January 21, 2005
Denver Columbus Day Protesters AcquittedBy THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
Filed at 12:03 a.m. ET
DENVER (AP) -- Eight people were acquitted Thursday of charges stemming from their arrest for blocking a Columbus Day parade.
The defendants, the first of 239 people arrested to go on trial for the Oct. 9 protest, were found innocent of disobeying a lawful order, said Pavlos Stavropoulos of Transform Columbus Day Alliance, a coalition of groups that helped organize the protest and a competing celebration. Earlier, a judge dismissed loitering charges against the defendants.
``It was just incredible that the jurors aligned themselves on the side of justice,'' said defendant Nita Gonzales, a private school principal.
Protest organizers say the genocide of indigenous people began with Christopher Columbus' first voyage to the Americas. Parade participants and organizers said they were honoring the explorer and their own Italian heritage.
Police said they began making arrests after ordering the group of about 600 protesters to leave when the parade was about a block away. There were no reports of violence or injuries.