OGDEN — Eight supporters of Matthew Stewart arrived early Wednesday morning at a courthouse rally before his preliminary hearing on charges of shooting six police officers, one fatally, at his home.
"Disband the strike force, your house could be next" read on the protestor’s signs outside the courthouse, as officers from the Ogden Police Department, which clearly outnumbered the protesters, looked on.
Keep the Peace, the supporters of Stewart, began assembling outside the 2nd District Courthouse, 2525 Grant Ave., just before 8 a.m.
The three-day hearing for Stewart began at 8:30 a.m.
Protesters reiterated statements to the media from a news release.
"Matthew is a victim of the drug war, a survivor of police violence, a police scapegoat and political prisoner. We must support him and all political prisoners — or all our civil liberties will be lost," it states.
In the news release issued shortly after 5 p.m. Tuesday, the Stewart supporters also said, "We’re devastated by Matthew being made a scapegoat for violent mistakes and procedures of the police."
The Jan. 4 gun battle at Stewart’s home stemmed from the Weber-Morgan Narcotics Strike Force serving a warrant for marijuana cultivation.
Stewart is charged with capital homicide in the death of agent Jared Francom, plus seven counts of attempted aggravated murder for allegedly shooting at seven other officers, five of whom were wounded.
Stewart was shot four times and has endured several surgeries while held without bail.
A similar rally earlier this year in front of the Weber County Attorney’s Office drew almost as many members of the media as participants.