Anti-Trump Protesters Accused of Blocking Train Tracks Request Dismissal - NBC Bay Area
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Anti-Trump Protesters Accused of Blocking Train Tracks Request Dismissal

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    Eleven protesters accused of blocking railroad tracks in San Francisco during President Donald Trump's inauguration appeared in court Wednesday requesting that the charges be dropped. Christie Smith reports. (Published Wednesday, April 5, 2017)

    Eleven protesters accused of blocking railroad tracks in San Francisco during President Donald Trump's inauguration appeared in court Wednesday requesting that the charges be dropped.

    An attorney for the accused said the charges send a message that the sanctuary city isn't really on board with resisting the Trump administration.

    The District Attorney's Office, however, sees it differently.

    A DA spokesperson said Wednesday that while the city and the office feel strongly about protecting people's right to protest, they believe what happened on Jan. 20 was dangerous.

    On that day, protestors hit the streets of San Francisco in opposition of Trump. The protest included blocking Caltrain tracks.

    Attorney Emily Rose Johns represents one of the 11 protesters, referred to as the J20 Resistors, charged with misdemeanors, including blocking a railway. On Wednesday, they pleaded not guilty.

    "Everything everyone was accused of doing was quite peaceful," Johns said. "We asked the court to hear us on demur, which is a motion to dismiss."

    Johns added that the charges send a mixed message.

    "I think it sends a message that San Francisco is not really dedicated to resisting the Donald Trump administration in the way they presented themselves by becoming a sanctuary city," she said.

    The DA's office says it feels strongly about protecting First Amendment rights, but its a balancing act.

    "It isn’t only dangerous as far as what may happen; it’s also disruptive as far as critical infrastructure," a DA spokesman said.

    Caltrain riders had mixed reaction.

    "I don’t think it’s appropriate to block trains to block freeways," said Ira Dearing, of San Jose.

    Neeraj Mathur, of Los Altos, said, "This was a very unusal time for us as a country, for what they were protesting. I'm with them, a minor inconvenience."

    The protesters are due back in court on June 12.

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