"If you did not take a plea, your charges cannot come back," said one former defendant. "Which shows the strength of collective defense." Charges against the remaining J20 protesters with no plea deals who were awaiting trial were dropped Friday with prejudice—meaning proscecutors can't try them again for the 2017 protest. Hundreds of anti-Trump protesters were arrested on Jan. 20, 2017, for protesting the inauguration of President Donald Trump. The prosecution of the group—using felony charges against protesters and journalists—has been criticized by rights groups and failed miserably in court.
The activists were ready for a fight. An oil pipeline was slated to cross tribal lands in eastern Oklahoma, and Native American leaders would resist. The Sierra Club and Black Lives Matter pledged support. The groups announced their plans at a press conference in January 2017 at the State Capitol. Ashley McCray, a member of a local Shawnee tribe, stood in front of a blue "Water is Life" banner, her hair tied back with an ornate clip, and told reporters that organizers were forming a coalition to protect native lands. They would establish a rural encampment, like the one that had drawn thousands of people to Standing Rock in North Dakota the previous year to resist the Dakota Access Pipeline. The following week, an Oklahoma state lawmaker introduced a bill to stiffen penalties for interfering with pipelines and other "critical infrastructure."
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.
For nearly a year and half the US Attorney’s Office has sought to put protesters arrested during the Inauguration in prison for decades. In spite of the massive amount of time and resources they have poured into this case, the prosecutors are claiming they need even more time. On April 11, a week before the next J20 trial was set to start, prosecutors asked for a continuance, claiming they need time to find an expert witness. A judge granted this motion, meaning the trial scheduled to start on April 17 has been pushed back to June 4. Prosecutors have similarly asked for a continuance for the trial of protesters scheduled to start on April 26. It does not appear that prosecutors will seek a continuance for the J20 trials scheduled to being in May, as they claim no expert witness is required for them.
District Attorney Roger Echols announced Tuesday afternoon that he is dropping the charges against the five remaining people accused of destroying a Confederate statue in downtown Durham last summer. The announcement follows a long day in District Court Monday in which a judge acquitted one defendant, Raul Mauro Jimenez, and dismissed the charges against two others, Peter Gilbert and Dante Strobino, after an assistant district attorney presented all her evidence. The judge said the prosecution failed to prove the defendants were guilty of three misdemeanors: injury to real property, defacing a public building or monument and conspiracy to deface a public building or monument. Prosecutors presented all of the admissible evidence available, Echols said. Since his office planned to present the same evidence against the remaining defendants, it no longer made sense to prosecute the case...
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."
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.’ ”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.