I-75 protesters to spend Thanksgiving in jail

WATCH: FOX19NOW's live coverage of protests that shut down I-75

CINCINNATI, OH (FOX19) - The protesters that blocked and shut down both sides of Interstate 75 during a "Hands up for Justice" rally will be spending Thanksgiving in jail. Eight people were charged with disorderly conduct and inducing panic Tuesday after they ignored orders from police to stay off the streets.

They will stay in the Hamilton County Justice Center until Friday at the earliest. In court Wednesday they were all given a total bond of $3,000 and electronic monitoring devices. Since the office that handles those devices was closed by the time their cases has been heard, no one was able to post bond and leave the jail.

Adlap Bommaraju, Elizabeth Cambron, Brandon Geary, Robert Fairbanks, Hilliard Herring, Zachary Lucas and Rhonda Shaw are accused of walking onto the northbound side of the highway at Ezzard Charles Drive, blocking traffic and refusing police orders to leave.

Cerissa Newbill, 32, was charged with disorderly conduct for allegedly refusing to cooperate with police on Main Street and "insulting, taunting, or challenging another under circumstances in which that conduct is likely to provoke a violent response," officers wrote in court records.

Lucas, a high school student, also was charged with possession of drugs after police said they found marijuana on him.

Bommaraju is working on his PhD at University of Cincinnati in Sociology. His fiance, Cambron, is a student at the university of Illinois-Chicago, and is a film maker.

In an exclusive interview with FOX19NOW's Tricia Macke, Cincinnati Mayor John Cranley said the protesters were wrong to demonstrate on a major highway.

"There is no excuse for shutting down a highway," he said. "It's dangerous for them, it's definitely dangerous for those traveling and it's against the law."

Police Chief Jeffrey Blackwell said the department was prepared to handle any situation that developed.

"We just reminded our officers to be professional and to allow people to exercise their constitutional rights," Blackwell said. "We had a tactical plan, we talked about things all week and the command staff and myself, we planned out what we thought we would need to be able to respond to the situation, so we had personnel ready to do what we in fact had to do at a small level."

The event started off on a peaceful note at the federal courthouse on Main Street in downtown Cincinnati with a large crowd by 5 p.m. Those who gathered were protesting the grand jury decision to not indict Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson in Michael Brown's shooting death.

Both the mayor and police chief addressed the crowd as the rally got underway.

"Like all of you, I am deeply concerned about the loss of life and the events that are unfolding in Ferguson, Mo.," Cranley said. "I can sympathize with all aspects of what the community is experiencing because Cincinnati has had similar tensions in the past."

Bishop Bobby Hilton, pastor of Word of Deliverance Ministries and the main organizer of the local protest, asked attendees to protest peacefully.

They walked west from the courthouse all the way over to the highway. As several marched onto interstate, officers were forced to shut down all lanes of traffic.


Within 30 minutes of officers threatening to arrest protesters on the highway and making arrests, the lanes had cleared and traffic was flowing again.

"I was happy that the police was able to make arrests quickly and end it," Cranley said.  "There were a lot of peaceful protests, which is everyone's constitutional right."

Protesters then headed back toward the courthouse.

Police warned those who remained they would be arrested for disobeying traffic laws.

Once the protesters reached the courthouse around 8:30 p.m., leaders encouraged everyone to disperse and go home.

Afterward, Hilton issued a statement that read, in part:

Although we join with millions across the United States who are frustrated and angered by what seems to be a continued intellectual insult presented by Ferguson prosecutors that Darren Wilson had no other choice but to get out of his patrol vehicle, chase, shoot and kill 18-year-old Michael Brown to save his own life, National Action Network (NAN) was NOT a part nor had any involvement in the activity that resulted in the shutdown of Interstate I-75.

Seventeen other rallies were planned across the nation Tuesday in places like Chicago, Detroit and Los Angeles.

In an appearance Wednesday on FOX19 NOW Morning News, Hilton disassociated the group with those arrested.

He said he didn't know them and they were not part of the local NAN chapter.

But he said he wouldn't condone or condemn their actions, noting that people of all color across the nation are upset about what happened in Ferguson and want change.

More local protests are being planned, he added. Details will be announced soon.

If those events take place, Blackwell said, the police department will respond exactly as they did Tuesday night, with community engagement officers on the scene first.

Like Hilton, Blackwell said police saw a lot of outsiders at the rally.

"I think what we saw was a very organized approach but an influx of outsiders," he told FOX19 NOW's Rob Williams. "It's actually a good sign because the Cincinnati community is not upset with the level and type of policing they receive from the city."

The outbreak of illegal activity at Tuesday's rally here was not as bad as what is occurring as others protest Ferguson around the country.

"I watched all the cities and all the drama in all the cities and outs was not as bad as some other places," he said. "I am hoping cooler heads prevail and the outsiders go back to their cities with their protests."

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