A Minnesota judge has shown leniency to one of the white men charged with threatening Black Lives Matters activists.
The Minnesota Star Tribune reports that District Judge Hilary Lindell Caligiuri lowered Nathan Gustavsson’s bail from $250,000 to $100,000.
Gustavsson has been charged with second-degree riot while armed for an incident that happened last year. In November, Gustavsson and a group of friends showed up at a Black Lives Matters protest and tried to intimidate demonstrators. The BLM activists were staging a demonstration outside a Minneapolis police station to protest the death of Jamar Clark, who was allegedly shot while handcuffed. A scuffle ensued and Allen “Lance” Scarsella ended up firing his weapon injuring five protesters. He has been charged with felony riot and assault.
Robert Jones, Gustavsson’s attorney, argued that his client had not participated in any violent acts.
“I understand for public safety concerns why the judge would have set a higher bail,” Jones said. “But what we know now Nathan didn’t plan or take any steps to harm anybody at the protest.”
According to The Star Tribune, Jones said his client would likely only face probation if convicted. Jones also argued that the publicity around the case and accusations about Gustavsson being a white supremacist would prevent him from receiving a fair trial in Hennepin County.
Prosecutor Judith Hawley unsuccessfully argued against reducing Gustavsson’s bail, saying he came to the BLM protest looking to stir up trouble. Even though Caligiuri agreed to drop Gustavsson’s bail, his family was still not happy. They said they would have trouble raising the $10,000 required to secure his release.
“The kid has been through hell,” said a relative who declined to be named, according to The Star Tribune.
Gustavsson is not the only defendant whose bail has been reduced. MPR News reported that Caligiuri reduced Daniel Macey’s bond last month. Macey and fellow defendant Joseph Backman are currently out of jail on bond. They are both facing charges of second-degree riot with a weapon. Scarsella remains jailed in lieu of a $500,000 bond, according to The Star Tribune.
It’s interesting to note that men who were involved in an incident where five people were shot had their bail reduced, while a black protester involved in the Baltimore riots was hit with a huge bond. Allen Bullock, a Baltimore teen who smashed the window of a police car in April, was held on a $500,000 bond, which is even higher than the bond of the six Baltimore police officers charged in the death of Freddie Gray. The officers’ bonds range from $250,000-$350,000, according to The Associated Press.
Bullock’s parents later said they regretted urging their son to turn himself in.
The Baltimore Sun reported that Bullock’s family was able to pay his bail after receiving donations from around the world.
State Delegate Jill P. Carter, a Baltimore Democrat, told The Sun Bullock’s huge bail was an example of the inequalities in the criminal justice system.
“I think the $500,000 he’s released on is an example of the arbitrary and capricious nature of our bail system,” said Carter. “It’s an example of the grave disparities in our justice system.”