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St. Paddy's Day Two off the hook 

The city announced Wednesday that it will not retry Eric Verlo and Elizabeth Fineron for charges associated with the St. Patrick's Day Parade.

Verlo and Fineron were among seven peace marchers arrested in the 2007 St. Patrick's Day parade and later charged with intentionally blocking the parade route. In August, a trial of all seven defendants ended with a hung jury.

The city originally said it would retry only Fineron and Verlo, but now has decided to drop all charges. In a statement, City Attorney Patricia Kelly said it was "not in the public interest to continue the further prosecutions.

"The comprehensive review revealed police actions were appropriate during the St. Patrick's Day parade and there was probable cause to arrest the defendants," the statement read. "Further, the review found ample and sufficient evidence, along with multiple witnesses to continue with the prosecution. However, a second trial would require a significant time commitment from police officers, citizen witnesses and prosecutors, and, in this case, it would appear that the public has already spoken when the first trial ended in a hung jury."

Verlo and Fineron both said they are glad charges were dismissed, but upset by Kelly's statement, which Verlo called "provocative." Both had hoped the city would assert that the arrests were baseless, or at least that the decision not to pursue charges was due to a lack of evidence.

"We weren't able to express ourselves, and we were stopped in a pretty rude manner, so it would be pretty nice to make sure that that won't happen again," Verlo said.

Fineron echoed his concerns, saying at least two of the arresting officers were "rogue policemen" who had overreacted and acted roughly.

Each said separately that they had not decided whether to file a lawsuit against the city. Such a suit would likely address suppression of Freedom of Speech rights and/or police brutality.

stanley@csindy.com

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