As Trial Begins, Trump Protest Attendees Face 60 Years In Prison

Protesters block an access point to the general public entry of the parade route and the National Mall in Washington, DC, ahead of the inauguration of Donald Trump as the 45th president of the United States, on January 20, 2017. (Photo: Bastiaan Slabbers / NurPhoto via Getty Images)

By Chris Steele for Truthout – A combined total of 12,000 years in prison is what close to 200 protestors, journalists and legal observers are facing from attending a protest at the January 20 inauguration of President Donald Trump. After a superseding indictment, the US prosecution is seeking to charge each person with 60 years for allegedly urging a riot, breaking less than 10 windows and conspiracy charges. The US Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia claims that the property damage totals to more than $100,000. DC police spent $300,000 on weapons and equipment for the inauguration and just added $150,000 to the DC budget to review police conduct during the inauguration. While many lawyers are calling the blanket felonies and excessive charges unprecedented, civil liberty advocates are worried about the precedent these extensive charges and grandiose metadata subpoenas will have on chilling free speech and stifling dissent. Social activist and community organizer, Carlo Piantini, who is a J20 defendant explained in an interview with Truthout that, “Charges like these are intended to silence communities when the time comes for people to resist, whether that be the activist community, the anarchist community, or any other.”

Jerry Brown Lashes Out At COP23 Climate Protesters: “Let’s Put You In The Ground”

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By Kate Aronoff for In These Times – BONN, GERMANY—California Gov. Jerry Brown (D) is set to have a big week here in Bonn at the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change’s 23rd Conference of the Parties (COP23). He and former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg are key figures in the U.S. Climate Action Center (USCAC), an unofficial voice for the United States at the climate summit (the official U.S. delegation is keeping a low profile). With the Trump administration intending to withdraw from the Paris Agreement, the USCAC’s rallying cry is fairly clear: We Are Still In. A few minutes into a Saturday USCAC event featuring Wal-Mart’s Senior Vice President of Sustainability, Brown was interrupted by protestors asking, “Still In For Want?” A group of Californians and other delegates to COP23 from the United States—many involved in climate justice organizations—stood up as Brown started speaking, giving short testimonies about Brown’s close relationship to the fossil fuel industry, a major force in California’s economy. After protesters chanted “Keep It In The Ground,” in opposition to fossil fuel extraction, Brown replied, “Let’s put you in the ground so we can get on with the show here.” Clumps of interrupters continued to pop up and be escorted out through the rest of the presentation, prompting responses from Brown. “Unfortunately, in politics,” he said, “we don’t have a magic wand. … I can’t say ‘Stop, there’s no more coal, no more oil.’ ”

New Book Explores How Protesters—And Governments—Use Internet Tactics

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By Wendy Grossman for ARS Technica – In February 2003, the largest demonstration in Britain’s history saw two million people march across London to protest the approaching Iraq War. Dozens of other cities across the world saw similar events, and yet. Why did politicians feel safe ignoring the millions who participated in those marches—yet stand down after the protests against the proposed intellectual property laws SOPA and PIPA? Why did Occupy apparently vanish while the Tea Party has embedded itself into US national electoral politics? How much did Facebook really have to do with the Arab Spring? How—and this is the central question technosociologist Zeynep Tufecki considers in her new book, Twitter and Tear Gas: The Power and Fragility of Networked Protest—do digital media change the reality and effectiveness of social protest? Over the quarter-century since the Internet went mainstream, much has been written and argued about digital technologies’ ability to transform disparate individuals into a movement. Dismissives argue that social media-fueled movements are too fragile and their participants too uncommitted to achieve much.

