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Occupy ICE Protesters Ask Jefferson County Attorney To Dismiss Trespassing Charges

Occupy ICE Protesters, Arraigned Tuesday, Line Up Outside State Court
Occupy ICE Protesters, Arraigned Tuesday, Line Up Outside State Court

Trial dates were set Tuesday morning for protesters who blocked entry to immigration court at the Heyburn building last week. Nine protesters from the group called Occupy ICE were arraigned in Jefferson District Court for charges of criminal trespassing in the second degree.

All pleaded not guilty and were given trial dates for August 27 and 28.

They’re facing both state and federal charges for blocking the entrance at the Heyburn building, but they are asking Jefferson County Attorney Mike O’Connell to dismiss all state charges against them and “prove he stands on the right side of history.”

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In an emailed statement Tuesday afternoon, O'Connell vowed to address the Occupy ICE cases in the same manner as any other case:
“Louisville Metro Police has charged nine individuals with criminal trespass in the second degree related to a recent incident at the Heyburn Building. We do not discuss pending litigation but I can promise you that we will review the facts involved in this matter and address these cases in the same equitable and professional manner in which we handle all cases that come before my office.”
Occupy ICE first formed several weeks ago in protest of federal immigration enforcement and family separations. The group erected a camp on the sidewalk in front of the local Immigration and Customs Enforcement building in downtown Louisville. LMPD later said the camp was in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act which requires ample sidewalk space. Police seized unclaimed items they considered to be abandoned and protesters disassembled the rest of the camp that day.

Supporter Carla Wallace said the group wants more Louisvillians to stand with immigrant families.

“The question really is not why we put our bodies on the line to stop what ICE is doing to immigrant families,” Wallace said. “The question is why more people in this country are not interrupting the horror of tearing families apart.”

Occupy ICE gathered again on July 26, blocking entrances to immigration court. The group also set up camp one street away from where its former camp was shut down. LMPD arrested the Heyburn building protesters that day, and shut down the group’s new camp for violating laws against camping in public spaces.

Courtney Kearney was one of the protesters arrested at the Heyburn building. Kearney did not say what they’re planning next, but said Occupy ICE is still demanding Louisville become a 'sanctuary city.'

“Stay tuned, because we are definitely not done,” Kearney said.

This story has been updated. 

Kyeland Jackson is an Associate Producer for WFPL News.

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