PORTLAND, Maine (NEWS CENTER) - The case of 17 Black Lives Matter protesters arrested in Portland last summer, was back before a judge today.
It is a case that has taken several twists and turns, including a plea agreement that fell apart and a judge recusing himself from the case.
At issue today was whether or not the criminal charges should be reinstated against the protesters, now that the deal is off the table.
It was a busy July night in the Old Port last summer when Black Lives Matter protesters descended on Commercial Street blocking the roadway. After failing to disperse police moved in arresting 17 of them.
To keep criminal charges off their records attorneys for the protesters entered into an agreement with the DA’s office. At today's hearing both sides blamed the other for the deal falling apart. The district attorney’s office wanted the protesters to attend a restorative justice session with police in two groups. The protesters wanted one session with all of them together. The meeting never happened. The assistant district attorney testified the protesters and their attorneys knew how the session would be held beforehand.
“I heard nothing from anybody about any concerns with the filing agreements or what were the plans for restorative justice”, said Assistant District Attorney Jennifer Ackerman.
Ackerman testified the protesters were being demanding and uncooperative. The deal their attorneys signed said the session would be held as directed by the district attorneys’ office. Attorneys for the protesters said they would not have agreed to it had they known there would be no flexibility
“You know it’s all or nothing. You take it or leave, we’ve got the power and it could have been handled in a way that didn’t have to happen”, said Tom Hallett, attorney for one of the protesters.
The judge said he wants to spend the weekend weighing the evidence. He expects to announce his decision early next week.