Missouri clergy guilty of trespassing in Capitol protest

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jefferson city

Missouri Capitol Building in Jefferson City.

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) _ Twenty-two Missouri clergy members have been convicted of trespassing in connection with a peaceful 2014 protest at the state Capitol but acquitted of charges of disrupting government operations.

Jurors returned the verdict Wednesday night after a two-day trial. Sentencing is set for Thursday. The defendants face a fine of up to $500 and up to six months behind bars.

Those on trial were among hundreds of activists who sang hymns and chanted during a May 2014 protest over lawmakers’ refusal to expand Medicaid eligibility. Senate GOP leaders paused work as Capitol Police cleared the galleries.

Police arrested 23 clergy members who stayed, although only 22 were on trial Wednesday.

Several clergy members dressed in religious garments cried when the judge announced the not guilty verdict. They sat quietly when the misdemeanor trespassing verdict was announced.