One of two mothers who were arrested last year in their protest against the forced installation of smart meters on their property was found not guilty by a jury this week.
Malia "Kim" Bendis was acquitted in DuPage County, Illinois, court of a misdemeanor for resisting or obstructing a police officer, the Chicago Tribune reported. At the time of the incident, Bendis was also charged with eavesdropping because she recorded a police officer, but the law that supported this charge was later ruled unconstitutional, according to the newspaper.
Kim Bendis, president of a group in Naperville, Illinois, that opposes the city's smart meter program, spoke with police last year. She was more recently found not guilty of in court of charges brought against her while she and another mother protested smart meter installation. (Image source: WBBM-TV)
TheBlaze first reported the arrest of Bendis and fellow anti-smart meter activist Jennifer Stahl in January 2013. The Napperville, Illinois, women were part of a group that did not support the required replacement of their analog meters with wireless smart meters by the city.
Smart meters are controversial as some believe they could infringe on personal privacy or affect their health and safety.
An analog meter (left) next to a smart meter (right) owned by PG&E. The utility company' is one of many replacing old meters with new, higher-tech options that they say can collect information without human help, generate more accurate power bills, even send an alert if the power goes out. (AP/Gosia Wozniacka)
The American Cancer Society has addressed concerns about smart meter radiofrequency waves, saying the are considered a "possible carcinogen."
"Because RF radiation is a possible carcinogen, and smart meters give off RF radiation, it is possible that smart meters could increase cancer risk. Still, it isn’t clear what risk, if any there might be from living in a home with a smart meter," the society's website stated, adding that it would be "nearly impossible to conduct a study to prove or disprove a link between living in a house with smart meters and cancer because people have so many sources of exposure to RF and the level of exposure from this source is so small."
Bendis was filming Stahl, who was arrested because she refused to allow smart meter installation, and was subsequently taken in herself when she refused to stop recording.
Jennifer Stahl was led away in handcuffs by police in January 2013 when she refused to allow workers to install a smart meter on her property. (Image source: WBBM-TV)
At the time of their arrest, Tom Glass, a leader of Naperville Smart Meter Awareness group, told TheBlaze that it wasn't even about smart meters anymore.
“This has little to do with smart meters now,” Glass said last year. “This is about an overbearing government.”
Watch this WBBM-TV report that included footage shot by Bendis:
The Chicago Tribune has more on the arguments presented in court regarding the incident more than a year later:
The detectives testified that Bendis did not immediately surrender her camera and its memory card, refused repeated orders to turn around to be handcuffed and tried to twist away from them.
Bendis testified that in the minutes after the sergeant ordered her arrest, she was standing in the driveway talking to the detectives and that a TV news camera crew was nearby. She said that after the news crew left her immediate vicinity, the officers became confrontational and eventually pushed her up against a tree to handcuff her. They never asked her to turn around to be cuffed, Bendis told jurors
After the jury found her not guilty, the Tribune reported that Bendis broke down in court.
“I’m so glad this part is over, and I’m thankful to my legal team and the jury,” she said, according to the newspaper. “I just want to go home to my children.”
As for Stahl, the Tribune reported that her citation was dropped earlier when she completed a diversion program.