DC Jury Acquits Six Inauguration Day Defendants on All Counts

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Above image from the Defend J20 Resistance Twitter page.

Note: We will have more coverage of this important case tomorrow. The jury stood up to the government’s guilt-by-association prosecution that attempted to criminalize dissent. This is a very important decision as it threatened the right to protest in Washington, DC and nationally. The government should drop all charges of conspiracy. Unless prosecutors have evidence that a specific person committed a crime, there should be no prosecution.  KZ

J20 protest “Make Racists Afraid Again” by Zach Gibson for Getty Images.

Jurors Reject Government’s attempt to Criminalize Dissent

Supporters call for dismissal of charges against 188 remaining Inauguration Day defendants awaiting trial

Washington, DC – After two days of deliberation, a DC jury today found all six Inauguration Day defendants not guilty on all eight counts—-misdemeanor rioting and conspiracy to riot, and five counts of felony property destruction. Defendants Jennifer Armento, Oliver Harris, Britt Lawson, Michelle “Miel” Macchio, Christina Simmons, and Alexei Wood left the courthouse today elated by the outcome.

The government still intends to try the remaining 188 Inauguration Day defendants on similar riot-related charges, but supporters are calling on the Trump administration to dismiss all of those charges. “This is a clear victory for the six defendants who were just tried and a rejection of the government’s attempt to criminalize dissent,” said Betty Rothstein of Defend J20 Resistance. “We’re continuing to call on the Trump administration to dismiss all charges against the remaining 188 Inauguration Day defendants awaiting trial.”

Supporters continue to point out that the government has attempted to chill political protest with high-level felony charges and that part of the punishment for defendant’s expressing their views is being forced to endure months of aggressive prosecution and a weeks-long trial. Most of the defendants facing trial have been working together to collectively defend themselves against the outrageous claims of the government, and will continue to do so.

The trial also underscored the extent to which the Trump administration was actively working with far-right and neo-fascist political groups like Project Veritas, Oath Keepers, Media Research Center and Rebel Media to criminalize and punish anti-fascist and anti-Trump activists. Despite what could be considered collusion with these groups, and the government’s attempt to criminalize “anti-establishment” views, the jury roundly rejected those efforts.

The next trial of seven Inauguration Day defendants on three misdemeanor charges—rioting, conspiracy to riot and one count of property detruction—has no scheduled trial date, but DC Superior Court Judge Lynn Leibovitz will hold a status hearing on January 19. The next trial on the same felony and misdemeanor charges used to try the defendants acquitted today is scheduled for March 5.

Defend J20 Resistance is a large group of felony defendants arrested on January 20, 2017 in Washington, DC and their supporters who have all agreed not to testify against each other and are working together to collectively defend themselves. DefendJ20Resistance.org is a product of their work.

  • richardprofumo

    This win is the way is going. Build on this and organize!

  • Wacanta

    So using the “logic” of the feds that everybody at a protest is responsible for the illegal activities of anyone at the protest, when will the DoJ arrest all the nazi’s who were at Charlottesville and charge them all with the murder of Heather Heyer? Never is the correct answer.

  • Great news! Thank you for sharing. However, I think the image you have chosen to use at the top of this article is counter productive to the efforts of anyone working to achieve true peace and reconciliation. Spreading fear is a tactic of those wishing to impose authority upon others. As a true anarchist at heart, I find such threats of violence offensive. As distant as it may seem, as long as we consider anyone to be other, our enemy, we will never arrive at a sustainable and peaceful human civilization. True change happens one relationship at a time. It happens by discovering and carefully guarding our common humanity from all violence physical or implied.

  • disqus_YzQItOTWot

    Thank you so much for helping me understand more about anarchism.
    I will try

  • Jay Hansen

    I’m having some difficulty determining what you are talking about. What is ‘threatening’ about demanding that charges be dropped?

  • kevinzeese

    I don’t see anything threatening about the image. It does not call for violence it calls for justice – drop the charges. The article was written by Defend J20 Resistance and that is the image they use. Their message is drop all the charges — a message we agree with. If the prosecutors have evidence of someone breaking the law, then they can prosecute those individuals and they will defend themselves, but these prosecutions are based on guilt by association (a misuse of conspircacy) and should be dropped. The jurors made it clear, some of the jurors after the decision said the decision was not even close. Once the prosecutor said in the opening statement that they had no evidence against these individuals, jurors immediately doubted the case, one said it was at that point he decided to vote ‘not guilty.’

  • As I said, the article is great. It is the image that has been added and in particular the banner that threatens to “Make Racists Afraid Again” that I think is counter productive.

  • Kevin, I am reminded by the banner in the image of a story that Jacques Fresco used to share about how and why he joined and converted a group of southern white racists to the ideas of a Resource Based Economy. You don’t accomplish that by fomenting fear. Facing injustice with courageous nonviolence is directed at inviting reconciliation, not generating fear.

  • Good Luck.

  • Jay Hansen

    And I think it’s super-productive.