//Terrence Roberts speaks at the Elijah McClain protest on July 25. Photo by Esteban Fernandez | Este.Fdez20B@gmail.com
Six people who protested, some of whom were organizers, in Aurora this summer have been arrested on Thursday. The six individuals have been charged with a number of felonies and other counts related to four separate protests, prosecutors announced Sept. 17.
Neither district attorney’s office released affidavits for the six people’s arrests, leaving the exact details of what allegedly transpired unclear. Those arrested include a number of leaders from the progressive Party for Socialism and Liberation – Denver, or PSL. The group is comprised of working-class leaders and activists that was founded to promote the movement for revolutionary change.
Following the arrests, PSL held a live-stream press conference Thursday evening, describing the incidents and charges as “serious.”
“This is a major political attack on the whole movement and the PSL. We will mount a mass campaign to defeat these phony charges and win their freedom,” said PSL organizer Marrisa Sanchez during the live-stream.
The charges are related to protests that took place in Aurora on June 27, July 3, July 12 and July 25. The charges for all six defendants include counts of attempted kidnapping, inciting a riot and theft, according to news releases from the 17th and 18th Judicial Districts issued the afternoon of Sept. 17.
The people charged from the 17th district are Lillian House, Joel Northam, Terrance Roberts, Whitney Lucero and Trey Quinn, according to the releases. House, Northam and Lucero are organizers of PSL.
According to the news release from the 17th Judicial District Attorney’s Office, charges against five people are related to the protest that took place at the Aurora Police Department’s District One police station on July 3. They have all been charged with inciting a riot, engaging in a riot and obstructing government operations. House, Northam, Lucero and Quinn have also been given a second charge of inciting a riot. The former three have been additionally charged with attempt to commit first-degree kidnapping. Quinn has also been given a charge of false imprisonment.
“We support the First Amendment right of people to protest peacefully in our community but there is a difference between a peaceful protests and a riot. When individuals cross the line and break the law, they will be prosecuted,” said 17th District Attorney Dave Young.
According to the release, on July 3, approximately 600 protesters surrounded the Aurora Police Department’s District One Police Station in what was allegedly described by protest organizers on social media as an “occupation.” However, Ms. Mayhem reporter Cassandra Ballard Tweeted a photo of the back gate of the APD station at 1 a.m. July 4 that shows the area unoccupied by protesters.
The protesters allegedly surrounded the station with vehicles and prevented 18 officers inside from leaving the building by barricading entrances and securing doors with wires, ropes, boards, picnic tables and sandbags. Some members of the group wore military or tactical clothing.
Leaders of the group demanded the firing of two Aurora police officers responsible for the death of Elijah McClain and allegedly stated that “no one would come in or out” until their demands were met.
The officers remained inside the building for seven hours until they were dispersed by APD’s Emergency Response Team at around 3 a.m. on July 4.
Four individuals were also given a slew of charges from the 18th Judicial District Attorney office. These individuals are Russell Ruch, House, Northam and Roberts, all of whom are PSL organizers.
The release from the 18th Judicial District Attorney office did not specify which alleged crimes were committed on which days, only that they are related to activities that occurred during protests in Aurora that took place on June 27, July 12 and July 25.
House was charged with a variety of felonies, including felony theft for allegedly taking a sign from two individuals, as well as two counts of conspiracy to commit theft. Other charges against her include two counts of inciting a riot, three counts of obstructing a highway or other passageway amongst others.
Northam, Ruch and Roberts were all similarly charged by District Attorney George Brauchler.
“They are still in jail, with the exception of one person [Roberts],” the group said in the post. “They are facing multiple felony charges and years in prison in an obvious frame-up aimed at stopping the movement for justice for Elijah McClain.”
According to the Twitter page of PSL, Ruch was arrested while shopping at Home Depot; House was arrested while driving after being surrounded by five police vehicles; and Northam was arrested in his home by a S.W.A.T. team.
In response to these arrests, PSL has announced a protest at the Capitol demanding the immediate release of these individuals.