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Elizabeth City protesters charged with filing false report appear in court

Protesters Elizabeth City.png
Posted at 9:48 PM, Jul 12, 2021
and last updated 2021-07-12 23:57:52-04

ELIZABETH CITY, N.C. - The 12 Elizabeth City protesters charged with filing a false report appeared in court Monday after they say they were harassed on Facebook for protesting against Andrew Brown Jr.’s killing.

"We were hoping to maybe get a trial today, but we know a lot of times neither parties are ready the first time. There are people that have to be subpoenaed, so we were prepared to get another date," Johnnie Finch Jr., an attorney representing the 12 protesters.

Protesters say they were ready to head to trial Monday. The trial was pushed back to September 30.

"We were completely ready. We had all of our things in order, and I’m personally disappointed that they decided to kick the can so far down the road until September. To me, this is adding undue stress to my life that I don’t need," said Andrea Rovenski, one of the protesters charged.

Finch, representing all 12 protesters who have been charged, says the new trial date did not come as a surprise.

"Generally on a first setting, either party may need to subpoena other people or be prepared," Finch said.

Twelve protesters who live in Pasquotank County reported being harassed online in June by another person. That’s when they say they went to the sheriff's office to report it.

In a statement, Sheriff Tommy Wooten says that after further investigation, the Facebook post that was submitted was an inaccurate representation of a factual Facebook post.

"We didn’t do it. We’re innocent. We felt threatened. We want it dismissed and our names cleared," said Barbara Baxter, another protester who has been charged.

Sheriff Wooten posted the names and addresses of the 12 protesters onto his Facebook page.

"I live with my family. When my address was published over this, my family was very stressed," Rovenski said.

Community members and protesters who were not charged were in court to support the 12 protesters.

"We’re here today to show support for them and along with Lisa O'Quinn, who is the lady who drove her car and hit protesters," Keith Rivers, the president of the Pasquotank County NAACP, said.

O'Quinn was charged with reckless driving to endanger and assault with a deadly weapon after being accused of hitting two protesters with her car during a peaceful protest calling for transparency in Brown's death.

O'Quinn appeared in court Monday and was taken away in handcuffs to the Albemarle District Jail. A spokesperson for the jail says she was released this evening after posting $5,000 bond.