PRESS RELEASE MAY 30: Inauguration Day Protesters File Motions to Dismiss Felony Charges, Disclose Grand Jury Instructions
By PRESS RELEASE
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: May 30, 2017
Sam Menefee-Libey (Dead City Legal Posse)
Inauguration Day Protesters File Motions to Dismiss Felony Charges, Disclose Grand Jury Instructions
More than twenty defendants highlight absurdity of charges, seek an end to politically-motivated cases
Washington, DC – Twenty-one Inauguration Day defendants charged with at least eight felonies each and who face more than 70 years in prison if convicted filed a motion to dismiss their charges on Friday.
Picking apart each charge as insufficient to bring a case against Inauguration Day defendants, the defense motion states that “the government’s unprecedented theory of non-individualized, ‘group’ criminal liability has produced an Indictment that is overrun with fatal defects.” The motion also asserts that certain counts “fail to allege facts sufficient to establish the offense charged,” and others “do not even allege a crime.”
On January 20, Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) officers indiscriminately attacked hundreds of protesters, journalists, legal observers, and bystanders with chemical and projectile weapons, then “kettled” more than 200 people before arresting everyone.
Originally, Inauguration Day arrestees were charged with a single count of “riot,” but eventually the federal prosecutor used a grand jury to indict 214 people for not just felony “riot” but also felony “inciting or urging a riot,” “conspiracy to riot,” multiple counts of “destruction of property,” and misdemeanor “assault on a police officer.”
In another motion filed Friday, defense attorneys seek to disclose the government’s legal instructions to the grand jury, which are typically secret and hidden from public scrutiny. Defense attorneys claim that the superseding indictment issued on April 27 “misconstrues the relevant law,” and they accuse the government of “improperly instruct[ing] the grand jury on the law.”
“It was bad enough to be violently attacked by police while protesting in the streets, but now the government is trying to imprison us for decades,” said David Silverberg, one of the Inauguration Day defendants. “By piling on the charges, federal prosecutors are trying to scare us into pleading guilty before trial, but we stand defiant against such threats.”
More than 130 Inauguration Day defendants have agreed to ‘Points of Unity,’ including working collectively together to fight their charges, and refusing to cooperate with the prosecution or testify against each other.
By entrapping and violently attacking protesters on January 20, MPD violated its own crowd control policy – Standard Operating Procedures for Handling First Amendment Activity – which was modified after the department was sued in the mid-2000s for similar actions against protesters.
In February, the DC Mayor’s Office of Police Complaints issued a critical report, claiming that police responded to protests violently and without warning. In April, the district’s Judiciary Committee Chair Charles Allen promised to launch an independent investigation into the police response on January 20, but has yet failed to do so.
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Defend J20 Resistance is a large group of felony defendants arrested on January 20, 2017 in Washington, DC and their supporters who have all agreed not to testify against each other and are working together to collectively defend themselves. </span>DefendJ20Resistance.org is a product of their work.