A district judge has dismissed misdemeanor charges against nine protesters accused of damaging a cyclone fence used to protect Ku Klux Klan members during a KKK rally at Ann Arbor City Hall last year.
Fifteenth District Judge Ann Mattson said testimony, photographs and videotape failed to show damage to the fence, which, according to a city contractor, was sent off to be destroyed.
"In fact, the defense never had an opportunity to view the evidence that is the very basis of these charges," Mattson said of her July 30 ruling.
The misdemeanor charges of malicious destruction of property carried a sentence of up to 90 days in jail and/or up to $100 fines for each of the defendants, including protest organizers Shanta Driver and Luke Massie, prominent members of the National Women’s Rights Organizing Coalition.
It’s the second victory for the coalition and others charged following the May 1998 rally, at which hundreds of law enforcement officers used tear gas to control numerous protesters, some of whom threw bottles and rocks at the Klan and police.
On June 4, a jury acquitted Ryan Lang, 16, of a felony riot charge. The defense is asking for the dismissal of nine remaining felony charges, carrying up to 10 years in prison, set for trial in September and October.
A defendant charged with misdemeanor assault and battery is expected to go to trial later this month.