Tension had built by noon on Wednesday at U.S. Federal Court in Boston, where Boston bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev is expected to appear for his first public appearance since being apprehended in a dry-docked Watertown boat.
A handful of demonstrators connected to the “Free Jahar” social media group had already showed up outside the courthouse, holding signs and proclaiming, “Jahar is innocent.” The group, many adorned in black “Free Jahar” T-shirts, cheered when the motorcade brought the 19-year-old terror suspect to the courthouse.
Tsarnaev faces charges in connection with the deadly April 15 terror attack that killed three marathon spectators and the subsequent manhunt that began with the execution-style murder of an MIT officer, and ended hours later with Tsarnaev’s arrest.
Tsarnaev’s supporters faced opposition from one Bostonian, who confronted a demonstrator, Dunkin’ Donuts coffee in hand.
Demonstrators were also gathered inside the courthouse early Wednesday. Some spoke to camped-out media, while others meandered around the court hallways, ignoring dozens of stares from onlookers.
A young woman primping at a restroom mirror confirmed that she was one of his supporters, but meekly declined an interview. She was wearing a “Free Jahar” T-shirt and dark sunglasses.
According to Free The Lion, an anonymously-led organization devoted to seeing Tsarnaev is protected by legal rights afforded to US citizens, there are thousands of people from across the globe who are skeptical of the government’s assertion that the teen is guilty.
The countermovement, however, is up against millions more – including 264 bombing victims – who are convinced of the teen’s involvement in the deadly terror attack.
A federal grand jury returned a 30-count indictment last month accusing the Kyrgyzstan-born teen of using a weapon of mass destruction and conspiracy. Seventeen of the charges carry a potential death penalty.