Husband and wife Boston schoolteachers have successfully fought charges against them of disorderly conduct and trespassing, which followed their participation in a large rally on December 4 after the failure to indict the New York police officer who choked to death an unarmed Black man, Eric Garner.
ACLU of Massachusetts staff attorney Carl Williams represented the couple—Addis Niambe Summerhill and Edward Christiaan Summerhill, who refused to accept any deal or a reduction in charges—and a judge in Boston Municipal Court has found them "not responsible" for the charges against them.
"I'm proud to have represented the Summerhills," said ACLU attorney Williams. "They have shown that it is possible to fight the charges sometimes brought against peaceful demonstrators, and to win." "It was important for us to stand up for what we knew was right," said Ms. Summerhill. "This is just a tiny example of what is happening to people of color, specifically Black people, all across the country. There are so many others in the same position who, for one reason or another, don't have the same security and opportunity to stand up that we did."
Thousands of demonstrators gathered on Boston Common at the same time as a tree-lighting ceremony on December 4, as part of a series of "Black Lives Matter" protests that have taken place in Massachusetts and across the country since the shooting death of another unarmed Black man, Michael Brown, in Ferguson, Missouri, last summer. Marchers then fanned through the city, and the Summerhills were among a small number of demonstrators arrested by police that night. Other arrestees accepted a reduction in charges from criminal to civil—akin to a parking ticket—with a zero dollar fine, but they effectively accepted responsibility.
The Summerhills, however, refused to accept responsibility for the charges, reporting that police had shoved them in attempts to move demonstrators from a roadway near South Station. The Summerhills say they sat down to avoid being pushed down, after which police arrested them both. For a photo of the Summerhills, go to: https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10104015050034427&set=a.761380874547.2539354.8616373&type=1&.