Third protest rally set for noon Saturday

STEUBENVILLE – The third rally since the end of December protesting what organizers say is the lack of prosecution of more individuals in the alleged rape of a teenage girl is set for noon Saturday in front of the Jefferson County Courthouse.

The rally, organized by the Internet hacktivist group Anonymous, will be similar to the previous rallies protesting how local authorities have handled the investigation of the incident, which allegedly occurred Aug. 11-12. Two Steubenville High School student-athletes have been charged in the alleged incident, Trent Mays, 16, of Bloomingdale and Malik Richmond, 16, of Steubenville. Mays also faces a charge of illegal use of a minor in nudity-oriented material for allegedly having a picture of the victim in an outgoing text message on his cell phone. Attorneys for both defendants have denied the charges.

The trial of the Steubenville High School student-athletes is set for March 13 before visiting Judge Tom Lipps.

Earlier this week, Lipps denied a motion for a change of venue as well as ruling the trial will be held in open court and continued the trial until March 13. The original trial date had been set for Feb. 13.

The previous protests attracted national and international attention, after media outlets took an interest in the case. However, national media attention has waned since the last rally.

Despite inclement weather, the rally at the courthouse Dec. 29 drew between 300 and 400 people. A second rally on Jan. 5 drew an estimated 1,500 to 2,000 people. The rally planned for Saturday – dubbed OpRollRedRoll by organizers – already had more than 1,600 people committed to attend, according to a invite page.

“It has been encouraged by some that we wear (Steubenville High School) clothing, or in lieu of that, black and red,” the Facebook invite page reads. “I think that this is a wonderful idea. We want to show the wonderful people of this community that we are not attacking their city. We’re fighting for the rights of Jane Doe, as well as fighting a corrupt system that appears to have been in place for decades.”

The case went national after a video of a former Steubenville High School student-athlete went viral. The 12-and-one-half minute video, presumably shot during the night of the alleged incident, shows a former Steubenville High School student-athlete and others crudely joking about what some contend is the alleged rape. However, law enforcement officials since have said the video was made at another time and date and has no bearing on the case. Officials also have said no charges were expected to be filed against the individual in the video.

A Stand Up For Steubenville rally was held in support of the community Jan. 12 at Jim Wood Park.

On Thursday, the group V-Day Akron announced that its members plan to hold a flash mob in front of the Jefferson County Courthouse at 12:15 p.m. on Feb. 14 to show support for and demand justice for the 16-year-old alleged victim in the case. According to a press release from the group, the flash mob will be held in conjunction with One Billion Rising, a day of action by the global activist movement to end violence against women and girls.