A Call for a Worldwide Day of Action in Solidarity with J20 Defendants

Comrades,

Over the last week, the government’s flimsy case against J20 defendants has begun to crack. The second trial ended in acquittals and mistrials for 4 defendants, and 10 others had their charges dropped in a prosecutorial attempt to avoid sanctions for witholding evidence. After 17 months of blatant repression against people who resisted capitalism, fascism, and the Trump regime on Inauguration Day, the state has failed to convict a single person at trial.

We are calling for a worldwide day of action in solidarity with the remaining 44 defendants on June 25th, the first day of the next trial. The prosecution and the criminal legal system it is a part of can be influenced by our collective actions and solidarity. It's time to pull out all the stops and do everything we can to pressure the government to drop all the charges.

Plan a rally outside a DOJ office, or a US consulate. Organize a prisoner letter writing event. Throw a benefit show, a radical film screening, or a fundraising raffle for the legal defense fund. Drop a banner. Use your imagination, and make us impossible to ignore.

We know we're stronger when we stand in solidarity with each other despite our personal and political differences. Our movements are more resilient than the petty bureaucrats who imagine they can break it. The love we have for each other is stronger than their jails and courthouses. We will bury them beneath the new world in our hearts.

Love and solidarity,
some defendants and supporters

Second J20 Trial Ends in Acquittals & Mistrials, Solidarity for Remaining Defendants Still Needed

Last week the trial for the latest group of four J20 defendants ended in the prosecution's failure to convict any of the defendants on a single charge. One defendant was acquitted on all charges, the jury was deadlocked on all charges for another defendant and mixed on charges for the remaining two defendants. Since a unanimous verdict is needed for either acquittal or conviction, a deadlocked jury means a mistrial on those charges and the prosecution has 30 days to decide whether to re-file those charges or dismiss them. This leaves three of the defendants currently in limbo, not knowing whether or not they'll face another trial.

These three defendants have a hearing scheduled on July 11th during which the state may re-file charges. Ongoing solidarity is still needed for these defendants in the form of in-court presence if you live or will be present in the DC area. It's still unclear what these developments mean for future defendants facing trials this summer and fall. However, it is clear that the state has been unable to convict any defendants in trial, including those who allegedly damaged property.

From a former defendant in the May 14th trial group, "I am elated that the trial came to an end with not a single victory for #FuckOffKerkhoff and the state; I can’t deny however that after all that for only some partial verdicts and mistrials this has been a huge waste of time. We were very fortunate to have a huge support group at our backs the whole way who poured endless compassion and solidarity into my experience. For that I thank them. I won’t forget how I witnessed the true love in radical spaces. Court solidarity pulled me thru this ultimately and I can’t stress enough how important it is to show up for people who are being dragged thru the criminal justice system. I have witnessed many heartbreaks in my month on trial and seen the state deal brutality on families or people who are there absolutely alone. We are all political prisoners as far as I am concerned so let’s get out there and share some cigarettes and shoelaces, or lunch if you can. I reject the legitimacy of the so-called United States and any judgements therein".

We feel relieved that our friends from this trial block remain free from criminal convictions in this case. We care about all J20 defendants and everyone affected by the criminal legal system, and seek to reduce the harm this system has on our lives. However, we don't believe it is possible--even in the case of acquittals--to truly "win" within the court system. We challenge the notion that there exists such a thing as a "fair" or "ethical" trial. Whether the courts decide someone is innocent or guilty, we reject the legitimacy of their control over our lives. The legal system, the laws on which it is based, and how those laws skew our sense of morality all uphold the fundamental injustices of the United States. More than facts or the notion of guilt, one's experience and treatment in court is dictated by race, gender, citizenship, and access to specialized and expensive resources. Our support for all J20 defendants is not dependent on whether they did or didn't do the acts the state alleges.

We reject the state's attempts to define how people in social movements fight injustice. We challenge the dichotomy between "good protesters" who were "just marching" and "bad protesters" who allegedly damaged property or organized the protest. The J20 charges are aimed at disrupting a our social movements as a whole, across the differences of opinion we may have about tactics. The state and its authoritarian collaborators hope the fear caused by repression will keep movements from using confrontational tactics. But, we can overcome their attempts to fragment us by emphasizing solidarity over division. Whatever our individual opinions on tactics, we believe in opposing all repression from the state. Nobody deserves to have their life disrupted by the violence of the state, whether that looks like a police baton on Inauguration day, doxxing by the far-right, or the anxiety and strain that comes from the prospect or reality of up to 60+ years in prison.

Social movements in this country and worldwide--labor movements and civil rights movements, for example--have always relied on a variety of tactics (many of which have been deemed unlawful) in order to meet their demands. Notably, the felony rioting statue being used to prosecute the Inauguration Day defendants was shaped by mid-century fears of black revolutionary politics. In this case, The U.S. District Attorny has singled out numerous people of color and alleged that they damaged property. One example, is the May 14th trial where Michael Basilas, a trans womxn immigrant of color from the Phillipines, is accused of breaking several windows.

We further challenge the valorization of "political" defendants and prisoners over other people whose lives and families are vulnerable to state violence. The people most often and most brutally affected by the Metropolitan Police Department of the District of Columbia (MPD), anti-rioting laws, and the horror of the criminal legal system are not protesters on Inauguration Day, but people of color living in so-called Washington D.C who face this abhorrant system every day. The same MPD that beat protesters on January 20th, 2017 is the same MPD that beat Black D.C. resident Samuel Cooper while he was handcuffed and later charged him with assaulting an officer. The same police force who murdered Terrence Sterling, Ralphael Briscoe, DQuan Young, Jeffrey Price, and Alonzo Smith. The same police force who harrass black and brown people in gentrifying neighborhoods such as Shaw, Columbia Heights, and Brightwood. The same MPD who use jumpout squads (AKA stop-and-frisk on wheels), SWAT raids, and other modern policing tactics that are a hallmark of the so-called War on Drugs to disempower Black communities daily. The use of physical violence that is called "police brutality" is the trademark of policing in the modern American prison industrial complex and its twisted logic is a direct descendant of a national history of slavery that defined mostly black/brown humans as property.

The J20 defendants aren't an exceptional category of people who are somehow "undeserving" of this treatment; nobody deserves this, yet it is part and parcel of how the criminal legal system operates.

Though the state's case appears to be crumbling, we need people to show up now more than ever for the remaining defendants. Unlike most DC residents who are affected by the criminal legal system, J20 defendants have access to a local, national, and international movement that many DC residents who are affected by the criminal legal system do not have. There are numerous organizations in DC --Black Lives Matter DC and Stop Police Terror to name two--who are actively organizing in response to police violence and systemic racism in the DC area. We encourage J20 supporters to understand our struggles as interconnected, and support these organizations. We also want to highlight the continued need for solidarity for our friends in Hamilton, Ontario, water protectors in the Midwestand elsewhere, and with others fighting back against state repression in all its forms.


til we're all free,

some J20 defendants and supporters

IWW: Solidarity Actions for J20 Defendants

This call is reposted from the Industrial Workers of the World:

Comrades,

For over a year, the US has been pressing felony charges--including “riot,” “inciting a riot,” and “conspiracy to riot”--against protesters who were arrested at the inauguration of Donald Trump. After a revelation that they had been withholding evidence from the defense, federal prosecutors dropped all charges against 10 defendants last week, including against members of our union. Today, the second J20 trial ended in a mistrial for three defendants and full acquittal for a fourth.

The state is reeling from this defeat, and lashing out like a wounded animal as it retreats. 44 defendants are still awaiting trial. The hour is late; the time to act in their defense is now. We are calling for an international day of action in solidarity with the J20 defendants on Monday, June 25th.

From the beginning, the J20 case has represented an escalation of the state’s attempts to criminalize revolutionary politics. The Riot Act is an archaic law with a racist history, once used to repress and attack the black liberation movement in the US, which has not been used in Washington, DC since the Matthews case of 1968. Its application against protesters today signals the beginning of a wave of state repression comparable to the Red Scares of the 1920’s and 1950’s. Despite not even being present on Inauguration Day, an IWW member had his door kicked in and his house raided by police, before being slapped with the same charges as other protesters. We live in an era when fascists and white supremacists can attack us in the streets without legal consequence, but antifascists face over 60 years in prison for a demonstration.

If you live in the US, organize a demonstration outside your local DOJ building. If you live in another country, organize a picket of a US embassy. Call a 1-day solidarity strike at your workplace. Do whatever you can to raise the profile of our courageous comrades who are facing down the forces of reaction. The more scandal an action produces, the better.

Until all are free,

Industrial Workers of the World




Compañeros y compañeras

Hace más de un año que el Estado acusó a los manifestantes arrestados durante la inauguración de Donald Trump de provocar “disturbios”. La semana pasada, la fiscal retiró las acusaciones contra 10 de los procesados en el juicio en curso del J20 (20 de enero), incluidos miembros de la IWW. Esa victoria se logró al mismo tiempo que se revelaba que la fiscal había ocultado pruebas a la defensa deliberadamente. Hoy, el segundo juicio de J20 terminó con juicio nulo para tres de los acusados y absolución completa del cuarto.

El Estado se tambalea con su derrota, y ataca como un animal herido a la vez que se retira. 44 acusados están todavía a la espera de juicio. Ya es hora de actuar en su defensa. Convocamos un día internacional de acción solidaria con los acusados para el lunes, 25 de junio.

Desde el comienzo, el juicio del J20 (20 de enero) ha sido un intento descarado de criminalizar las ideas revolucionarias. La ley vigente, la llamada "Riot Act" arrastra una historia racista. Fue usada para reprimir y atacar al Movimiento de Liberación Negra. La última vez que se utilizó en Washington, DC, fue en el caso Matthews en 1968. Su uso actual contra manifestantes señala el comienzo de una oleada represiva que se puede comparar con las histerias anticomunistas de los años 20 y 50. Un miembro de la IWW fue objeto de un registro en su domicilio, en el cual la policía derribó su puerta, antes de ser incluido en el mismo proceso. Sin embargo, ni siquiera había estado presente en el día de la inauguración. Vivimos en una época en la cual los fascistas nos pueden atacar en la calle sin consecuencias, pero en la que los antifascistas se enfrentan a más de 60 años de cárcel por una manifestación.

Si vives en EEUU, organiza una manifestación frente al edificio local del Departamento de "Justicia". Si vives en otro país, organiza un piquete en la embajada o consulado estadounidense. Convoca una huelga solidaria de 24 horas en tu centro de trabajo. Haz lo que puedas para dar a conocer el caso de nuestros valientes compañeros y compañeras, que se enfrentan a las fuerzas de la reacción. Cuanta más repercusión tenga una acción, mejor.

Hasta que todos y todas sean libres,

Industrial Workers of the World

Another Defendant Acquitted (Mostly!) as Jury Heads into Final Stretch of Circus Trial (Maybe!)

On June 6th, around noon EST, the jury announced it had reached a verdict for another defendant in the group of defendants who began trial on May 14th. The jury unanimously agreed that the defendant was not guilty on all charges except "engaging in a riot", which is a misdemeanor. For that one defendant and one charge,the jury was deadlocked, and Judge Knowles declared a mistrial. The government has 30 days to re-file charges if they choose to do so.

While we are thrilled about this news, we are anxiously awaiting a verdict regarding the remaining two defendants, and want to keep up continued support for the remaining 44 defendants still facing trial this summer and fall. We urge people in the DC-area to show up to court to support the defendants as they await a verdict, as well as to donate at defendj20resistance.org.

More court recaps will be posted here ASAP. For real-time updates, check out Unicorn Riot's twitter feed.

