First Of Baker Center Protesters Plead to Charges< < Back to
After a sit-in at Baker University Center led to the arrests of 70 people, a group of about 20 entered pleas with Athens County Municipal Court on Monday.
Rachel Allegra, Megan Cartellone, Ruby Cochran, Gabriel Dooley, Sage Foote, Jack Hampton, Jacolby Hart, Alyssa Jones, Alainna Marincic, Robert Miller, Brittany Mitchell, Alanna Paynter, Madhulika Pesala, Isaac Placke, Jordan Riley, Nalani Rodgers, Quinn Schmalenberg-Westenbargerer, Daniel Telek and David Wilson all entered “not guilty” pleas Monday.
Those that appeared on Monday were charged with criminal trespassing, a fourth-degree misdemeanor. If convicted, the charge holds a maximum sentence of 30 days in jail. None made statements in court.
The protesters “occupied” Baker University Center on Wednesday and Ohio University Police Department officers arrested protesters after they said the individuals were blocking “ingress and egress” from the building.
“Protesters were informed repeatedly that they were impacting operations, egress and creating a safety issue,” University spokeswoman Carly Leatherwood said that night.
At about 7:30 p.m., OUPD Chief Andrew Powers “delivered his first warning” that anyone refusing to leave Baker Center would be arrested within the hour. At about 8 p.m., officers began arresting and charging individuals.
The courtroom reached capacity of 100 Monday morning, before bailiffs asked those not charged to leave the room, with the exception of media. Those crowding the hallways were asked to leave the building if they did not have court business that day.
A group of fellow protesters who were at the protest on Wednesday sat outside the courtroom on Monday, holding up signs and peacefully protesting. No police were present outside the municipal building.
“Arresting 70 students for singing and crying is…messed up,” said Julia Cook, a freshman student who helped organize the protest at Baker Center but left the building as arrests began.
Cook said the protest, which began at the Athens County Courthouse before some protesters moved to Baker, a “very important night to a lot of people.”
All of the protesters that entered pleas on Monday asked for an attorney and had their cases scheduled for preliminary hearings on either Feb. 16 or Feb. 20.
Another group entered pleas on Friday, the day after the protest. Kara Frisina, Kristina Rezek, Nina Richner, Jason Starkey, Maura Taaffe, Carla Triana and Ariana Ybarra all entered “not guilty” pleas on Friday, so they were not required to appear on Monday, according to municipal court records. Samuel Righi appeared on his charge on Friday, but entered no plea, court records stated.