editor’s note: I’ve made some paragraphs bold. – R.T.
A Bogus Trial of Retaliation
By Gordon Davis
The Kelley Square 4 BlackLives Matter protesters charged with disturbing the peace during the 2015 Martin Luther King, Jr. Day protest had their day in court today. It was pretty clear from the start of the trial that something unusually wrong was going on.
The trial judge prevented the defendants from having a jury trial. He said case law allowed him to change the nature of the case from criminal to civil.
In a criminal case the defendants can choose a jury trial. In a civil case the prosecution can choose not to have a jury trial. In either case, it can be inferred that the trial judge did not want to go through the hassle of a jury trial or he did not think that the charges rose to the level of criminality.
In a civil case, the prosecution only has to achieve the standard of “preponderance of evidence” and not the more difficult standard of “beyond a reasonable doubt.”
The prosecution witnesses were, in my opinion, not credible and perhaps racists.
The truck driver said he was five hours late for a delivery due to the four and one half minutes blocking of Kelley Square. He said this got him fired from his job. Another witness said that the driver’s firing had nothing to do with the Kelley Square demonstration.
A woman driver who encountered the demonstration testified to yelling out to the protesters you would not block me if my granddaughter was Black. This witness could recognize a photo that showed her car during the protest.
Worcester Police Department supervisor, Sergeant Maddox, said he would not have arrested anyone at the Kelley Square demonstration – as he did not see anything criminal taking place.
Police Officer Maddox said he did not start to write his report until two and one half months after the incident, when ordered to do so by his superiors.
Maddox then said his report was partially based on a police report written by Worcester Police Officer Brace who did not testify.
Two of the defendants, Julius Jones and Robert Gibbs, gave as a defense their compelling political need to protest the unjust killings of people, especially unarmed young Black men. Defendant Kevin Ksen also spoke of his political motivations and the fact that he did not block any traffic. Defendant Conner did not testify, but her attorney indicated that Officer Brace misidentified her and there was no evidence that she blocked traffic.
The Worcester city officials who initiated the charges against the defendants did not testify.
There is speculation that they brought charges in order to retaliate against and intimidate BlackLives Matter protesters and the Black community.
The judge said he will mail out his decision to the KS4 defendants. The maximum for a civil case of disturbing the peace is a fine of $150.
There were a good number of people who came out in support of the BlackLives Matter protesters. They expressed a sentiment that no matter what the judge rules, the protests would continue and they would not be intimidated.
A March Against Racism is being planned for this year’s Martin Luther King, Jr. Day – January 18, 2016 – at 12 Noon.
The march will go from St. John’s Church on Temple Street to Kelley Square.