ACLU of Texas Appeals Convictions of Three People Protesting Confederate Statue Outside Courthouse 

By Michael Barera, CC BY-SA 4.0,

By Leslie Acevedo

GAINESVILLE, TX – The American Civil Liberties Union of Texas, the American Civil Liberties Union, and Deandra Grant filed an opening brief in an appeal on behalf of three Gainesville peaceful protestors charged with a crime while calling for the removal of a Confederate Statue outside the Cooke County Courthouse in 2020.

PRO Gainesville organizers Torrey Henderson, Amara Ridge, and Justin Thompson peacefully protested, marching with about 36 people on a route outside the county courthouse. The march lasted less than 11 minutes, noted the ACLU.

Arrest warrants were issued for Henderson, Ridge and Thompson for a Class B misdemeanor, “obstructing a highway or other passageway” under Texas law, days after the peaceful protest.

Savannah Kumar, an attorney with the ACLU of Texas, said in an ACLU statement Henderson, Ridge and Thompson “were exercising a long-cherished right to march for change in our country and for that they were sentenced to jail time.”

Kumar said the “law is on our side and we hope the appeals court will overturn their convictions and affirm that the right to peaceful protest is protected here in Texas.”

Henderson said, “The goal of that protest was to provide education about Confederate emblems and ask to remove the Confederate monument that is on our local courthouse lawn. As Texans, we should value our freedom to speak out and advocate for change.”

The ACLU of Texas requested the Seventh Court of Appeals overturn these convictions, because the case sets precedent for Texans “across the state who value free speech and particularly for those fighting for a more inclusive future.”

Thompson said, “I hope people keep marching and fighting for a better world, keep sharing stories about the true history of Gainesville, and keep advocating for racial justice.”

The ACLU said PRO Gainesville is a grassroots group of residents, protesting at the county courthouse in June 2020, urging for equality and to have the Confederate statue removed.

Ridge said, “Regardless of the color of our skin or the amount of money we make, our public streets belong to us, and we won’t let local officials silence our voices or steal our freedom.”

About The Author

Leslie Acevedo is a senior undergraduate student at California State University, Long Beach, majoring in Criminology/Criminal Justice. She intends to pursue a Master's Degree in Forensic Science or Criminal Justice. She aspires to become a forensic investigator.

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