The Essex County, New Jersey, prosecutor’s office will drop harassment charges against five people who posted or retweeted tweets with a photo of a police officer,media reported. Asbury Park reported the news on Friday afternoon and quoted spokeswoman Katherien Carter as saying: “After reviewing these cases, we do not believe that there is sufficient evidence to bear our burden of proof.” “
In July, the Natley Police Department filed criminal charges against protester Kevin Alfaro after he posted a photo on Twitter of Detective Peter Sandomenico at the Nutley For Black Lifedemonstration in June. Alfaro asked on Twitter: “Does anyone know who this bitch is? Put his message under this tweet. In response, Sandomenico said it made him fear for the safety of his family. The Justice Department also indicted four people who retweeted the tweet, including Georgana Sziszak, who made the case public during a GoFundMe campaign. All face charges of online harassment, a fourth-degree felony punishable by up to 18 months in prison.
Civil liberties advocates say the case is not justified and prosecutors are unlikely to pursue it, but it worries critics who see it as a police intimidation tactic. It’s also part of a nationwide pattern of aggressive legal charges against Black Lives Matter protesters — like a criminal prank in Utah, where protesters face life in prison for spilling paint and smashing windows.