Mobile woman seeking dismissal of federal charges following 2020 protest

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MOBILE, Ala. (WKRG) — New developments on last year’s protest for racial equality in Downtown Mobile.

You may recall this video of a woman caught smashing a baseball bat into a patrol car. The woman accused in the case is challenging federal charges.

Tia Pugh is charged with obstructing, impeding, and interfering with law enforcement which affected interstate commerce.

Pugh’s attorney for the federal case is Gordon Armstrong. WKRG News 5 spoke with him about recent updates in the case.

Armstrong said, “We’re really challenging the constitutionality, the federal nexus and involvement of the commerce clause into the breaking of a police car window.” 

He said he believes the charge is a federal overreach. He said, “Anytime the federal courts are involved, it has to involve a federal concern, and the federal concern they’re saying is the commerce clause. They’re saying that her breaking a window that she affected commerce in some way, and that’s what we call a government overreach.”

He argues Pugh is one of many people who were out protesting that day, but is the only one facing charges. He said there’s no federal interest in this local matter. Armstrong said, “We’re seeing this across the country where the feds are coming in because the locals won’t do anything. Well the local law enforcement and the local courts in this case will do something and are doing something and we don’t have the same problems here in Mobile, Alabama that you do in Oregon or other parts of the country.”

Federal prosecutors disagree with Armstrong. In a response submitted on March 26, prosecutors stated why they believe Pugh should face charges.

It states in part:

“On May 31, 2020, over one hundred individuals occupied the Interstate 10 on
ramp at Water Street in downtown Mobile. At least some of these individuals did so
with the intention of occupying the elevated portions of I-10 that go through
downtown. However, only one individual — defendant Tia Pugh — was charged with
violating 18 U.S.C. § 231(a)(3). This is because Pugh, through her violent actions,
intentionally obstructed, interfered with, and impeded the Mobile Police Department’s
ability to quell the dangerous civil disorder occurring on the on-ramp.”

UNITED STATES’ RESPONSE TO MOTION TO DISMISS

Now, a judge will decide if the case will go to trial. If it does, trial would begin on May 17th.

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