On March 13, roughly two dozen community activists and supporters gathered outside a courtroom in Franklin County Municipal Court to support four young activists accused of disrupting last June’s pride parade in Columbus, Ohio.
The Black Pride 4 — Wriply Bennet, Ashton Braxton, Deandre Miles-Hercules, and Kendall Denton — and six other activists blocked the path of the parade for seven minutes last June “to protest the acquittal of Jeronimo Yanez, the Minnesota police officer who killed Philando Castile in 2016, as well as to shed light on the lack of safe spaces for black and brown people in the LGBTQIA+ community,” according to their press release.
Three out of four of those arrested were sentenced Wednesday to two years of probation and dozens of hours of community service; two of them were fined. They were told by Judge Cynthia Ebner that if they completed half of their community service hours, they could request to have their probation and remaining community service requirement lifted.
Constance Gadell-Newton, the attorney who represents Bennet, said that’s not the result she hoped for. “Although there was no jail time imposed immediately, probation is very burdensome,” she told The Appeal after the sentencing. “There is always the potential of future jail time that could come out of that, so I was very disappointed.”
The day before the sentencing, a crowd of over 100 people gathered for the “Columbus Is Guilty” rally and march at Columbus City Hall. The action, which was organized by Black Queer and Intersectional Columbus, was meant “to show solidarity with the #BlackPride4 and continue to shame CPD [the Columbus police department] and Stonewall [the group that organizes the annual pride parade] for their blatant disregard for Black lives.”