AP

South Carolina judge upholds activist’s 4-year prison term

Oct 12, 2022, 1:47 PM | Updated: 3:34 pm

FILE - Brittany Martin, center, wearing striped clothing, confronts police as demonstrators in supp...

FILE - Brittany Martin, center, wearing striped clothing, confronts police as demonstrators in support of George Floyd march with an escort around downtown Sumter, S.C., on May 31, 2020. Martin, a pregnant Black activist serving four years in prison over comments she made to police during racial justice protests in the summer of 2020, will not receive a lesser sentence, a judge has ruled. (Micah Green/The Item via AP, File)

(Micah Green/The Item via AP, File)

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — A pregnant Black activist serving four years in prison over comments she made to police during racial justice protests in the summer of 2020 will not receive a lesser sentence, a judge in South Carolina has ruled.

A jury this spring found Brittany Martin, 34, of Sumter, South Carolina, guilty of breaching the peace in a high and aggravated manner. Martin’s attorneys pushed for the sentence to be reconsidered and expressed concern about her pregnancy and health. Racial justice groups also got involved.

In an Oct. 5 order, Judge R. Kirk Griffin pointed to Martin’s prior criminal convictions that he said contributed to her original sentence.

In November 2020, an Iowa judge sentenced Martin to probation for leaving the scene of an injury and willfully causing bodily harm after her teenage son accused her of purposely hitting him with her SUV and driving away. Griffin also noted previous convictions across multiple states for shoplifting, public disorderly conduct and possession of a short-barreled shotgun.

Sumter County Assistant Solicitor Bronwyn McElveen said in a September filing that Martin has been on probation at least six times.

“Probation has not been a deterrent to further criminal activities for the Defendant,” Griffin wrote in his order. “An active prison sentence was appropriate in this instance.”

Breach of the peace is a misdemeanor charge in South Carolina punishable by up to 10 years imprisonment when elevated to a “high and aggravated manner.”

Police body camera recordings presented in court and shared with the Associated Press show Martin addressing police officers during multiple days of demonstrations.

“Some of us gon’ be hurting. And some of y’all gon’ be hurting,” Martin told officers in one video. “We ready to die for this. We tired of it. You better be ready to die for the blue. I’m ready to die for the Black.”

McElveen also said in the filing that Martin’s actions prompted the city to impose a curfew and a local business lost profits because it had to close early.

The jury in May acquitted Martin of inciting a riot and reached no verdict on pending charges that she threatened public officials’ lives.

Martin’s lawyers argued that the sentence was inconsistent with similar cases in South Carolina and stiff compared to those doled out for Jan. 6 rioters. In a Wednesday statement, Bakari Sellers, her attorney and a former state lawmaker, said four years is “excessive” and that he intends to appeal.

Griffin said it was difficult to compare federal convictions from the Jan. 6 riots and the specifics of the case.

“The sentence in this case was based on the crime committed, the nature and classification of the offense, the Defendant’s prior criminal history/recidivism, and the seriousness of the crime,” Griffin wrote.

___

James Pollard is a corps member for the Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a nonprofit national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms to report on undercovered issues.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

President Joe Biden gestures after speaking to graduating students at the Morehouse College commenc...

Associated Press

Biden tells Morehouse graduates that scenes in Gaza from the Israel-Hamas war break his heart, too

Joe Biden on Sunday offered his most direct recognition of U.S. students' anguish over the Israel-Hamas war.

1 day ago

Rudy Giuliani...

Associated Press

Rudy Giuliani is the final defendant served indictment in Arizona fake elector case

Rudy Giuliani has been served an indictment in Arizona's fake elector case for his role in an attempt to overturn the 2020 election.

2 days ago

Houston storms cause widespread damage on Friday...

Associated Press

Some in Houston facing no power for weeks after storms cause widespread damage, killing at least 4

Houston storms cause widespread damage on Friday, May 17. Thunderstorms hit the southeastern part of Texas, killing at least four people.

3 days ago

Man gets 30 years in prison for attacking ex-Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s husband with a hammer...

Associated Press

Man gets 30 years in prison for attacking ex-Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s husband with a hammer

A man has been sentenced to 30 years in prison for attacking the husband of then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi with a hammer.

3 days ago

audio from President Joe Biden’s interview about classified documents blocked...

Associated Press

GOP advances Garland contempt charges after White House exerts executive privilege over Biden audio

The move to release audio from President Joe Biden’s interview about classified documents was blocked on Thursday by the White House.

4 days ago

Asylum processing for new migrants: Changes could come soon...

Associated Press

The Biden administration is planning more changes to quicken asylum processing for new migrants

The Biden administration is planning to quicken the asylum processing for new migrants as an interim step rather than an executive order.

5 days ago

Sponsored Articles

...

COLLINS COMFORT MASTERS

Here are 5 things Arizona residents need to know about their HVAC system

It's warming back up in the Valley, which means it's time to think about your air conditioning system's preparedness for summer.

...

DISC Desert Institute for Spine Care

Sciatica pain is treatable but surgery may be required

Sciatica pain is one of the most common ailments a person can face, and if not taken seriously, it could become one of the most harmful.

...

Collins Comfort Masters

Avoid a potential emergency and get your home’s heating and furnace safety checked

With the weather getting colder throughout the Valley, the best time to make sure your heating is all up to date is now. 

South Carolina judge upholds activist’s 4-year prison term