Kevin Alfaro was at a Black Lives Matter protest in Nutley, New Jersey, when his ordeal began.
The anti-racism demonstration, prompted by the police killing of George Floyd, was met by a group of mostly white counter-protesters, some chanting “all lives matter”, and Alfaro felt the police were treating the rightwing crowd favorably.
In a climate where anti-racism protesters have been met with violence from police, Alfaro took a photo of one officer, and posted it to Twitter. “If anyone knows who this bitch is, throw his info under this tweet,” Alfaro wrote.
Alfaro had been charged with cyber-harassment, a fourth-degree felony, and a charge that carries a prison sentence of up to 18 months.
It fit a pattern. Since protests against racism and police brutality began protesters across the country have been hit with punitive, felony charges for acts of civil disobedience, in what civil rights experts say is a “suppression tactic” aimed at quashing the anti-racism movement.
In New York City, a man was charged after allegedly shouting through a loudspeaker in a police officer’s ear. In Miami, an activist was hit with a strong-arm robbery charge after being accused of stealing pro-Donald Trump flags. Perhaps the most egregious case is in Utah, where a group faces up to life in prison after allegedly throwing paint on a building.
In Salt Lake City, Utah, police say Madalena McNeil bought red paint at a Home Depot before she and three other activists threw it on a district attorney’s office, and broke windows, during a 9 July protest.
The group was charged with felony criminal mischief and riot charges, and prosecutors added a “charging enhancement” claiming the protesters operated as a gang. That means the group could face life in prison.
The prosecutors and the cops are using their positions and abusing the law to prevent scrutiny of their actions.
It is whistle-blower retaliation, and in many places it is a crime, though no one will ever be charged, since those making the decision are those who would be targeted.