this, David Lane motioned for a dismissal, but city attorneys assured the judge that there were DPD officers enough to bear witness against Patrick Jay. Lane vowed to compel those officers to first have to pick Patrick from out of a line up. Patrick’s jury trial was set for April, but last week city attorneys tendered their own motion for a dismissal and that motion was granted.

Patrick Jay’s charges were dropped and his First Amendment rights were vindicated, but of course the Denver Police achieved their goal of intimidating activists who have to brace themselves for arbitrary arrest even though they know their rights. Over the course of many months of marches, participation has suffered attrition not just because people are frightened, don’t want to or can’t subject themselves to arrest, but some activists who had no alternative but to take plea deals now cannot risk violating the terms of probation which forbid their participation in protests.

Only a few days after Patrick’s arrest, he and I were leaving another anti-police-brutality march when multiple DPD cruisers swooped up to us on the sidewalk. This time instead of jumping off and unto us, an officer in the lead vehicle shouted from his rolled-down window: “Scared you?!”

Yes, officer, you did. **

Arrests and harassment have helped the DPD reduce protest numbers. Because of favorable plea deals or inadequate legal representation, no one has yet had the chance to challenge the veracity of their charges, until now. Several cases, including Max Mendieta’s, are still pending. Max is also represented by David Lane. Hopefully the recognition of Patrick’s arrest being unwarranted will turn the tide.

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NOTES:
* PATRICK’S ARREST
WAS SURREAL. Everyone was returning to their cars, putting signs into trunks etc, when the police SUV carrying riot cops on its sideboards made a slow pass. This was a development we began to notice at earlier events. Even though the officers in riot gear might not have had to show themselves during a march, they would emerge afterward on their SUVs to cruise by our vehicles, almost to a stop as if scanning our cars looking for suspicious occupants. We didn’t think much of it except this time they stopped and the entire gang lept off to seize one of our group, Max Mendieta, as he walked the few solitary steps to his car. Patrick started to film the whole incident, from when police forced Max to the ground until they hauled him into custody. We’d reconstituted into a small group of less than a dozen, activists eager to dissuade further arressts, but the riot cops elbowed past us to seize another, which Patrick filmed, and then they grabbed Patrick. Patrick asked what they were arresting him for, but the officers wouldn’t say, only that it would be listed on his arrest warrant.

Ironically their irreverant answer turned out to be incorrect. But first I want to tell you what happened when the police drove off. They left an officer behind. The SUV loaded with riot cops, minus one, stopped several car lengths away when someone noticed the error. Their sargeant had been left on the street, in his cumbersome riot gear, unable to fit in the ordinary cruisers, and barely able to catch up with the waiting SUV. I guess the SUV driver didn’t want to risk backing over his sargeant, so the fat man lumbered slowly back to his perch, his riot gear clinking with every plodding step, like a minuscule robocop, the crowd barely able to sustain its “nah-nah-nah-nah” chant for laughing so hard.

Perhaps as payback, the arrestees that night -there were four total- had to wait sixteen hours “for their fingerprints to clear.”

Back to Patrick’s undeclared charges. Due to what we could only construe to be a typo, Patrick’s citation read “database-error” where the offense was supposed to be. Patrick had to sit in jail for 16 hours, post bail, await arraignment, and seek a lawyer, knowing only that he was charged with database-error. When the magistrate asked if he pled guilty, Patrick said “To what? Database error?” “No.”

** YES THERE’S MORE TO THIS STORY TOO. After the DPD pulled their gag, the officers watched as we walked to the building under which we’d parked our vehicle. The hour having become late, we discovered the stairwell doors locked. We imagined the officers laughing as they saw us circle the office building testing every door. We soon realized that our only recourse was to descend the car ramp to the parking area, but we were afraid that the police would follow and corner us there, out of view of other late night passersby. Security cameras or no, we feared what two dozen or so cops could do to two pedestrians; what we know often happens to homeless indigents in back alleys and poorly lit spaces; what happens to African Americans in broad daylight while they scream “I Can’t Breathe!” So we waited until the police cars lost interest before we ventured down the ramp.

Not being able to count on even our own police to obey the law, knowing the brutality of which police are capable, and witnessing the capriciousness of police abuse of authority, is the terror that defines living in a police state.

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