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Charges being dropped against 2 accused of felonies in May protests in Jacksonville

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Two felony cases are being dismissed against men arrested the last weekend in May during protests in downtown Jacksonville.

The charge of inciting to riot against Brandon Hicks has now been reduced to disturbing the peace. The case has been diverted into pretrial intervention. If Hicks meets the conditions of PTI, that charge will be dropped.

Hicks was heard yelling, “Attack the police, fight the police, f**k the police!” during a protest following the death of George Floyd, according to police.

Hicks was one of four men charged with felonies that weekend.

Another, Ivan Zecher, was indicted on federal firearms charges after he was accused of carrying a Molotov cocktail to the protest.

On Friday, the Justice Department filed a motion to dismiss the indictment against Zecher, citing new evidence.

Zecher’s attorney Marcus Barnett said that new evidence is surveillance video that showed Zecher was standing on the sidewalk -- not in the roadway -- when he was arrested by the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office for allegedly blocking a roadway.

Barnett said that made his arrest unlawful, and so the evidence in Zecher’s backpack was unlawfully seized.

“The great thing about technology is that all these avenues all this information is now available. And it’s a great tool for holding the police and everybody else accountable,” said Barnett.

Barnett said he was preparing a motion to dismiss before the government filed its own motion Friday.

Zecher, a father of three, could be released from the Baker County jail this weekend.

State prosecutors have now dismissed charges for almost all of the demonstrators arrested over the first two days of protests in Jacksonville.

The state attorney finalized and filed a deposition in July dismissing charges against 15 protesters who were arrested during the protest that turned to unrest on Saturday, May 30.

The State Attorney’s Office announced last month it had dismissed charges against 48 other protesters arrested Sunday, May 31, during the second day of protest in Jacksonville following Floyd’s death.

The latest filing means the State Attorney’s Office has dismissed charges on at least 65 protesters arrested by Jacksonville Sheriff’s Officers in the first days of protests in downtown Jacksonville.