The freedom to assemble, to speak, and to petition the government are among the most fundamental constitutional rights of a free society. These rights, however, do not protect or encourage violence — whether it is violence thoughtlessly inflicted on our fellow citizens, their property, or purposefully directed at law enforcement officers. Such violent conduct is always properly the subject of criminal prosecution.
When confronted with large protests that contain individuals who employ indiscriminate violence, police officers have the extraordinarily difficult task of restoring order, distinguishing perpetrators from protesters, and charging those responsible with crimes. The events of June 1, 2020 were such an occasion when police were presented with violent and dangerous conditions and placed themselves in harm’s way. The majority of these cases involved the application of an 18th Century law that courts have struggled to apply in a modern context.
Prosecutors have a duty to review the facts of each case and the conduct of each individual to insure that guilt will ultimately be decided at trial based upon sufficient evidence. After a careful review of the cases ended today, the District Attorney’s Office has concluded that insufficient evidence exists to proceed further with the prosecution of the charged crimes. In a society governed by law, the chaos and disorder of the night in question must now yield to the deliberate and thoughtful application of governing legal standards established for trials.