CONCORD, NH – Attorneys are petitioning the Hillsborough Superior Court to lift the 30-day jail sentence imposed against a teen arrested during the summer protest in Manchester over the death of George Floyd.
Antwan Stroud, now 19, was sentenced to jail time in January after pleading guilty to one count of misdemeanor riot for his alleged actions during a June Black Lives Matter protest on South Willow Street.
Last month, Stroud filed a motion to withdraw his plea, saying the sentence is not fair.
“The focus isn’t so much on whether he is guilty or isn’t guilty, it’s did he get a fair sentence,” said Donna Brown, one of Stroud’s new attorneys working to keep him out of jail.
Stroud is set to start serving his jail sentence this summer, and Judge Will Delker in Hillsborough Superior Court North allowed for a delay due to a COVID-19 outbreak in the Valley Street Jail.
“We’d like him not to serve the time at all,” Brown said.
Brown and attorney Michael Eaton argue Stroud’s sentence is much more severe than the sentences imposed on other people arrested on the night of the protests. The three other defendants from the June protests are all white.
“The issue is sentencing disparity,” Brown said.
Stroud took park in the June 2 protest in Manchester where people were protesting Floyd’s killing by Minneapolis police officers.
Brown said New Hampshire currently does not keep data on the sentencing outcomes for minorities, but according to data presented last summer to the Law Enforcement Accountability, Community and Transparency Commission, New Hampshire does have disparate outcomes for minorities.
Gilles Bissonnette of ACLU-NH presented data to the commission from the New Hampshire Department of Corrections showing that 6 percent of the state’s prison population is African American, while the state’s African American population in total is about 2 to 3 percent.
This week, ACLU-NH, American Friends Service Committee, Black Lives Matter Manchester, Black Lives Matter Nashua, NAACP Manchester, Rights and Democracy NH, and the Granite State Organizing Project issued a joint statement decrying Stroud’s sentence.
Brown said police, prosecutors, and courts need to start keeping data on the sentencing outcomes for minorities. In Stroud’s case, his original attorney did not have all the facts in the case, including that the white defendants did not get jail time before the plea agreement was accepted.
“His lawyer didn’t have all the facts,” Brown said. “People should have that information.”
Assistant Hillsborough County Attorney Thomas Craig differs with Brown’s take on the case. While there were three other defendants from the June protests, Stroud was alone in advocating violence against a police officer, according to Craig.
“(Stroud) incited violence against Police Officer Mark Aquino while Aquino was surrounded by a group of approximately ten others at a red light,” Craig wrote. “The Defendant spat on Officer Aquino’s car and called on the group to pull Officer Aquino out of his car. The Defendant filmed this incident and posted it to his Facebook, in effect encouraging even more people to incite violence.”
As for the sentences of the other defendants, Craig wrote in his objection, none of the others rose to the same level as Stroud.
“The individuals involved in the South Willow Street incident were treated fairly and sentenced based on their conduct and nothing more,” Craig wrote. “Mr. Stroud committed a more serious crime and was sentenced accordingly.”