A trio of Aurora protester leaders, who once faced decades in prison on felony charges stemming from demonstrations last summer over the death of Elijah McClain, had a dozen remaining counts dismissed Monday.
John Kellner, the 18th Judicial District Attorney, dropped the 12 remaining charges against Joel Northam, Lillian House and Terrance Roberts, court records show.
The three protest leaders, along with three others, were arrested and charged last year with a litany of crimes, including attempted kidnapping, inciting a riot and theft in connection with a July 3 demonstration outside an Aurora police precinct.
Kellner’s office in April moved to withdraw the most serious charges, while an Adams County judge in March threw out attempted-kidnapping charges against House, Northam and a third protester, Whitney Lucero, finding no probable cause to support the accusation.
The remaining charges against five of the protest leaders in Adams County were dismissed in May.
“This last year has been of course really scary and honestly pretty grueling for all of us,” Lucero said in an interview Monday with BreakThrough News.
Between her, House and Northam, the trio had been to court over 70 times in the past year, Lucero said.
“Our organization (Party of Socialism and Liberation) made the early decision when we were arrested that we weren’t going to allow this repression to make us bury our heads or go underground or scare us,” Lucero said. “That we were going to fight these charges and weren’t going to allow this repression to stop the fight for justice for Elijah McClain.”
An important piece of their story, House said in the BreakTrhough News interview, is the relationship between the police they were protesting against and the prosecutors.
She called for an investigation into former Adams County District Attorney Dave Young, drawing parallels between the protesters’ case and one in Georgia following the death of Ahmad Aubrey, a 25-year-old Black man shot and killed while jogging in February 2020.
Earlier this month, former district attorney Jackie Lee Johnson was charged with violating her oath of office for allegedly showing “favor and affection” for one of the men charged in Aubrey’s death.
“There’s this idea that the police understand that prosecutors have their back and they operate with virtual impunity,” House said. “If anyone challenges that, then the prosecutors will come and put them in their place — possibly lock them away regardless of their innocence. This is extremely dangerous.”
The dismissal of the remaining charges against the protest leaders comes less than two weeks after a statewide grand jury indicted three Aurora police officers and two paramedics in connection with McClain’s 2019 death.
The reversal of fortunes was not lost on Northam.
“It reaffirms the principle of when you fight, yeah you don’t know whether or not you’re gonna win or lose the fight, but you know if you don’t fight, you’ve already sealed the deal that you lost the fight,” he told BreakThrough News on Monday.
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