Not guilty! (again)Five men -- arrested for drumming "too loudly" during a protest against the city of Orlando's policies on homelessness -- have been acquitted of charges they violated a noise ordinance.
Ryan Hutchinson, Bryan Jones, Brett Mason, Eric Montanez and Will Vertlieb, all members of Orlando Food Not Bombs, were arrested in June 2007 during a protest outside a restaurant where Mayor Buddy Dyer was holding a campaign fund-raising event.
After their acquittals, the defendants were able to reclaim their drums, which had confiscated as "evidence" by Orlando police.
This is the second acquittal for Montanez. In October 2007, a jury found him not guilty of violating the city's food-sharing ordinance. In both cases the FNB defendants were represented by Jacqueline Dowd of Legal Advocacy at Work, an Orlando law firm which provides free legal services for homeless and low-income clients.
A federal lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the food-sharing ordinance is scheduled to go to trial in June.