PRESS RELEASE: Trump Admin Will Spend Millions to Try Inauguration Day Defendants, Each Facing Decades in Prison
By PRESS RELEASE
For Immediate Release: November 6, 2017
Sam Menefee-Libey of DC Legal Posse
email@example.com or (909) 576-3113
Trump Admin Will Spend Millions to Try Inauguration Day Defendants, Each Facing Decades in Prison
Trials begin November 15 despite an ongoing investigation into questionable arrests, police misconduct
Washington, DC – Trials for the nearly 200 people arrested on Inauguration Day are scheduled to begin on Wednesday, November 15, 2017 in DC Superior Court before Judge Lynn Leibovitz.
The first bloc of trials include seven defendants—Jennifer Armento, Oliver Harris, Britt Lawson, Michelle “Miel” Macchio, Christina Simmons, Jayram Toraty, and Alexei Wood. To highlight the start of trials, Defend J20 Resistance will hold a press conference that day in front of DC Superior Court at 8:30am.
What: Press conference to highlight the beginning of J20 trials
When: Wednesday, November 15, 2017 at 8:30am – Trial begins at 9:30am
Where: H. Carl Moultrie Courthouse, 500 Indiana Ave NW, Washington, DC
“It’s indefensible that the government is spending millions of dollars to take nearly 200 people to trial for protesting Trump’s inauguration,” said longtime activist and author Kris Hermes of Defend J20 Resistance. “These trials, and the decades in prison that each defendant is facing, represent an aggressive attempt by the Trump administration to criminalize and stifle dissent.” The trials will start with jury selection and are expected to last for at least two weeks.
In addition to protesters, the first trial bloc includes a photojournalist and two people being identified by the prosecution as street medics. Alexei Wood was documenting events that day, and is one of two journalists still facing charges. Many volunteer medics were in DC during the inauguration weekend to provide care for people engaging in political expression. Several of these medics were caught up in the mass arrest on Inauguration Day and are still facing charges.
In an indictment issued in April, each of the more than 200 defendants at the time were charged with at least 8 felonies–rioting, inciting a riot, conspiracy to riot, and multiple counts of property destruction. But, on Wednesday, Judge Leibovitz issued an order correcting the ‘rioting’ and ‘conspiracy to riot’ charges by reducing them to misdemeanors. Each defendant is still facing as much as 60 years in prison.
The first trials begin more than a month after an independent investigation was initiated by the DC Mayor’s Office of Police Complaints (OPC) into the questionable arrests and violence carried out by the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) on Inauguration Day. The OPC issued a report in February critical of MPD conduct, recommending that the district hire an “independent consultant” to investigate MPD misconduct. The District Council responded by allocating $150,000 to the investigation which began last month.
To clear up apparent confusion over the sequence of events on Inauguration Day, Defend J20 Resistance has published a graphic timeline. Specifically, the timeline indicates how police wantonly attacked protesters, journalists, medics, legal observers and bystanders soon after the march left Logan Circle. The timeline refutes claims by MPD Chief Peter Newsham that the police attacks were in response to a damaged limousine, something that occurred more than five hours after people were trapped and detained by MPD.
The next trial bloc is scheduled for December 11, 2017, and remaining trials will take place over the next year, through the fall of 2018. The roughly 20 trial blocs will typically consist of 8-9 defendants each.
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.