War protestors cleared in Colorado Springs | VailDaily.com

War protestors cleared in Colorado Springs

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colorado” Prosecutors have dropped charges against two people accused of obstruction for trying to protest the Iraq war while marching in the 2007 St. Patrick’s Day parade.

City Attorney Patricia Kelly said Wednesday it was “not in the public interest” to prosecute Eric Verlo and Elizabeth Fineron after their first trial ended in a mistrial in August.

Charges against five others arrested with Verlo and Fineron had been dropped shortly after the mistrial.

Kelly defended the police decision to arrest the protesters and said the evidence was sufficient to convict them.

Asked to clarify Kelly’s statement, city spokesman John Leavitt said the mistrial showed the public is divided over the case, and that wasn’t likely to change in a second trial.

He said Kelly “felt like everything the police did was justified and there was probable cause for an arrest, but getting a conviction is another story.”

All seven protesters were charged with obstructing a passage or assembly after they ignored police orders to drop out of the parade. Parade organizers had asked officers to remove them because the parade bans advocating on “social issues.”

Verlo described prosecutors’ decision to drop the case as “pretty fantastic” but disputed the city’s contention that police did nothing wrong.

He said officers threw him to the ground and dragged Fineron, then 65, across the street, leaving her with abrasions.

“When you consider dragging an old woman across the street and not lifting her up, it’s really hard to see how that’s doing nothing wrong,” Verlo said.

Fineron could not be reached for comment.

The Gazette, http://www.gazette.com/

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