Yesterday, four Black Lives Matter (BLM) protestors in Worcester, Massachusetts, had their trial date rescheduled to January of 2016. Now, we’re hearing that the judge in the case, Central District Court Judge Robert Pellegrini, has ruled that none of the protestors will be allowed to wear clothing with the words “Black Lives Matter” on them.
Sonya Conner, Kevin Ksen, Robert Blackwell Gibbs and Julius Jones were appearing before the judge when he noticed Jones was wearing a white sweatshirt with the words "Bulletproof. Black Lives Matter" in gold lettering.
A supporter of the protestors was allegedly told that she had to turn her “Black Lives Matter” shirt inside out before she could enter the courthouse to observe the proceedings, according to Jones.
The protestors, who are charged with disturbing the peace, have pleaded not guilty and say that their actions were a protected form of free speech. They are also arguing that their rights to freedom of speech are being trampled on by the judge’s new ruling on what they can wear.
Lawyers for the protestors have requested that the police officers who will be testifying in the trial wear plain clothes since their uniforms send a message also. The prosecution has agreed to that request. Some folks call that “turnabout is fair play.”
The shirt at the center of the controversy was created by Damon Turner and FOREMOST, both artists and members of Black Lives Matter. According to the website for the shirts, they are “a statement that transcends race, social identity, or class ... BULLETPROOF. was born to represent the fearlessness found when people are unafraid of the powers that oppress them.”
The trial is scheduled to begin January 7, 2016.