CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - Some attorneys are stepping in for free, to help protect protesters. If you get arrested, they say they want to help you fight any legal problems that come your way.
The criminal defense attorneys say sometimes people shy away from protesting out of fear that they’ll get in trouble with the police. So, to make sure no one is afraid to come out and use their voice for a cause, the attorneys are pretty much saying, don’t worry about that – we have your back.
By WBTV’s count, there have been about 100 arrests over the last four days during different protests. Some demonstrations have been organized and calm, others not so much.
Darlene Harris is very familiar with laws relating to protests. As a criminal defense attorney, she’s passionate about her job because she believes sometimes the justice system is not fair. Trying to protect protesters is not just a job though, this is very personal for her.
“My grandmother was an activist. She was an activist in Brooklyn, New York for some time. I grew up with her going to community meetings,” said Harris.
Darlene is one of 11 other attorneys that are offering the free legal service related to advocacy for black lives. The cases keep piling up as we’ve had days of protests now.
“We’re up to about 60 and that’s a compilation of misdemeanor charges, felonies, a lot of failures to disperse, and weapon charges. There’s been a lot of issues surrounding the weapons charges, so we may have some Second Amendment issues there,” Harris continued.
Harris also says people from out of town are sneaking in with Charlotte protesters.
She says that makes her job a lot harder because she has to figure out who is here for the movement versus the moment.
Just to name a few, Sallme Brown out of New York was arrested for assaulting an officer, Jenna Kutcy is from Pennsylvania and now faces breaking and entering charges, and Zachary Guinard from Kentucky allegedly damaged property in uptown.
Harris believes some, if not all, of these people, are opportunists who are not really protesting.
“There are definitely people who come in with the intent to paint the movement in a bad light. You have two things going on. You have people who get upset and caught in the moment out of anger from continuously seeing the loss of Black lives and then you have people who come out to destroy the movement and to discredit it,” said Harris.
Charlotte councilman Braxton Winston was arrested on the first night of protests. Harris is representing him with his case. She wouldn’t comment on it but mentioned that she believes he was mistreated because of his skin color.