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Man acquitted of gang charges in free speech case

Glen Robertson smiles in an undated photo
Posted at 10:25 PM, Jul 18, 2022
and last updated 2022-07-21 00:52:52-04

PHOENIX — A Maricopa County jury has acquitted a man whom criminal justice reform advocates said was inappropriately charged as a gang member after exercising his right to free speech.

Glen Robertson was arrested in 2020, after he was accused in a hit-and-run accident. Robertson, vocalizing his anger about being detained, said, "You can take these cuffs off and get it in the back street on the crip s---.”

He was charged with two felonies including assisting a criminal street gang and threatening and intimidating as a gang member.

The jury deliberated for a short time Monday before rending the not guilty verdict.

Mass Liberation AZ said Robertson's case is an example of Maricopa County prosecutors tacking on felony gang charges against people who have a right to protest officers’ actions. Police bodycam video also showed Robertson telling the officers "Black Lives Matter" and "I can't breathe."

Last year, ABC15 investigators exposed how the Maricopa County Attorney's Office, under a different leader, fabricated gang charges against Black Lives Matter protesters following the death of George Floyd.

The advocates say Robertson's case is more of the same kind of prosecutorial misconduct.

Robertson also denies being involved in the hit-and-run, but he still faces a separate trial for felony DUI based on his alleged driving that night.

During Robertson's trial last week, Mass Liberation AZ sent a letter to County Attorney Rachel Mitchell calling for the charges to be dropped, the prosecutor on the case to be fired for intimidating a witness, and the gang unit to be disbanded.

Last Thursday, Mitchell's office declined to comment on this story saying it would violate attorney ethical standards regarding trial publicity.