Prosecutor caves to pressure and drops the felony charges. Everyone is now out without bail! [Read original story about their action here]
15 people left the Mineral Rights Auction protest at the Lansing Center yesterday and headed to the office of Stuart Dunnings, the Ingham County prosecutor. Although he refused to process our friends yesterday because they were being held on felony charges, at today’s arraignment no felony was brought up. All are being charged with a misdemeanor- Disrupting a Public Meeting. National Lawyers Guild lawyers have stepped up to represent everyone arrested. Court fees and other legal costs are still needed, so if you haven’t had a chance, please donate.
The felony that 5 people were threatened with is a frequently used Michigan statute called “Resisting and Obstructing” (R&O). While we are all happy that our friends are out and not being charged with this 2 year felony, it’s important to remember how many others are still locked up with this charge. The law defines obstructing as “knowing failure to comply with a lawful command.” So, even if a person is stopped for nothing (other than racial profiling for instance), and does anything the cop doesn’t like or is the least bit different from what the cop says, they can be charged with this felony. In one Michigan county up to 25% of people in the local jail are there for R&O and no other charge. For us in Michigan we feel that we have to make prison abolition a part of our struggles, and this has been a good reminder of that.