A group of protesters who blocked the entrance to Monsanto’s Woodland seed plant last year have been acquitted of misdemeanor charges.
Ten people were arrested May 22 while protesting Monsanto’s production of genetically modified foods and the herbicide Roundup, along with what they see as an outsized influence on U.S. food policy.
Yolo County Superior Court Judge Paul K. Richardson on Thursday acquitted nine defendants of loitering charges. The 10th defendant, Andrews Cabot Conn of West Sacramento, died in February before proceedings concluded, according to the group.
The Yolo County District Attorney’s Office in August lessened the misdemeanor charges, which initially included resisting arrest and unlawful assembly, to infractions for loitering. The prosecutor said at the time that the reduced charges reflected that the demonstration was peaceful and that none of the defendants had prior criminal records.
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Judge Richardson announced the acquittals without hearing the defense's case, according to a news release issued by the group.
"Of course we are happy the judge ruled in our favor, although we are disappointed we were not able to present our extensive evidence as to why we were there — to expose Monsanto as a corporate criminal doing great harm to all of us, especially children and our planet," Robert Stuart Saunders, one of the defendants, said in a written statement.
Defendants, in addition to Conn and Saunders, were Elliott Dunlap Smith Adams, Mauro Martins DeOliveira, Shoshonna Kahla Mackey, Pamela Sue Osgood, Shirley Louise Osgood, Steven Ray Payan Jr., Susan Emery Roberts and Lena Marie Romero.