"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.
Two years ago, roughly twenty anarchists, anti-fascists, and anti-capitalists from the North Carolina region were among the 200+ people arrested for disrupting the Presidential Inauguration spectacle, also known as J20). Some of us went to trial. Some of us stuck it out until the final dismissal. None of us accepted their bullshit pleas. Despite the prosecution’s divide and conquer tactics, we stuck together. And we beat them! Along the way we learned valuable lessons, gained stronger relationships, and, thanks to our amazing regional support network, a few thousand dollars in defense funds.
Lead Prosecutor In Trump Inauguration Protest Trial Sanctioned For Due Process Violations Has Been Made Head Of Her Department
DC jurors weren’t particularly impressed with Assistant US Attorney Jennifer Kerkhoff’s claims that attending a protest makes one part of a conspiracy, as they failed to convict any of the nearly 200 people arrested during an anti-Trump protest. And Chief Judge Robert Morin, was similarly unimpressed by Kerkhoff’s decision to withhold evidence from the defense and mislead the court about it, which is why he sanctioned the prosecution. Yet, someone at the US Attorney’s Office must have been impressed, as since her ignominious defeat Kerkhoff has been promoted. From January 2017 to July 2018, the US Attorney’s Office attempted to criminalize protest itself through felony prosecutions of Trump Inauguration (J20) protests. According to their shocking theory, anyone who attended a protest was part of a criminal conspiracy. Acts such as marching or chanting were elements of a crime.
The US Attorney’s Office (USAO) have announced they are moving to dismiss without prejudice all charges against the remaining 38 protesters arrested during Donald Trump’s Inauguration. The charges stem from an anti-capitalist, anti-fascist protest march, during which DC police indiscriminately deployed “less than lethal” weapons against protesters before arresting 234 people en masse. These arrests were made not on the basis of probable causes based on individualized suspicion, but instead based on geographic proximity to where vandalism was alleged to have occured. Although similar arrests in the past resulted in the city of DC paying out millions to the arrested for violating their constitutional rights, the USAO decided to pursue unprecedented mass felony charges against around 200 people, including not just protesters, but journalists and medics.
Washington, DC–A defendant in the Inauguration Day protest trials was found not guilty by jury trial on Monday. Casey Webber was acquitted of all felony and misdemeanor charges against him stemming from the mass-arrests of 230 protesters during January 20 protests. The trials have come to be known as the J20 trials. Three other defendants are still waiting jury verdicts in the trial, which began on May 14. The jury told Judge Katherine Knowles on Tuesday, that they were deadlocked but she returned them to the jury room until they reached verdicts. Webber said that though his trial was over and has resulted in a positive personal outcome, he did not feel any relief due to seeing the three other defendants in his trial anguishing over the possible outcome.
The prosecution in the J20 case was dealt another major setback today as Chief Judge Robert Morin found that they failed to disclose to the defense parts of an undercover video containing clearly exculpatory evidence. An edited version of the video was part of the prosecution’s case-in-chief during the first J20 trial and was expected to be so in an upcoming trial. Now, with the prosecution facing sanctions, there are questions as to whether they will be allowed to show the video at all. Yesterday, attorneys for a group of J20 defendants slated to go on trial in June filed a motion alleging the prosecution withheld exculpatory evidence. Under what is commonly known as the Brady Rule, it is a violation of a defendant’s constitutional right to due process for the prosecution to be aware of such evidence and not turn it over to the defense.
Washington, DC – The second trial of protesters mass-arrested at an ‘antifascist, anti-capitalist’ march during President Trump’s inauguration on January 20 (J20), 2017 has begun in DC Superior Court. After two days of jury selection, the jury was empaneled Tuesday afternoon, and opening arguments began around 10:30 AM on Wednesday, May 16. In her opening statements, Assistant US Attorney Jennifer Kerkhoff relied on the same rhetorical devices she used in the first trial, giving dramatic descriptions of property damage and invoking the image of a mass of protesters in a “sea of black.” As in the first trial, she introduced a series of large map boards indicating where property damage took place along the route of the protest march, a piece of evidence that also figured heavily in the previous trial.
