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The Dartmouth
May 27, 2024 | Latest Issue
The Dartmouth

Prosecutor will not press charges against The Dartmouth journalists

A New Hampshire assistant county attorney motioned to vacate bail conditions for the two student journalists arrested during the May 1 protest.

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The State of New Hampshire declined to press charges against two student reporters for The Dartmouth. On May 7, Grafton assistant county attorney Mariana Pastore motioned the Second Circuit Court to remove the bail conditions imposed on Charlotte Hampton ’26 and Alesandra “Dre” Gonzales ’27, according to court documents. 

Hampton, a news managing editor and news reporter, and Gonzales, a news reporter and photographer, were arrested on May 1 while covering a pro-Palestinian protest and encampment on the Green. At the time of arrest, both wore press credentials, according to past reporting by The Dartmouth. 

The two were taken to the Lebanon Police Department and charged with criminal trespass. According to court documents, the State declined to prosecute because it “does not believe it can prove the charges against [Hampton and Gonzalez] beyond a reasonable doubt.”  

“I feel very relieved that the charges are not going to be pursued,” Hampton said. 

Hampton added that she was “not expecting that the charges were going to be dropped” after the College sent its initial statement to The Dartmouth on May 3. In the statement, a College spokesperson did not call for charges to be dropped against Hampton and Gonzales and instead wrote in support of their right to “vindicate” their belief of innocence “through the legal process.”

Four days later, College President Sian Leah Beilock submitted an open letter to The Dartmouth writing that Hampton and Gonzales “should not have been arrested for doing their jobs.” Beilock also wrote that the College was “working with local authorities to ensure this error is corrected.” Hampton said Beilock’s guest column helped her feel more confident she would not be prosecuted.

“I did have some solace from President Beilock’s [open letter] that said that they were pursuing getting our charges dropped, so I’m feeling great about it,” Hampton said.

Gonzales also said she is “glad” the State will not be pressing charges. 

“I think that the freedom of the press is a super important thing because people have the right to know what’s going on, whether that be locally, globally [or] nationally,” Gonzales said. “I’m glad to be able to get back to being the press and not having to worry about not being able to go on certain areas of campus.”

Both Hampton and Gonzales were initially barred from the Green, Parkhurst Hall and 14 Webster Ave. — the President’s residence — according to their clear forms. Following yesterday’s motion to vacate Hampton and Gonzales’s bail conditions, Hampton expressed excitement about making her return to the Green. 

“Not going on the Green is really a pain,” Hampton said. “I’ve been kind of biking two inches away from the edge of the Green everywhere I go. I’m looking forward to being able to sit on the Green and eat lunch and read a book again.”

Hampton’s and Gonzales’s arrests attracted national attention. The two made an appearance on CNN on May 2 and were the subjects of an open letter to Pastore and College President Sian Leah Beilock. In the May 7 letter, 15 national press organizations — led by the Student Press Law Center and the Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression — wrote to urge authorities to dismiss the charges. 

“These arrests silence student journalists at a time when the world relies on their coverage to capture the realities of campus events,” the letter wrote. 

Hampton also said the freedom of the press is “fragile” and in need of defending. She added that she was grateful for the national press organizations that supported her and Gonzales’s cause.

“I’m really happy to see that there have been all of these organizations that have stood behind us,” Hampton said. “What happened last week was really a clear threat to the free press. … I’m more fired up than ever about being a journalist.”

Charlotte Hampton ’26 and Alesandra Gonzales ’27 were not involved in the writing or editing of this article.