Justices hear appeal arguments by ACLU on behalf of Gainesville protestors

A decision looms on whether three Gainesville protestors will be cleared of convictions.
Published: Nov. 3, 2023 at 4:36 PM CDT
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GAINESVILLE, Texas (KXII) - On Wednesday morning, a state court in Amarillo heard oral arguments from the American Civil Liberties Union of Texas on behalf of three Gainesville protestors charged during a 2020 march.

The ALCU announced earlier this year it would appeal the convictions of Justin Thompson, Torrey Henderson, and Amara Ridge.

The three are a part of ‘Pro-Gainesville’, a group that put on multiple marches for the removal of a confederate statue at the Cooke County Courthouse.

“We walked away from that feeling that we had followed the law, feeling that everything was great, peaceful,” Thompson said.

During one of the marches, the three organizers were charged by Gainesville Police for obstruction of a highway or passageway when protesters moved off of the sidewalk, onto the street. They said it was to avoid a puddle.

“It was kind of a heartbreaking situation,” Henderson said.

In the 2021 trial, all three were convicted and sentenced to seven days in jail and the maximum fine for a misdemeanor, $2,000.

“It is very scary,” Henderson said, “I have children, I have a career that I’ve worked hard for and I love my kiddos, so this would be detrimental to life.”

Their attorney, Savannah Kumar, said she is hopeful the justices will overturn the convictions.

“And ensure they’re not subject to jail time for just simply exercising their constitutional rights in a march,” Kumar said.

The decision has not yet been made.

“I feel pretty confident that the court is going to make a favorable decision,” Thompson said.

All hoping the decision sets a precedent for not only Cooke County but the entire state, that citizens can make their voices heard without persecution.

News 12 will continue following this story.