By Jessica Mathews /

Impeding traffic charges have been dropped by a local judge against nearly 30 people involved in protests in downtown Chelsea last summer.

More than a dozen people who took part in the protests attended a virtual court hearing before Washtenaw County 14A-3 District Court Judge Anna Frushour Monday. She dismissed the charges, saying they violated the First Amendment rights of those charged. Chelsea Police issued 47 civil infraction tickets to 29 individuals for impeding traffic, including seven juveniles. Of those, 12 were adjudicated and two were dismissed by the issuing officer before the court hearing on Monday. The tickets carried a $180 fine and reported that 31 charges in total were dismissed.

At a meeting last week, the Chelsea City Council voted unanimously to recommend police drop the pending charges. Despite that, Chief Edward Toth declined, saying the group that led the protest, Anti-Racist Chelsea Youth, or ARCY, were properly cited, due to what was termed the “frequency of events” and “lack of leadership and organization.” A press release was issued Friday, the same day protestors gathered outside of the department calling on it to voluntarily drop the tickets. Toth commented that it is not within the Department’s authority to drop civil charges after they have been submitted to the court and it was up to a judge to decide.

Police alleged the individuals were blocking the street while demonstrating. Judge Frushour commented during Monday’s hearing that it was that specific language that made the tickets about more than just impeding traffic.