A 23-year-old Arizona protester was charged with a felony all because of a mere safety pin.
A group of protesters including Jonathan McRae held a demonstration at the Arizona State Capitol during an election fraud hearing. The group was speaking out against a bill that would free up “dark money” election spending, according to U.S. Uncut.
Following the meeting, McRae and other protesters moved to an area where special election hearings were taking place and they silently observed the proceedings.
Officials asked the protesters to leave, but when McRae didn’t oblige, they sent in state troopers to remove him. McRae continued to refuse, standing his ground by grabbing on to a chair.
Things escalated further after the state troopers forcibly removed McRae from the hearing and took him to the Capitol District Facility where they searched him for weapons.
Authorities reportedly asked McRae if he had any weapons to which he replied that he did not. However, one of the troopers was pricked by an open safety pin that hung on the side of one of McRae’s pockets while he was searching him.
Court records identified the pin as a “weapon of assault” and now McRae faces charges of aggravated assault on an officer along with misdemeanor criminal trespassing and resisting arrest, AZCentral reports.
A totally legal safety pin — an object that people attach to clothing all the time — is being used as the excuse to criminalize a young activist and charge him with a felony.
Videos of the incident were posted to social media by other people in attendance. Their commentary mostly condemned the troopers’ behavior and offered support to McRae and the other protesters.
Stacey Champion, owner of Champion PR+ Consulting, was one of the people who captured the heated moment and suggested in a tweet that McRae was targeted for his appearance more so than his behavior.
McRae wears his hair in dreadlocks, has a full beard, and was wearing brightly colored board shorts and a tank top with a Guy Fawkes mask on top of his head.
He clearly stuck out like a sore thumb and signified “troublemaker” to the authorities.
Witnesses can be heard shouting, “Shame!” to the officers who were removing McRae from the hearing — condemning their display of voter suppression.
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Authorities are likely trying to make an example out of McRae to discourage civil disobedience. He participated in a peaceful protest and therefore should never have been removed or detained by the troopers in the first place.
Had officials and authorities left McRae and his comrades alone, his safety pin wouldn’t have caused any harm.
Banner Photo Credit: Facebook/ABC15 Arizona