Update on the Last Week

Verdicts for three of the current four defendants from the group who started trial on May 14th are currently pending, with the jury deliberating as we write this update. It was just announced this morning that one defendant was found not guilty on all counts and we continue to wait and hope that the jury will free three more of our comrades. It's been a dramatic week with so many rapid developments full of twists and turns that seems almost like a daytime TV crime drama. With a lot of news out there, we want to take a chance to give a brief one week summary as well as our own tentative thoughts and analysis of what transpired over just a few days.

As you may have heard from our buddies at Unicorn Riot and other sympathetic news sources, the US Attorney's Office was recently caught in serious violation of their Brady and Rule 16 obligations, which require them to disclose information that may be useful to the defense. Last week, Judge Morin indicated that, for withholding portions of the video provided to them by the right wing group, Project Veritas, the government would be sanctioned.

Yet again, and unsurprisingly, the US Attorney's Office has shown that it has little concern for the rules of the so-called justice system which it purportedly upholds. What is even more shameful is that the the actions of Assistant US Attorney Jennifer Kerkhoff and her team have possibly happened before, and similar forms of deception undoubtedly occur in courthouses across the country more often than we know. To be sure, the people most affected be prosecutioral deception are often not activists, but people of color facing crimes of poverty and the so-called War on Drugs. The injustice of the criminal legal system extends far beyond the repression meted out against the J20 defendants, with one key difference being there isn't national media attention to put a spotlight on this kind of daily "misconduct" in the average criminal case. Yes, the prosecution lied about evidence, and that's a disgusting abuse of power, but we also reject the idea of "good" or "ethical" prosecution in a system designed to lock people in cages or keep them captive through other repressive institutions like parole/probation, electronic home monitoring, and living with felony records.

On May 31st, there was a hearing for the defendants scheduled for trial in the May 29th and June 4th groups. During the hearing, it became clear that the U.S. Attorney's Office (USAO) hid not one or a handful, but 69 recordings from Project Veritas, and had lied about it repeatedly in front of Judge Leibovitz, Judge Morin, and Judge Knowles. The USAO tried to pre-empt sanctions by moving to drop charges without prejudice (meaning charges could potentially be re-filed) against 7 defendants (all 6 set to start trial June 4th and 1 who was scheduled to start trial on May 29th) and reduce the remaining 3 defendants on the May 29th trial to 4 misdemeanors, changing the venue to a bench trial in front of a judge rather than a full jury trial. Due to the broad scope and ongoing nature of the Brady and Rule 16 violation, Judge Morin responded to the prosecution's motion by dismissing the conspiracy charges with prejudice and forbidding the government from proceeding on conspiracy charges or Pinkerton liability (the basis for the blanket property destruction charges) for all remaining defendants. Then, over the weekend, the U.S. Attorney's Office confirmed that they would also dismiss the charges against the remaining three defendants from the M29 trial group. At this time, it is unclear how the dismissals will affect all 44 remaining defendants scheduled to go to trial this summer and fall. During the hearing last week, Morin stated that the conspiracy to riot charge was being thrown out for "all defendants"; however, lawyers have expressed different and varying opinions and it is unclear what the fallout from this ruling will be. The dismissals are a victory--and it there's a strong possibility that the conspiracy ruling will have a positive impact on remaining cases--but we are by no means out of the woods. This remains a serious case with dozens of people facing multiple felonies and we will keep up this fight until every defendant walks free.

Also on May 31st, in a separate courtroom, the trial which began May 14th against four defendants culminated in closing arguments despite the important rulings and massive changes in the case occurring in other court rooms. Attorneys for the defense brought up the Brady violation issue early Thursday morning and Judge Kimberly Knowles stated that she is still "undecided" on whether the sanctions against the prosecution would affect the defendants currently on trial. She announced that she would defer judgment on the motion for mistrial. However, Knowles still has the power to rule on sanctions even once a verdict is announced. Around 4:30 pm, the defense and prosecution finished their closing statements, with the prosecution's closing arguments echoing almost verbatim those used in the November 2017 trial. Some who were present in the courtroom reported that the prosecuting attorneys looked visibly shaken and emotional, as their closing statements seemed disjointed and ultimately fell flat, despite their attempts at melodrama. One such dramatic tactic was to play audio of glass breaking, montaged together in no discernible order. Before his closing statements, Michael Basillas's lead attorney, Billy Jacobson, renewed the motion for mistrial. After the closing arguments concluded and the jury had left the room, the judge read a note left by a juror. The juror said she had seen “Google jury nullification” written in a bathroom stall. She proceeded to Google "jury nullification" and discuss what she learned with the rest of the jury. Curiously, neither defense nor prosecution pushed for mistrial as a result.

On June 1st, the jury for the four defendants from the May 14th group continued to deliberate. At the end of the day, another juror reported to the judge that he saw a twitter headline that confirmed his intuition about the prosecution and made him question the prosecution's ethics and credibility (many LOLs from those of us who've doubted this all along). The prosecution pushed for the jury to be bumped off due to "tainting the [jury] pool," but the juror was allowed to continue.

We are overjoyed and celebratory about the dropped charges and relish in the humor of watching the US Attorney's Office fumble in its home arena (apologies for the sports analogy). However, we find it hard to get too excited about these recent changes when so many J20 defendants are still facing charges. Furthermore, we see how state repression continues and extends far beyond this case. For example, our friends in Hamilton, Ontario face new arrests and conspiracy charges, as well as the ongoing cases against Glo Merriweather and Rayquam Borum of the Charlotte Uprising, multiple cases that mirror in many ways the repression against J20 defendants and repression historically faced by anarchists and those who rebel against the state and capitalism.

Trumped up charges are often used to slow down, distract, and silence resistance, and we will continue to stand in solidarity with all those who oppose state repression. We know that charges against the J20 defendants, while atypical, are just another tool in the state's toolbox. The J20 experience isn't particularly unique or exceptional; countless people face the agony of the criminal legal system every day. It is a system designed to break people’s spirits and punish through its isolating, expensive, and stressful process full of fear, uncertainy, and loss of freedom. Certainly, race, gender, citizenship, and access to resources shape one’s experience within courts and prisons far more than notions of innocence or guilt. Courts, police, and prisons daily function to oppress mostly people of color, indigenous folks, and poor people in order to perpeuate global inequality under our capitalist system.

Supporters of the J20 defendants reaffirm our steadfast solidarity with the remaining defendants, regardless of the allegations against them or the way the state tries to divide us. These proceedings continue to show the government's case for what it is--a complete sham--and we are excited to continue to watch it disintegrate before our eyes. If you are in the DC area, please show up to court to support the three J20 defendants who await a verdict from the jury, and show up to the next trial, which begins on June 25th.

Live elsewhere? You can get more ideas for ways to show support at defendj20resistance.org.

Solidarity to all those resisting the expansion of pipelines across the continent, from the campaign against MVP in Appalachia to those fighting the Kinder Morgan Pipeline in so-called British Columbia. Solidarity as well to all those in France defending the ZAD as a space for autonomy; to anarchists in Hamilton, to Glo and Rayquan and every comrade facing down the court system in the so-called united states; to Leonard, Mumia, Marius and everyone on the front line of the fight on the inside; to student protesters in so-called Puerto Rico; and to all who resist empire and its destruction of our planet and its inhabitants.

Update on the Situation in Hamilton and a Call for Continued Solidarity

There is a rapidly developing situation in Hamilton, Ontario that we would like to help draw attention to. While not all of the defendants or supporters of the current DefendJ20 effort may call ourselves anarchists, we all see a certain commonality in our ideals with the anarchists in Hamilton currently resisting repression.

On the morning of June 1st, authorities announced new arrests and warrants in regards to what is now being called the "Locke Street Riot". One arrest had already been made, that of Cedar Hopperton, whom we wrote a statement of solidarity for back in the beginning of May. We want to strongly affirm our solidarity with these new defendants and any future defendants in this witch hunt against anarchists in Hamilton. This case is inherently political, as the media and authorities continue to scapegoat an anarchist space known as the Tower for being connected to the actions on Locke Street. In what way it is connected is never made quite clear, as a similar logic used in the J20 case is being applied in Hamilton against an entire ideology and milieu of activists. It seems authorities in Canada are following the lead of the MPD, authorities in Europe, Puerto Rico, and elsewhere to attempt to chill dissent quickly. City officials even went so far as to order the removal of the "Circle A" symbol from the Tower, alleging it to be "hate speech". This didn't last long and eventually was overturned, but the level of intensity with which business owners, the police, and city officials are pursuing retaliation for a few broken windows is telling.

It is clear to anyone who is breathing that the current order values property over life, money over need. The reasons J20 is important to us are similar to why supporting the folks in Hamilton, and anyone else who resists oppression and domination, is important to us. We know that state repression in both Canada and the U.S. are rooted in a global strategy to continually re-assert state domination and power, to uphold colonial and capitalist structures. We reject attempts to isolate and individualize our struggles, as we know they are interconnected. We stand in solidarity with those arrested in Hamilton and their loved ones as they continue to weather these changes with bravery and integrity.

We would like to encourage people donate to their defense fund, fundraising.the-tower.ca and continue to check hamiltonanarchistsuppport.noblogs.org for updates as this is a developing situation.

Brady Violations and Why They Matter to the J20 Case


One of the central hurdles in the J20 case has been the staggering number of videos collected as evidence by the prosecution. In a case that at one point had 230 defendants, hundreds of hours (and hundreds of gigabytes) of video footage were entered into discovery by the Attorney’s Office. A situation like a microcosm of the NSA’s PRISM program was at hand, with data coming from officer body-cams, aerial footage, store video, video from third party news and semi-professional individuals, photos and text messages from defendants phones, and data from a website called DisruptJ20. Defendant council, particularly those court-appointed, struggled to keep up with the many portals and services to access this information. Access to discovery material has had many practical barriers, even for proactive defendants who wish to devote weeks to going through the material.

The subject of the Supreme Court case Brady vs. Maryland has been a reoccurring theme at trial readiness hearings. Defense attorneys have debated whether material from electronic devices other than their client’s should be protected or considered as potentially exculpatory. AUSA Kerkhoff has been questioned thoroughly on Brady material for over a year, and is well aware of its complexity in this case. Judges have held her accountable when defense attorneys were not given access to discovery or had technical difficulties accessing material. At one point the prosecution issued a gag rule on discovery, out of frustration that an officer’s body camera footage was revealed in an article that did not portray the case in a favorable light.

The time spent discussing Brady and the mountain of evidence in this case makes the motion about Brady violations from the June 4th trial group particularly shocking. Furthermore, it concerns video footage taken by self-proclaimed news organization Project Veritas. Run on the personal whims of founder James O’Keefe, this group has made many enemies in journalism, most notably when they attempted a sting operation on the Washington Post. O’Keefe is motivated against those he perceives as holding anti-establishment or problematically liberal political views. He “infiltrated” meetings organizing protests for Inauguration Day for several weeks with an undercover crew. Several cameramen got one-on-one interviews with people they met, some of who became defendants in this case.

The videos that Project Veritas produced - in a hackneyed Law and Order style that included a “Murder Board” of photos and string – were heavily edited and heavily editorialized. O’Keefe proudly delivered these videos to the DC police and FBI, and filmed himself doing so. The way they have now resurfaced in this case is how they relate to Brady, and how the prosecutors are being accused of “the suppression…of evidence favorable to [the] accused” (Brady v. Maryland, 1963). The Project Veritas footage provided to defense counsel was not complete, as the May 22nd motion states, and cut out specific moments where the camera crew found the organizers innocuous. The trial group that submitted the Motion to Sanction includes those accused of organizing the protest, including several added to the case after the mass-arrest. The Brady violation, however, applies to all defendants, since the conspiracy charge has lumped the charges together and rendered all culpable. For the current trial of four, the evidence in question here has already been presented to a jury and discussed by a detective working with the prosecution.

