Black Lives Matter Protesters Head To Fairborn Court; Die-In Demonstrator Convicted
UPDATE ON JUNE 18 from the Associated Press:
FAIRBORN, Ohio (AP) — A man arrested protesting at an Ohio Wal-Mart where police fatally shot a man last year has been convicted of trespassing after pleading no contest and is banned from Wal-Mart stores for two years.
A Fairborn Municipal Court official says an obstructing official business charge against Elias Kelley was dismissed Wednesday in a plea agreement. The judge suspended 29 days of a 30-day sentence and credited Kelley for one day served.
Kelley was arrested in Beavercreek in December at a protest demanding justice for John Crawford III.
Demonstrators with Black Lives Matter say they’ll pack a Fairborn courtroom Wednesday morning for a 27-year-old film producer in Xenia who was arrested at a die-in in December. Elias Kelley joined at least 75 others that day to protest the death of John Crawford, who was shot by Beavercreek police inside a Walmart last year while holding a BB gun. Police had received a 911 call from another shopper reporting a man with a gun. They shot Crawford soon after entering the store.
Kelley says he has shopped at that Walmart many times—even buying realistic fake guns for his own film productions—and he felt like he could have been John Crawford.
“Peaceful protesting was...there was no fork in the road, it was the only direction to go,” Kelley said.
Kelley was talking into a megaphone in the Walmart parking lot December 20 when Beavercreek police arrested him. Another arrest followed after a white woman from Yellow Springs confronted police and accused them of singling out a young black man. Two others had already been arrested when they sat down in front of a police car in protest.
Kelley says he’ll plead no contest to charges of trespassing and obstructing an officer. It’s among the last of a series of court dates for 16 people charged for trespassing and other misdemeanors at two separate protests late last year.
Beavercreek police say they are unable to comment on open cases.
Crawford’s killer, Sean Williams, remains on the Beavercreek police force in an administrative role following clearance by a Greene County Special Grand Jury and an internal department review. A lawsuit filed by the Crawford family against Beavercreek and Walmart is pending, and both the U.S. Department of Justice and the FBI say they are still reviewing the case.
Lewis Wallace is WYSO's managing editor, substitute host and economics reporter. Follow him @lewispants.