Thirty-one Occupy Philadelphia protesters, who were arrested last year after police evicted them from their City Hall encampment, have been acquitted of all charges.
The protesters in court Thursday faced charges of conspiracy, failure to disperse and obstructing a highway in connection with the eviction.
Municipal Judge Karen Simmons granted a defense motion for acquittal following hours of testimony, including video from the raid.
Simmons, who said prosecutors did not meet the threshold to show disorderly conduct, said protesters were arrested after complying with an order to get onto the sidewalk.
Lisa Hagan, a restaurant server from Mayfair, supports the occupiers and attended the trial.
“When they got on the sidewalk, only one side — the west side got to leave,” she said. “And the east side, once they got on the sidewalk, the bike cops trapped them in and arrested them.”
Hagan said she wasn’t surprised when she first heard about the arrests because she believes that was their plan all along.
Police said they gave the protesters many opportunities to leave that night. Officers removed the Occupy encampment more than a month after warning protesters to make way for a scheduled construction project on Dilworth Plaza. The eviction came two days after the final deadline had passed.
Prosecutors said they are disappointed with the judge’s decision.