Sketch of four young black people with fists in air and words BlackPride4

The courtroom was again full of #BlackPride4 supporters.

City Prosecutor Isaac Rinsky called the Chair of the Stonewall Board of Trustees, Dr. Tom McCartney, to the witness stand. McCartney testified that he carried a banner at the front of the Pride Parade and went into detail on how it is the largest Pride Parade in the Midwest.

McCartney sated that people who want to march in the Parade must sign up for the Parade in advance. He stated that Stonewall does not accept hate groups, and groups that march must have non-discrimination policies. McCartney, who admitted that he didn’t witness the #BlackPride4 protest, said that he thought the protestors stopped the Parade.

Video shown after the event last July had revealed that the Parade continued around the protestors. 

The fact that the protestors were invited to march in the Pride Parade with  the International Socialist Organization and the Green Party has thus far been left out of the trial. The Green-Socialist alliance had been marching near the end of the Parade.

The defense called Amna Akbar, a legal observer at the Parade and professor at the Moritz College of Law at Ohio State University. Akbar described that she saw the protestors step into Broad Street and the Parade went around them. The police built a bike wall barrier around the protestors who were locking arms in the street. One of the protestors was videotaping the incident.

Akbar testified that the police started shoving the protestors. She witnessed Denton and Bennet being tackled while Braxton tried to keep taping the event. Cops were shouting “get back!” as part of the crowd stayed on the street while other crowd members did not. She said it all happened very fast.

This raises the question of whether the Parade was actually stopped or interfered with in any way, in such a short period of time.

Akbar and another legal observer Kevin Truitt said that the protest participants were orderly and peaceful and the scene only became chaotic when the police showed up.

Video showed a police officer macing Kendall Denton. The officer also claimed that Denton was lifting a police bike up in the air. Denton’s attorney Colin McNamee questioned this and asked if the officer noticed Denton holding a bottle of water in his hand and the officer said yes. The officer was then asked if Denton put down the bottle and picked up the bike.

The officer was asked if they used any nonviolent de-escalation procedures and if they have training in nonviolent de-escalation procedures. The answer was yes. He also admitted that no, none of the police officers had tried to talk to the protestors before they started shoving them with their bikes.

An important question yet to be address at the trial is who actually called the police.

Another important question not raised at the trial was if the Columbus Police, with a notorious history of illegal surveillance and targeting activists, had the #BlackPride4 under surveillance, and were they working with other federal or state law enforcement agencies.