CINCINNATI — A Hamilton County grand jury on Friday declined to pursue charges against a Cincinnati man arrested after livestreaming an apparent block party in the city in April.
A judge had already dismissed Rashaan Davis’s misdemeanor charge for violating Ohio’s “stay-at-home” order during the pandemic, our news partner, WCPO.com. reported. The grand jury opted to ignore the remaining felony charge of incitement to violence.
Davis, 25, was arrested April 4, less than a day after a recording of his Facebook stream began to circulate on social media. In the recording, Davis and other members of “Club Shell” — the group gathered outside a Shell gas station in the city’s Over-the-Rhine section — drink, dance and play cards in closely huddled groups.
“This is how we do it in my city,” he says at one point. “We don’t give a f*** about corona. This is how we celebrate our coronavirus.”
The video became the subject of widespread reproach, both on social media and from city officials such as Mayor John Cranley, WCPO.com reported.
Defense attorney Clyde Bennett II argued that Davis was being unfairly prosecuted for exercising his rights to freedom of expression and assembly.
Other groups already had gathered — and would continue to do so throughout the statewide quarantine — without similar punishment, including the #OpenOhio protesters who demanded the stay-at-home order be lifted.
“If you are going to prosecute one group of people for violating the stay at home order prosecute all,” Bennett wrote in a Facebook post after Friday’s grand jury decision.
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