A number of legal scholars have taken issue with the problematic nature of Brady, which stems from the faith that prosecutors will present both inculpatory and exculpatory evidence to the defense. Apart from the documented cases of prosecutors willfully withholding or hiding information, there is also a logical disconnect between prosecutors incentivized to win cases and a reasoned evaluation of evidence that incorporates theories of innocence. The judge can do little more than demand that a prosecutor turn over all evidence in open court. To make matters worse, there are few repercussions if the government does not follow this instruction. In a 2011 Supreme Court ruling, Clarence Thomas wrote that a DA’s Office could not be held liable for not training prosecutors on the constitutional rights of defendants. There are very few avenues to challenge a prosecutor on their conduct, which undermines the protections of the Brady ruling. Subsequent rulings have also narrowed its scope, requiring “material” evidence when seeking retrials or determining a mistrial.


A Brady violation is a serious offense and has a very particular stain on a process designed to uncover and present information. Prosecutors have a great deal of control over the trial process, from the grand jury testimony to the presentation of evidence. They are able to extract plea deals from defendants before the issue of Brady even comes into play, and capitalize off the defendant’s inability to know all of the potential evidence. Many public defenders attest that Brady violations occur regularly, and studies have shown that that about 1/5 of overturned cases have included undisclosed evidence. In the instance of the J20 case, the decision to bring multiple felony charges including conspiracy suggests an ideological motive on the behalf of the lead detective and head prosecutor. The desire for a win in this case goes beyond the normal pressure of the Attorney’s Office. All of these factors add to the motivation, conscious or not, of misrepresenting video evidence. It also reveals a detective informed by a specific bias toward protest, which is not tempered at all by the Attorney’s Office. The judges, and ultimately, the jury, have to be able to see this for what it is and recognize the Brady violations as a symptom of a larger problem.

Attend Court in Solidarity with #J20 Defendants

A great way to show support for defendants on trial is to attend court to sit in on the proceedings. A courtroom full of friendly faces is a tremendous boost to defendants' morale and energy. Whether you can come down for a whole day or just a few hours, attending court is an important display of solidarity.

Court takes place at:
DC Superior Court, 500 Indiana Ave, NW Courtroom 203 (2nd floor)
(Judiciary Square, Red line metro OR Archives - Navy Memorial - Penn Quarter, Green line metro)

Some Tips:

  • Please arrive by 8am so that you have lots of time to get though security; don’t bring anything that they won’t let through; wear snazzy court support clothes if you have them (black if possible, but we’ll have black blazers to borrow for folks who want/need that to be able to ).
  • The jury will sit at 10am and we need everyone seated and situated long before then, because the judge will take the bench at 9:30am to handle preliminary matters. Ideally, we’d like to have the courtroom packed by then.
  • Expect a full day in court! Be prepared to listen attentively to the proceedings, to show love to our friends on trial (as they hear the government try to vilify them), and to show respect to the jurors.

Some Things Not To Do:

  • Please don’t do anything that could reflect poorly on our friends on trial, that could cause jurors to have an unfavorable view of them or of us, or say/do anything that could put you (or others) at risk.
  • Whenever you are inside the courthouse (or in the immediate area out front), please assume that you are under surveillance, that the purpose of that surveillance is to gather evidence against our friends, and conduct yourself accordingly.
  • Obviously, you should avoid saying anything incriminating, but sharing any personal details at all about anyone has the potential to create/trigger unintended consequences.
  • Similarly, please don’t post anything on social media that could be damaging to any of the defendants. Boost @defendj20’s posts instead. And please direct all media inquiries to the media spokespeople who will be in court each day instead of doing interviews yourself.
  • Please be aware that the judge has issued very specific guidelines for decorum on this case. It is important that we follow these guidelines in order to avoid adverse outcomes, for those on trial and/or for the rest of us. The judge has ordered that there be no communication whatsoever to jurors.
  • Additionally, the judge has ordered that cameras/phones should not even be out anywhere on the second floor. Any violation of the judge’s orders (even courteous small talk to jurors) can result in criminal charges, such as contempt of court or jury tampering.

How To Support Folks If You Can't Be In Court

Thank you for all the Love and Support for the May 14 Defendants! Solidarity Forever.

May 16 - Pack the Court!

The jury for the May 14 trial group has been selected and 4 defendants begin trial on May 16. They are still facing 6 felonies and 2 misdemeanors each, which add up to a maximum of over 60 years in prison.

It is important that we pack the court to show loving support for the defendants. They will draw energy from your presence and it is a great way to demonstrate our solidarity with the folks on trial.

* When to Come *

9am on May 16

* Where to Come *

DC Superior Court, 500 Indiana Ave, NW Courtroom 203 (2nd floor)
(Judiciary Square, Red line metro OR Archives - Navy Memorial - Penn Quarter, Green line metro)

Some Tips:

  • Please arrive by 8am so that you have lots of time to get though security; don’t bring anything that they won’t let through; wear snazzy court support clothes if you have them (black if possible, but we’ll have black blazers to borrow for folks who want/need that to be able to ).
  • The jury will sit at 10am and we need everyone seated and situated long before then, because the judge will take the bench at 9:30am to handle preliminary matters. Ideally, we’d like to have the courtroom packed by then.
  • Expect a full day in court! Be prepared to listen attentively to the proceedings, to show love to our friends on trial (as they hear the government try to vilify them), and to show respect to the jurors.

Some Things Not To Do:

  • Please don’t do anything that could reflect poorly on our friends on trial, that could cause jurors to have an unfavorable view of them or of us, or say/do anything that could put you (or others) at risk.
  • Whenever you are inside the courthouse (or in the immediate area out front), please assume that you are under surveillance, that the purpose of that surveillance is to gather evidence against our friends, and conduct yourself accordingly.
  • Obviously, you should avoid saying anything incriminating, but sharing any personal details at all about anyone has the potential to create/trigger unintended consequences.
  • Similarly, please don’t post anything on social media that could be damaging to any of the defendants. Boost @defendj20’s posts instead. And please direct all media inquiries to the media spokespeople who will be in court each day instead of doing interviews yourself.
  • Please be aware that the judge has issued very specific guidelines for decorum on this case. It is important that we follow these guidelines in order to avoid adverse outcomes, for those on trial and/or for the rest of us. The judge has ordered that there be no communication whatsoever to jurors.
  • Additionally, the judge has ordered that cameras/phones should not even be out anywhere on the second floor. Any violation of the judge’s orders (even courteous small talk to jurors) can result in criminal charges, such as contempt of court or jury tampering.

How To Support Folks If You Can't Be In Court

Thank you for all the Love and Support for the May 14 Defendants! Solidarity Forever.

May 11 - Rally for J20 Defendants

On Friday, May 11 community members will gather for a rally to demand that the federal government drop the charges against 58 people still facing serious felonies relating to protesting Trump’s inauguration. The next set of trials for five Inauguration Day defendants is scheduled to begin with jury selection on Monday, May 14 in the Superior Court of DC.

WHAT: Rally in Support of Inauguration Day Defendants

WHEN: Friday, May 11 at 12:30pm

WHERE: Franklin Square

Facebook event

Solidarity with Cedar Hopperton from J20 Defendants and Supporters

Cedar Hopperton is an anarchist living on occupied Anishinabek, Haudenosaunee, and Anishinaabe land in so-called Hamilton, Ontario. In March, there was a small disruptive anti-capitalist march in a gentrifying neighborhood the weekend of the Hamiliton anarchist bookfair. Afterwards, far right and white nationalist groups began attacking Hamilton's anarchist community space, who took the opportunity to advance their own agenda. The police responded by targeting Cedar, raiding their home, and arresting them on April 5th and charging them with conspiracy charges. Cedar was denied bail at their last hearing and is currently being held in segregation. As of now, they may be held for a year or longer awaiting trial. The charges against Cedar as well as the recent attack on The Tower, an anarchist space in Hamilton, can be understood as yet another example of the use of conspiracy and rioting charges to criminalize dissent and scare us out of the streets.

Cedar was targeted for their commitment to anarchism, their outward organizing with the community, and their alleged role as an organizer of the bookfair. Their trumped-up charges represent an attempt to criminalize dissent and legitimize the carceral and judicial system in the eyes of the residents of so-called Hamilton who remain confused and angry about the reason the demonstration took place. As in the J20 case, the criminal charges are not about broken windows--they are about using the repressive carceral apparatus of the courts and prisons to punish and terrify members of our communities as part of a strategy to discredit and destroy our communities and movements. In both cases, we see the use of police collusion with the far-right, the targeting of well-known anarchist organizers, and the use of conspiracy and rioting charges to put anarchism on trial. While both of these imperial governments claim that people facing charges have protected rights while they go through the court process, the reality is that much of their punishment has already been meted: separation from their loved ones, separation from their communities, and being forced to submit to many of the oppressive norms of incarceration and the judicial system.

We see clearly the parallels between this recent attack on Cedar and anarchists in so-called Hamilton and the 2017 inauguration mass arrest and subsequent conspiracy and riot charges in so-called Washington, DC, USA. These parallels transcend borders, as their similarities are rooted in a global strategy of repression based on each imperial government's desire to repress and destroy anarchist and other radical movements for liberation. The recognition of these congruent tactics of repression from both imperial governments demonstrates the interconnection between the liberation and survival of peoples on both sides of the artificial, colonial border. By reaching across the imagined borders the state uses to hold us captive and occupy stolen lands, we offer a gesture of support and commitment to the ideals that define our movements.

We call for Cedar's immediate release, the dismissal of all charges, and the cessation of attacks against anarchists, anti-fascists and anti-capitalists. As supporters of and defendants in the J20 case, we offer our support and solidarity with Cedar and their community. We stand firmly against the state and their attempts to dissolve our movements, strain our resources, and exhaust our communities. We reject the ideology of law and order, guilt versus innocence, and the carceral system that seeks to isolate and individualize our efforts of disruption. We will continue to fight for a world without cages and without borders. None of us are free until all of us are free!

To show your solidarity with Cedar, we ask for support in the form of letters and fundraising: organize a letter-writing event or host a fundraiser in your community!

Write to Cedar at:

Peter (Cedar) Hopperton
Hamilton-Wentworth Detention Centre
165 Barton St East
Hamilton, ON L8L 2W6
Canada

To stay updated about Cedar's case and follow what's going on in so-called Hamilton, check out the following links:

You can also check out a Cedar shout in pisode #7 of Submedia's TFN:



You can donate to anti-repression efforts at http://fundraising.the-tower.ca/.

With love and solidarity,
Some J20 defendants and supporters

Call-in Campaign to #DROPJ20: May 10th-11th

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!

Now is the time to keep up the pressure! The U.S. Attorney’s office can decide to drop these charges any time. Let’s make sure they can’t get any work done, show them they can’t get any work done while we let them know we are watching these cases. We’re asking you to keep the following people busy listening to our demands all day long on May 10th and 11th:



  • Jennifer Kerkhoff – Lead Prosectuor on the case, Deputy Chief of the Felony Major Crimes Trial Section (202) 252-7380

  • Lisa Greene – The Deputy Chief of the Superior Court Division, Kerkhoff’s direct supervisor (202) 252-7485

  • Richard Tischner – The Chief of the Superior Court Division, Kerkhoff’s direct supervisor (202) 252-7274

  • US Attorney for DC Jessie Liu – The person in charge of the US Attorney’s office, a Trump appointee (202) 252-7566

  • Rizwan Qureshi - Assistant J20 prosecutor (general line - use directory/operator) (202) 252-7679

  • John Gidez – The Chief of the Felony Major Crimes Trial Section, Kerkhoff’s colleague (202) 252-6752

  • John Borchert - Assistant J20 prosecutor (esp. Dreamhost and Facebook warrants) (202) 252-7679



For maximum impact: make it personal. Why are you upset? How do you feel about limits on street protest? Tell them your opinion about police infiltration of anti-capitalist and anti-fascist communities. Perhaps you want to discuss private property destruction as symbolic political action. Whatever topics you select, you should use the opportunity to make sure that for the duration of this phone zap they will hear from us all the two days long. Please be aware your calls are likely recorded and we do not advise answering questions about your identity. Please use your best discretion if referencing anything that occurred on January 20th so as not to negatively impact the ongoing case.