House Approves Bill To Address Perceived Threat Of Paid Protesters

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By Matt Trotter for Public Radio Tulsa – Citing costs faced by North Dakota in the wake of Dakota Access Pipeline protests, the Oklahoma House passed a bill creating liability for anyone who compensates protesters. House Bill 2128 says anyone who compensates, remunerates or provides consideration to someone who causes damage while trespassing may be held liable. Rep. Mark McBride faced a barrage of questions from Democrats, including Rep. Cory Williams, who asked what constitutes compensation under HB2128. “It means just what we want it to on this bill. How about that?” McBride said. “I’m sorry, what?” Williams said. “Is it a check? Is it money? Is it staying at somebody’s house? Is it some other benefit conferred?” “That would be for the courts to decide,” McBride said. “All due respect, we’re supposed to be writing laws. They interpret them. Our laws should have definitions in them,” Williams said. Rep. Collin Walke bristled at a provision saying an arrest — not necessarily a conviction — is enough to create that liability.

How The Government Is Turning Emerging Activists Into Felons

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By Natasha Lennard for Esquire – Alsip only knew one other person at the protest march that day. The political science graduate student from the University of Chicago had met her partner in November, when the two had joined the camps at Standing Rock opposing the Dakota Access Pipeline. When they heard about calls to protest Donald J. Trump’s inauguration in D.C. on January 20th under the banner “Disrupt J20,” they felt they had to be there. “I identify as an anarchist, and I’ve been an activist for women’s and queer rights since the 8th grade,” Alsip told me over the phone from Chicago. Alsip is among 214 defendants facing felony riot charges, up to a decade in prison and a $25,000 fine for their participation in the anti-capitalist, anti-fascist march, which ended with a mass arrest on the morning of Inauguration Day. As far as the student understands, the evidence against her amounts to little more than proof of her presence at the unruly protest, as indicated by her arrest. Like the vast majority of her co-defendants, Alsip didn’t break or throw anything. Now she lives in shock over the steep price she and her fellow protesters might pay as the new administration and police forces set the tone for how they will deal with the spike in organized dissent.

Arizona GOP Kills Bill That Would’ve Treated Protesters Like Terrorists

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By Brian Grenoble for The Huffington Post – “People need to know we are not about limiting people’s rights,” Arizona House Speaker J.D. Mesnard said. An Arizona bill that would have let the state government charge protesters the same way it charges terrorists will not get a hearing in the state House, Speaker J.D. Mesnard (R) said Monday. Last Wednesday, Senate Bill 1142 passed the state’s upper chamber on a party-line vote, prompting an outcry from watchdogs like the American Civil Liberties Union of Arizona over its chilling implications for free speech.

Are Police Searching Inauguration Protesters’ Phones?

Riot police push back protesters from an inaugural ball venue after the swearing in of U.S. President Donald Trump in Washington January 20, 2017. (James Lawler Dugga/Reuters)

By George Joseph for City Lab – A lawyer for several protesters arrested in inauguration protests on Friday claims that police appear to be mining information from mobile phones taken after they were detained. On Friday, January 20, thousands of protesters took to the streets of D.C. to disrupt Donald Trump’s inauguration festivities. A small fraction of them damaged property and threw projectiles at police in riot gear, who deployed flash-bang grenades, tear gas, and pepper spray on large crowds throughout the day. But according to CityLab’s observations of the demonstrations that morning, most of the roughly 230 people arrested—who included a number of legal observers, journalists, and medics

North Dakota Governor Orders Pipeline Protesters Expelled

Women hold a prayer ceremony on Backwater Bridge during a protest against plans to pass the Dakota Access pipeline near the Standing Rock Indian Reservation, near Cannon Ball, North Dakota, U.S. November 27, 2016. REUTERS/Stephanie Keith

By Terray Sylvester for Reuters – North Dakota’s governor ordered the expulsion of thousands of Native American and environmental activists camped on federal property near an oil pipeline project they are trying to halt, citing hazards posed by harsh weather as a blizzard bore down on the area. The “emergency evacuation” order from Governor Jack Dalrymple came days after the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which manages the site, set a Dec. 5 deadline for the demonstrators to vacate their encampment, about 45 miles (72 km) south of Bismarck, the state capital.

Trump Interrupted By Protesters 14 Times

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GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump had a few interruptions during Monday’s speech at the Detroit Economic Club.

By Christina Wilkie for The Huffington Post – Protesters disrupted Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump’s speech at the Detroit Economic Club 14 times on Monday, a startling number, even for Trump. The speech was billed by Trump’s campaign as a formal economic policy address, and it was not open to the public. Still, there were more than 1,000 attendees. The protesters, however, were all women and part of a group organized by the Michigan People’s Campaign.

