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Brelo Protestors are Sentenced

photo of Jeremy Brunstein

Two people who were arrested during protests of a Cleveland police officer’s acquittal last spring will not serve jail time. The two were sentenced yesterday. For Ohio Public Radio, WCPN’s Nick Castele has more.  

Police in May arrested more than 70 people who were protesting the not guilty verdict in the manslaughter trial of Officer Michael Brelo. Most spent the weekend in jail before resolving their cases the following Monday, Memorial Day.

Four were charged with felonies, and spent the summer and fall out on bond. Jeremy Brustein and Rhodes Rozman took a deal from prosecutors and pleaded to a lesser misdemeanor rioting charge.

Their supporters filled the seats in the courtroom Monday, as Rozman told Judge Hollie Gallagher the protesters had been exercising their First Amendment rights.

Gallagher sentenced both to 180 days in jail, but suspended most of that sentence and gave the pair credit for the handful of days they’d already spent behind bars back in May.  

Both were free to go. 

Outside the courtroom, Brustein told media he’d be back in the streets protesting again when a grand jury returns its decision in another case—the fatal shooting of 12-year-old Tamir Rice by officer Timothy Loehmann.

"We plan to be out, and we don’t plan to go back home. We plan to be out until Loehmann is actually indicted,” said Brunstein.

Another man, accused of throwing a wooden sign through an open restaurant window and striking a patron, has yet to be sentenced. A man accused of throwing a rock at police is also awaiting sentencing.

Last month, the city of Cleveland settled a lawsuit from the American Civil Liberties Union over the arrests last spring. The city and the ACLU also agreed to a procedure for mass arrests should they happen again.