D.A. withdraws felony charges in flag-burning

D.A. withdraws felony charges in flag-burning

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 The Philadelphia District Attorney’s office dropped two felony charges against a trans woman arrested on Sunday at a Pride event June 13, but will proceed to trial on two misdemeanor charges.

ReeAnna Segin, a trans woman from New Jersey, was arrested at the Pride parade on Sunday after she attempted to set fire to a flag in support of law enforcement during the celebration.

The D.A.’s office dropped the attempted arson and causing/risking a catastrophe felony charges “after additional investigation into the incident,” spokesman Ben Waxman said in a statement. The misdemeanor charges include possession of an instrument of crime and recklessly endangering another person.

Segin held up the blue-line “Blue Lives Matter” flag along with a can of VM&P Naphtha, a paint thinner, in the middle of a crowd on 12th and Locust before police officers arrested her. The D.A.’s office said her backpack also included two road flares and a blue lighter stick.

Segin gave officers her dead name — her name that was assigned at birth — and was transferred to the Curran-Fromhold Correctional Facility, a men’s prison, after being held at police headquarters.

Her bail was set at $5,000, with 10 percent required for her release. Segin was released June 11 after several activist groups, including Philly Socialists and Philly for REAL Justice, raised more than $2,500 through Venmo and PayPal from online supporters.

Amber Hikes, executive director of the Mayor’s Office of LGBT Affairs, joined Segin’s father and community organizers to help post bail. In response to a commenter on Facebook asking why Segin was housed the men’s prison, Hikes replied, “The policy of the Department of Corrections is to house individuals according to sex assigned at birth. Our office is currently working with the [department] to change the policy but it’s a long battle.”

The Philly Socialists, a grassroots group, supported Segin after her arrest and provided updates on her status via social media. The group condemned the presence of police at Pride celebrations.

In a statement following Segin’s release, Philly Socialists wrote: “As an institution, the police have no place at Pride. Police presence at Pride represents an affront to LGBTQ people and people of color, who daily face threats of unjustified, brutal violence and death at the hands of the police state. We must not forget the courageous work of trans women of color activists like Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera, whose actions at Stonewall against the dehumanizing systems of police oppression laid the groundwork for Pride and for the LGBT movement as a whole.” 

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