People arrested at a chaotic school board meeting back in August are appearing before a judge.
What was supposed to be a short trial on Tuesday, October 30, has turned into a day-long event.
Six people were arrested on August 30 after police say protests got out of hand at an Albemarle County School Board meeting.
Board members were scheduled to discuss the dress code that night, which has been a point of contention since early this summer when a student was reportedly traumatized by seeing Confederate imagery on a student's clothing.
At that meeting, activists gathered outside of Lane Auditorium where the meeting was underway and led chants of “racists don’t get re-elected” and more. Police asked those outside of the meeting to quiet down and when several refused, police began escorting them out of the building in handcuffs.
On Tuesday, four of those six people arrested appeared in Albemarle General District Court.
The cases for Michael Reid and Samantha Wren Cadwalder Peacoe were also finalized Tuesday. Prosecutors dropped the charges against Reid to make way for a felony charge assaulting a law enforcement officer. That case is set for trial in June. Peacoe pleaded no contest to charges of obstruction and trespassing. Her 30-day sentence on each charge was suspended.
Two of the four people who appeared in court Tuesday had charges dropped against them, and one of those two was able to walk out mid-trial.
Lara Harrison had her trespassing charge dropped because of conflicting testimony between Albemarle's county executive and an Albemarle County police officer.
In court on Tuesday, the county executive testified the group was chanting and singing and therefore caused a disturbance.
Francis Richards had his trespassing charge also dropped on Tuesday, but he was also charged with obstruction for allegedly interfering in an arrest. The judge found him guilty of that obstruction charge during his trial. He was sentenced to 60 days with all of it suspended.
Sabr Lyon and Andrea Massey were both found guilty of trespassing. The judge sentenced both to 30 days with all of it suspended.
Statement from Albemarle County Commonwealth's Attorney:
Earlier today, in Albemarle General District Court, two Defendants were found guilty of trespass and one Defendant was found guilty of obstructing justice at the August 20, 2018 Albemarle County School Board meeting at the Albemarle County Office Building.
Another Defendant entered a plea of no contest to a charge of obstructing justice at this meeting.
Albemarle Commonwealth’s Attorney Robert Tracci stated:
“While the First Amendment is broad, it provides no license or pretext to violate the law. This office will continue to firmly but fairly prosecute criminal misconduct wherever it occurs in the County of Albemarle, including at all public meetings. I commend officers of the Albemarle County Police Department for their professionalism at this Board meeting and for maintaining safety and decorum at all public meetings.”
The cases were prosecuted by Albemarle County Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Juan L. Vega.
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