Woman faces life in prison after allegedly buying paint for BLM protest – National

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Woman who allegedly pushed police officer and bought red paint for a Black Lives Matter protest could face life imprisonment after Utah authorities charged her under a law to punish gang members.”It goes way beyond law enforcement, it feels like retaliation,” said Madalena McNeil, who faces a life sentence if convicted of criminal mischief and charges of ‘riot.

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Prosecutors say the charges deserve gang improvement, allowing them to increase the sentence if McNeil is found guilty. They argued in court documents Wednesday that protesters worked together to cause thousands of dollars in damage during an anti-racist protest in Salt Lake City last month.

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Protesters denouncing the police shooting of Bernardo Palacios-Carbajal painted and marked the district attorney’s office on Thursday, July 9, 2020 in Salt Lake City.


Photo AP / Rick Bowmer


McNeil is accused of buying red paint at a Home Depot ahead of the July 9 protest, which took place to expose a court ruling on a fatal police shooting. Court documents allege McNeil also shouted at the police and shifted his weight as if to hit an officer.

“It’s really frustrating and scary,” the 28-year-old activist said. “I feel so concerned about what it means to protest in general.”

Protesters gather outside the district attorney’s office on Thursday, July 9, 2020 in Salt Lake City.


Photo AP / Rick Bowmer


McNeil says she was forced to quit her job at a nonprofit after being indicted along with several other people who attended the protest.

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“It’s the highest crime,” said attorney Brent Huff, who represents co-accused Madison Alleman. “This is usually reserved for murders and rapists.”

Jesse Nix, who represents accused protester Viviane Turman, also denounced the charges. “No one should be sentenced to life in prison for putting paint on a building,” he said.

Jason Groth, an attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union of Utah, criticized prosecutors for using a law intended to target street gangs. “You call up members of a protest gang,” he said.










Timelapse video shows Black Lives Matter mural painted on Fifth Avenue in New York City


Timelapse video shows Black Lives Matter mural painted on Fifth Avenue in New York City

More than 30 people have been charged with various crimes in Salt Lake County since anti-racism protests erupted after George Floyd’s death in May.

Salt Lake County District Attorney Sim Gill said protesters likely wouldn’t spend time behind bars, as such cases usually end with a call for a lower count.

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“I don’t think anyone will go to jail for this,” Gill, a Democrat, told The Associated Press.

“There are people who want to engage in protests, but they want to be absolved from all behavior,” he said. “This is not about protest. These are people who engage in criminal behavior. “

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Salt Lake City Mayor Erin Mendenhall has denounced the charges as too extreme.

“I think the potential punishment some protesters face is excessive,” she tweeted. “Although I think there should be consequences for breaking the law, the potential of spending life in prison to buy paint is too great.”

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“I just don’t think any of the allegations against me justify life in prison,” McNeil told KUTV.

“It sends a very extreme message to anyone considering practicing their civil right to protest.”

: With files from The Associated Press

© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.



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