According to Maine Public, the agreement resulted from a July 17, 2016 incident in Portland, Maine. Portland Police Officers arrested 17 Black Lives Matter protsters on the waterfront commercial district after they blocked off a busy street. The Black Lives Matter protesters agreed to ‘restorative justice’, a meeting with Portland Police Chief Michael Sauschuck and other Officers, in exchange for having the sentence deferred.
The meeting was supposed to be held at a neutral location, the First Parish Unitarian Universalist Church. Prosecutors said that the meeting was supposed to be held in separate sessions over the course of the day. If the meeting was successful, then the activists would pay a fine, and the charges could eventually be dropped.
Jennifer Ackerman, Deputy District Attorney, said that she and Police Chief Sauschuck arrived and “…it became very clear that they were not coming to the table with the conditions that we had laid out ahead of time.” Ackerman said that the 17 Black Lives Matter protesters demanded that they all stay together from the beginning. That wasn’t an option, and it wasn’t what was agreed upon initially by both sides.
She said the concept of restorative justice is about “the bigger picture” and “having a meaningful discussion about how can we address your concerns and understand them and how can you address ours and where we are coming from. That was not their attitude when we walked in, unfortunately.” Police Chief Sauschuck said that the group did not “arrive with good faith.” He said that he “saw a group that came in with demands and changes to a written agreement with the district attorney’s office, and that just sends a poor message from the very beginning.”
Chief Sauschuck compared the Black Lives Matter protesters and their demands to a recent women’s march, that drew as many as 10,000 people, with no significant problems and no arrests.
The case is now expected to move toward trial.
It’s no surprise that the case could not be resolved in a way that is beneficial to both sides. The Black Lives Matter group is not about what’s best in the long run, or the big picture, or walking with law enforcement; it’s all about them, and their demands.
We appreciate the the DA decided to charge them, unlike the coward prosecutors in many other cities who have refused to charge Black Lives Matter with anything after they are arrested.