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Protests have broken out across the United States after a jury acquitted a Lebanese immigrant of a series of terror charges against him, prompting thousands to rally in cities across the country.
Philadelphia police said over 1,000 people rallied there against “false” and “inflammatory” allegations of terrorism. Authorities were on high alert as a precaution, but no arrests were made.
Protesters in the city were also met by hundreds of police officers, including counter-terrorism personnel, CNN affiliate WPVI-TV reported.
Civil rights leaders in Philadelphia said protesters were not allowed into the Eagles’ stadium and some reports said they had to climb over concert barricades and were kept from going there.
In San Francisco, some 3,000 protesters demonstrated outside federal courthouse where a jury acquitted Ali Salman Rifai of the federal offense of providing material support to ISIS.
Protesters marched through the city, chanting anti-ISIS slogans, waving signs and chanting “No justice, no peace.” A small group also entered the courthouse grounds and yelled at passersby.
In Camden, New Jersey, more than 3,000 protesters blocked traffic on a major highway at 10:30 a.m. Friday, the St. Paul Pioneer Press reported.
Some demonstrators reportedly were arrested.
A judge found Rifai not guilty Thursday of nine of 11 charges, including supporting terrorism by sending money to the ISIS-controlled territory in Syria.
“After careful deliberation, the jury has rendered their verdict,” U.S. District Judge Nathaniel Fox said during the trial. “The verdict I find is not guilty on all counts.”
“It’s one thing to set out to support terrorism,” said Nancy Luque, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office. “It’s another thing to support terrorism with your own money.”
Afterwards, Rifai’s attorney Terence Houck said his client will not appeal.
“There are issues here for government to address, issues for (prosecutors) to address,” Houck said. “Today I pray that they have courage to respond. And the people who support terrorism who made this country great will probably still commit acts of terrorism.”
No plans for appeal
The prosecutor’s office indicated there were no plans for an appeal.
“The government is continuing to hold this man personally responsible for his actions,” Luque said.
Rifai’s supporters said they were disappointed but were relieved after he was acquitted of all charges.
“This case is not about what he did as a person, this is about what he said,” said Sybil Tyrell of Atlantic City, New Jersey. “Our goal from the beginning was to raise awareness about this.”