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Mettle Detector 

by KEVIN TAYLOR & r & & r & & lt;span class= & quot;dropcap & quot; & S & lt;/span & eriously, somebody wants to know at the entrance to the Spokane County Courthouse Monday, how do you get through the metal detectors with all those piercings?

"Oh, they're titanium. It's no problem," reply two people sporting about eight studs, rings or barbells between them on their faces.

So, despite the scary appearance of a metal-pocked face, it registers no alarm at the security machine. There could be a similarity between this and the case that attracted the young couple -- and about 60 others like them -- to the courthouse in the first place: the assault and trespass arrests of protesters in a downtown park on the Fourth of July.

"We are putting together a First Amendment defense team," says attorney Pat Stiley. Even assuming all media accounts, witness statements and police reports are true, Stiley says the team wonders, "OK, was there still a crime?"

The answer is no, he suggests. He says two dozen attorneys have expressed interest in joining forces to overturn the trespass charges on First Amendment grounds. People arrested at the protest are asked to attend a meeting at downtown Spokane's Center for Justice, 35 W. Main Ave., on Thursday at 5:30 pm.

Superior Court Judge Tari Eitzen's courtroom was stuffed to standing-room only with an atypical crowd of pierced, tattooed people to support Zachary St. John, 18, as he pleaded not guilty to a felony assault charge. He is accused of choking a police officer during the arrests at the end of a protest march into Riverfront Park on the Fourth of July. Eitzen set trial for Oct. 15. St. John says officers knocked him to the ground without provocation.

After leaving the courtroom, St. John and his attorney, Frank Cikutovich, disavowed a rash of spray-painted messages of support for him throughout downtown last week. St. John says he visited several vandalized businesses to say he did not condone the tagging.
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