Marshall convicted; ‘UVA 17′ acquitted

A professor was convicted, but organizers of the "Living Wage" campaign at the University of Virginia cheered this afternoon's ruling in a Charlottesville courtroom acquitting all 17 students in their four-day sit-in.

Judge Robert Downer seemed to be admonishing UVA President John Casteen and COO Leonard Sandridge, both of whom testified at today's trial, for allowing the students to believe they could remain decamped in Madison Hall. Sandridge, in particular, told the squatters on the night of April 15 they had five minutes to leave. However, according to Downer's timing of the police videotape, the first arrest occurred after just four minutes.

"A reasonable person could not have felt like they could leave," explained defense counsel Steven Rosenfield, "because the police were swarming in and making arrests."

"We were there to do a good thing," an exultant Sean Butterfield said after the verdict, "and we did a good thing."

One of the 17, Butterfield stood on a low brick wall outside the General District Court and led the crowd in a few brief cheers that ended on a defiant note over the trespassing conviction of anthropology professor Wende Marshall.

Why was she arrested on day one of the protest when the students got four days in the president's foyer?

"According to the court, they didn't tell [the students] to leave," Marshall explains. "They told me to leave, and I refused."

Marshall says she'll probably appeal.

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