Student Arrested in Baker Center Protest Found Not Guilty< < Back to
One of the 70 Ohio University students arrested and charged with criminal trespassing for protesting inside Baker University Center has been found not guilty.
Athens Municipal Judge Todd Grace made the ruling in Michael Mayberry’s case Monday.
Mayberry, 23, was arrested during a sit-in demonstration on the fourth floor of the building in February.
Mayberry and a group of students were protesting President Donald Trump’s immigration policy.
Judge Todd Grace said in his verdict (click link for full verdict) he based his decision in part on the university’s decision to keep Baker Center open a student sit-in protest over the Michael Brown case in 2014.
Grace said that choice established Baker Center as a public forum.
Mayberry says this is a win for constitutionally protected free speech.
“It’s really a relief,” Mayberry said. “I mean primarily I feel relieved and I feel really ecstatic. I’m glad to be off the hook but I don’t think it’s the end of this battle. I won’t be really free until
everybody gets off and until we can get back to the issues at hand, the issues we are protesting at the first place.”
Mayberry says the verdict is a big victory for the protesters. But at the same time, there is still a lot of work to be done. “We’re working on getting everybody’s charges dropped but also focusing on pro-immigration support.”
Fifteen of the 70 students arrested with Mayberry have already entered plea deals, the rest are awaiting trial.
Designated ISU president Carla Triana is one of those students awaiting trial.
“I feel fantastic about the decision of the judge. This is a win for free speech and Baker Center is our student center. We have the right to be here and if we have a concern we have the right to express that here to the administration,” Triana said.
Her trial is set to begin Tuesday and she is confident in light of the judge’s verdict in Mayberry’s case.
Triana says protesters didn’t come to Baker Center expecting to be arrested.
“We protested here because we wanted the administration to listen to us and our concerns. It’s unfortunately that we have to go through all this process and court trials,” she said. “I’m glad when everything comes to an end and hopefully we all win our cases.”