A judge has dismissed charges of trespassing, unlawful assembly and resisting arrest against a group of Iroquois tax protesters who clashed with police on Onondaga tribal land.
Town of Onondaga Justice Philip C. Miller dismissed all the charges against six defendants, while only disorderly conduct charges remain against 13 other defendants, who must return to court Sept. 9.
Miller still could decide to drop the remaining charges at that time.
"If I find the charges are sufficient to proceed, I'll have to address the jurisdictional issue," Miller said.
Defense attorneys argued that state police violated a 203-year-old treaty and the U.S. Constitution by entering the Onondaga Indian Nation to arrest the protesters on May 18.
They said that the protesters were on Iroquois Confederacy land, with the owner's consent, and that New York state lacks jurisdiction over them because of the Iroquois' sovereign status.
Miller also dropped disorderly conduct charges against six of the protesters, citing legal deficiencies in the affidavit given by a state police investigator.
Those arrested were among a group maintaining a bonfire on Andrew Jones' property on the Onondaga territory in protest of an interim tax agreement between the state and some of the Indian nations. A melee ensued when state police said the protesters tried to block nearby Interstate 81.
The demonstrators accused troopers of using excessive force. The incident is under internal investigation by state police officials, who expect to complete their probe soon.
Jones said he had invited the protesters onto his property to take part in a peaceful demonstration and a sacred bonfire.