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Posted 30 Nov 2004 05:43:23 UTC

In a move that came as somewhat of a surprise, the City of New York dropped on Monday all charges pending against 2600 editor Emmanuel Goldstein. The charges stemmed from his arrest August 31 at the protests surrounding the Republican National Convention. As we reported at the time, he was arrested while filming a protest taking place on East 16th Street. (His notes, photos, audio, and videos of the event are available online.)

A number of those arrested at various protests surrounding the RNC, including Emmanuel, were told to show up to court Monday morning, prepared to have their trials. Most, like Emmanuel, were charged with Disorderly Conduct; many were additionally charged with Parading Without a Permit. Though a few trials actually took place Monday (as they have been slowly taking place over at least the last two weeks) and some more are scheduled for the next few days, most of the accused were instead told to come to court again on a later date. A few individuals had their charges dismissed as the prosecution was not ready to go to trial, in violation of the Sixth Amendment right to a speedy trial. However, alone among the cases heard Monday morning, Emmanuel's case was dropped voluntarily by the prosecution. No reasoning or explanation for this dismissal was offered or readily available.

Though the charges against him are no longer an issue, Emmanuel has vowed to continue fighting against the injustices he sees to have been done against him and the approximately 1800 others arrested during the Republican National Convention. He is joining the class-action lawsuit against New York City for its police and detention practices, and is making himself available to testify at some of the criminal trials of those whose cases were not dismissed so summarily.

Meanwhile, the cases for other RNC defendants plod along slowly. Of those who have gone to trial, very few have actually been found guilty of anything. The City seems to be using many of these cases as a sort of training for new Assistant District Attorneys, some of whom have had (and lost) their first trial experiences attempting to prosecute allegations of Disorderly Conduct.

In a somewhat bizarre twist, some of those whose cases have gone to trial report that the prosecution has attempted to use the video shot by Emmanuel against some of those also arrested on 16th Street. As the video does not appear to show anyone doing anything illegal, and we're not aware of any case in which this video was used ending in a conviction, the prosecution's thinking here, as in so much of this matter, is unclear.

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