Caltrain Trump protesters seek dismissal of charges

The 11 demonstrators who blocked Caltrain tracks at 16th and Mississippi streets protesting Donald Trump during his first day in office asked for District Attorney George Gascon to drop all charges against them.

The group of protesters dubbed the J20 Resisters donned blue shirts with their moniker in large black letters during a press conference outside the Hall of Justice Wednesday. Wu Li Leung and 10 compatriots came to 850 Bryant Street for their arraignment hearing and asked that misdemeanor charges against them be dropped.

Leung told SFBay:

“We were all surprised that there were charges filed at all and that they weren’t dropped already. …  There were other folks who were arrested at the Uber offices who did the same thing whose  charges got dropped.”

In court, attorneys for the 11 resisters entered a not guilty plea.  Outside the courthouse, defense attorney EmilyRose Johns led a press conference, standing in front of a giant pink banner used by the group used on inauguration day which read “Harm any, Face the Many, #Unforgivable.”

Johns said:

“We are here today because resistance has been a hallmark of civil engagement since Donald Trump’s election. …  The J20 resisters are being punished and targeted for saying no to tech complicity in Donald Trump’s election, for saying no to complacency, for saying no to sexism, racism, xenophobia, homophobia, and white supremacy.”

The charges against the group could hold a penalty of six months to a year in jail and up to a $5,000 fine. Johns said Gascon has the ability to — and should — drop the charges:

“San Francisco electing to become a sanctuary city touting the importance and value of resistance. …  Despite this George Gascon is pursuing charges against the 11 individuals accused.”

Alex Bastian, a spokesman for the district attorney’s office told SFBay no one has been charged with protesting, noting that the DA’s office wants people to be able to express themselves. He said that in most situation where incidents occur after a protest, people are not charged, but that this was an “exceptional circumstance:”

“The First Amendment is sacred to us. …  When there is certain acts that takes place, public safety mandates us to take a different approach and whats dangerous here is blocking a railroad.”

Leung said:

“I have no expectations and I wasn’t surprised I got arrested and not surprised that they kept the charges, it was a bigger action and it had bigger consequences.”

A court date of June 12 was been set for future action in the case.