Call-in Script

Here’s a sample script to get you started!

Hello. My name is __________. (first name is fine)

I am calling about the inauguration day protesters still facing trumped up criminal charges. Your office needs to drop these remaining charges. There is no good reason your office should be pursuing these charges when six people have already been found NOT GUILTY on all counts in the first trial. Again, your office should drop the remaining charges.

Over the last year these prosecutions have pushed all limits:

  • Intimidation to coerce plea deals by making inflated charges.
  • Shielding law enforcement from public accountability by issuing gag orders.
  • Disrupting people’s lives by making overblown charges and using those to justify intrusive, extensive investigations meant to build those cases.

This overall strategy to intimidate activists, disrupt social movements and silence dissent by weaponizing the use of trumped up charges is not going unnoticed. Your office has the power to end the repression and intimidation. Drop the charges now.

N.B. Some callers to AUSA Kerkoff in January found her to be argumentitive, and may treat the call similarly to her courtroom presentation. You are welcome to expand this script to include opinions about the limits placed on street protest, the infiltration of anti-capitalist and anti-fascist communities by the police, or private property destruction as symbolic political action. Please be aware that your calls are likely recorded and we do not advise answering any questions about your identity. Please use your best discretion if referencing anything that occured on January 20th so as to not negatively impact the ongoing case.

Countering State Repression With Daniel McGowan

Daniel McGowan

In the early 2000s we saw the US government crack down against environmental and animal activists/movements in what was known as the Green Scare. The Green Scare was an intensive period of repression that sought to impede a growing radical environmentalist movement.

On May 10th, Daniel McGowan, a former political prisoner from the Green Scare will be coming to Washington DC to speak about his experiences facing repression and being a political prisoner.

Daniel will be joined by those doing support work for the J20 case; in which 59 people are still facing decades in prison for counter-inaugural protests. They will speak about the J20 case’s happenings, significance, current state, and attempt to connect the Green Scare to J20 and a broader history of repression.

All are welcome!

DEFENDJ20 SOLIDARITY STATEMENT WITH CHARLOTTE UPRISING DEFENDANTS

charlotte uprising solidarity statement

On May 7th, Glo Merriweather will go to trial in Charlotte, NC, for charges stemming from the Charlotte Uprising protests in 2016 following the police murder of Keith Lamont Scott. On the day after Scott's murder, a young Black protester named Justin Carr was shot and killed during the protests. Despite witness accounts that the police were responsible for the death of Carr, another protester, Rayquan Borum, has been accused and is facing charges by the state. Rayquan has been held without bond for over 18 months, much of it in solitary confinement, and awaits trial this December. Glo, a young Black trans organizer in Charlotte was next to Carr when he was shot. Glo helped carry him to medical attention and was present when he died. After Rayquan's arrest, Glo began to speak out about what they saw and maintained Rayquan's innocence. Two weeks later they were indicted on charges of inciting a riot and assaulting an officer. This case follows a long history of framing Black activists for heinous crimes in an attempt to silence them.

While the J20 case has drawn national attention for its scope and the nature of the conspiracy charges, we see our cases as intertwined with those of every defendant fighting for liberation whose voice the state and government attempts to stifle with repressive prosecutions. In particular, the use of "incitement" and "riot" charges as a means to destablize social movements is a growing trend. The J20 case does not stand alone in this. The court system enables the government to villify any protest which challenges its narrative of acceptable social order weaponizing criminal charges to target organizers and activists in an attempt to weaken social movements. Despite this, we remain strong. While it is easy for us to blame the increase in these charges on the Trump administration, the charges in Charlotte were brought in 2016, which reminds us that these strategies of prosecution have been in the works for a long time. It is no coincidence that the government is relying on the same institution to investigate these cases- the heavily pro-cop Police Foundation was contracted by both the municipalities of Charlotte and D.C. to issue reports about the police response to protestors. These kind of internal investigations will never be accountable. The charges against Glo and Rayquan are in line with the government's response to the collective rage against police murders of people of color- to further militarize and criminialize communities of color rather than hold any officer accountable. The state is intentionally trying to intimidate activists with the threat of prison for their organizing and street presence, and limit their action while they are held up in legal battles against aggressive prosecutions.

The charges in Charlotte are part of an increasingly extreme prosecutorial backlash against protesters across the so-called United States, that are levied most often and extremely against black and brown organizers who choose to stand up for their survival. The prison and court system has long been used to repress communities of color, for their mere existence, and even more severely when those communities come together to demand justice and liberation. While there are many people of color among the pool of former and current J20 defendants, we acknowledge that the public faces of the case have been predominantly white. This has no doubt helped foster media interest and widespread support, whereas the case against the Charlotte Uprising defendants, all of whom are Black- including Glo who is also queer, trans* and non-binary, has received relatively little attention.

Glo goes to trial in less than 30 days. We demand all the charges against Glo and Rayquan be dropped immediately. We demand justice for Justin Carr and Keith Lamont Scott. J20 defendants and supporters stand with everyone who stands up to police murders, to white supremacy, against the prison industrial complex and the weaponization of the court system.

Please donate to Glo's support fund at https://www.gofundme.com/GetGloGoing/donate

To support Rayquan, venmo to @ResistanceIsBeautiful

Judge Grants Govt. Motion for Continuance; April 17 Trial Delayed

An hour before yesterday's hearing, the U.S. Attorney's office filed for a continuance for the April 17 trial. Judge Morin granted the motion and a new trial date has been set for June 4.

A similar motion has also been filed for the April 23rd trial.

The government cites as their primary reason difficulties in obtaining an expert witness after the Judge ruled that they cannot have an anonymous expert. For more on the ruling, an article published yesterday by Think Progress provides some analysis.

To keep up-to-date on developments, follow our Twitter account at @DefendJ20.

Support J20 Spring Trials - Next Trial is April 17, 2018

In addition to the call for a day of solidarity on April 10, the following video gives an update on the 59 defendants still facing 61 years in prison after being kettled at Trump's inauguration:

The J20 case has the potential to establish legal precedent for charging hundreds if protesters with felonies: particularly anarchists, the Black Lives Matter movement, and a range of groups targeted by national and local police. Please do what you can to raise awareness before the next trial group, starting April 17th.

This particular group targets defendants accused of conspiracy for organizing the protest on January 20, 2017. They are at risk of serious criminal charges for discussing protest tactics at public meetings, distributing flyers, and appearing on a podcast. The April 17th trial involves a defendant subjected to a houseraid, which led to charges against three individuals who did not attend the protest itself. This trial will further reveal the degree to which some political groups are labelled extremist and heavily infiltrated in Washington D.C.

The defendants going to trial on April 17th and April 23 need your support! More trials will continue throughout the year.

Donate to the legal fund

Day of Solidarity for J20 Defendants: April 10th, 2018


thunderclap


We are calling for a Day of Solidarity with the 59 defendants facing 61 years after being kettled at Trump's Inauguration. This case has the potential to establish legal precedent for charging hundreds if protesters with felonies: particularly anarchists, the Black Lives Matter movement, and a range of groups targeted by national and local police. Please do what you can to raise awareness before the next trial group, starting April 17th.

This particular group targets defendants accused of conspiracy for organizing the protest on January 20, 2017. They are at risk of serious criminal charges for discussing protest tactics at public meetings, distributing flyers, and appearing on a podcast. The April 17th trial involves a defendant subjected to a houseraid, which led to charges against three individuals who did not attend the protest itself. This trial will further reveal the degree to which some political groups are labelled extremist and heavily infiltrated in Washington D.C.

The defendants going to trial on April 17th and April 23 need your support! More trials will continue throughout the year.





day of solidarity

Contact: AprilJ20solidarity@protonmail.com for more information.

Download a PDF flyer to advertise your event

March 26 Trial Continued

m26 trial continued

The upcoming March 26 trial date was continued. Defendants previously assigned to that date have been moved to future dates.

The next trial will be April 17.

Stay tuned to this website or our social media (Twitter, Instagram, Facebook) for future updates.

West Coast J20 Solidarity Tour, March 3rd - 18th

west coast j20 tour

On January 20th, 2017, militarized police in Washington, D.C. attacked and mass-arrested over 200 protestors at an anti-fascist, anti-capitalist march, charging 214 of them each with an unprecedented eight felonies. Yet even while facing decades in prison, 194 defendants refused to cooperate with prosecutors or accept plea bargains, supporting each other to beat the charges but also to defend the legitimacy of uncompromising resistance to the Trump regime. As a result, the first trial against 6 defendants ended with a verdict of not guilty on all charges, forcing prosecutors to drop charges against 129 of the arrested. However, the state is now doubling down against 59 remaining defendants, hoping to divide the powerful movement that has successfully defended the arrestees. In an era of escalating repression, these charges aim to stomp out protest and resistance through broad conspiracy statutes, demonization of anarchists, and divide-and-conquer tactics.

In this touring presentation, you'll hear an overview and critical analysis of the case this far, highlighting its role and significance in the changing landscape of political repression in the United States. From the broad use of conspiracy law to criminalize all aspects of protest organizing to the dramatic victory against the state in the first trial this past December, the case offers insights into strategies for repression in the new administration, connections between different targeted social movements, and the potential of collective defense to effectively defeat the government's efforts. But most importantly, you'll learn how this case fits into the broader struggle against Trump and the world that made him, and why it is critical that we support the 59 remaining defendants until they all walk free.

Tour Schedule

  • 3/3: Seattle, WA - Pipsqueak Gallery (173 16th Ave), 7:00 PM
  • 3/4: Olympia, WA - New Moon (113 4th Ave W), 7:00 PM
  • 3/5: Portland, OR - Cider Riot (807 NE Couch), 6:30 PM
  • 3/6: Eugene, OR - Wesley Center (2520 Harris St), 6:30 PM
  • 3/7: Southern Oregon
  • 3/8: Chico, CA - Pageant Theater (351 E 6th St), 7:00 PM
  • 3/9: Sacramento, CA - Organize Sacramento office (1714 Broadway), 5:00 PM
  • 3/11: Oakland, CA - Hasta Muerte Coffee (2701 Fruitvale Ave @ E 27th St), 5:00 PM
  • 3/12: San Francisco, CA - Station 40 (3030 16th St, Ste B), 7:00 PM
  • 3/13: Santa Cruz, CA - Freight Building (119 Center St), 6:30 PM
  • 3/14: Los Angeles, CA - The Y (1811 Johnston St, Ste C), 7:00 PM
  • 3/15: San Diego - Metate Infoshop
  • 3/16: Flagstaff, AZ - Taala Hooghan Infoshop (1704 N. 2nd St)
  • 3/17: Phoenix, AZ
  • 3/18: Tucson, AZ - Global Justice Center (225 E. 26th St)

Statement of Solidarity, from Defend J20 Resistance to the Black Pride 4



The first Black Pride 4 trial has brought guilty verdicts for three people we admire and support. Kendall, Ashley, and Wriply have bravely faced police aggression and overt racism from the time of their arrest through the course of their trial. Their action at Columbus Ohio’s Pride parade last summer was a purposeful disruption to protest the acquittal of the officer who killed Philando Castile. They also brought attention to a critical issue largely ignored by mainstream LGBT organizations: the many black and brown trans women who have been killed by hate crimes nationwide.

