Six demonstrators charged after their involvement in protests in Aurora

The charges include inciting a riot and kidnapping.
3 min. read
Protesters block the entrance to Aurora Police’s District One building, July 3, 2020.
(Nathaniel Minor/CPR News)

Six protestors face felony charges -- including kidnapping -- for their involvement in protests in Aurora that prosecutors allege crossed over into criminal behavior.

The 17th Judicial District office is charging five people, while the 18th Judicial District is charging four. Because Aurora is split between three counties, multiple judicial districts represent different parts of the city.

The six protesters arrested included Lillian Rose House, 25; Joel Prentice Northam, 32; Whitney Hanna Lucero, 23; Trey Anthony Quinn, 33; John Russel Ruch, 33; and Terrance Terrell Roberts, 44.

The Party for Socialism and Liberation on Thursday issued a release identifying at least four of those arrested -- House, Lucero, Northam and Ruch -- as PSL organizers. The group has hosted demonstration against racism and police violence in the metro area. It called the charges against the demonstrators "phony" and demanded charges be dropped.

"They are facing multiple serious felony charges and many misdemeanors including the bizarre and ludicrous charge of 'kidnapping,' all because they have organized large Black Lives Matter protests," the release from PSL said. "This is a major political attack on the whole movement and the PSL."

Demonstrations in Aurora and Denver started in May after the death of George Floyd. They continued throughout the summer, and in Aurora shifted focus to protest the death of Elijah McClain. McClain, who was Black, died in August 2019 after he was detained by Aurora police and administered ketamine by paramedics. He was 23.

Dave Young, district attorney of the 17th Judicial District, said his office supports First Amendment rights for peaceful protest. But, he said, "there is a difference between a peaceful protests and a riot." His office alleges protesters acted unlawfully when they surrounded the Aurora Police Department's District One station on Montview Boulevard on July 3.

A protest demanding justice for Elijah McClain has taken over I-225. July 25, 2020.
Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite

In the release, the DA's office said about 600 protesters surrounded the station and blocked surrounding streets. The release said that prevented 18 cops inside from leaving the building, adding some protesters were carrying handguns and rifles and wore military-style gear. They were calling on the firing of two Aurora police officers.

"When individuals cross the line and break the law, they will be prosecuted," Young said.

The release from the 17th Judicial District said charges against the protesters were filed in Adams County District Court. The felony charges included:

  • attempt to commit first-degree kidnapping (House, Northam, Lucero)
  • attempt to influence a public servant (House)
  • inciting a riot (House, Northam, Lucero, Quinn, Roberts)
  • inciting a riot by giving command (Northam, Lucero, Quinn)

Misdemeanor charges include engaging in a riot, false imprisonment and obstructing government operations.

Charges filed in the 18th Judicial District were connected to protests in Aurora on June 27, July 12 and July 25. District Attorney George Brauchler represents that district.

The charges from the 18th Judicial District were filed in Arapahoe District Court. Felony charges filed from this district included:

  • inciting a riot (House, Northam)
  • conspiracy to commit inciting a riot (House, Northam)
  • theft from a person (House, Northam, Ruch)
  • conspiracy to commit theft from a person (House, Northam, Ruch)

Misdemeanor charges, including engaging in a riot, conspiracy to commit engaging in a riot, obstructing a highway or other passageway and counts of conspiracy to commit obstructing a highway or other passageway, were also filed, against Roberts and others.

The 17th Judicial District covers Adams and Broomfield counties, while the 18th Judicial District covers Arapahoe, Douglas, Elbert and Lincoln counties. Aurora spans Adams, Arapahoe and Douglas counties.

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