Despite authorities fearing that the June 11 rally supporting Steven Avery and Brendan Dassey would turn violent, protesters marched peacefully this weekend, but ended up cutting the event short.
The Herald Times Reporter reports that rally-goers packed up and left around a 2:15 p.m., 45 minutes earlier than the scheduled end time of 3:00 p.m. It wasn’t due to a low turn out, as at least 50 people, including Steven Avery’s mother, Dolores, and Brendan Dassey’s mother and stepfather, Barb Tadych and Scott, were in attendance. Manitowoc Police Capt. Larry Zimney wasn’t sure why the event ended early, but he stated it was so peaceful that a few of the four police officers assigned to the event were asked to go home early as well.
“It was peaceful and respectful, and our police presence was unnecessary, so we backed off. We did have officers on patrol keeping an eye on things.”
Even though Avery supporters left early, the message is still crystal clear: supporters who showed up stand behind Avery and Dassey 100 percent. Both Avery and Dassey are currently serving life sentences behind bars for the 2005 murder of 25-year-old freelance photographer Teresa Halbach. Barb Tadych is still passionate about her son’s innocence, and plans to continue the fight to get him released.
“I don’t know how people can sleep at night for doing this to my son.”
Tadych’s sentiments were apparently shared among the protesters, including many who held hand-made signs that read, “Free the innocent, jail the guilty” and “We stand 4 innocence.” Others yelled, “Honk for justice,” and as vehicles approached Manitowoc County’s Eighth Street and Washington Street. Some drivers honked their horns in support of the event, while others drove away while rolling up their windows.
Several other of Avery’s family members were in attendance, including Kim Ducat, his cousin. Ducat said that Avery is a “gentle soul” who has spent 30 years in prison for crimes that she doesn’t feel he committed.
“To see the overall support, the better it is for anyone who is in prison that shouldn’t be. Steven has been in prison for 30 years for crimes he didn’t commit. He’s a gentle soul.”
Dassey’s cousin and Avery’s niece, Carla Chase, also attended. She indicated that the love and support on social media for both men, from countless people across the world, has connected them so much that she considers the supporters as “an extended family.”
“It’s like an extended family on Facebook.”
Chase is aware that there are others that still feel that Avery and Dassey are guilty, but she said she’s learned to ignore the naysayers while continuing to fight for their freedom.
“We hear the whispers, but we just move on.”
Many locals refuse to talk about the case that made their hometown infamous. Yet, Michael Mueller, 30, who’s lived in Manitowoc County his entire life, willingly spoke out about the case, indicating he had no idea a rally was even scheduled until the day it happened. He also didn’t understand why the interest was still so high in the Avery and Dassey case when crime is happening all over the nation that needs attention.
“There is injustice all over the United States. Why is this important to people? Personally, I am upset about the convicted rapist at Stanford. Now you want to talk about Avery? Who cares?”
Mueller was referring to the recent conviction of former Stanford swimmer, Brock Turner, who was given a six-month jail sentence for sexually assaulting a girl at a frat party. Mueller also stated that although he watched the Netflix Making a Murderer documentary, he was unable to form his own opinion since he wasn’t an attorney.
In addition to the rally for Steven Avery in Manitowoc County, other rallies were scheduled to take place across the world on the same day, including protests in Asheville, Boston, Manchester, San Francisco, and Washington, D.C.
[Photo by Morry Gash/AP Images]