The city of St. Paul wastes scarce resources to pursue a $50 fine
Recent acquittals and dropped charges highlight the continued waste of taxpayer funds in pursuing RNC cases
St. Paul, MN – Last week, a St. Paul jury delivered “not guilty” verdicts for two RNC arrestees who were facing seven separate charges in all. According to the Community RNC Arrestee Support Structure (CRASS), these verdicts underscore the pressing need for the city to abandon its expensive, unjust, and almost entirely fruitless prosecutions of activists, medics, and others swept up by police during the Republican National Convention.
“It couldn’t be clearer that City Attorney John Choi’s office is wasting tremendous resources in a desperate attempt to justify the unjustifiable,” said Melissa Hill, a member of CRASS. “These folks should never have been arrested in the first place, and it’s past time for the city to stop throwing money down the drains during an unprecedented budget crisis.”
On Thursday, a jury found Ilana Radovsky, 18, of Minneapolis, and Gracia Logue-Sargeant, 21, of Austin, Texas, not guilty of seven separate charges. These acquittals come on the heels of the city dropping over 300 RNC-related charges last month associated with one of the many mass arrests.
On Friday, another jury found medic Sean McCoy guilty of Public Assembly Without a Permit in violation of a St. Paul ordinance. At the time of his arrest during the RNC, McCoy had been treating a wheelchair-bound victim of pepper-spray injuries. However, this verdict – the first the city has managed in open court – came only after McCoy’s judge dropped two of his original four charges and the jury acquitted him of the other.
“While the City Attorney’s office has tried to make a big deal out of this solitary conviction after months of effort and untold expense, it’s the exception that proves the overwhelming rule,” said Rick Kelley, also of CRASS. “Mr. McCoy now has a $50 ticket far less than the standard cost when your car gets towed during a snow emergency. Mr. Choi honestly believes this has been time and money well-spent?”
Over 800 people were arrested during the RNC, including journalists, medics, legal observers, activists, and bystanders. Many continue to contest the circumstances and justice of their arrests.
About CRASS -- Community RNC Arrestee Support Structure is a non-hierarchical coalition of RNC arrestees and community allies, including local groups such as Coldsnap Legal Collective, Friends of the RNC8, National Lawyers Guild - MN, Communities United Against Police Brutality, Anti-War Committee, Twin Cities Indymedia, and Veterans for Peace. CRASS provides multifaceted support to those arrested during the 2008 Republican National Convention to ensure that all interested arrestees have the support necessary to fight their charges and stand up for free speech. For more information about CRASS, visit RNCaftermath.org.