Washington, DC - The ACLU of the District of Columbia, the Law Office of Jeffrey Light, and the District of Columbia today filed court papers stating the District will pay $1.6 million to settle two demonstrators’ rights lawsuits—one brought by the ACLU-DC and the other by Jeffrey Light. The two lawsuits, filed on behalf of journalists, legal observers, and demonstrators who protested the inauguration of President Trump in January 2017, charged that former Metropolitan Police Department Police Chief Peter Newsham and more than two dozen MPD officers engaged in or supervised constitutional violations including mass arrests of demonstrators without probable cause, unlawful conditions of confinement for detainees, and/or use of excessive force.
In the aftermath of the January 6 fascist coup attempt in Washington DC, new revelations show that the plot was prepared with the involvement of sections of the military, police and Republican Party. The danger has not passed. Trump remains president for 11 days and is using the White House as the nerve center for his efforts to remain in office. There is every indication that plans for a second putsch attempt on Inauguration Day—January 20—are now underway. The minimal police presence at the Capitol building on Wednesday was not a mistake or oversight, as the corporate media has claimed, but part of a high-level conspiracy.
In prosecutions against Inauguration Day protesters, the government contends some of the defendants’ union memberships qualify as evidence of a conspiracy to commit a crime. Hundreds of thousands of protesters converged for the Inauguration Day protests in 2017. One of the demonstrations, an anti-capitalist and anti-fascist march dubbed Disrupt J20, commenced in Logan Circle before heading out into the streets. Protesters marched in the streets carrying banners and signs, and chanting against Donald Trump. During the march, a handful protesters broke off from the main group and smashed the windows of a few store fronts, including a Starbucks. Police, who monitored people involved in the protest for months before the demonstration, responded indiscriminately with stingball grenades and a deluge of pepper spray. Over 200 people were kettled, including protesters, journalists, legal observers, and street medics.
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. 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.”
By Tasha Moro for the National Lawyers Guild. Trials began last week in the historic prosecution of nearly 200 “J20” defendants indiscriminately arrested en masse during protests against Trump’s inauguration in Washington, DC, each facing more than 60 years in prison on rioting and property damage charges. In an affront to the First and Fourth Amendments, federal prosecutors seized more than 100 cell phones and obtained warrants for information of all visitors to the disruptj20.org website and those who “liked” their page on Facebook, among other personal social media data of organizers and participants. In contrast, law enforcement’s laissez-faire attitude during August’s “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, VA allowed white supremacists with guns, tiki torches, and Nazi flags to spew racial slurs and hate throughout the city for two entire days, culminating in the murder of anti-racist activist Heather Heyer on August 12.
By Anne Meador for Dc Media Group. Washington, DC - A DC Superior Court judge will hear arguments next week related to a sweeping government search warrant served on a company which hosted an Inauguration Day protest website. DreamHost, LLC turned over records last January to the U.S. Attorney’s office when it requested information about the owners of disruptj20.org, a website of information about planned protests against Trump’s inauguration. But the Los Angeles company balked when the DOJ served a search warrant in July seeking all stored electronic communications related to the website. In its written response to the U.S. Attorney’s motion to compel, DreamHost says the warrant requires “unreasonable,” “all-encompassing disclosures” in violation of the Fourth Amendment.
By Rights and Dissent. DC National Lawyers Guild (DC NLG) and Defending Rights and Dissent, two groups who defend the right to protest, are demanding answers about the Metropolitan Police Department’s conduct during anti-Trump inauguration protests. Earlier today, the two groups filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request asking for records pertaining to police use of force against protesters, including the deployment of chemical and projectile weapons, and the use of police infiltrators leading up to the January 20 protests. “The police assault on the right to protest on January 20 is part of a broader trend of cracking down on dissent taking place across the nation,” said Maggie Ellinger-Locke, co-chair of the DC NLG Demonstration Support Committee.
