Chicago Indymedia :
Chicago Indymedia

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Judge Dismisses All Charges Against Pro-Gay Marriage Protesters

Criminal charges against two gay civil rights protesters were dropped on Thursday after police and complaining witnesses failed to appear in court -- ending a prosecution gay rights activists have characterized as 'retribution' for their criticism of State's Attorney Dick Devine for failing to prosecute gay-bashing police officers.
Gay civil rights protesters Michael Maltenfort and Andy Thayer, under felony and misdemeanor indictments for their role in a pro-Lesbian and Gay marriage demonstration February 14, were released without threat of renewed prosecutions on Thursday, March 15, after Cook County sheriffs deputies and the complaining witness failed to show up in court and at a previous court date. Judge Gilbert J. Grossi denied a motion by the Cook County States Attorney's office to continue the case a second time.

"Obviously we are elated to be freed of all the charges, especially the felonies, but that doesn't alter the fact that the felony charges were completely ridiculous in the first place," said Thayer, co-founder of the Chicago Anti-Bashing Network (CABN), the group which organized the protest. Thayer noted that felony charges can only be brought by the States Attorney's office, which has been a repeated target of CABN protests for its failure to prosecute police who have gay-bashed civilians. In recent years, felony charges for civil disobediance actions in Chicago have been virtually unheard of.

"From the word 'go' we felt these charges were political retribution for our work in exposing States Attorney Dick Devine's failure to press charges against the police gay-bashers of Jeffrey Lyons and the racist, anti-gay bashers of Frederick Mason, Jr.," said Thayer. Lyons's and Mason's cases were the subject of a landmark Amnesty International report issued last month, "Allegations of Homophobic Police Abuse by Chicago Police Officers," the first report AI has ever written on gay-bashing by police in the United States.

Commenting on the now-dismissed felony charge, Maltenfort noted that "We can only conclude that being charged with a felony, which caused us to spend a night and the following day in jail, was intended to punish us and to intimidate us. We must be clear: the punishment was undeserved, and we will not allow ourselves to be intimidated. As a gay man, I have a right to get married, and this is worth fighting for, even in the face of intimidation."

For more information, contact CABN at 888.471.0874 or CABNstopthehate (at)



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