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Judge Upholds Charges For Straight Pride Parade Protesters In Court

BOSTON (CBS) - Half of the 36 people arrested during Saturday's Straight Pride Parade in Boston were arraigned at Boston Municipal Court Tuesday. The charges range from disorderly conduct to assault and battery on a police officer.

Prosecutors from Suffolk County District Attorney Rachael Rollins' office attempted to get charges dismissed for any of the protesters charged with disorderly conduct who had no prior record – but each time, Justice Richard Sinnott denied the request and scheduled a pretrial hearing for each defendant.

Justice Sinnott went against both the prosecution and defense's request, also ordering half a dozen people be taken into custody and held on cash bail ranging from $250 to $750. One man was held without bail.

"We couldn't be happier at the moment with the judge that's on the bench," said Larry Calderone, the Vice President of the Boston Police Patrolmen's Association. "We are here to make sure the DA prosecutes these offenders to the fullest extent of the law."

Police and Straight Pride Parade protesters face one another in Boston Saturday (WBZ-TV)

Boston Police say four officers are still out of work after being injured on Saturday. "Many officers were assaulted throughout the day, with bottles of urine being thrown at them, bottles of chemicals," said Calderone.

The 36 people were arrested when a protest of the parade got chaotic. Some protesters said police used excessive force with them, while the head of the police union says the protesters came "to create havoc."

Suspect arrested at Straight Pride Parade (WBZ-TV)

However, some protesters being arraigned spoke to WBZ and said they felt targeted by police. "Multiple times I asked why I was arrested, he said 'for calling me a pig,'" said Joshua Abrams before his arraignment. "Well, that's my first amendment right to do so."

Some of the protesters called for an investigation into Boston Police's handling of the situation. Boston Police representatives said the situation will be investigated, as is standard policy with all police responses like this.

Justice Richard Sinnott
Justice Richard Sinnott (WBZ-TV)

There are still 18 more protesters who haven't yet been in court.

District Attorney Rachael Rollins issued the following statement on Tuesday's proceedings:

"By compelling arraignment in every case, the judge punished the exercise of individuals' First Amendment right to protest. At my request, prosecutors used the discretion constitutionally allocated to the executive branch to triage cases and use our resources most effectively to protect public safety. Make no mistake: some people were appropriately arraigned and will be held accountable for actions that put the safety of the public and law enforcement at risk. For those people now tangled in the criminal justice system for exercising their right to free speech—many of whom had no prior criminal record—I will use the legal process to remedy the judge's overstepping of his role."

Defendants who were arraigned Tuesday will return to court on various dates during September, October, and November.

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