PRESS RELEASE: $150,000 Becomes Available for Investigation into Police Misconduct on Inauguration Day
By PRESS RELEASE
Defend J20 Resistance
For Immediate Release: October 2, 2017
Sam Menefee-Libey of DC Legal Posse
firstname.lastname@example.org or (909) 576-3113
$150,000 Becomes Available for Investigation into Police Misconduct on Inauguration Day
Office of Police Complaints will oversee independent investigation as criminal trials begin in November
Washington, DC – With the new fiscal year beginning in the District of Columbia yesterday, $150,000 became available for a long-promised investigation into misconduct by the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) on inauguration day 2017.
On January 20, 2017, MPD violently attacked large crowds of people with chemical and projectile weapons, injuring many. Police unlawfully trapped and detained, or “kettled,” more than two hundred people, arresting protesters, journalists, medics, legal observers, and bystanders en masse.
The call for an investigation came after a report was issued in February by the Mayor’s Office of Police Complaints, criticizing the MPD for violating its own crowd control policy as well as its misuse of chemical agents, failure to provide proper dispersal orders, and making questionable arrests. The report recommended appointing an independent consultant to “investigate and examine all aspects of MPD’s actions on January 20, 2017.” Meanwhile, the US Attorney’s Office is continuing to prosecute 194 people on at least eight felony charges, with each defendant facing a sentence of more than 70 years in prison. Trials are scheduled to begin on November 20, 2017.
“It’s striking that the US Attorney would begin trying people arrested for protesting at Trump’s inauguration before fully investigating the violent and unlawful arrests by police,” said Kris Hermes of Defend J20 Resistance. “An independent investigation must begin as soon as possible so the facts of what happened on that day don’t get swept under the rug or ignored as people face the specter of decades in prison.”
Standing to gain considerably from keeping misconduct hidden from the public, the MPD and its chief Peter Newsham have proactively worked to conceal pertinent information. In March, after refusing to turn over documents related to the police response on inauguration day, Newsham and the MPD were sued by the Partnership for Civil Justice Fund, which claimed that police “are standing in willful disobedience of their lawful obligations to disclose information” even where such information disclosures are mandated by law.
This preoccupation with opacity was underscored in June when Assistant US Attorney Jennifer Kerkhoff filed for a gag order on video footage disclosed during discovery in the criminal cases, after media published police body camera footage showing MPD brutalizing demonstrators on inauguration day. The gag order was granted in July, but defendants are continuing to fight for the full disclosure of this evidence.
Funds for a police investigation are becoming available just a week after a new US Attorney for the District of Columbia took office. Jessie Liu, who will now oversee the prosecution against inauguration day defendants, is a Justice Department careerist and a former member of Trump’s transition team. Liu has already come under fire for being the only US Attorney nominee to meet with President Trump as part of her interview process, which experts and former US Attorneys say is virtually unheard of and “serves to undermine the rule of law.”
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.