Sketch of four young black people with fists in air and words blackpride4

Opening arguments happened today, February 6, in Franklin County Municipal Court. The courtroom was packed with #BlackPride4 supporters.

In their opening argument, the City prosecution emphasized that the protestors did not have a permit to have their silent demonstration during last year’s Pride Parade.

The defense argued that the state could not establish the elements of an actual crime committed and that their clients were not guilty on the facts. Attorney Constance Gadell-Newton, defending Wriply Bennet argued that “there are constitutional issues involved” and notified the jury that they would be asked to uphold the law and Constitution.

The defendants’ attorneys argued that their nonviolent political protest was reasonable and lawful. The police had approached the #BlackPride4 abruptly and immediately got physical with them. No one had asked the police to come in and rough up the demonstrators. Any injury to the police officers, the defense argued came from the police falling over themselves and their bikes as they gave contradictory commands.

With constitutional issues involved, Gadell-Newton argued that her client was targeted, arrested, and should be given the benefit of the doubt.

Testimony was heard from police officers.

A key issue emerged in the case of Ashley Braxton when her attorney pointed out this client was not responsible for the police officer’s knee injury, rather it was the incorrect or poorly executed use of an arm-bar takedown that caused him to hurt his knee.

In dramatic testimony, one officer claimed that Bennet flew through the air, landed on her or pushed her down when another person was being arrested.

The travesty of the #BlackPride4 trial is squarely the responsibility of new City Attorney Zach Klein. The politically ambitious Klein could have easily dismissed the charges in lieu of a waiver that the #BlackPride4 would not sue the City and the Columbus Police. It is likely that Klein, who portrays himself as a nominal social liberal, should be made to pay in any future political runs for allowing the police to assault gay, lesbian and trans people of color while silently protested the murders of gay, lesbian and trans people.

So when you hear the chant “The whole damn system is guilty as hell” in this case, Zach is the guiltiest and most hypocritical man in Columbus and must be forever shamed for his despicable actions.