New York’s Newest Protesters Are Right: It’s Time To Defund Police

Police departments are clearly failing, and they should be taken over. Photograph: Erik Mc/Pacific/Barcroft Images

By Steven W Thrasher for The Guardian – My professor friend AJ and I led a walking tour of college students earlier this week about protest and policing in New York City. Between our stop at One Police Plaza, where “broken windows” policing was unleashed on our city, and the site of Eric Garner’s death on Staten Island, we stopped at the newest occupation in town at City Hall Park. Mayor Bill de Blasio had just announced police commissioner Bill Bratton’sresignation as we walked through the park, quickly achieving one of the occupying group’s three ambitious goals when they appeared on Monday.

Baton Rouge Police Sued Over Violent Actions Against Protesters

Black Lives Matter Protest in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Photo by Antrell Williams on Flickr.

By Kevin Gosztola for Shadow Proof – In the aftermath of the police killing of Alton Sterling in Baton Rouge, police officers clad in military gear attacked nonviolent protesters while brandishing automatic weapons. Armored vehicles, as well as chemical agents and a device designed to blast loud sound waves, were deployed. To bring these acts to a halt, the American Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit against the Baton Rouge Police Department. As captured on video by store owner Abdullah Muflahi, on July 5, Sterling was selling CDs when officers tasered him and slammed him on the hood of a car.

Protesters To Wall Off Trump’s Hate At RNC In Cleveland

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By Staff of Mijente – In response to Trump’s insults, threats and his promises of mass deportation and building a border wall to separate neighbors, communities are traveling to Cleveland to give him a wall of their own. While Trump’s wall is an emblem of his xenophobic drive to Make America Hate Again, the protest wall to be built by organizers, artists, parents, children, and veterans gathered together by Mijente, the Ruckus Society, Iraq Veterans Against the War, Working Families Party, the Other 98%, First Seven Design Labs, and others will be a line of defense for the future of the country.

FBI Greenlights Crackdown On Black Lives Matter Protesters

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By Mara Verheyden-Hilliard for AlterNet – The violent events of the past week have placed the country at a decisive moment. Words matter but deeds matter more. Leadership matters. President Obama spoke about the need for real change and new “practices” following the murders by police officers of Alton Sterling in Baton Rouge, Louisiana and Philando Castile in Falcon Heights, Minnesota. He followed that by stating last weekend, “One of the great things about America is that individual citizens and groups of citizens can petition their government, can protest, can speak truth to power.

Philadelphia Lawyers Form Coalition To Defend Protesters At DNC

Philadelphia lawyers met Wednesday afternoon at the Law Offices of Krasner & Long, LLC, to discuss defending activists who get arrested while protesting at the Democratic National Convention. Photo Credit: C. Norris – ©2016

By Christopher “Flood the Drummer” Norris for Philly In Focus – for Philadelphia – (Politics): More than a dozen copies of the book, “Crashing the Party: Legacies and Lessons from the RNC 2000,” sat in a brown box on a sturdy wooden table just inches from where twenty or so private Philadelphia criminal defense and civil rights lawyers who will defend free speech at the Democratic National Convention convened to introduce their collaborative to the news media, answer journalists’ questions and, once the press exited the Law Offices of Krasner & Long, LLC, talk strategy among themselves.

9 Arrested In Seattle After May Day Protesters Clash With Police

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By Elizabeth Preza for Alternet. Seattle, WA – Police in Seattle arrested nine people Sunday after a peaceful May Day march morphed into a riot, with “anti-capitalist” protestors throwing rocks, flares and Molotov cocktails at police. The Seattle Police Department said violence rose out of a peaceful march for workers’ rights and immigration that took place earlier in the day. At least five officers were injured, including one who was hit with a Molotov cocktail, another who was struck in the face with a rock, and a third who was bitten by a protestor. May 1st protests have been increasingly co-opted by anarchists who use the demonstrations to rally against police violence and capitalism.