BOSTON (CBS/AP) — Massachusetts’ highest court has sided with Boston’s district attorney in a dispute with a lower court judge over the prosecution of counterprotesters arrested during a “straight pride” parade in Boston on Labor Day weekend.
A state Supreme Judicial Court justice ruled Monday that Boston Municipal Court Judge Richard Sinnott had “no authority” to force Suffolk County District Attorney Rachael Rollins’s office to prosecute a counterprotester arrested at the parade.
This clears the path for the D.A. to drop charges against other counterprotesters, although she said she is pursuing charges against the eight people who allegedly assaulted police officers.
Rollins argued last week that Sinnott had overstepped his constitutional authority in refusing her request to drop charges against some counterprotesters charged with minor infractions like disorderly conduct.
“Change is really hard. There are lots of people that like the way the system is working right now. This was a colossal waste of time,” Rollins said at a Monday press conference. “I would like to remind people that appointed individuals don’t get to infuse their own opinions in matters where the people of Suffolk County have spoken.”
Boston Police Patrolmen’s Association President Mike Leary said Rollins’s decisions are not popular among police. “Morale is pretty low, it’s probably the lowest I’ve ever seen it in my 28 years with the department, he said.
Some 36 people were arrested at the parade, which was meant to be a counterpoint to gay pride parades.
Boston Police Commissioner William Gross also released a statement that said in part:
“While much has been made about the actions taken by my officers during the Straight Pride Parade, let me say without hesitation that I could not be more proud or impressed with the high levels of restraint and professionalism displayed by my officers tasked with safeguarding and protecting all who either attended, participated or protested at the parade. As in prior events, appropriate staffing and security measures were in place to ensure the safety and security of all individuals wanting to peacefully assemble while exercising their right to free speech… Moreover, those who believe they were mistreated at the parade are encouraged to file a formal complaint with the BPD’s Internal Affairs Unit. In closing, the Boston Police Department has and will continue to protect the freedoms and rights of all people, regardless of political leanings or personal points of view, to lawfully and peacefully express their First Amendment Rights.”
(© Copyright 2019 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)