Capitol protesters offered options

RICHMOND, Va. (WTVR) – Protesters confronted Richmond Commonwealth’s attorney Mike Herring outside the Manchester courthouse Friday, displeased with the outcome of a four-hour hearing.

Back on March 3, thirty people were charged with trespassing while protesting the ultrasound bill on the steps of the Capitol.

“It looked kind of glum in there,” said protester Cameron Coleman.

At the end, Herring offered the protesters two options: 25 hours of community service and 6 months of good behavior in exchange for charges dismissed and expunged; or six months of good behavior in exchange for charges dismissed, but not necessarily expunged.

Herring said all but five or six will accept one of the offers.

“I think we got off pretty easy all things considered especially compared to what a lot of people go through when they go through the system,” said protester Kyle Sulzberger.

In the interim, Herring says he, Capitol Police, the attorney general’s office and others, will sit down and revise the regulations to protest at the state capitol.

“If you look at other jurisdictions and you look at some of the regulations that have percolated to the supreme court, there`s generally an exception for small groups,” said Herring.

He expects there could be some discussion on whether there are venues at the state capitol beyond the bell tower to peacefully protest, possibly at the lower steps.

“My sense is folks at the Capitol are open to all those suggestions,” he said.

Herring is uncertain whether the revisions will happen right away, but he’s certain it will happen sooner than later, likely before the next General Assembly session.

“I don`t think the Capitol Police want to revisit this. I think quite frankly they prefer not to have anyone placed under arrest,” Herring said.

The 30 protesters are scheduled to return to Judge David Cheek’s courtroom on June 19 to inform him if they accept the offer.