Local News

Durham man found not guilty of disrupting county commissioners meeting during protest

Posted August 9

— A Durham man hopes he can set a precedent after he won a court case on charges of disrupting a county commissioners meeting.

Le’Andre Blakeney maintained his innocence from the beginning, but said he had to go through with the three day trial on principal.

Blakeney and several others protested conditions at the Durham jail during a county commissioners meeting, and some of those protestors were accused of disrupting the meeting.

Blakeney said from the beginning that he wasn’t there when the so-called disruption happened and only arrived later, after the chaos had already started.

In total, five people were charged in the case, but the other four accepted a sentence of community service. Blakeney, however, said he had to fight the charges because they were untrue.

Wednesday afternoon, Blakeney celebrated with his attorney and supporters after a judge ruled he was not guilty of disorderly conduct and resisting a public officer.

Blakeney said, despite the long process, he will continue to be an activist.

“I was innocent, especially when we have a right to do these things. I believe [it’s wrong] when you slap charges on people just because they’re ‘causing the problem,’” he said.

The state argued Wednesday that Blakeney needed to accept the legal consequences of civil disobedience, but the judge said the state failed to prove Blakeney did anything wrong.

Blakeney is a graduate student at Duke University’s Divinity School and is looking forward to moving on with his life, which will still include protesting conditions at the Durham jail.

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