What happened to Kendall, Ashley, Wriply and Deandra is itself indicative of the police violence that they came to protest. The Pride parade was heavily policed, the attendees were mostly white, and four Black activists were specifically targeted and physically restrained. The charges of disorderly conduct and police assault are a cover-up for the officer’s brutality to the Black Pride 4 on that day. The guilty verdicts in this case have nothing to do with what actually took place – instead they have everything to do with the widespread violence against people of color by Columbus police.

The guilty verdicts will not be met with defeat or acceptance. There are many actively fighting state repression in the court system – facing absurd lists of charges and raising money to cover the costs of being accused. The J20 defendants and supporters stand in strong solidarity with the Black Pride 4 as their fight enters its next phase. We denounce the arrest, the prosecution of protestors, and the cooperation with prosecuctors and police by Stonewall Columbus during trial. We denounce the felony charges for Deandra. We stand with the Black Pride 4 as supporters and allies who are also actively fighting police repression and the criminalization of dissent.

Please, please donate to their legal funds here:
https://www.youcaring.com/blackpride4ashleywriplydeandreandkendal-852184

In Solidarity,

DefendJ20Resistance

Far From Over: An Open Letter to (former) J20 Defendants

On January 18th, the Assistant United States Attorney Jennifer Kerkhoff filed a motion to dismiss the charges against 129 J20 defendants. This is a big development, but this case is far from over. While this can be seen as a victory in many ways, it is also an opportunity for the State to double down and intensify their attacks on 59 of our J20 comrades. If you just had your charges dismissed, there are a few important things you should know, but don’t let them stop you from resisting and being in solidarity with the remaining J20 defendants.

You may be wondering why your charges are being dismissed now, after the prosecution spent a year aggressively trying to prosecute you. The narrative the State is trying to put forward, in the courts and the media, is that the remaining 59 (or at least some of them) are the “real criminals.” This is bullshit – don’t buy it! The reason our charges have been dropped is because Kerkhoff wants to ensure she wins at all our expenses – which means sending 59 of us to prison…if she can. But the State’s losses (i.e., acquittals) in the first trial has made them worry about their prospects of success (i.e., convictions, and thus prison time) in future trials. So as the criminal legal system is designed to do, Kerkhoff has taken a strategic move to divide our ranks and attempt to force more plea agreements, set herself up for greater success in future trial blocks, or just ratchet up the pressure on the remaining defendants.

Yet the extensive solidarity organizing, media work, and fundraising that supporters around the country and around the world pulled together for the first trial group, and indeed for all the defendants, demonstrated its power to defeat the State and its ploys. We defeated the prosecutor’s first attempt to make presence at a disruptive demonstration a criminal conspiracy or aiding or abetting so-called crimes, both in court and in the press. The US attorney’s office admitted this much in the motion to drop our charges; however, they are still pursuing the exact same conspiracy allegations against the remaining 59.

It’s important to remember that it may never be clear why 59 people still have charges – it may be that the government feels they have a better ability to prosecute them, or it may be retribution for speaking in the media, political organizing, past criminal history or literally anything. But what should always be clear is that every decision the prosecution makes is intended to help them win, and thus we should be prepared to fight and resist at every turn, at every new development in our case. We have started to build momentum to win this case, and can’t stop now. Let’s not forget – SOLIDARITY GETS THE GOODS!

From the beginning, we were targeted not because of what we did or didn’t do on J20 – ideas of guilt or innocence are for our enemies, after all. We were targeted for being willing to stand up defiantly to the Trump regime, resurgent fascism, and the whole of capitalism. Almost a year ago, the majority of us agreed to points of unity for approaching our defenses. Those continue to stand. Now it is especially critical that we reject the State’s idea of separating 59 of us from those who they’ve recently decided are less prosecutable. The basics of the case have not changed. These remaining 59 defendants are being targeted and it is still about setting a precedent to squash dissent. If the State can get away with repressing these 59 comrades, we can be sure they’ll be coming for the rest of us next time.

But here’s the good news: sticking together, refusing pleas, fighting back in the courts, the media, and the streets, WORKS! Now we have the opportunity to continue to hold strong and support our friends. By doing so, we’re not only helping to protect our more vulnerable comrades, we’re making it harder for the State to get away with repression like this in the future.

Dismissed without Prejudice: Everything is Complicated and Nothing is Ever Perfect

In each of Kerkhoff’s individually filed motions to dismiss the charges against 129 defendants, Chief Judge Robert Morin ordered the “case dismissed without prejudice.”

Simply put, “dismissal without prejudice” means that the government reserves the right to refile the same charges at a later time. Essentially, the prosecutor is just using its discretion to dismiss the charges, and that discretion can change at their whim.

The other type of dismissal is “with prejudice,” in which case the prosecutor cannot charge you again for the same crimes. This might happen in a situation where the judge dismisses the case for some reason, the prosecutor does not meet the requirements of speedy trial, or the court or the prosecutor believe you were wrongly charged. You can imagine that last one doesn’t happen often.

In general, it is very rare for cases that are dismissed without prejudice to be refiled, but it does happen sometimes. Common scenarios that might motivate a prosecutor to refile previously dismissed charges include the discovery of new evidence which the prosecutor believes makes their case stronger, or a former defendant picking up a new charge in the same jurisdiction which draws the prosecutor’s ire.

This situation fortunately doesn’t last forever; the prosecutor is still bound by the statute of limitations! But unfortunately, in D.C., that’s generally 6 years for most felonies, and 3 years for other offenses. See D.C. Code § 23-113. It can sometimes get pretty complicated as to when that time period starts running or what situations might suspend that time period, so talk to your lawyer if you have questions or concerns.

The J20 case is obviously ongoing, and that includes the investigation of it. The lead detective was in the courthouse for the entire first trial, listening and watching people on breaks, collecting evidence to use later on. We should also assume that they are continuing to monitor social media accounts.

Anything you say that sounds even a little incriminating – especially if said publicly or online – will be used against the remaining defendants, or land you or another right back in court where you were. The conspiracy charge allows the prosecution to introduce any statements of alleged “co-conspirators” at trial, even if they are unindicted “co-conspirators.” Remember that when what you said as joke is read in a court transcript, it sounds a lot less funny and lot more sketchy. We like to remember the wise words of Eric McDavid’s lawyer from a few years back, “Imagine what you say as a ticker tape coming right out of your mouth and onto a court transcript.” Speak like that is the case.

With these considerations in mind, we offer the following thoughts.

DON’T:

  • Talk about anyone’s intent, activities, planning, anything that could be used as evidence.
  • Say things like, “I can’t believe my/their charges got dropped considering…”
  • Talk about what happened on J20 before the handcuffs were on, so to speak.
  • Assume that the people who still have charges have particular evidence of the alleged crimes levied against them – or that this evidence is irrefutable.
  • Speculate as to why people still have charges.
  • Allow the possibility of charges being re-filed to give the government the power to continue to repress social movements and bolster a culture of paranoia.

DO:

  • Talk about being a defendant and the experience of being prosecuted if you want to. This is when you can and should talk about everything that happened once the handcuffs were on! Sharing your story is a powerful tool in building support for your remaining codees (i.e., codefendants)!
  • Stay careful and stay vigilant!
  • Remember what brought you to the streets on J20 and keep organizing for liberation in your communities!
  • Support your former codefendants! Stay engaged! Help us fight back!

Back in the Game: Some Ideas of How to Get Involved

Now that your charges are dropped, you have an opportunity to reciprocate the incredible solidarity work that helped get your charges dropped by taking a stand for your former codefendants (if you haven’t already!). They need you more than ever, and you are well positioned to fight for them until they too are free. The list is endless, but here are a few things to get you started:

  • Join or form a local support crew. You know what it’s like to face these charges, and you know what kind of support is needed. You can start small by tabling at events and distributing literature. Write postcards and letters of support to your co-defendants still facing trial.

  • Flyers and zines to download and print out for tabling can be found here.

  • Start/continue to share material produced from DefendJ20 social media and website to support remaining defendants.
  • Organize educational events and fundraisers in your community. There are still too few people who understand what this case is about. Get the word out there!

  • Start to talk more openly about your experience of being a defendant (remember – this is still an active investigation, and you shouldn’t talk openly about anything that may be harmful to yourself or others).

  • If you decide to speak to the media, and things you say can still be used against yourself as re-filed charges or against your former co-defendants at their trial. Do not talk about events of the day with specifics about yourself or others, or in any way that could bolster the narrative of the prosecution. If you don’t understand what we mean by this, please wait and reach out to defendj20resistance@riseup.net for more guidance. It is very easy to say things that can be taken out of context by journalists, be sidetracked or derailed by questions you weren’t expecting them to ask, get nervous or overexcited, or say something that could be used in court.

For many of us, this was our first time facing down the legal system on this scale. We now have first-hand experience of just how confusing, stressful, and life-changing it is even to be charged, much less convicted. While this experience wasn’t one we’d like to repeat, it’s given us a direct window into the everyday realities of how the legal system works on a daily basis. We should be thinking about not only supporting our co-defendants, but all prisoners – “political” or not. Write letters, organize noise demos and solidarity rallies, and send books to people locked inside.

We have had the incredible gift to walk through this situation while we are held by our friends, supported even by total strangers. Every day countless people walk into courtrooms alone, no hashtags calling for justice or solidarity trending on Twitter. Let this experience be a catalyst to fight for the prison walls to crumble, the borders to be erased, and the cages emptied! You have a powerful experience to draw from, and we are much more powerful as a movement if we use this experience to mobilize more resistance.

If you’re like many of us, you may be having intensely mixed emotions about these developments. On the one hand, we’re incredibly relieved to not have this huge scary unknown hanging over our heads, and eager to relax and move on with our lives. On the other hand, finding out that many of our friends are still facing trial – and feeling especially targeted by this new development (and perhaps worried that solidarity organizing will recede) – our joy and relief is bittersweet at best. For some of us, it’s more an ambivalent anticlimax than the dramatic redemption of our fantasies.

If so, we feel you! You know, a great way to transform that ambivalence is to keep fighting with past and current codefendants until every last charge has been defeated! Then we can bask in the full glory of our victory without leaving anyone behind. And in the meantime, don’t hesitate to reach out for support yourself. You’ve been on a year-long nightmarish roller coaster; of course you’re gonna feel dizzy and nauseous, even now that the ride’s over! Get the love and care you need to recover and put your life back together as we fortify ourselves to keep struggling in defense of the remaining J20 defendants.

We can’t let the prosecution win by all of us continuing to live in fear. That is what they want: they want people to be scared to take the streets, to resist, to fight. They want us to be frozen by the prospect of years in prison or even the year that we have spent fighting these charges. But they’ve failed to convict 155 of us – largely because the same ideals that inspired us on J20 enabled us to work together and fight this. If we stop resisting in the face of repression, they have won (which means that everyone loses). Act thoughtfully and consider the risks, but don’t let them stop you. Stay strong, beautiful, and brave!

FULL UNWAVERING SUPPORT FOR THE REMAINING 59 DEFENDANTS -- SOLIDARITY UPDATE

On January 18, 2018, the US Attorney’s office dismissed charges against 129 of the remaining 188 #J20 defendants.

Today, 59 people are still facing seven felony charges each, punishable by over 60 years in prison. While the government alleges that these people damaged property, planned the protests, or had knowledge of the black bloc tactic, we know that this case has always been about political repression and expanding the state’s ability to stifle resistance. The government is making a calculated choice to single out this group as they further their efforts to redefine basic political organizing as conspiracy and to set the terms of what is “acceptable” protest. Just as the anti-capitalist march was brutally attacked by police in the streets, the government is attacking dissent by leveraging the so-called “justice system” to break people’s spirits.

In December, we celebrated the full acquittal of the first six defendants. While we continue to celebrate with the dismissal of charges against these 129 defendants, we do so knowing that this was only made possible by the bravery and hard work of both resistors and supporters. We see the narrowing of the defendant pool for what it is: a scare tactic and a renewed effort to try to secure as many convictions as possible. As the government continues in its attempt to repress political activity through conspiracy and rioting charges, we will remain steadfast in our support of these 59 defendants.

