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Two women get probation for actions in Wichita protests

April 18, 2021 GMT

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Two Wichita women who helped organize protests in the city last summer calling for changes in police conduct have been found guilty of misdemeanor charges connected to the demonstrations.

Gabrielle Griffie and Marissa Gonzalez both received probation sentences after their convictions for unlawful assembly in Wichita Municipal Court last week. Gonzalez was also convicted of assault related to one confrontation with a driver. Both women were acquitted of disorderly conduct in the protests last July that at times blocked traffic while protesters marched down streets, according to The Wichita Eagle.

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Their trials focused on whether the protesters could occupy the roads to deliver their message, and Judge Bryce Abbott ultimately decided that protesters had no right to impede traffic without a permit for their demonstration.

Defense attorney Dylan Wheeler said the women plan to appeal aspects of Abbott’s rulings.

During the trials, prosecutor Maria Schrock described the women as angry and aggressive when they interacted with lawful drivers on Wichita streets. Wheeler argued that his clients were defending themselves against drivers who went through crowds and called protesters names.

After the trials, Wheeler said he appreciated that the judge closely examined the First Amendment issues related to the charges.

“It would have been deeply disturbing — and moreover, wildly unconstitutional — had the City’s attempts to criminalize my clients’ speech merely for the views they expressed been successful,” Wheeler said.