Charlottesville Court Dismissed Cases Against 3 Protesters from July 8
The cases against Diego Trujillo, Sarah Barner, and Naomi Benderski are being dismissed. All were charged following a KKK rally in downtown Charlottesville.
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) - The cases against three people charged following a KKK rally in downtown Charlottesville are being dismissed.
Diego Trujillo, Sarah Barner, and Naomi Benderski went before Judge Robert Downer in Charlottesville General District Court Thursday, January 11. Each had been charged with a felony count of illegally wearing a mask in public.
The charges stem from when supporters and members of the Loyal White Knights of the Ku Klux Klan held a brief rally in Justice Park on July 8.
Police resorted to the use of tear gas to disperse a crowd of people blocking the KKK group from leaving the area.
Jeff Fogel, one of the defense attorneys, argued that they had covered their faces due to the tear gas.
"[Benderski] took out an extra T-shirt, put it over her face after police had lofted tear gas at them. I was there. I picked up my T-shirt and put it over my nose also because that's what you need to do when you're facing tear gas," Fogel said.
Thursday, the prosecution entered a motion to nolle prosses, meaning that they will not continue to pursue the charges against the defendants. The commonwealth told the court that it considered the state law to apply when faces are covered enough that a person’s identity is questioned.
Barner, citing safety concerns, did not want to be interviewed on camera. She released the following statement to NBC29:
I want to thank the community for their ongoing support these last 6 months. It takes a village and and the city of Charlottesville proved that. I also need to thank my lawyer André Hakes for all her help and guidance. There is still have a long road ahead.
Jordan Romeo was also in court Thursday. He faces one count of assaulting a police officer. Romeo's case was continued to next week.
Authorities arrested a total of 22 people in connection to the rally. The majority of those arrested had been facing an obstruction-related charge, and many had their cases dropped as well.