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Charges Filed Against RiseUp Protesters From Last Summer At The Texas Capitol

by: Joe Deshotel

Tue Apr 22, 2014 at 10:00 AM CDT

Last summer the Texas Capitol erupted in protest after the lawmakers worked to pass some of the nation's strictest abortion legislation. Some of those protesters with RiseUp/Levanta Texas were arrested and over 9 months later some have been handed additional charges (while others were dropped) -- and at least a few feel that they were unfairly targeted by DPS.

Of the original 16 who were arrested 9 were summoned back to the court for additional charges levied Friday. Most were downgraded from Class B (disruption of a public meeting) to Class C (failure to comply with a lawful order). Protesters held a press conference outside of the Travis County Jail chastising DPS and the County Attorney to "drop the charges" -- still many questions were left unanswered.

Heather Busby of NARAL spoke at the press event and said, "What these people did was simply a non-violent act of civil disobedience by refusing to leave a public space...They are heros of Democracy and do not deserve to be strung along, punished for speaking out against a bill that hurts Texans, and that the people of this state did not want."

See what charges were dropped below the jump...

Their attorney Paul Quinzi agreed. He said it was unusual for anyone to wait this long for charges to be filed. According to a report by KEYE's Fred Cantu the County Attorney blames DPS, and said one issue is that many of the witnesses are from out of town.

All but one individual charged with a Class B had it dropped but 9 still face a lower Class C charge.

At least 2 individuals who were arrested say they were just filming the events and felt targeted by DPS. Joshua Pineda from the infamous photo of his bloodied face had to get 10 staples and said he suffered mental distress that led to him losing his job. He said he was sitting and filming when officers reached over him to grab another protester. He said although he continued to film he did not intentionally obstruct the officers. Another protester still facing a Class B Misdemeanor says he thinks he is being charged for his association with Occupy Austin.

Anyone who was a witness of the events at the Capitol know there were legitimate criticism of how the DPS reacted to protesters from harsh photos and video, to unsubstantiated claims about "jars of urine and feces," and confiscation of tampons. Protesters believe this is an attempt for authorities to save face and level charges that will stick and not be contested. However, the attorney for those charged believes all charges should be dropped and will continue to move forward towards that resolution.

You can follow me on Twitter at @joethepleb.

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