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Monroe County Prosecutor won’t file charges against arrested IU Dunn Meadow protesters

All misdemeanor charges will be dismissed, and only one protester faces a felony charge of battery on a public official.

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. (IUSTV News) — No charges will be filed against the 55 people arrested during the protests in Dunn Meadow in April, the Monroe County Prosecutor’s Office announced Thursday.

“Based upon the facts and circumstances surrounding these arrests, including, among other things, the constitutionally dubious process by which the University passed and enforced its new policy regarding structures in Dunn Meadow, the State is unlikely to be able convict these individuals at trials on the merits.  To attempt to do so would be a poor use of limited resources and wholly inconsistent with the sound exercise of prosecutorial discretion.”

Monroe County Prosecutor’s Office

The Monroe County Prosecutor’s Office said they reviewed all reports, affidavits, videos, and photographs submitted by the Indiana University Police Department and Indiana State Police for the two days of arrests.

The only protester who is facing charges is IU student James Jones, who prosecutors charged with a level 6 felony of battery against a public safety official for allegedly biting an Indiana State Trooper.

Jones entered a not-guilty plea at his initial hearing. He is due back in court on June 17.

On April 25, 34 people, including some Indiana University faculty and students, were hauled off in zip-ties and handcuffs when Indiana State Police and IU Police worked to clear tents during a protest in Dunn Meadow over the war in Gaza.

In a statement the night of the first arrests, the IU Police Department said that, “University officials provided verbal and written expectations to the group regarding their actions numerous times throughout the morning and afternoon. The group was also told multiple times that if they removed their structures, they would be allowed to stay in Dunn Meadow. Following their refusal to comply with university policy, the group was advised to leave the area.”

Two days later, dozens more were arrested when IU Police and the Indiana State Police arrived back in Dunn Meadow. According to IUPD, protesters were given six verbal warnings to tear down the tents before police began approaching the encampment at 12:35 p.m. and detaining individuals who resisted.

“After numerous written and verbal communications that free speech and protest are permissible but the presence of unapproved temporary or permanent structures violates university policy, a group of individuals erected numerous tents and canopies on Friday night with the stated intention to occupy the university space indefinitely,” IUPD said in a press release that afternoon

The ACLU of Indiana filed a lawsuit against IU earlier this month over claims the university violated the First Amendment rights of the protesters arrested during the Gaza encampment in Dunn Meadow.

The three plaintiffs listed in the lawsuit were among the dozens arrested during the protests, including IU Associate Professor of Germanic studies Dr. Benjamin Robinson.

According to the lawsuit, Robinson was arrested on April 25 and trespassed from IU property for one year. Robinson filed an appeal to the trespass, and was granted a stay while the appeal is pending.

One of the other plaintiffs is graduate student Madeleine Meldrum. According to the lawsuit, Meldrum was also arrested on April 25 and trespassed from IU property for one year.

The lawsuit claims that IU violated the first amendment rights of the protesters police issued trespass warnings to the protesters for what, since 1969, is designated by IU as a public forum.

“Since 1969 Dunn Meadow has been a public forum, a place for persons to engage in First Amendment expression. Indiana University cannot preemptively ban persons from engaging in this protected expression by prohibiting them from entering Dunn Meadow for a year or more.

Our future ability to engage in speech activities cannot be denied in this way. This is a prior restraint, and it is unconstitutional.”

ACLU of Indiana Legal Director Ken Falk

When asked for a statement at the time of the lawsuit being filed, IU said they would not comment on pending litigation.