Stroud wants community service; prosecutors insist on original jail sentence

·4 min read

Jul. 24—Antwan Stroud, the young Black man originally sentenced to jail for his participation in the unrest that followed a Black Lives Matter rally last year in Manchester, wants to be resentenced to 50 hours of community service where he can fight social injustice.

Stroud's attorney suggested the sentence in court papers filed last week in Hillsborough County Superior Court.

Stroud, 19, is scheduled to go before a judge on Friday to be re-sentenced on a misdemeanor charge of riot.

"I should not have used the language I did that night, and I should not have behaved like I did or even suggested any violence," Stroud wrote in a typed statement submitted by his lawyer.

Earlier this year, Superior Court Judge Will Delker reopened the case after the New Hampshire Union Leader reported on disparities between Stroud's sentence and the sentences of others arrested after the June 2021 unrest on South Willow Street. The unrest focused on the death of George Floyd while in Minneapolis police custody.

Stroud was sentenced to 30 days in jail and two years of probation. Whites facing similar charges received community service and suspended sentences.

Meanwhile, the prosecutor who handled the felony South Willow Street prosecutions urged Delker to impose the initial sentence of 30 days in jail and two years of probation.

"The police, the community, and others who may seek to engage in similar behavior need to know that incidents like this will not go unpunished," wrote Thomas Craig, an Assistant Hillsborough County Attorney.

The two sides' filings are a study in contrasts.

Stroud's lawyer submitted a 12-page treatise that references media reports about racism in New Hampshire and studies about the psychological impact of racism.

The package includes a letter from the American Friends Service Committee offering to let Stroud serve 50 hours of community service advocating for justice-related causes, and it includes a statement from Stroud detailing his own experiences with racism as well as his mea culpa.

"Although my experiences with racism led me to be there that night, I let my emotions get the better of me and I know that what I did was wrong," reads a portion of Stroud's statement.

Craig's three-page brief makes no mention of race. It describes Stroud's profanity-laden threats and faults Stroud for spitting at an unmarked police car along with others.

"The defendant has no record. However, the Defendant's attempts to turn an otherwise peaceful protest to a violent situation for (police officer) Mark Aquino demands a consequence," Craig said.

Craig also provided a case from June 2020 in which a man received a 4-month jail sentence for spitting on the hand of a police officer. No evidence was presented that any saliva actually touched Aquino, whose cruiser windows appeared rolled up in a video of the incident.

Craig tries to downplay any comparison with Kyle Toledo, who was in the crowd with Stroud and was arrested for throwing a firework over the head of others and into a parking lot, about 10 feet from an occupied car.

Toledo, who is White and was 20 at the time, was sentenced to 50 hours of community service and no probation.

Stroud's lawyer, Donna Brown, has argued that the actions are roughly the same, and the co-defendants should have received similar sentences.

That argument has already held sway with Delker. In April, the judge asked how any defendant could think the system was fair when a person standing next to him received no jail time "simply because the prosecutor decided to treat one man more harshly than the other."

Delker made the statement when he issued a written order calling for a new sentencing hearing.

In Brown's filing, she details Stroud's encounters with racism and police. In school, he was called "Blackie" and "porch monkey."

Last year, police stopped Stroud and two others at gunpoint and began questioning them, Brown wrote. They were looking for a Black suspect who was wearing a hoodie; Stroud was not wearing a hoodie.

"It has been hard being a Black person in New Hampshire," Stroud wrote. "And I have seen the videos of police killing other Black people, which have been hard to watch. As a shy person, I tried to not let it get to me. But it did, and that is what led me to protest that night."

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