Saturday, November 5, 2016

Misdemeanor Charge Dropped Against Indybay Journalist Who Documented Highway Blockade

A misdemeanor charge against Indybay journalist Alex Darocy was dropped in Santa Cruz Superior Court on October 19. An officer with the California Highway Patrol cited him with the misdemeanor on March 3, 2015 after Darocy photographed the six UCSC students who locked themselves together and blocked Highway 1 in Santa Cruz as part of the “96 Hours of Action” protests against tuition hikes and racist police violence called for by students across the UC system.

A previously unpublished photo taken of the six UCSC students blocking Highway 1 on March 3, 2015. Darocy submitted this photo to the court to enter it into evidence in April of 2016.

The office of District Attorney Jeff Rosell charged Darocy with violation of Vehicle Code section 2800(a), failing or refusing to comply with a lawful order of a peace officer (a misdemeanor), and violation of Vehicle Code section 21718(a), stopping on a freeway (an infraction).

It looked like the case was going to trial.

It wasn't until October 19 that Darocy was able to reach a plea deal with the Santa Cruz District Attorney's Office. Darocy agreed to plead "no contest" to the infraction in exchange for the misdemeanor charge being dropped.

"I'd like to thank my attorney George Gigarjian for his excellent work on this case. He was dedicated to helping me fight this charge, and advanced a vigorous defense for over a year and a half," Darocy said.

On January 8 of this year the Santa Cruz Chapter of the ACLU issued a letter in support of Darocy.

"We wish to express our grave concern about the chilling effect this prosecution may have on constitutionally guaranteed freedom of the press as applied to Mr. Darocy individually and on members of a free and open press as a whole," the ACLU letter read.

This photo of the blockade was unpublished until it was submitted as defense evidence in April of 2016.

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