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Whittier Fieldhouse Protesters Acquitted Of Trespassing

Whittier Elementary School Fieldhouse On West 23rd Street. (Lisa Fielding/WBBM Photo)

Whittier Elementary School Fieldhouse On West 23rd Street. (Lisa Fielding/WBBM Photo)

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CHICAGO (STMW) – Nine protesters charged with trespassing after they tried to save a beloved Pilsen school fieldhouse were found not guilty Friday by a Cook County judge, the Sun-Times is reporting.

The nine — among them community activists and Chicago Public Schools teachers — were charged with misdemeanor criminal trespass to state-supported land after they camped out in August in a failed attempt to save the Whittier Elementary School fieldhouse, known as La Casita.

They were arrested when they tried to stop the demolition, which came without warning.

Cook County Associate Judge Clarence Burch agreed with the protesters’ lawyers who argued the prosecutor didn’t prove the fieldhouse, a separate building next to the school, was state-supported land.

Assistant State’s Attorney Christopher Moss told the judge it should be “inferred” that it is.

Supporters in the courtroom cheered at the judge’s verdict.

“Today’s verdict is a real victory for people who want to stand up for the rights of children,” said former Whittier teacher and Chicago Teachers Union organizer Norine Gutekanst.

(Source: Sun-Times Media Wire © Chicago Sun-Times 2013. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)