By Patrick Strickland for Al Jazeera. Washington, DC - When Olivia Alsip travelled to the capital to protest against the inauguration of right-wing US President Donald Trump, she didn't imagine she would end the day behind bars and later face up to 80 years in prison. Thousands of people journeyed from across the US to Washington, DC, to protest on the first day of Trump's presidency, January 20. During the swearing-in, Alsip was among the more than 230 protesters arrested when officers from the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) blocked off a large area and hauled off nearly everyone. "I am wondering if my 24th birthday next week will be my last as a free person," she says by telephone from Chicago. "I've never in my life had such a painful and stressful experience. There are no words to convey the severity of this."
By Matt Grubs for Santa Fe Reporter - 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.
By Keith L. Alexander for The Washington Post - D.C. prosecutors have filed additional charges against more than 200 protesters arrested during President Trump’s inauguration, continuing to drill down on suspects they believe smashed restaurant windows, set a limousine on fire and attacked the car’s driver. While most of the protesters were initially charged with one count of felony rioting, a grand jury on Thursday returned a superseding indictment that added new charges: inciting or urging to riot, conspiracy to riot and counts of destruction of property. On Friday in D.C. Superior Court, prosecutors also obtained their first felony conviction in the Jan. 20 riots. Dane Powell, 31, of Tampa, pleaded guilty to rioting and assault on a police officer, admitting he threw a large piece of concrete at the officer. Powell is set to be sentenced in July and faces up to three years in prison for each charge. His attorney could not immediately be reached for comment. Meanwhile, it seems the first of the trials for alleged rioters won’t be until March 2018. During a separate Friday hearing before Judge Lynn Leibovitz, several defense attorneys said trials this year would not be feasible because they need time to pore over the 650 hours of video from police officer body cameras...
By Perry Stein and Keith L. Alexander for The Washington Post - D.C. police this month searched the home of a local activist they say helped spearhead Inauguration Day protests that injured six police officers and resulted in extensive damage in downtown Washington. Dylan Petrohilos, a 28-year-old graphic designer, said officers broke through the door of his Petworth home early April 3. Police were led to the house after an undercover police officer secretly attended protest-planning meetings in the weeks before the Jan. 20 inauguration, court documents show. Authorities seized cellphones, computers and a black “anti-capitalist, anti-fascist” flag from Petrohilos’s front lawn, according to the court documents. Petrohilos has not been charged with any crimes. He says he did nothing illegal as he helped plan the protests and participated in them. The search was part of an effort by authorities to build a legal case against hundreds of activists accused of conspiring to riot and incite violence on the day President Trump was sworn in. But it also has reignited concerns from activists and others who question whether police went too far in making mass arrests Jan. 20 or in investigating demonstrators exercising their right to free speech.
By Staff for IB Times. As Donald Trump's inauguration gets underway in Washington DC, people around the world were reacting to the next president by displaying banners across landmark bridges. The President-elect, who took the place of Barack Obama in the White House on Friday 20 January, is renowned for pledging to build an "impenetrable, physical, tall, powerful, beautiful, southern border wall" between the US and Mexico. A key part of his immigration rhetoric during the presidential race, Trump also insisted Mexico would pay for the border wall "100%". The protest project, called Bridges Not Walls, has been organised by grassroots activists and campaigners in reaction to Trump's election victory and his inauguration. The demonstration has spread as far as Australia, the US and Norway.
By John Knefel for TruthOut. As much of the United States waits in collective distress to see exactly what the presidency of Donald J. Trump will bring, it is already clear that the country is in for an unprecedented assault on ethics regulations and legal obligations from the White House. At the same time, all the signs point to a renewed era of harsh law enforcement for the rest of the country, focused primarily on already heavily policed and marginalized communities. An ominous statement posted to the official White House website today reads: "The dangerous anti-police atmosphere in America is wrong. The Trump Administration will end it." It remains to be seen exactly how law enforcement will change under Trump, and whether he will actively pursue some of his most discriminatory campaign promises, like subjecting Muslims to increased surveillance and deporting millions of undocumented immigrants.