Deandre Miles (18C) was sentenced June 18 to probation and community service after pleading guilty to two misdemeanor charges for protesting at the 2017 Stonewall Columbus Pride Parade.
Miles was arrested last year during a protest at the pride parade in Columbus, Ohio. The student was initially charged with aggravated robbery, a felony, after an officer alleged that Miles jumped on the back of another police officer and tried to remove a handgun from her holster while she was arresting two other people. Officers had responded to the scene because the protesters blocked the parade route.
On May 4, the Franklin County Prosecutor’s Office replaced the aggravated robbery charge with misdemeanor charges of obstructing official business and resisting arrest as part of a plea agreement. Miles pleaded guilty to the misdemeanor charges on June 18 and was sentenced to one year of non-reporting probation and 40 hours of community service. If the terms of probation are violated, Miles will serve jail time. Franklin County Prosecutor Ron O’Brien told The Columbus Dispatch that the plea bargain was designed to offer Miles a sentence similar to those given to the other protesters at the parade.
At the parade, Miles linked arms with about 10 other protesters and blocked the parade route in front of Columbus City Hall. The demonstrators were protesting the acquittal of the police officer who killed Philando Castile in 2016 and “the lack of space for Black and brown people at pride festivals,” according to a June 2017 press release from Black Queer and Intersectional Columbus (BQIC).
O’Brien told the Dispatch that his office reviewed video footage from witnesses and believed the plea agreement was “a fair resolution.” Videos posted on YouTube show that Miles and the other protesters linked arms and blocked the parade route. When police arrived, they used bikes and sprayed Mace to move the protesters and clear the route.
According to police and video footage, Miles then interfered with officers who were trying to detain one of the individuals blocking the parade route. Other officers removed Miles from the scene, but they were unable to detain Miles, who then ran away.
Three other protesters were arrested for disrupting the parade, and they were sentenced to community service and probation after a five-day trial in March.
Miles’ defense attorney Stacie Sydow did not respond to the Wheel’s request for comment.
“[It] is a victory that [Miles] hasn’t been sentenced with any prison time, yet this victory is slight,” BQIC co-founder Dkeama Alexis wrote in a June 27 email to the Wheel. “[Black] bodies are being ruthlessly ensnared in the clutches of the state, and we all must keep working and fighting to free our siblings and abolish the structures that target and imprison them.”
Miles graduated from Emory in May as a Robert W. Woodruff scholar and Mellon Mays Undergraduate fellow. Miles will attend graduate school in California, Sydow told the Dispatch.
“My resolve to continue fighting for the liberation of qtpoc [queer and transgender people of color] and to live as freely as possible remains unshaken,” Miles wrote in a June 18 Facebook post.
Miles wrote an op-ed in the Wheel about this incident in September 2017.