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Six Denver Protest Cases Defended Successfully


In April of 2021, six people attended a pro-Ethiopian government event to protest the horrific actions of the Ethiopian government against the people of Tigray. Many members of these protester's families are believed to have been killed in the conflict, and the protesters characterize the acts of the Ethiopian government as genocide. Indeed, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights has stated “there ha[ve] been reports of executions of civilians, sexual violence against children and forced displacement in Tigray . . . .”


The six people showed up and had begun interacting with the crowd when, in less than thirty seconds, several of them were pepper sprayed by a member of the pro-Ethiopian crowd. Within one minute of their arrival, they had exited the area of the event. Nonetheless, Denver Police issued each of them a citation for disrupting lawful assembly.


Darren O'Connor, of Darren O'Connor, LLC, defended all six, relying on the Colorado Supreme Court's ruling in Dempsey v. People, a 2005 case in which the Court balanced the First Amendment rights of counter protesters against those of event organizers.


One of the six protesters brought with him to the event a golf club, in case he needed to defend himself. As it turned out, the woman who pepper sprayed several of the protesters he attended the event with pointed her can of mace at his face, but ultimately decided not to spray him--very possibly because he had a visible means of defending himself. He did not threaten her or anyone else with the golf club, but prosecutors were determined to bring charges against him, and in September, he defended himself after pleading not guilty to disrupting lawful assembly.


After a full day trial, a jury of his peers unanimously found him not guilty. The remaining cases were all dismissed, and none of the six protesters represented by Mr. O'Connor were found guilty.


If you are facing criminal charges in the Denver Metro area, especially charges related to public protest, consider reaching out to Darren O'Connor, LLC, for experienced representation.

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