The Denver city attorney’s office dropped criminal charges Wednesday morning against a Code Pink demonstrator who was videotaped being slammed to the ground by a baton-wielding Denver Police officer during a protest at the Democratic National Convention, The Denver Post’s Howard Pankratz reports. Alicia Forrest, a 22-year-old Arizona resident, faced charges of interfering with police and could have been sentenced to a year in jail, her defense attorney said.
Forrest was “whisked away” by police after an officer ordered, “Back up, bitch,” and shoved her to the pavement in Denver’s Civic Center Park on Aug. 26, according to the Rocky Mountain News videographer George Kochaniec Jr., whose video of the incident sparked outrage and an independent review of the police officer’s use of force.
Here’s the video:
In September, Denver District Attorney Mitch Morrissey decided against filing charges against Officer Scott Stewart, finding Forrest grabbed Stewart’s baton and disobeyed an order to back up as another protester was arrested. Forrest “failed to comply with repeated lawful police orders to move back,” Morrisey’s office said. “She then grabbed an officer’s baton, pushing it away. The officer pushed back, using the baton, and the woman fell to the ground.”
In the video, Forrest can be heard saying, “Do it again,” before Stewart strikes her in the chest with the baton, sending her sprawling. Moments later, he says, “What the fuck’s wrong with you?”
“If the First Amendment stands for anything, it stands for the right to peacefully protest without being bashed violently with a baton by a police officer,” Forrest’s defense attorney, Dan Recht, said in a statement Wednesday.
After police disputed whether the 30-second video accurately depicted the scene surrounding Forrest’s arrest, Kochaniec posted a three-minute, uncut video with narration describing the events and a momentary pause when he says he repositioned his camera.
Code Pink is a women-led grassroots movement whose pink-clad members engage in street theater to promote peace and social justice.
Forrest’s criminal charges were among the last to be resolved after Denver police arrested 154 demonstrators during the DNC, according to Brian Vicente, the director of the People’s Law Project, a group that organized legal defense for the bulk of protesters.
“Quite a few pled guilty,” Vicente said, “but 63 fought the cases. Of those, our attorneys won 41 of the cases and the city convicted 22.” Eight of the convictions were deferred judgments, Vicente said — basically guilty pleas that erase from defendant’s records after a period without additional arrest. Roughly a half dozen cases are still pending, Vicente said, including defendants who never showed up for trial. More than 40 attorneys volunteered through the group to defend demonstrators.