The overwhelming majority of people arrested on January 20 immediately recognized this as a political prosecution from the start and quickly agreed to work together and coordinate our collective defense. It is this collective defense – along with the innumerable fundraisers, events, and work put in by supporters – that has gotten us this far. We will actively support each and every remaining defendant. The government will not break the solidarity among the remaining defendants in this case, nor will their repressive strategy stop resistance to fascism, capitalism, and the state. Every attempt to weaken us will only make us stronger. Our capacity to resist has only grown.

This has been a long and harrowing year for the 194 people who committed to taking their cases to trial and will continue to be for those still facing charges. As J20 defendants, we have been bolstered by a massive support base and our ability to fight our charges without having to sit in jail for this past year. We know that most people captured by the state are not this lucky. The legal system is designed to punish arrestees long before they can get to trial, whittling down their emotional and financial resources to impair resistance and coerce concessions. The legal system is a weapon used to repress anyone that challenges white supremacy, colonialism, and capitalism. This is the daily reality for black, brown, immigrant, indigenous and poor communities who challenge those systems both actively and by their very existence. We recognize the support of a social movement and the need for anti-prison efforts to reach every person facing charges and intimidation. The dismissal of charges for 129 defendants, and the prior acquittal of six others in December, shows both the power of solidarity in fighting against state repression and the privilege of media attention.

Over 30 cities across Turtle Island are participating in a week of solidarity with J20 arrestees. Thank you to everyone who has shown us support; whether you hosted or donated to a fundraiser, boosted our case on social media, dropped a banner or held a demo, came to court looking sharp as hell, or sent your friends sweet words of love and solidarity–it all keeps us going. We are all in this together.. Keep showing up for the 59 remaining defendants and for all who resist the state.


Until everyone is free,
Defend J20 Resistance

Week of Solidarity & Fundraising Events for J20

J20 Events and Map

January 20, 2018, will mark one year since over 220 people were kettled and arrested during the protests in Washington, DC, on Trump’s inauguration day. Today, some 188 defendants are still facing multiple felonies and some 6 decades in prison, in a case that could set precedents with chilling impacts on resistance itself. In between, there’s been an outpouring of love and solidarity for the defendants across Turtle Island and around the globe, and the anniversary week is no exception.

Events are being organized autonomously in response to a call for a week of solidarity with J20 defendants issued in December by Crimethinc.

Are you already doing a J20 solidarity, outreach, and/or fund-raising event the week of January 15 to 21, 2018? Let us know, and we’ll get you on the map! To add your event to the Crimethinc compilation, e-mail: rollingthunder@crimethinc.com.

Following your event, please donate what you raised to the J20 Legal Defense Fund via either:

1. Online at https://fundrazr.com/j20resistance --\ our goal is to hit the $100,000 mark on this FundRazr

2. Checks made out to DCLP, and mailed to P. O. Box 21524, Washington, DC 20009

Thank you to CrimethInc for compiling the events listed below and used for the map illustration above.

HERE ARE THE EVENTS SO FAR:

(For more details, see https://crimethinc.com/2017/12/20/gearing-up-for-january-20-2018-a-week-of-outreach-and-solidarity-events)

Lansing, Michigan: To Live and Love We Must Fight: Solidarity & Defense Winter Conference, January 19-21:
https://www.facebook.com/events/364955317291368/

Carbondale, Illinois: Build the Bloc—A Week of Events in Solidarity with J20 Defendants

Oakland, California: J20 benefit and RIOTcon, January 20

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: Vegan Brunch Spectacular!, North Philly Food Not Bombs, January 20, 10 am to 3 pm:
https://m.facebook.com/events/2101725573388567,
and film screenings at the Wooden Shoe Bookstore, 7 pm

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: benefit film screening, local branch of National Lawyers Guild, January 20, 6 to 9 pm:
https://torchlight.noblogs.org/post/2018/01/03/pittsburgh-nlg-to-host-j20-benefit-film-screening-on-january-20/

New York City: Film Screening and benefit for J20: Antifa by Global Uprisings, hosted by Paper Tiger Television:
https://www.facebook.com/events/380185549096143

Rochester, NY: J20 One Year Later, at the Flying Squirrel Community Space, January 20,, 5 to 8 pm:
https://www.facebook.com/events/372437459885020/

Washington, DC: Benefit art show, DC Rises: A Year in Resistance, at the Uptown Art House, January 19, 4 to 11 pm:
https://www.facebook.com/events/968872189953297/

Washington, DC: DC Punk Rock Benefit for J20, January 20, St. Stephen, 6 to 11 pm:
https://www.facebook.com/events/309081412831935/

Seattle, Washington: We Don’t Forget - J20 Remembrance & Rally, noise demo, January 20, 1 pm:
https://www.facebook.com/events/142130193155181/

Portland, Oregon: Winter Autonomous Convergence, assembly, on January 23, 4 to 7:30 pm:
https://pdxactivist.org/events/2590

Portland, Maine: A J20 Legal Defense Fundraiser, January 20, 6 pm at Local Sprouts

Brattleboro, Vermont: Up with Punx, Down with Trump: J20 Benefit Show, January 20, 7 to 10 pm:
https://www.facebook.com/events/546875995663261/

Bloomington, Indiana: Inauguration Day Arrestees Benefit: Ghastly, Evan Copelly, poetry!, hosted by Punks Give Back, January 16, 8 to 11:30 pm, Blockhouse Bar:
https://m.facebook.com/events/146663369443546/

Bloomington, Indiana: J20 Defense Fund House Show Extravaganza, Indiana Rock against Racism, January 20, 8 pm:
https://m.facebook.com/events/394130361025311/

Fort Collins, Colorado: Black Snake Killaz: A #NoDapl Supporter Rendezvous, January 20, 6 to 9 pm
https://www.facebook.com/events/536146293421630/

Dallas, Texas: #DefendJ20 Benefit Show, January 20, 8 to 11 pm:
https://www.facebook.com/events/1578739425577750/

Richmond, Virginia: J20 Legal Defense Fund Benefit Show, January 20, 8 pm, Crystal Palace:
https://www.facebook.com/events/1530104593692735/

Asheville, North Carolina: J20 Block Party: Build and Fight 2018, January 20, 3 pm to 12 am, Firestorm Books and Cafe:
https://www.facebook.com/events/958004874351532

Asheville, North Carolina: Week of solidarity, including January 21, there will be a Documentary Film Night at Static Age Records; January 23, there will be a Karaoke Fundraiser at The Lazy Diamond; January 26, the subMedia show “Trouble” will be screened at Firestorm.

Atlanta, Georgia: A Panel Discussion Including J20 Defendants, January 20, 7 to 9 pm, Little Five Points Community Center

Detroit, Michigan: J20 Rally and March, Fight Trump and the System, January 20, noon, Campus Martius:
https://www.facebook.com/events/312888052543308/

Salt Lake City, Utah: Political prisoner letter writing event at the library in between 700 and 900 East on 3300 South, January 20.

Miami, Florida: J20 Solidarity Event, raffle, speakers, music, radical literature, and more, Space Mountain, 738 NW 62nd St:
https://www.facebook.com/events/784375215090236/

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania: J20 Defense Benefit Potluck, January 17, 6 to 9 pm, Big Idea Bookstore:
https://www.facebook.com/events/197865487455218/

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania: KJ20:karaoke benefit, January 19, Glitter Box Theater:
https://www.facebook.com/events/176176113128888/

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania: J20 Defense: Queer Dance Party (maybe show) fundraiser, January 20
https://www.facebook.com/events/1942018396062080/

Baltimore, Maryland: Prison Letter writing, and J20 solidarity, January 19, Spiders House, Reservoir Hill, 7 to 10 pm:
https://www.facebook.com/events/764617593747416/

Austin, Texas: Pop, Lock, and #DropJ20! A Solidarity Dance Party & Fundraiser, January 20, Cheer Up Charlies, 6:30 pm to 2 am:
https://www.facebook.com/events/141849146531310/

Merced, CA: “What Is Fascism”: an educational workshop, free event and free zine, January 20, 1729 Canal St., 4:30 to 5:30 pm

Albany, New York: A Benefit Show for the J20 Resistors, January 20, performances, raffles, free food, no drugs/no booze/no jerks, at the Albany Free School, 8 Elm Street, 1 pm on

Cleveland, Ohio: Wandering Aesthetics to host Electric Pressure Cooker Cabaret, “Inauguration Protest Station,” January 20, 7:30 pm, Aqueduct Brewing, 529 Grant St.:
http://www.cleveland.com/akron/index.ssf/2018/01/wandering_aesthetics_to_host_e.html

San Francisco, California: J20 Get Money – A Benefit for D.C. Inauguration Defendants, January 20, movie, photo booth, merch, and DJs, 7 pm to 1:30 am, El Rio:
https://www.facebook.com/events/138758953484239/

Tampa, Florida: J20 Solidarity Workshops, January 19-21, community building workshops, film, and radical kickball game:
https://www.facebook.com/events/188977418513966/

Grand Rapids, Michigan: One Year’s Enough, January 20, speakers include Geoff Gillis, Joe Cadreau, and Raina Cook, dress warmly, Calder Plaza (La Grand Vitesse):
https://www.facebook.com/events/854761408030021/

San Antonio, Texas: Anti-Repression Fundraiser, January 20, music, tabling, and more for both Jericho and Defend J20 Resistance,
https://www.facebook.com/events/321781848309932/

Austin, Texas: J20 Solidarity Celebration & Fundraiser with Alexei Wood, January 21, Treasure City Thrift, food/potluck, kid-friendly games, organization tables, and talk by acquitted J20 defendant:
https://www.facebook.com/events/321781848309932/

Knoxville, Tennessee: Knoxville Radical Library: Fundraiser for J20 Defendants, January 20, 4 pm, prisoner letter writing, screening of “ANTIFA” film, book & zine fair, music, stickers, and more:
https://www.facebook.com/events/164948300689993/

Baltimore, Maryland: J20 Defense Fundraiser, January 19, 6 pm, fund-raising party, food, music, and beer, Baltimore Bicycle Works:
https://www.facebook.com/events/113114629493368/

Chicago, Illinois: Chicago Stands with J20 Partisons, coordinated banner drops, group reflections, and punk show benefit, January 20, 6:30 pm meetup at Breakaway; 9:30 show at Breakaway.

Twin Cities, Minnesota: Fuck Trump & His World, January 20, workshop (update on case, overview of govt repression, and intro to security culture at 4:30 pm, Boneshaker Books, 2002 23rd Ave S; homemade dinner as benefit at 7 pm:
https://conflictmn.blackblogs.org/fuck-trump-his-world-j20-workshop/

Los Angeles, California: J20 Benefit Show: Earth Arrow, Iris Jupiter, The Love-Inns, February 2, 7:30 pm, at the Smell, 247 S. Main St., hosted by Intersectional Feminists for Animals:
https://www.facebook.com/events/611421802522607/

Worcester, MA: J20 Workday and Benefit Potluck, reorganize HX library, food and zines, January 20, 5 pm, Stone Soup:
https://www.facebook.com/events/149388342351581/

Richmond, Virginia: Film screening and discussion of “ANTIFA,” made by Global Uprisings, January 20, 6 pm, 3110 W. Leigh St.

New York City area: DefendJ20 Trash the Fash Piñata Bash ‘18, January 20, celebration of resistance, solidarity, and community building one year after the mass arrest, puppets, piñatas, cute raccoon tees & totes, zines, 11 am to 2:30 pm:
https://www.facebook.com/events/115682325907082/

Columbus, Ohio: J20 Anniversary Fund-raiser DIY Show, January 20, 9 pm to 2 am, Old n Tangy:
https://www.facebook.com/events/475720176154980/</span>

Call for an International Day of Solidarity with Inauguration Day Defendants on January 20, 2018

This anonymous call is reposted from ItsGoingDown.org. It takes place during a week of solidarity and outreach with Inauguration Day defendants. So far, translations have appeared in Catalan, German, Portuguese, and Spanish.

