Punishment handed down to state Capitol protesters

Posted at 2:03 PM, Jun 19, 2012
and last updated 2012-06-19 14:04:45-04

RICHMOND, Va. (WTVR) – In March, 30 abortion rights protesters were taken into custody while at the State Capitol.  The demonstrators were physically removed from the site and arrested for trespassing. 

Today those demonstrators appeared in Richmond's Manchester Courthouse, where they learned a deal was reached with city prosecutors.  Instead of having to pay a fine or spend time behind bars, each demonstrator will have to commit to hours of community service.

The group was arrested after protesting the hotly contested ultrasound bill.  And months later Abrams said she is still battling controversy in the Commonwealth.

"We are trying to tell the state government of Virginia, women aren't going to take it anymore," said demonstrator Shelly Abrams.

Attorney Wayne Powell is representing 15 of the people arrested. 

"At the end of the day, I think this still comes down to a First Amendment situation and not withstanding whatever the Governor or whatever the Chief of Capitol Police have to say," said Powell.  "This is an unfortunate day in Virginia."

The group of 30 were each given 25 hours of community service.  Attorney Powell said the time must be served with a non-profit organization/group.  The protesters will have to return to court September 21, at 10:00 a.m., and if their community service hours have been completed Richmond General District Judge David Cheek is set to dismiss the trespassing charges.