Protest proves peaceful

STEUBENVILLE – While it initially appeared the first day of the trial of two Steubenville High School student-athletes charged with rape might pass without protest, a familiar, but smaller, group of demonstrators arrived Wednesday.

Some gathered at the Jefferson County Courthouse, where three protests were held earlier this year and late last year, before migrating to the nearby County Justice Center, which houses the juvenile courtroom.

Wednesday’s demonstration, however, was a departure from previous protests in both size and mood. Hundreds attended previous demonstrations, during which protesters spewed criticism at local law enforcement and prosecutors and clamored for more people to be charged in the case.

Rather than voice objections, a group of about 20 people opted to stand in silence Wednesday to show their support for the 16-year-old alleged victim. Most donned Guy Fawkes masks, which were abundant during previous demonstrations organized by online activists.

“We’re here to support Jane Doe, but we’re going to let Lady Justice do the speaking,” said one protester, who painted his mask camouflage to match the military fatigues he wore. One decorated her mask with silver and pink glitter.

Another demonstrator arrived in the area on Tuesday night from California and said she will remain in Steubenville until the judge returns a verdict, which may not occur until Saturday.

Protesters, however, did not spare the defendants, a 17-year-old from Bloomingdale and a 16-year-old from Steubenville.

One sign delivered the lyrics of a song written to raise sexual assault awareness: “You’re gonna pay for this. This is something you just can’t get away with.”

Another sign reminded that “the world is still watching” the case, which was evident by the national and international media camped outside of the justice center Wednesday. A Jefferson County sheriff’s deputy stood at the entrance of the building’s rear parking lot, where around 15 cameramen waited for the defendants to arrive.

They swarmed every vehicle that approached and trained their lenses on the occupants while the cars paused before entering the parking lot, where the deputy would not permit the cameras to follow.