PRESS RELEASE JUNE 29: More Than 200 Trial Dates Set for Inauguration Day Protesters in Fall 2017, Spring 2018
By PRESS RELEASE
Sam Menefee-Libey (Dead City Legal Posse)
More Than 200 Trial Dates Set for Inauguration Day Protesters in Fall 2017, Spring 2018
Many defendants are refusing plea bargains unless all defendants are offered the same deal
Washington, DC – Following hearings over the past several days, trial dates have now been set for nearly all of the more than 200 defendants arrested en masse at the January 20 Inauguration Day protests in Washington, DC. The first trial, which includes six defendants, is scheduled for November 20, 2017. That trial is followed by an eight-person trial on December 11, and the rest of the trials are scheduled for the spring and summer of 2018.
As the last trial dates are set, more than half of the defendants are mounting a collective defense and have agreed not to cooperate with the prosecution and not to testify against their co-defendants. In line with their determination to see the state's case collapse at trial, defendants have agreed that no further pleas will be considered unless they are offered, uniformly, to the entire group.
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. All of those arrested were charged with felony rioting, which was followed by a superseding indictment issued in April charging all defendants with at least eight felonies each, punishable by up to 75 years in prison.
The final trial dates come as a growing number of organizations have criticized the arrests, including the DC chapters of the National Lawyers Guild and the American Civil Liberties Union, which last week filed a lawsuit against the District of Columbia, the MPD and its Police Chief Peter Newsham, challenging the police misconduct that occurred on January 20.
In February, the Office of Police Complaints (OPC) issued a report criticizing the police response to the Inauguration Day protests, pointing to violent and indiscriminate attacks by police and their failure to issue the required dispersal orders.
The OPC report, in part, prompted the District Council earlier this month to approve $150,000 for an investigation into police misconduct that weekend. Defendants argue that the investigation should be fast-tracked in order to underscore the illegitimacy of the charges levied against them.
"Assistant U.S. Attorney Jennifer Kerkhoff is wasting a huge amount of money on malicious prosecutions at a cost to the public that far outstrips any damage that occurred that day," said Sam Menefee-Libey of the Dead City Legal Posse which is supporting the Inauguration Day defendants.
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. DefendJ20Resistance.org is a product of their work.