Having been dumb enough not to accept a presumable plea deal from County Attorney Ed Zielinski on the misdemeanor charge of obstructing a major passageway, the Pro Gainesville leadership trio of Torrey Henderson, Amara Ridge and Justin Thompson got a $2,000 fine and seven days in the county slammer as their penalty upon jury conviction.
Rather than cut their losses, the trio got the ACLU of Texas to help them on appeal. And emphatically lost that appeal today. Will they go to the Court of Criminal Appeals next? Try to bump that to federal court on their First Amendment claim that this is First Amendment protected speech?
Well, the ACLU of Texas? The ACLU national, which I cited in my first post-arrest discussion of the trio's plight, would also like a word with both you and original county court at law case defense attorney Allison Grinter's understanding of protests and permits.
I quote from the ACLU pamphlet:
You don’t need a permit to march in the streets or on sidewalks, as long as marchers don’t obstruct car or pedestrian traffic. If you don’t have a permit, police officers can ask you to move to the side of a street or sidewalk to let others pass or for safety reasons.
Pretty clear. Note that that applies to ANY street. It applies in spades to a state highway, whatever the state.
That said, why wasn't this dude (I heard it on that video too) charged?
At one point in the video, the cameraman could be heard saying, “[The police] are telling us to get out of the road and we’re not listening. I like it.”
Can't the police finger him? (The state statute for obstruction of a major roadway says "willingly" or "knowingly," and Gainesville's police chief said at the time they didn't think most the rank and file knew the leadership had not gotten a parade permit. BUT? What if the cameraman DID know?)
Meanwhile, why did PRO Gainesville go all the way down to Dallas to land Alison Grinter as their legal beagle, especially if she either doesn't understand the First Amendment or thought she could buffalo the Gainesville yokels with stuff like this:
Dallas attorney Alison Grinter’s defense relied on First Amendment protections and the right to protest. She said she believed the legal system was trying to make a point by having the charge be an obstruction of traffic on a major passageway, when if the charge had been on any other street in the area the charge would have been a ticket for jaywalking at most.
Ms. Grinter, come now. Courts have ruled for hundreds of years that the actions of public protest under freedom of assembly can be regulated by government permit requirements. If PRO Gainesville had asked you to sue the city of Gainesville on its claims of unfair treatment of issuance or denial of permits, that would be another thing.
The only thing I agree with re this actual case is that jail time beyond the fines is overkill. But, 7 days is FAR less than the maximum of 180 days.
Maybe Zielinski offered that in plea talks and you rejected it? Maybe he didn't, either. Grinter Allen (her actual last name, Grinter her maiden, see below) didn't talk to the Groansville folks, but told the Denton Wrecked Chronic, which also reported on the case, that Zielinski was determined to go to trial. Well, he no-commented, since she's appealing.
(I asked her point-blank on Twitter if Ed offered a plea deal or not. We'll see if I get a response. I also told her in my Tweet thread that I'm a non-duopoly actual leftist.
As for your claim re the specific road and that Gainesville PD was "targeting" PRO Gainesville? It IS a state highway. This would probably fall under the "duh" category. (Before we go further, I'm a non-duopoly voting actual leftist.) 2/x— TheRealSocraticGadfly (@real_gadfly) August 26, 2022
We'll see if she responds. A year later, she hasn't.)
In their story, Thompson claims the commissioners court was in on the effort to deliberately punish them. Uhh, wrong. They don't micromanage Zielinski.
Thompson also claims that a group of Trumpist MAGAts types were so upset over local coverage they started an alternative newspaper. News to me. Never seen a copy at, say Quick Trip. Seriously, knowing how far right Gainesville tilts? And this isn't publicly circulated?
Thompson also has a different story for the Wrecked Chronic about not hearing the police than he did for the Register, where he said he did, thought the warning was originally for a bicyclist, then realized it wasn't, then told people to get back on the sidewalk.