Federal charges dropped against 4 DNC fence-jumpers

Federal charges against four protesters who scaled a security fence outside the Wells Fargo during the Democratic National Conventionwere dropped Monday.

The protesters, three women and one man, will instead face local charges, though its not clear what those will be, the Associated Press reported.

Metro reported in July that four fence-jumpers,Anna Marie Sternberg, of California,Barbara Burns, of Boston, Katherine Roberts, of North Carolina, and James Williams, of Maryland, were arrested on the DNC’s second day.They were detained overnight in the city’s federal detention center before all four were released after a hearing the next day.

Seven other fence-jumpers still face federal charges, according to the AP. But Mayor Jim Kenneydecriminalized minor offenses several weeks ahead of the DNCto lessen the odds of the mass arrests that plagued the 2000 Republican National Convention in Philly.

In all, about 100 other demonstrators were briefly detained and fined during the political gathering.

After her client’s arrest, Sternberg’s attorney, Paul Hetznecker, told Metro he planned to explore”whether or not they were selectively prosecuted” and why the decision was made to “charge them as opposed to following through on the citation they issued.”

Sternberg said Philadelphia police detained her and her fellow protesters, and had initiallysaid theywould be freed in a few hours. Then, they found out they would be facing federal charges.

“All of a sudden, we were put in the paddy wagon and taken to the federal jail,” Sternberg said, adding that they had no idea they would later be charged with a federal misdemeanor. “Nobody really told us til after we got there.”

Burns’ attorney, Trevan Borum, said the protesters didn’t realize they would be treated differently than others who were issued $50 fines.

“I think that her landing in federal court, and the other protesters getting civil citations, was quite a surprise,” Borum said of his client.

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