On December 21st, a jury returned a not-guilty verdict on all charges for the first six defendants in the J20 case. Subsequently, on January 19th, 2018, the prosecution dropped charges against 129 defendants. This is a huge victory! But the fight isn’t over yet: 59 people still face decades in prison. The next round of trials is set to start on May 14th, 2018. The prosecution intentionally delayed the April trials for lack of an “expert witness,” essentially conceding that they can’t win the case as is. We know this is a case of political targeting, and we must demand that the remaining 59 defendants get their charges dropped! We are asking that everyone call the US Attorney’s office from 9am-6pm on 5/10/18 and 5/11/18 and tell them to DROP THE CHARGES against ALL the remaining defendants!
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.
Washington, D.C., police and federal prosecutors have been collaborating with notorious right-wing groups known for fascist statements and using doctored videos to ambush their targets in an attempt to convict and jail protesters from President Trump’s inauguration. The question is not whether the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) and the U.S. Attorney's office in Washington, D.C., are working with Oath Keepers, a group of cops and veterans with rabid anti-government views, and Project Veritas, a far-right group known for fabricating accounts to ambush the media and the political left. The question is, how deep is the relationship between the police, federal prosecutors and these extremists? And in MPD’s case, are Washington police breaking the law, as its city council has passed laws barring them from spying on protesters or protest groups?
Washington, DC – A legal filing submitted today by the US Attorney’s Office (USAO) indicate that the federal government has drastically reduced the scope of the prosecution of people mass arrested during Donald Trump’s presidential inauguration on January 20 , 2017 (J20). The government will no longer bring charges against 129 of the almost 200 people previously indicted based on their presence at an ‘anti-capitalist and anti-fascist’ march that was violently herded into a police trap. 59 people still have trial dates scattered throughout this year and face charges carrying up to 60 years in prison. The motion filed by Assistant US Attorney Jennifer Kerkhoff claims that the smaller remaining group of defendants still face charges due to their alleged involvement in “identifiable acts of destruction, violence, or other assaultive conduct.”
In a new filing, amending a pending lawsuit against Washington D.C.’s Metropolitan Police Department, the ACLU named 27 police officers who they say violated the constitutional rights of several citizens as they cordoned off and arrested more than 200 people on Inauguration Day. The officers had previously been identified only as John or Jane Doe. The amended suit also adds two additional plaintiffs to the four already engaged in the suit: a mother and her 10-year-old son who were exposed to pepper spray. “The first thing to understand about who we named today is that unlike the United States Attorney’s office who decided to charge criminally everyone who was nearby where vandalism occurred [during the protests]...
In a blow to the Trump administration’s efforts to quell dissent, on Thursday six defendants arrested at Inauguration Day “Disrupt J20” protests were found not guilty of all charges. The heavy prosecution of the “J20” case has become a bellwether for repression in the era of Trump, with this first wave of defendants facing multiple felonies and decades in prison for participating in—or simply being in proximity to—an anti-fascist and anti-capitalist mobilization. Betty Rothstein of Defend J20 Resistance said the acquittal “is a clear victory for the six defendants who were just tried, and a rejection of the government’s attempt to criminalize dissent.”
A Washington jury acquitted four women and two men of rioting and property destruction charges Thursday, dealing a blow to prosecutors bringing similar cases against nearly 200 others. The six were mass arrested on Jan. 20 during President Trump's inauguration after police chased a largely black-clad anticapitalism march through the city's downtown. Some members of the crowd smashed store windows and threw items into the street. The group of defendants volunteered for the first trial date and prosecutors conceded they had no evidence that any of the six committed acts of vandalism. Instead, prosecutors argued the defendants aided and abetted others who vandalized property by being part of a "sea of black masks."