MARYSVILLE — Criminal charges were dismissed Thursday for a Marysville man who has been protesting against police brutality for months through music.
The city prosecutor’s office claimed a noise violation infraction had been elevated to a misdemeanor due to a “clerical/computer error.”
Marysville police officer David Allen cited Black Lives Matter protester Elton Davis, 34, in late June for playing music on the roof of his apartment building in a recurring protest in which Davis and a group of friends also waved signs to speak out against racism and police brutality.
It was never intended to be a criminal complaint, according to documents filed Thursday in Marysville Municipal Court.
“The officer states in his report he intended to file an infraction, not a criminal citation,” says the paperwork, signed by city prosecutor Jennifer Millett. “A clerical/computer error resulted in a criminal complaint being filed.”
The charge was dismissed with prejudice, meaning it can’t be filed again. The on-duty Marysville police officer had made the complaint and cited Davis through the mail on June 22.
Davis learned Tuesday — just a day after The Daily Herald reported on the citation — that the case would be dropped.
“WE HAVE A VICTORY Y’ALL!!!” he wrote on Facebook. “The prosecutor has dropped all charges!!!”
Davis and a group of friends have been protesting every Saturday for a couple of months on top of his apartment near the busy intersection of Grove Street and State Avenue. They began to protest after George Floyd was killed in the custody of Minneapolis police.
Davis doesn’t plan to stop anytime soon. He believes the gatherings may become even bigger. The police department has spoken with Davis about continuing the demonstrations, police spokesperson Cmdr. Mark Thomas said in an email.
“In the city’s efforts to support Mr. Davis, his rights, and desire to bring attention to the issues, the city has reached out to him with some suggestions of activities that might meet his goals and still be within the laws,” Thomas wrote.
Before he knew the charges were dropped, Davis started a GoFundMe page to help pay his legal fees. An Everett attorney also reached out to donate his services. Without that, Davis wouldn’t have been able to afford a lawyer. He’s a barber and with the ongoing pandemic hasn’t had regular work for months.
So far Davis has raised nearly $4,000. Now he plans to use that money to start a foundation for young people of color in the area to express themselves through art.
“As of right now I have five books on how to start a nonprofit corporation,” he said. “So I’ve been doing the homework.”
He also would like to buy the advertisement space on the side of the building where they’ve been protesting and cover it with a Black Lives Matter mural.
Right now, the wall displays names of businesses in the strip mall there, including “Audio Lab,” “Smoke Town,” and “R.V. Supplies & Marine.”
When Davis pulled into his apartment building around 5 p.m. Tuesday, a Marysville police officer was waiting to tell him the charges had been dropped.
He told Davis the prosecutor’s office had been trying to reach him by phone, but was unsuccessful. Davis never received a call but believes somehow they had the wrong number.
Many who have been protesting are from Marysville and Everett, and they wanted to see a demonstration closer to home.
They’ve been getting together from about 4 to 8 p.m. on Saturdays. Some are musicians and have set up a drum kit. They also play songs over loudspeakers.
In some cases the jams have helped ease tense moments.
“Throughout the eight weeks we’ve been doing this, we have people who were supporting us, but in anger,” Davis said. “The music helps a lot.”
About a month after the demonstrations began, Marysville police officer Allen drove past on his way to a verbal domestic violence report. The Marysville Police Department is less than a block from Davis’ apartment. Allen took photos of the group and drove around the building “in an attempt to determine who the resident was,” he wrote in a police report.
The detour took about 15 minutes, he noted. He didn’t try to talk to the demonstrators while he was there but searched records for a phone number to reach Davis. When Allen called, he apparently reached a voice mail box that belonged to someone named Joe.
Soon afterward, Davis received the ticket in the mail.
Allen’s police report did not mention the group’s anti-racist message, nor did it mention that they were protesting at all.
Davis is from Mississippi. He served in the Navy between 2005 and 2009 and was stationed at Naval Air Station Whidbey Island. He was trained as a jet mechanic.
He has lived in Marysville for about 10 years.
“Before this all started, I was pretty sure Marysville didn’t want me there,” Davis said. “But now that this has happened and people are reaching out and showing the love and support, it’s awesome.”