Update | May 6, 2021
District Attorney Brian Mason drops all remaining charges in Adams County; all felony charges now withdrawn in multi-county prosecution of peaceful protest leaders. Community calls on Arapahoe County to drop the remaining misdemeanor charges.
On Thursday, May 6, the 17th Judicial District Attorney’s Office of Brian Mason moved to dismiss all remaining charges in his district against Lillian House, Joel Northam, Eliza Lucero, and Terrance Roberts, citing as his reason that he has “an ethical obligation to only proceed on charges [his] office can prove and to dismiss charges that [they] cannot prove.” None of these four defendants, in an effort to have the charges dropped, agreed to give testimony against other people in the movement.
We certainly agree with Mason’s conclusion. It has been plain to people in Aurora and all over the country from the beginning of this prosecution that the charges levied against these organizers lacked any real basis. The prosecution has centered on a concerted effort to discredit these organizers and the peaceful and justified movement for justice for Elijah McClain by focusing on peripheral acts from individuals completely unrelated to the organizers or the vast majority of participants. But the reality is that this case was not about responding to supposed crimes; it was about stemming a protest movement of thousands of community members who had come together to demand justice for a member of their community who was unjustly tortured and murdered by the police without consequence.
The total baselessness of the charges was given credence by the March ruling of Adams County Court Judge Leroy Kirby who presided over the preliminary hearing regarding the central charge in this case. Lillian House, Joel Northam, and Eliza Lucero had been charged with the attempted first-degree kidnapping of eighteen police officers for holding a protest outside of a police station. Kirby made a rare decision to dismiss the charge in preliminary hearing, finding no evidence for the charge, and indeed no evidence that the three activists had engaged in any act of violence or destruction whatsoever. We applaud Brian Mason for doing the right thing and dropping all the remaining charges in his county instead of continuing to drag these unjustly targeted community organizers through months of court proceedings, which he certainly had the power to do.
It's time to drop the rest of the charges in Arapahoe County
With the prior decision of 18th Judicial District Attorney John Kellner to drop all felonies against these organizers in his district, all felony charges have now been withdrawn against these organizers. We are very glad to see earnest steps toward justice from both new district attorneys presiding over this case. We continue to call on District Attorney John Kellner to end the prosecution in total and drop all remaining charges, which currently include a total of twelve misdemeanors and low-level offenses against Joel Northam, Lillian House, and Terrance Roberts. As we have stated previously, not a single charge would have been filed were it not part of a broad and punitive attack initiated by the prior administrations against protest leaders who challenged the impunity of the police. Continuing to put these peaceful protesters through a grueling court process on charges representing the remnants of this case is not justice.