Veteran and activist John Miska, who was followed by a group of protesters and called a “Nazi” after a recent court hearing, filed a criminal charge for abusive language against a member of what he called a “mob.” On November 5, a judge found her not guilty.
Anti-racist activist Donna Gasapo is known for hurling insults and flipping middle fingers outside local courtrooms, but Judge Robert Downer ruled that her speech is protected and noted no evidence showed Gasapo making physical contact with him.
“As you know, in this community, we have been pushing the limit of the First Amendment,” said the judge.
Miska, who has a disability that requires him to use a cane, said Gasapo spit on him and that her behavior intimidated him. He said he asked for police to preserve their footage of the incident, but they did not.
With no video corroboration, he called an officer who observed the interaction to testify. The cop confirmed that a large crowd followed Miska and screamed at him, but said he couldn’t remember the details.
“Unfortunately, we’ve dealt with a lot of these recently and they all run together,” the officer said.
Judge Downer said he did believe Miska’s testimony—including that Gasapo allegedly encouraged the crowd to “kill Nazis”—and entered a two-year protective order against her.
Said Gasapo, “I’ve never said those words in my life,” and she said she never threatened Miska. (In June, she was found guilty of screaming insulting words at Unite the Right organizer Jason Kessler, who wanted $500. The same judge fined her $495 less than that in that case.)
Miska, who wore a Denver Riggleman campaign sticker to his trial and is an outspoken supporter of Charlottesville’s Confederate memorials, said, “They’ve taken it to their mind that I’m the devil incarnate because of my political stance.”
Updated November 6 at 12:30pm with additional reporting.