All charges dropped against lemonade protesters

C.J. Ciaramella Contributor
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The lemonade three are free.

The Superior Court of the District of Columbia dropped all charges Monday against three activists arrested in August for selling 10-cent cups of lemonade on the lawn of the Capitol building.

Will Duffield, Meg McLain and Kathryn Dill were arrested on Aug. 20 for selling the lemonade as part of National Lemonade Freedom Day — a nationwide protest formed in response to a recent rash of children’s lemonade stands being shut down by police.

Duffield, McLain and Dill pleaded not guilty on Oct. 4 to “sale of goods on U.S. Capitol grounds” — a crime that carries a maximum prison sentence of 180 days. Vending on the lawn of the Capitol is not allowed.

The three faced an additional 180 days in jail after being held in contempt of court for refusing to submit to a urine test for drugs.

The urine sample was part of a program to avoid going to trial. The court also demanded the three submit to weekly drug testing and a substance abuse class. The lemonistas said all of this was a violation of their Fourth Amendment rights.

“It wasn’t a violent crime,” Dill said. “There were no victims, except all the thirsty people at the Capitol who couldn’t get lemonade because we were arrested.”

When the three appeared at court Monday, there was a new judge, who Mclain described as “jolly and friendly.” The judge announced the charges against them had been dropped.

“It was very relieving,” Dill said. “I would have probably have lost my job, and Megan and Will don’t even live close to the area.”

The judge did not say why the charges had been dropped, but Dill and McLain speculated it would have been not only costly but embarrassing to take the three to a full jury trial.

The three had also been banned from the Capitol grounds, but that, too, has been lifted. The first thing the three did after leaving court was take a picture in front of the Capitol building.

Mclain said the three have no plans at the moment for future protests, but “the next time we see some innocent person being oppressed, we’ll be there.”

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C.J. Ciaramella