PORTLAND (WGME) – Charges are expected to be re-filed against 17 Black Lives Matter protesters after a plea deal falls apart.
They were arrested during a demonstration over the summer.
As part of a plea deal protesters agreed to pay a donation to the victim’s compensation fund and participate in Wednesdays talks with prosecutors and police. It never happened and now both sides are blaming each other for the talks falling apart.
“They came in as a total group this morning, insisting that they would all be heard together.” said Deputy District Attorney Jennifer Ackerman. She added the 17 Black Lives Matter protesters arrested by Portland police on the night of July 15th agreed to meet with the prosecutor and police chief in two groups today.
The goal of the meeting was to listen and understand the concerns of both sides. But Ackerman said protesters came in with an attitude, insistent that they would be heard together.
“When we walked in this morning, they were out of the gate demanding, and I have to say fairly hostile.” added D.D.A Ackerman. Ackerman said protesters also demanded that representatives from the ACLU and NAACP who were invited to observe the talks not be there.
She and Portland Police Chief Michael Sauschuck said protesters violated the signed agreement they made to participate in the restorative justice program. Chief Sauschuck stated “What I saw was a group that wanted to continue to protest, and not start a process of dialogue or healing from their perspective. I didn’t see a group that arrived with good faith. I saw a group that came in with demands and changes to a written agreement.”
An attorney representing the some of the protesters admits the group knew they were supposed to come in two groups for separate sessions. But she said they wanted to be together. Attorney Stacey Neumann stated “In the end, they felt like a united front, and they wanted to go forward together.”
Neumann said the DA’s office wasn’t willing to change the agreement, an agreement protesters signed off on, in exchange for dropping the charges against them.
Neumann added “I think everybody is disappointed that it didn’t go forward. My hope is that we can continue to work and continue to talk and try to move forward from here.”
Protesters responded in a Facebook post saying they disagree with much of what police and prosecutors said. Adding quote, “Because there is a case against us, we are unable to fully speak out in our own defense, even as law enforcement and elected officials smear us to the press.”