Call it a buggy but mostly peaceful protest.
According to The Washington Times, Black Lives Matter chapter co-founder Clyanna Lightbourn is facing charges after hundreds of cockroaches were released into an Albany, New York, courtroom last week during the arraignment of four activists.
The roaches were smuggled into the courtroom as part of a planned protest against the original charges, the state court system said, according to the Times.
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Naturally, that begat another protest inside, with over two-dozen supporters of the defendants making a ruckus during proceedings in City Court Judge Joshua Farrell’s courtroom.
During the commotion, police reportedly took Lightbourn’s phone after she started recording the protest. The Washington Times reported she was arrested as she tried to take back her device.
During the scuffle, the cockroaches were released into the courthouse. While Lightbourn wasn’t identified as either the individual who brought in or let loose the cockroaches, the 34-year-old is now facing felony charges of tampering with physical evidence, as well as other charges for criminal contempt, obstruction of governmental administration, resisting arrest and disorderly conduct.
The court was closed for the rest of the day for fumigation.
“Due to facility issues, the Albany City Criminal Court located at 1 Morton Avenue, Albany, New York, will be conducting operations virtually. The Albany City Civil and Traffic Courts remain fully operational at 24 Eagle Street, Albany, New York,” stated the website for the 3rd Judicial District, which covers Albany and seven New York counties, according to the Times Union.
Lightbourn declined to comment when reached by the Times Union. However, she was fired from her position with the New York state Senate Democratic Conference Services Office on the day of the confrontation in court, the Times Union reported.
So, she’s apparently out of her official Democratic Party job.
Lightbourn’s roots are in activism, however, at least to the extent that there’s any clear delineation anymore between the leftist activist base and the mainstream Democratic Party. She was the co-founder of a Black Lives Matter chapter in upstate New York, according to The Post Millennial, and has been involved with other protest groups.
“In 2020, the Times Union reported on Lightbourn when she was the statewide civil rights organizer for Citizens Action of New York,” the Times Union coverage of the cockroaches incident noted.
“Lightbourn has been heavily involved as a protester of police killings of unarmed Black civilians. In 2014, she attended a Troy sit-in and presented then-U.S. Attorney Richard Hartunian with a list of demands to address inequity, injustice and incarceration among Black and other populations in the areas of housing, employment, education, police brutality, racial profiling and other issues.”
With this stunt, however, officials aren’t partying like it’s the summer of 2020, back when enforcing the law when it came to BLM-adjacent criminals was seen as retrograde white supremacy and “defund the police” wasn’t just seen as a slogan but a legitimate pathway to political advancement.
“What transpired is not advocacy or activism, it is criminal behavior with the intent to disrupt a proceeding and cause damage,” Lucian Chalfen, spokesman for the state Office of Court Administration, said in a statement, according to the Times Union.
He added that his office would be seeking restitution for the cleanup: “Taxpayers shouldn’t foot the bill for these actions.”
“While the incident remains under investigation, the Office of the District Attorney would like to emphasize that while the right to protest is protected, we oppose the disruption of court proceedings, and the apparent display of disrespect shown to the court,” a statement from the Albany County District Attorney’s office read.
Neither entity, however, commented on whether the cockroaches conducted themselves in a filthy-but-mostly-peaceful manner.
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