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Breaking news: Delayed hearing decision for protesters at city council meeting

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Collegian | Caden Proulx

Editor’s Note: This story has been updated to reflect the correct spelling of Hania Sakkal’s name, as well as additional information provided by Cheryl Trine in an email.

A hearing was held at the Larimer County Courthouse at 10:30 a.m. Friday, June 28, to discuss the charges against three Fort Collins residents who glued their hands to the City Council chamber during a February council meeting at Fort Collins City Hall.

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The three residents, Claire Kopp, Cheryl Distaso and Hania Sakkal received citations after the incident, and their hearing was held in the Larimer County Courthouse and was presided over by Judge Joshua Lehman.

Over 50 people gathered in the courtroom, most of whom appeared to be in support of Kopp, Distaso and Sakkal. There were two other unrelated cases discussed prior, and Lehman said the large crowd was not there for either of the two.

Cheryl Trine, a representative of Sakkal, spoke to Lehman about the motion and provided examples of cases where a statute was decided. Trine then argued that this situation was not the type of behavior those statutes are designed to regulate.

Trine also discussed free speech, the First Amendment and whether the charges are unconstitutional.

“Symbolic speech is protected speech under the First Amendment,” Trine said.

Following Trine’s citations, Lehman said he needed more time to look through everything, and that the defendants will be given two weeks to file supplemental motions if necessary. It is unknown when a formal decision will be made.

Madeleine Grigg, a Fort Collins resident who showed up in support, discussed the crowd’s reason for attending the hearing.

“We are here to support people who are facing disproportionately heavy charges for using free speech,” Grigg said. “This is something that affects all of us.”

Grigg also spoke about the lack of decision made at this time.

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“My understanding of what the judge said is that he needs more time to review all of the case law, and so it sounds like he is willing to take under advisement, similar things related to constitutional rights,” Grigg said.

Following the hearing, Trine provided the motion to dismiss the charges. The document provides background information, and the argument discusses that, in relation to the First Amendment,  “There was no clear and present danger from women gluing their hands to a wall in protest of City Council’s refusal to consider a ceasefire resolution. Neither energetic, even raucous, protesters who annoy or anger audiences, nor demonstrations that slow traffic or inconvenience pedestrians, justify police stopping or interrupting a public protest”.

The motion to dismiss was originally filed by Trine for all three protestors. Since the filing, two other attorneys have come in to represent Distaso and Kopp, and Trine is only representing Sakkal presently. 

The trial is currently set to begin September 5, 2024.

There will continue to be updates as decisions are made and information becomes available.

Reach Aubree Miller at news@collegian.com or on Twitter @CSUCollegian.

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About the Contributor
Caden Proulx
Caden Proulx, Print Director
Caden Proulx is a human development and family studies student at Colorado State University pursuing his passion for graphic design at The Collegian. Originally from Austin, Texas, Caden's journalistic journey began in the high school yearbook department, where his passion for design grew. This led to him to seek out student media when he got to Colorado State University. Starting as a page designer in his first year, Caden found a home at The Collegian. This led him to the position of print director his sophomore year. Despite majoring in HDFS, Caden seamlessly integrates his hobby of graphic design with his academic pursuits. The Collegian has become an integral part of his success at CSU. Now firmly rooted in Colorado, Caden is eager to contribute to the student media landscape, The Collegian and its success. He loves working alongside other excited students who are talented and have a lot to teach and push him to continue to grow as a visual journalist.

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    CSU AlumniJul 2, 2024 at 10:36 pm

    Distaso is the same woman who had a problem with “Legal Petes” restaurant and interrupted their business with ramblings of her anti-white, anti-male agenda, only to have that exact same establishment cater the CSU Social Work (where Distaso is a teacher and a poor one at that) event this past year. An embarrassment to the 1st Amendment. Hope the brick wall is okay. Throw the book at these screaming, fading puppets.

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