A trio of Aurora Guard leaders, who have been jailed for decades on felony charges stemming from last summer’s demonstrations over the death of Elijah McClain, rejected a dozen remaining counts on Monday.
John Kellner, the 18th Judicial District Attorney, dropped the remaining 12 charges against Joel Northam, Lillian House and Terrence Roberts, court records show.
Three protest leaders along with three other leaders were arrested last year and charged with attempted kidnapping, rioting and theft in connection with a demonstration outside Arora police premises on July 3.
In April Kellner’s office moved to withdraw the most serious charges, while in March an Adams County judge dismissed charges of attempted kidnapping against House, Northam and a third defender, Whitney Lucero, supporting the charge. No possible reason for doing so was found.
The remaining charges against five protest leaders in Adams County were dismissed in May.
“This past year has definitely been really scary and honestly very grueling for all of us,” Lucero said in an interview Monday with Breakthrough News.
Lucero said that between him, House and Northam, all three have gone to court more than 70 times in the past year.
“Our organization (the Party of Socialism and Liberation) made the initial decision when we were arrested that we would not allow this repression to bury our heads or go underground or intimidate us,” Lucero said. “That we were going to fight these allegations and not allow this repression to stop the fight for justice for Elijah McClain.”
A key piece of their story, House said in a Break Tru News interview, is the relationship between the police and prosecutors they were opposing.
She called for an investigation by former Adams County District Attorney Dave Young, drawing parallels between the protesters’ case and the one in Georgia following the death of 25-year-old black man Ahmed Aubrey while jogging in February 2020.
Earlier this month, former District Attorney Jackie Lee Johnson was charged with violating her oath of office by allegedly showing “grace and affection” for one of the men accused in Aubrey’s death.
“The idea is that the police understand that prosecutors have their backs and they work with virtual punishment,” House said. “If someone challenges this, prosecutors will come and put them in their place – possibly turning them away regardless of their innocence. It’s extremely dangerous.”
A statewide grand jury indicted three Aurora police officers and two paramedics in connection with McClain’s 2019 death, less than two weeks after the remaining charges against protest leaders were dismissed.
There was no turn of luck on Northam.
“When you fight it confirms the principle, yes you don’t know whether you’ll win the fight or not, but you know that if you don’t fight, you’ve already sealed the deal you lost.” The fight is on,” he told Breakthrough News on Monday.