On January 20, 2017, tens of thousands of people greeted President Donald Trump’s inauguration with large protests ranging from creative blockades to militant street actions. Among the demonstrations that day was an “anti-capitalist and anti-fascist bloc” led with banners reading “No Peaceful Transition” and “Make Racists Afraid Again”. In response to the protest, police violently attacked and encircled nearly 230 people, arresting them for allegedly committing or being in the proximity of property damage.

After a series of indictments and legal maneuvering, around 200 people were ultimately charged with six felonies (5 counts of property destruction and inciting a riot) and two misdemeanors (engaging in a riot and conspiracy to riot) each. This means that each of these people are facing 61 years in prison.

This unprecedented case is important because it is an attempt by the United States government to clamp down on the disruptive protests that spontaneously occurred in response to Trump’s election. The charges are intended to stifle active resistance and to send the message that resistance will not be tolerated at a time when it is needed more than ever. In many ways, the case is an experiment in expanding the repressive powers of the state, with prosecutors seeking to charge everyone as a group for the same handful of broken windows based merely on presence. Moreover, the police and other state actors are trying to redefine basic political organizing — holding meetings, planning protests, and marching as a group — as an act of conspiracy. This is part of an ongoing trend on both the national and international level of escalating repression directed at social movements in so-called “democratic” states. If the United States is successful in prosecuting social movements in this way, it will likely encourage other governments to do the same.

As the Trump administration brings the world to the brink of disaster on an almost daily basis, it is important to stand with those in the United States who risked their freedom to oppose him from his first day in office. The Inauguration Day protests set the tone for much of resistance that would come and affirmed that the Trump administration and its far right allies would not be unopposed. Subsequently, people around the country used direct action to shut down nearly every international airport in the country in a historic protest that temporarily halted the new government’s anti-immigrant and Islamophobic policies. Continuing this struggle into the courtroom, the majority of the defendants are working together to respond politically to these charges and are using this case as a way to build connections between different places and different struggles.

In response, this is a call for an international day of solidarity on January 20, 2018. Solidarity actions from around the world have warmed the hearts of defendants at a time when they are facing intense repression. Moreover, they are part of a political praxis that recognizes we are engaged in a shared struggle that transcends borders. We ask for solidarity not as an act of charity, but as a gesture towards shared complicity in the effort to resist the Trump administration and the future it seeks to impose.

J20 2018 - Build the Base, Take the Initiative

This call is reposted from Crimethinc.com

On January 20, 2018, we invite you to join us in organizing events and gatherings in autonomous spaces, building capacity and community to sustain our movements and prepare for the year ahead.

This call is endorsed by the Channel Zero Anarchist Podcast Network, subMedia, It’s Going Down, and CrimethInc.. If you want to endorse this call, pass it on to others, organize something for January 20, 2018, and email us at rollingthunder@crimethinc.com to have your name added here.


Last year, thousands gathered in Washington, DC and elsewhere around the US to start the Trump regime off with an inspiring display of defiance. Since that historic mobilization, many of us have been in action almost continuously, responding to one threat after another from the regime and its supporters.

We’ve participated in airport blockades opposing the Muslim Ban, mass mobilizations against the Alt-Right and other racists, weeks of action in solidarity with J20 defendants and Standing Rock arrestees, ongoing anti-colonial action against pipelines, and broad disaster relief efforts in the South and Puerto Rico. As a new year opens up before us, let’s come together to think about where we want to go from here.

We live in dynamic and dangerous times. The state is ramping up repression just as fewer and fewer people perceive the government to be legitimate. Many comrades are facing decades in prison, but many more are looking to get involved.

For this reason, we’re calling for people to gather in anarchist and autonomous spaces on the week of January 20, 2018 in order to reconnect to the roots from which our movements draw strength, discuss the path ahead, and gather resources for prisoners, relief efforts, and ongoing struggles.

Expand Networks, Strengthen Spaces

We propose to use the week of J20 2018 to reconnect with our networks, revitalize our spaces, organize new projects, hold special events, and bring people together to build our movements.

Autonomous spaces include infoshops, community centers, and bookstores. But an autonomous space can also be a public place you make a habit of gathering in or a territory you share and defend. Open spaces offer a way for people who are freshly curious about our movements to plug in, pick up literature, and begin fostering relationships.

Towards this end, we are encouraging people to organize on the week of J20:

  • Community events involving putting in work at autonomous spaces. This could mean fixing the bathroom or repainting the walls, or it could mean soliciting people to bring supplies, books, and other materials to add to the space. Let this be an opportunity for the community surrounding the space to strengthen and expand the physical infrastructure.

  • Block parties and celebrations around the space, reconnecting the wider community that uses and interacts with it and bringing in new people.

  • Fundraising events to support the space—this could include speaking events, film showings, and more.

Maintain Solidarity, Build Capacity

Let’s also use the week of J20 to organize events to raise money for J20 arrestees, gather supplies for disaster relief efforts, and prepare for ongoing struggles we are already engaged in such as antifascist action, supporting prison rebels, and the fight against pipelines.

This could include:

  • Fundraising events to support the J20 defendants. Host an open mic, show an episode of Trouble, bring a speaker to address an audience.

  • Letter writing events for political prisoners, community dinners and potlucks, and raffles.

  • Events to gather supplies and resources for disaster relief or to support a particular struggle.

Go on the Offensive

Finally, let’s use the week of J20 to look back on the past year of action and discuss what we want to accomplish in 2018—to evaluate our accomplishments with a critical eye and think strategically about where we want to go from here.

For example:

  • Presentations on struggles that have taken place over the past year.

  • Open salon discussions about the previous year and the path ahead.

  • Panel discussions featuring representatives from different organizations, struggles, and crews in the local area.

Conclude by identifying new issues that people in your neighborhood, city, or region are facing, and start an organizing project to address them in a way that puts our politics into practice. It’s time to find new ways to seize the initiative.


The path ahead won’t be easy, but it will offer us many opportunities. Let’s start 2018 strategically, on our own terms, and together.

Call in Campaign to Drop the Charges Janurary 10th

On 12/21/17 a jury returned a not-guilty verdict for the first six defendants in the J20 case. Forty-two charges acquitted: twelve felonies, thirty misdemeanors. This is a huge victory! But the fight isn’t over yet as 188 people still face decades in prison. Now is the time to keep the pressure on the District of Columbia US Attorney’s Office. We know these charges are spurious, and now there’s legal precedent. We are asking that everyone call the US Attorney’s office from 9am-5pm on 1/10/18 and 1/11/18 and tell them to DROP THE CHARGES against the remaining defendants!

Now is the time to keep up the pressure! The US Attorney’s office can decide to drop the charges at any time; let’s make sure they can’t get any other work done until they do! We’re asking people to call the desks of:

  • Jennifer Kerkhoff – The Lead Prosectuor on the case, Deputy Chief of the Felony Major Crimes Trial Section (202) 252-7380
  • US Attorney for DC Jessie Liu – The person in charge of the US Attorney’s office, a Trump appointee and member of his “transition team.”
  • John Gidez – The Chief of the Felony Major Crimes Trial Section, Kerkhoff’s direct colleague (202) 252-6752
  • Lisa Greene – The Deputy Chief of the Superior Court Division, Kerkhoff’s direct supervisor (202) 252-7485
  • Richard Tischner – The Chief of the Superior Court Division, Kerkhoff’s direct supervisor (202) 252-7274

Call-in Script

For maximum impact: Make it personal. Why are you upset? Let them respond. Make it a conversation. Ask them what they plan to do in response to public comment. End with a clear call to action. If you can’t think of anything to say, no worries! Here’s a sample script to get you started:

Hello. My name is ____.

I am calling because I’ve seen in the news that almost 190 Inauguration protesters are still facing trumped-up criminal charges. In light of the first trial’s outcome–where the judge threw out one charge for complete lack of evidence, and the jury handed down NOT-GUILTY verdicts for the rest–I ask that your office drop the remaining charges.

Over the last year, these prosecutionshave pushed every limit:

  • using over-inflated charges, some of which were not even real, to intimidate and coerce plea deals,
  • issuing gag orders to shield law enforcementfrom public accountability,
  • making these prosecutions as disruptive as possible, and the investigations surrounding this case as intrusive as possible,

Most defendants will wait more than a year for their day in court – under the constant threat of decades in prison.

Prosecutors have the choice of when or how to bring charges, and the responsibility for how that power is used. Your office has abused that power to punish, repress, and intimidate.

Drop the charges now.

BYP100 DC Statement of Solidarity with J20 Arrestees

The following statement was issued by BYP 100 DC

On January 20, 2017, over 200 people were detained, abused, and charged with false felonies while protesting the Trump regime’s inaugural rise to authoritarian rule. Those 200 people are now being used as pawns to prohibit political dissent within a system that regularly signals white terrorism should be the rule of law. Although no BYP100 DC members were detained and charged in this act of repression, we recognize that in this increasingly hostile political atmosphere, organizations like ours that directly confront fascist policies harming our communities can, and will, be on trial next. **The trial of J20 defendants is an act of political persecution. BYP100 DC staunchly supports all J20 arrestees and calls for all charges to be dropped immediately. **

No amount of property damage can equate to the damage the Trump regime is inflicting upon human lives. While the state claims to care about property damage and violence, it remains the largest perpetrator of violence against Black, brown, and indigenous communities in this country. Violence is the destruction of Black communities through the increased deportation of Black individuals. Violence is the gutting of the social safety net, cruel humanitarian inaction towards our Puerto Rican family in the wake of natural disaster, targeted federal policies against trans communities, and the expansion of the surveillance and carceral state. Violence is the Trump regime using the J20 trials to ban free speech while looking to increase the surveillance of citizens via an Extreme Vetting Initiative that will use artificial intelligence to determine who is a “good citizen.” Charging J20 defendants with rioting, five counts of property destruction, and 60+ years in prison is political persecution. It is violence.

If this regime successfully persecutes J20 defendants, then Black, undocumented, immigrant, and LGBTQ communities across the country will continue to see an increase in policies and agendas aimed at criminalizing Black political activity. We’ve already seen the rise of “Blue Lives Matter” laws and the coining of dangerous and racist terms such as “Black Identity Extremism.” BYP100 DC sees the J20 trial as movement toward expanding the legal framework to successfully prosecute Black people who dissent.

We know that the criminalization of dissent is not new. From J. Edgar Hoover and the FBI launching COINTELPRO, a covert action that ran from the 1950s until the 1970s and aimed to infiltrate and dismantle the Black Panther Party and other Black liberation groups; to the deadly war on terror under the Bush administration; to the high number of deportations under Obama, the resistance of Black, brown, and indigenous people is consistently attacked. Intimidation and silencing tactics have historically been used to terrorize Black people in DC, across the nation, and globe. The political persecution of J20 reminds us of the many ways the U.S. government has tried to destroy liberatory movements against authoritarian rule both here and abroad. We center the names of Gigi Thomas, Glo Merriweather, Ky Peterson, Merci Chrisette, Assata Shakur, Bayna-Lehkiem El-Amin, Lucy Hicks Anderson, Mumia Abu-Jamal, Simon Trinidad, Mutulu Shakur, “Sonia” aka Omaira Rojas Cabrera, David Gilbert, Russell “Maroon” Shoatz, Sundiata Acoli, Jamil Abdullah Al-Amin, Josh Williams, Rayquan Borum and everyone currently trapped in our violent prison industrial system. We must fight everyday to abolish cages and build a future that promotes the inherent value and dignity of all human beings.

