General Sessions Court Judge Gary Starnes said he is recusing himself from the protester cases after "vicious personal attacks against me and my nine-year-old grandson."
Judge Starnes had been set to hear cases against Chattanooga protest leaders Marie Mott, Cameron Williams and several others on Oct. 8.
Ms. Mott at a rally on Wednesday at Miller Park asked for Judge Starnes to recuse himself from the case, saying there is an image on social media of him endorsing “Blue Lives Matter.”
She said, “The judge presiding over the case is seen tagged with his wife, he has his grandchild carrying with other children in the neighborhood a “Blue Lives Matter” flag, and then one of them has a gun on his shoulder. He says that is a matter of patriotism.
“Your job as a judge is to be impartial. And you can’t side in your private life with the police, and then show up to work and then lock up innocent black and brown bodies as if you don’t have a connection.”
Judge Starnes said, "In response to recent public statements, let me be very clear: there was no bias or conflict of interest whatsoever with regard to me hearing what I will refer to as the protester cases.
"I would have been 100 percent unbiased and impartial in every way. However, the vicious, personal attacks on myself and my nine-year-old grandson have made it impossible for me to hear at least one of those cases.
"In order to avoid any appearance of impropriety, to avoid any negative effect on the judiciary, and in the interest of my grandson's privacy and safety, I have decided to recuse myself from all of these cases effective immediately.
"The Administrative Office of the courts will appoint another judge to hear these cases."
Ms. Mott and Cameron Williams are both facing reckless burning and vandalism charges for burning the Sheriff’s Department’s flag during an earlier protest. They and a few other protesters are also facing charges for blocking the street during a May 30 protest.