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Charges dropped against Bruce Franks Jr., 11 other protesters following ABC15 investigation

Posted at 5:09 PM, Mar 09, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-10 00:23:31-05

PHOENIX — The Maricopa County Attorney’s Office says charges have been dropped against prominent activist Bruce Franks Jr. and 11 other defendants who were arrested at a protest in Phoenix on August 9, 2020.

Franks, a prominent and nationally-known icon in the world of police-reform protests, was arrested on August 9, 2020 following a downtown Phoenix protest and demonstration. He marched with a few dozen protesters through city streets to the front of Phoenix Police Headquarters.

POLITICALLY CHARGED: ABC15 investigates protest prosecutions

In total, 12 people who were facing charges for their involvement that day, including Franks, have now had their charges dropped.

Franks spoke with ABC15 last month and says he believes he was unfairly targeted by Phoenix police.

He believes officers planned to arrest him and that the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office planned to politically prosecute him.

“Absolutely,” he said. “None of this is by chance. None of this is coincidence. This is a strategic plan to silence us.”

The criminal charges against Franks included aggravated assault on police, resisting arrest, rioting, criminal trespassing, and unlawful assembly.

ABC15 reviewed dozens of hours of police body camera video and surveillance footage from that day. In addition, the station obtained nearly 200 pages of Phoenix police reports and the entire grand jury transcript.

The evidence shows the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office didn’t present the grand jury a single second of video and only presented jurors with officers’ testimony.

Under oath, police testified, saying Franks did many things that the video proved he clearly did not do.

Maricopa County Attorney Allister Adel said that she intends to file new charges against some of the protesters that had their charges dropped, but would not clarify what the new charges will be or if that included Franks.

Adel released the following statement in relation to the charges being dropped:

After reviewing these cases, I believe it is in the interests of justice to dismiss the current charges. However, I intend to refile different charges against some of these defendants based on their conduct during this event.

Ethical rules regarding trial publicity prohibit me from trying this case in the media or saying anything that might influence a jury in these cases and therefore, my comments on this matter must be limited. I remain committed to holding those who committed criminal acts responsible. This office will continue to be dedicated to the thorough review of evidence, responsibly pursuing fairness, and doing what is right under the law.