Ahead of trial for Tampa BLM activists, state aims to ban discussion of free speech and police conduct at protests

The document also seeks to restrict Creative Loafing Tampa Bay photojournalists who were there that day from participating in the trial as witnesses.

click to enlarge Tampa Police Department bodycam footage shows police grabbing a BLM defendant's hair during the Fourth of July protest. - Tampa Police Department
Tampa Police Department
Tampa Police Department bodycam footage shows police grabbing a BLM defendant's hair during the Fourth of July protest.

Last Friday, State Attorney Andrew Warren’s office (SAO13) sent a motion to restrict what can and can’t be discussed at the upcoming trial for last year’s Fourth of July Black Lives Matter protesters.

The “Motion in Limine” filed in the 13th Judicial Court of Hillsborough County seeks to restrict, in part, the discussion of the protesters’ constitutional rights, along with the “alleged peaceful nature of the protest,” aspects of the Tampa Police Department’s conduct that day and “defendant’s lack of criminal history.” 

The motion seeks to to bar defendants and witnesses in an upcoming BLM activist trial from making any mention, reference or argument regarding the following matters:

  • The constitutionality of protests;
  • The “right to free speech” and public assemblies;
  • The alleged peaceful nature of the protest;
  • Law enforcement conduct, generally, in response to various protests locally and elsewhere;
  • Alleged acts of law enforcement officers as to detention, arrest, or alleged violent treatment of other protest attendees;
  • Allegations that law enforcement “brutalized” or otherwise harmed Defendants;
  • Law enforcement officers’ conduct that is unrelated to their direct interactions with the Defendants;
  • Defendant’s lack of criminal history.

The document (see a summary below and the link above) also seeks to restrict Creative Loafing Tampa Bay photojournalists who were there that day from participating in the trial as witnesses.

“Accordingly, the State further seeks exclusion of all photos identified in reciprocal discovery which do not depict the Defendants, and witnesses identified as Creative Loafing Journalists and protest attendees who do not have direct knowledge of the allegations against the Defendants,” the document reads. 

Last year, CL acknowledged that it will not participate in state investigations

During a Zoom court meeting this morning, Michelle Lambo, who represents defendant Jamie Bullock, said that the state is trying to limit discussion of key aspects of the defense’s case. She and the state are set to argue about the motion on Tuesday morning at 9 a.m. in courtroom 61 at the Hillsborough County Courthouse, located at 800 E Twiggs St. in downtown Tampa.

“What the motion says is, it’s OK to just throw out the constitution,” Lambo told CL about the Motion in Limine. “And the police plowing into those kids as they marched down the street is relevant to the case, they brutalized those kids. They’re (the SAO) trying to keep out all the facts that don’t help them.”

CL reached out to the SAO13 regarding the Motion in Limine. Grayson Kamm, chief communications officer for SAO13, said that his office not able to talk about the case until the motion has been presented to judge Mark D. Kiser at 9 a.m. tomorrow.

Protesters from last year’s Fourth of July BLM march on Dale Mabry Highway could face charges ranging from misdemeanor obstruction of a roadway to battery on a law enforcement officer, a third-degree felony punishable by up to five years in prison.

CL photos, video evidence from a bystander, as well as police body cam and aerial footage seem to show police interactions with protesters that day. Critics have said that police were the aggressors that day as the protesters marched down the road. 

A screenshot of the SAO's Motion in Limine. - SAO 13 Office/Screenshot by Justin Garcia
SAO 13 Office/Screenshot by Justin Garcia
A screenshot of the SAO's Motion in Limine.

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About The Author

Justin Garcia

Justin Garcia previously wrote for the USA Today Network, The Economic Hardship Reporting Project, Scalawag Magazine, and various other news outlets. When he's not writing, Justin likes to make music, read, play basketball and spend time with loved ones. 

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