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Charges dropped against protesters arrested in weekend abortion rights rallies

Posted at 6:37 PM, Jun 26, 2022
and last updated 2022-06-28 17:54:27-04

PHOENIX — Charges against some protesters arrested during weekend abortion rights rallies have been dropped, according to Maricopa County court records.

Arizona Department of Public Safety officials confirmed four people were arrested during Saturday's abortion rights rally. Five more people were arrested during protests Sunday.

After initial court appearances, judicial commissioners found only one of the nine cases had probable cause to move forward. In that case, a man faces a preliminary charge of criminal damage after an undercover trooper said he watched the man spray paint a sidewalk Sunday.

Officials say during the day, Saturday, "lawful" protesters kept people from tearing down and damaging the fence that had been set up around the House and Senate Plaza. After most people left the Capitol around 11:30 p.m., DPS says about 50 people remained and some tore down the fencing.

DPS recommended charges of rioting, disorderly conduct, and trespassing for the four people from Saturday.

Troopers also recommended charges of failure to show ID for four women who were stopped by troopers for allegedly jaywalking while leaving protests Sunday. One woman was also accused of resisting arrest.

Attorneys for the people arrested claimed the probable cause statements were largely cut-and-pasted from one case to the other. The lawyers said the allegations were vague or did not otherwise meet the requirements of the criminal code.

"Every person in Arizona should be afraid law enforcement is arresting people misinterpreting the law to stop people from protesting," said defense attorney Ray Ybarra Maldonado. "This is a clear violation of people's First Amendment right to protest."

In response to ABC15's request for comment, the Maricopa County Attorney's Office sent an email saying, "The IA commissioner found no probable cause therefore there are no cases pending before our office. Should DPS resubmit cases then we would have to review them and make a determination as to the appropriate charging decision."

DPS declined an on-camera interview request to discuss the arrests.

During Friday night's protest, property and memorials were damaged as more than 7,000 protesters marched near the Arizona Capitol.

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