Charges Against Portland Black Lives Matter Protesters Dropped
Above Photo: Jake Bleiberg. A protester is led away by police during a Black Lives Matter protest in Portland on July 15, 2016.
PORTLAND, Maine — A year after Portland police ended a Black Lives Matter demonstration with a mass arrest, the resulting legal drama has come to a close with the criminal charges against 17 protesters being dismissed.
The charges were expected to be dropped since May, when a court hearing failed to repair a botched settlement agreement between the demonstrators and the Cumberland County District Attorney.
The deal, which would have also seen the misdemeanor charges dropped, hinged on police and protesters talking through their differences in a so-called “restorative justice” session.
It would have been the first time such a program was used in a civil disobedience case in Maine. But the deal went to pieces in the hall of a Portland church in February, when the protesters and an assistant district attorney couldn’t agree over logistics for the session.
In May, a judge blocked the district attorney’s move to again prosecute the charges and ordered protesters and police to try again at the restorative justice session.
After the ruling, District Attorney Stephanie Anderson said her office would not make another attempt at the session, thereby leaving the charges in an inactive court docket where they were finally dismissed Wednesday.