Protests Over Lenient Sentences Begin Outside New Bedford Court
NEW BEDFORD — Protestors gathered outside of New Bedford Third District Court on Wednesday morning to voice concerns over the perceived lenience of the state's judicial system.
The protest was organized by members of Neighborhoods United, an organization of 12 New Bedford neighborhoods, associations, and crime watch groups that are committed to the betterment of the community.
A small gathering turned out for the first day, and Jerry Pinto of Neighborhoods United is asking for more people to join the organization at the next protest. He says that the second chances handed out to violent and habitual criminals through light sentences and low bails have been putting communities at risk.
“We're out here today because it's time for the people and community to step forward and let the judges, elected officials know that we've had enough of these light bails and little cheesy sentences,” Pinto said. “We want them to hold people accountable for what they're doing and we'll have to start at the bottom and work our way to the top.”
The protest comes just three days following the shooting death of 42-year-old Weymouth Police Sergeant Michael Chesna and an innocent bystander. On Sunday morning, Chesna was shot ten times in the face and chest by 20-year-old Emanuel Lopes, who is well-known by Weymouth Police for prior and reportedly physical confrontations with authorities. Lopes also shot 77-year-old Vera Adams while running down the street after shooting Chesna. Adams was innocently sitting on her porch when Lopes fired several rounds that killed her.
Lopes was arrested for selling cocaine to minors in October 2017 and was released on $500 cash bail in November by Quincy District Court Judge Jeanmarie Carroll. Prosecutors had requested $5,000 cash bail. As part of his release, Carroll had ordered Lopes to remain drug-free as part of his pre-trial conditions, which he violated in February with a failed drug test. A notice of the violation was filed in April, to which Judge Carroll set the same conditions for Lopes with no additional penalties for violating the pre-trial conditions. Lopes was scheduled to return to court on July 30. He allegedly shot Chesna on July 15.
In another instance, West Yarmouth Police Sergeant Sean Gannon was shot and killed in the line of duty while serving an arrest warrant to an individual with a violent and lengthy criminal history. Gannon was gunned down by Thomas Latanowich, who is just 29-years-old and had well over 100 prior offenses before shooting Gannon in April.
Pinto says that Neighborhood's United will be protesting outside the courthouse again, and he's asking for more support. The next protest will be held next Thursday, July 26 at 7:30 a.m. outside of the Third District Court. For more information, call Neighborhood's United at 508-889-1752.