A mayoral candidate was vindicated when charges stemming from a 2018 protest at Amarillo City Hall were recently dropped.

Kip Billups, an Amarillo homeless advocate and mayoral candidate, was acquitted on his charge of obstructing a highway or other passageway during his trial this week. The charges against Billups stemmed from a March 2018 protest that he led, which protested the City of Amarillo’s treatment of homeless individuals. A tent was set up on the steps of City Hall, which led to Billups’ arrest.

During the trial, Judge Walt Weaver issued an instructed verdict, essentially freeing Billups from the charges. Billups and Amarillo criminal defense attorney Ryan Brown, who represented Billups in the case, called the result a victory after claiming for months that Billups was targeted with the charges due to his opposition to the city’s policies.

“I think the judge today made the right decision,” Brown told KFDA-TV in Amarillo. “He stood up for everyone’s First Amendment rights, including Kip’s, to stand up and speak out in favor of homeless people, and outweighed the government’s interest of keeping people off of those steps at City Hall.”

Billups will now turn his attention to the May 4 mayoral election in Amarillo, in which he will face incumbent Ginger Nelson and fellow challenger Claudette Smith.

Thomas Warren

Thomas Warren, III is the editor-in-chief of the Amarillo Pioneer newspaper in Amarillo, Texas.