Journalist Faces 75 Years For Covering DC Inauguration Protest

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Above Photo: Police detain a crowd at the Inauguration Day protests. From sfreporter.com

SFR Writer Indicted Following Inaugural Protest Coverage

Cantú one of two journalists charged while covering rally-turned-riot

Aaron Cantú, a staff writer at the Santa Fe Reporter, has been indicted by a federal grand jury on charges that he participated in a riot while working as a journalist during protests in Washington, DC on Inauguration Day.

Cantú faces eight felony counts—including inciting a riot, rioting, conspiracy to riot and five counts of destruction of property. The grand jury handed up the indictment last week.

On January 20, a collection of DC police and federal law enforcement officers arrested more than 200 people in connection with a rally that began as a protest, but turned destructive as several people broke the windows of businesses, damaged vehicles and allegedly caused a police officer to break his wrist.

Cantú was not named specifically by prosecutors as the cause of any of the destruction, as some defendants were. Instead, the indictment named him as being present while the damage happened. The arrests have been criticized by the American Civil Liberties Union, other civil rights groups and newspapers as overly broad and lacking hard evidence.

Video from the conservative media group The Rebel shows glimpses of Cantú off to the side of the protests with other journalists, washing what appears to be pepper spray from his eyes. Hes standing next to a conservative journalist as she narrates the scene.

Julie Ann Grimm, editor and publisher of SFR, said the indictment will not affect Cantú’s status at the newspaper, where hes worked since April.

“Aaron is an experienced journalist who disclosed this pending case during the hiring process. We stand behind him and look forward to his continued good work in his new home in Santa Fe.”

Neither Cantú nor his attorneys at the DC firm of Gibson and Dunn would comment on the indictment. Cantú will be arraigned in Washington, DC on Friday, June 9. He has previously said he will plead not guilty.

“Anyone out there who was not involved in rioting shouldnt be prosecuted,” Gregg Leslie, legal defense director for the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, tells SFR. “Thats the amazing thing about the DC protests, is that they know that a handful of people threw bricks through windows and one person threw something at an officer. And they arrested over 200 people. They know that everyone they arrested was not participating in a crime.”

Leslie noted that the US Attorneys office has not said why it dropped charges against some journalists while pursuing charges against Cantú and a photographer who was livestreaming the event. Bill Miller, a spokesman for the US Attorney in Washington DC told SFR in an email, “We typically do not comment on pending cases and have no further comment on the felony rioting matters.”

In addition to covering the protests as part of his role as senior editor for the online magazine The New Inquiry, Cantú initially offered to write a firsthand account of his experience for VICE before deciding against it in light of possible charges. Cantú has written for VICE, The Intercept, The Nation and other publications.

Cantú is the last person to face indictment out of more than 200 people being prosecuted by the US Attorney for the District of Columbia. He is one of two journalists whose charges have not been dropped by acting US Attorney Channing Phillips, an Obama appointee still awaiting US Senate confirmation.

Video from The Rebel (Cantú at lower right of screen at 8:19):

  • Linda Jansen

    Disgusting!

  • Dismally predictable: persecution of non-Nazi journalists is (A)-one of the definitive elements of Nazi governance and (B)-certain to increase at least a thousandfold as the JesuNazi Trump Regime tightens the stranglehold by which it is methodically murdering the few remnants of USian liberty. . .

  • DHFabian

    Sounds like predictable intimidation tactics. Unfortunately, they tend to be successful.

  • dje3

    In the United states there are laws about riots. Under Obama they were not enforced. The day that Trump was hired that changed. There is ONE thing that these people are forgetting, that is that in the 60′s and 70′s everyone who used civil unrest as an implement of change understood and expected to pay the price for their illegal actions in hope that it would change something. They knew they could be imprisoned, have criminal records or even be killed and still did things…but with understanding.

    Today’s protestors are uneducated, ignorant and self centered. They think that they have the right to violate law and destroy private property and even commit physical violence upon other persons without having to pay the price. This is untrue and has always been untrue. The destroying of businesses, stealing of property, burning of automobiles and doing so when masked is certainly not within any normal activity of any US citizen or political protestor.

    Part of the problem is the liberal educators…I will give an example.

    We are taught that the Boston Tea Party was a bunch of unruly men who boarded a ship and threw the tea overboard and destroyed the shipment in protest of taxes.

    The true story: Protestors had refused to pay the tea tax and other taxes that were above those that other British citizens had to pay. The taxes had to be paid at time of unloading to the bonded warehouses. The teamsters could not unload until that happened and refused anyway because they were Bostonians.

    The governor ordered that the harbor guns be turned against the ships and that if the taxes not paid in time, that the entire shipments and ships be seized by the government. If the ships tried to leave to another port they would be sunk. The people realized that the ship owners would take huge losses, and that they would never see another merchant ship in Boston! They devised that the ONLY way to release the ships and not pay the taxes would be to destroy all the taxed cargo. It was a solemn time and serious. No one laughed or partied..they needed and wanted each of the cargo more than anyone. They knew and understood that harm to them and everyone else.

    That night they destroyed all the taxed goods (over a 1 cent stamp tax per 50 pound keg of tea)! The next day the governor had no cause to seize the ships as there was no taxable cargo any longer. He turned the guns around and let them unload and load the rest of the cargoes.

    However, it did NOT end there. The people of Boston KNEW that they had destroyed the cargo that was owned by this shipping companies. There were investors that would have losses. Bostonians had harmed them. So they passed the hat and PAID FOR EVERYTHING THAT THEY DESTROYED. You see they actually helped the ship owners save their ships..but paid the price for their actions..and willingly! This is called RESPONSIBILITY.

    The story does NOT end there. The rest of the colonies hearing of what happened, passed their hats. Tea and other goods were collected and the people of Boston received care packages replacing what was destroyed. They were made whole and the entirety of the colonies shared their pain and had less than they needed.

    Each protestor paid the price themselves, never knowing that money or good would return to them. Had they been caught, they would have hung from a yardarm of been hung by the governor…and yet they paid the damages themselves!

    These protestors are NOT Americans, they are hooligans. They do not represent the GOOD of this country, they are abominations. They do not know and love this country, they believe that they are entitled and that their opinion is worth more than anyone else. They believe that they do not have to pay for their own works and actions. This is not the American way nor the way of any good God or Human. This is the way of evil. This is unlawful-ness. This is doing wrong. Read those people’s words and honestly interpret. They believe they have the right to destroy and have no consequence. They are sad misguided children, they are the bane of society and excuse themselves based upon politics.

    Is 80 years excessive? Hmm, I think it might not be excessive. these people have serious social illness and most of them are past their developed age. Their actions and intent and even their words show no understanding of the harm they have done, to the shop owners, vehicle owners, the citizens of DC, the people of the US and even to our own courts. There is no sign of growth or understanding, only entitlement and dishonesty with themselves even.

    They were NOT willing to accept and take responsibility for their own actions. Had they told the prosecutor and judges that they wanted to take responsibility, then they would have received lesser judgment. Because they feel entitled, the system is going to show them what they are legally entitled to. And rightfully so. Time served, a fine, Ten years, or 80 years, it WAS Their choice, they chose the latter. Now it is NO longer their choice they will pay the higher price. Remember the Boston Tea party; If caught each man would have been hanged! That simple. They knew it and understood. These people will become the example that is necessary to overcome the liberal ideals that plague the the US and world…ideals of entitlement. Entitlement and destruction serve to improve NOTHING.