Lancaster Protesters Held on $1 Million Bond in Move Lieutenant Governor Calls 'Blatantly Unconstitutional'

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Taylor Enterline, one of the arrested protesters, staging a peaceful protest for racial justice in front of the Manheim Borough Police station this summer. (Lancaster Stand Up Facebook Page)

Several Pennsylvania protesters demonstrating earlier this week in response to police fatally shooting Ricardo Munoz are being held on $1 million bond. Munoz, 27, was allegedly chasing an officer with a knife when police shot him to death Sunday.

Lancaster police arrested 12 people and one minor on Sunday after more than 100 people gathered in front of the police station. Authorities used pepper spray and chemical agents at the protests that night. Police said the people arrested “piled street signs, trash cans, a metal dumpster, a metal bike rack, pieces of plywood and a wooden pallet at the intersection of N. Prince St. and W. Chestnut St," authorities said.

Police claimed the people arrested put wood and other contents in a trash bin and set it on fire. Those arrested are facing charges of conspiracy to commit arson, riot, failure to disperse, institutional vandalism and disorderly conduct. 

Seven of the adults were held on $1 million bond, according to reports, while another four were waiting on arraignment. The juvenile involved, who is 16, is also reportedly facing charges of  riot, disorderly conduct, possessing instruments of crime, propulsion of missiles onto a roadway and institutional vandalism.

Kathryn Patterson, one of the individuals arrested, was acting as a medic at the protest and is not guilty of the charges she faces, her father, Chip Patterson, told the Associated Press. "I cannot tell you how long this night has been," Patterson said. ”I think regardless of what these people did or didn't do, the bail amount is just outrageous and clearly against the Eighth Amendment.”

The eight amendment protects against “cruel and unusual punishments,” including excessive bail amounts. John Fetterman, the lieutenant governor of Pennsylvania, called the bail order for those arrested “blatantly unconstitutional.”

“Whatever the merit of the underlying charges, what is absolutely indefensible is a million dollar bail for those charges,” Fetterman wrote in a statement posted to Lancaster Stand Up’s Facebook page.

The non-profit organization is dedicated to “defending our democracy.” Magisterial District Judge Bruce Roth, who set the bail, told Lancaster Online that he can’t comment on pending cases, but that he considered the police’s input when setting the amount.

Lt. Bill Hickey, the public information officer for the bureau, also told the paper that the bail amount is nothing new. 

"The crimes that these defendants are facing include serious felony offenses," Hickey said. "This is not a new or unheard of practice and falls within the rules of criminal procedure."

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