Assata reminds us,

“This is not the time to feel depressed or defeated. This is not the time to forget about struggling, or to forget about all the sisters and brothers who have been railroaded into dungeons. Rather, it is the time to feel outraged, to feel determined, to fight against this government tooth and nail, not for what it is doing to me, but for what it is doing to us all.”

We must remain vigilant in our opposition to such authoritarian tactics. We must exist in support of one another. BYP100 DC remains in solidarity with all J20 arrestees.

— the DC Chapter of BYP100

To support J20, visit defendj20resistance.org to see how you can call for the immediate dropping of all charges. You can also donate to their legal fund.

Solidarity Statements from Street Medic Collectives

The following statements of solidarity come from street medic collectives across the United States.

NYC

NYC Action Medical wholeheartedly supports the people who were mass arrested on January 20, 2017. We recognize that the “J20” trials are not being held in the name of justice, but are being wielded as intimidation tactics by the state in order to stifle future dissent.

As street medics, we especially recognize and stand in solidarity with our fellow medics who also face trial. Their work – along with the work of activists, legal observers, and journalists that day – is crucial in the fight against growing tide of repression today and the steady stream of injustices enacted by the Trump administration.

We honor your resistance and keep up the fight!

  • (NYC Action Medical)[https://www.facebook.com/NYCactionmedical/]

Chicago

We the members of Chicago Action Medical send our love, support and care to all 200 of the people arrested protesting President Trump’s inauguration on January 20, 2017.

We call on the prosecutors to drop the unreasonable and outrageous charges, which set a dangerous precedent for all people who wish to express public displeasure with the government.

We further recognize that the charges being faced by our friends and community members are just one small piece of the Trump Administration’s efforts to criminalize, incarcerate, deport, erase and silence many communities. We pledge to rise and fight in solidarity with all who resist Trump’s agenda.

Appalachia

We, the medics of Appalachian Medical Solidarity, are not intimidated and will not remain silent in the face of the state repression being exercised in the “J20” trials.

Those who were indiscriminately mass arrested on January 20, 2017 protesting the installation of the fascist Trump government are our comrades! No matter how these people saw themselves that day - medic, journalist, protester or bystander - we all are in solidarity with them to defeat these trumped-up charges.

We further commit that we still have all y’all’s backs. From the hollers to the highways for all political prisoners and those affected by the carcel state, together, we got this.

Keep resisting. Stay ungovernable.

We must defend protest and dissent – SDMV stands in solidarity with the J20 defendants

This is a statement released by Sancutary DMVs in solidarity with the J20 defendants:

Sanctuary DMV joins the growing calls for the government to drop all charges against those who showed up on Inauguration Day 2017, January 20th 2017 (J20 defendants) to protest the policies of this government – policies that systematically target and criminalize undocumented communities and immigrants more broadly – and who have, as a result, faced police brutality and charges that are politically motivated and repressive.

Sanctuary DMV stands against the US criminalization and deportation machine that is part of overlapping criminal justice and immigration enforcement institutions. The US criminal justice system is the main way that undocumented people are transferred into the hands of immigration authorities, often resulting in their detention and deportation. This system is founded not on accountability but on punishment, tearing communities apart rather than helping bring them together.

The police have historically been used to target black people, people of color, and migrant communities and to sow fear among and between communities as a way of maintaining social control. The origins of the US policing system are rooted in controlling slaves and protecting private property and enterprise to ensure that racial, social, gender, and economic hierarchies are maintained. This takes many forms: from police brutality to surveillance of racial justice activists and undocumented communities to intimidation through the prosecution of dissent.

The J20 case is an egregious example of the current crackdown on the right to protest and dissent against the policies this administration. We have already seen cases where undocumented immigrant rights organizers have been detained after speaking out, in an apparent attempt to silence and instill fear in undocumented communities. More common, though, are the cases we don’t see, or those that aren’t covered by mainstream media, which often involve police impunity, and deadly and repressive practices exercised against communities already facing heightened criminalization by the state, including communities of color, poor folks, immigrants, trans and queer folks, and people with disabilities.

We recognize that the J20 case is an emblematic one, and has national implications for the ways that protesting is handled by police and prosecuted at the state and federal level. The case has already had a chilling effect on First Amendment protected activity, and we call on the government to drop the charges, and on friends and allies to reject the government’s attempt to criminalize dissent.

Learn more about the J20 case. Add your name demanding that charges be dismissed. Support the J20 Legal Defense Fund. Open your home to host folks from out of town. Stay up to date on what’s next as cases, charges, and ways to support evolve.

–Sanctuary DMV**

** Sanctuary DMV is dedicated to supporting local efforts to promote immigrant justice and defend against threats to targeted communities in the DMV (DC, Maryland, and Virginia) areas. Sanctuary DMV is a solidarity group that pledges to resist policy proposals to target and deport millions of undocumented immigrants and discriminate against marginalized communities including those who are black, indigenous, Muslim, latinx, and LGBTQ+.

Defend J20 Newsletter - First Round of Trial Updates

This is the latest issue of the monthly Defend J20 Resistance newsletter. Sign-up to receive it via email

Prosecution Attempts “Conspiracy” Charges

The first trial for J20 Defendants began on November 20th with a courtroom packed full of supporters. For this round of trials, the lead prosecutor, Assistant US Attorney Jennifer Kerkhoff, has admitted that she has no evidence to prove that the six defendants took part in property destruction. She is instead attempting to get convictions based on conspiracy: focusing on how demonstrators wore similar clothing, arrived at a predetermined location for a public march, chanted, and covered faces with masks, goggles, and/or gas masks. If the jury finds the defendants guilty based on these things, it could mean that the state will be able to prosecute the remaining J20 Defendants simply for showing up to the demonstration wearing black. Make no mistake, we support all the defendants, regardless of if they are “guilty” of property destruction or not. But this round of trials is an opportunity for the prosecution to test their conspiracy charges, and will be important in setting a precedent for the remaining trials. It could also set a precedent regarding police conduct and convictions for future demonstrations.

Defense Contradicts Prosecution’s “Non-Political Trial” Assertion

The defense attorneys have played audio and video proving that a police commander, Keith Deville, planned for a mass arrest to take place as the march was beginning, contrasting with the prosecutions’ claims. In other words, a mass arrest was planned before any property destruction took place. Defense attorneys have stressed the political nature of the march and subsequent arrest, also contrary to the prosecutor’s assertions. They have cross-examined police officers called in as witnesses by the prosecution, and in multiple cases, the cops were using the words “anarchists” or “antifa” during the demonstration over radio chatter, further contradicting the claims by the prosecution that this is not a political trial.

Discredited Right-Wing Smear Group “Project Veritas” Video Is Main Evidence Used by Prosecution

One piece of evidence the prosecution is using is a recording of a supposed meeting for a J20 march recorded by the now discredited Project Veritas, which recently was exposed trying to run a hit-piece on the Washington Post. This was allowed to be played in court even though none of the six defendants were present for the meeting. The prosecution is using an undercover cop, Brian Adelmyer, as a witness. He has admitted that he did not hear parts of the meeting, which means this part of the state’s evidence is exclusively provided by Project Veritas.

A Dangerous Precedent

It remains to be seen what will come of this trial, and it does not seem clear yet if the charges will stick or not. What is apparent however is that much of the prosecution’s arguments for conviction could become dangerous precedents for the future of street demonstrations. If wearing the same color clothing or not leaving a demonstration when someone else does something implies conspiracy, then police across the country will be emboldened to crack down even further, and prosecutors won’t shy away from throwing multiple felonies at people as they are now at J20 Defendants.

Inciting Charge Thrown Out for Current Trial

On Thursday, the court threw out the felony “inciting a riot” charge stating that there was insufficient evidence for the current trial group to face this charge. While this is a victory for this group of six defendants, it is important to remember that this charge is still in place for over 186 other defendants in this case. They continue to face the prospect of 61 years in prison.

For breaking updates on what is happening in court, visit our twitter at https://twitter.com/defendj20

Donate to the Legal Defense Fund

With trials scheduled into the end of October 2018, we continue to need substantial amounts of money to cover expenses associated with this trial. From money for legal defense to housing defendants who will have to spend multiple weeks in Washington DC for court, large amounts of money are needed to fight this repression. Please donate to the legal defense fund and share the link on social media.

Support N15 Defendants when the Defense Presents its Case

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PACK THE COURT TO SUPPORT OUR FRIENDS ON TRIAL!

Tuesday, 9:00am on December 12

DC Superior Court, 500 Indiana Ave, NW Courtroom 203 (2nd floor)

(Judiciary Square, Red line metro OR Archives - Navy Memorial - Penn Quarter, Green line metro)

After weeks of being vilified by the prosecution, it is the defense’s turn to respond. If you are in DC, please come out to support those on trial. Showing up for court is an important act of solidarity and loving support. As a defendant, being able to observe that support and draw energy from it is incredibly important.

Also, if you can’t make it out to court, please repost this call or consider donating to the legal defense fund

##What NOT to Do##

Please don’t do anything that could reflect poorly on our friends on trial, that could cause jurors to have an unfavorable view of them or of us, or say or do anything that could put you (or others) at risk. Whenever you are inside the courthouse (or in the immediate area out front), please assume that you are under surveillance, that the purpose of that surveillance is to gather evidence against our friends, and conduct yourself accordingly.

Obviously, you should avoid saying anything incriminating, but sharing any personal details at all about anyone has the potential to create/trigger unintended consequences.

Similarly, please don’t post anything on social media that could be damaging to any of the defendants. Boost @defendj20’s posts instead (on Twitter, Instagram, or Facebook). And please direct all media inquiries to the media spokespeople who will be in court each day instead of doing interviews yourself.

Please be aware that the judge has issued very specific guidelines for decorum on this case. It is important that we follow these guidelines in order to avoid adverse outcomes, for those on trial and/or for the rest of us. The judge has ordered that there be no communication whatsoever to jurors.

Additionally, the judge has ordered that cameras/phones should not even be out anywhere on the second floor. Any violation of the judge’s orders (even courteous small talk to jurors) can result in criminal charges, such as contempt of court or jury tampering.

SURJ DC Calls for All Charges to Be Dropped Against J20 Defendants

From SURJ-DC:

SURJ (Showing Up for Racial Justice) DC unequivocally calls for the dropping of all charges against the people who > demonstrated their First Amendment rights to protest on Inauguration Day 2017 and who have, as a result, faced police brutality, excessive charges that are politically repressive, and ongoing surveillance. Many of our allies are facing up to decades in prison.

Their case is just another egregious example of the legacy of an autocratic police state that criminalizes protest and attempts to repress dissent. We see cases across the country where local police forces target activists and organizers, and bring overblown charges against them. We know these tactics escalate surveillance and targeting of communities already facing heightened criminalization by the state, including Black and People of Color, poor folks, immigrants, trans and queer folks, and people with disabilities. We recognize that the case has national implications for the ways that protesting is handled by police and prosecuted at the state and federal level.

Learn more about the J20 case. Add your name demanding that charges be dismissed. Support the J20 Legal Defense Fund. Open your home to host folks from out of town. Stay up to date on what’s next as cases, charges and ways to support evolve.

–SURJ DC Steering and Accountability Team

If you are part of a group that has issued a similar statement, please get let us know. You can also sign-on to a solidarity statement with dozens of other groups.

J20 Defendants Deserve An Unbiased Investigation Of The MPD. So Why Is Pro-Cop Org "The Police Foundation" Doing It?

Since $150,000 became available, D.C. based non-profit The Police Foundation has been conducting an investigation into police misconduct on Inauguration Day. There are strong concerns that the report they issue won't accurately determine police violence on the Inauguration Day protests. The Police Foundation has a close relationship with the MPD and a history of bias in favor of the police conduct. So while the first 6 defendants of the J20 trial are in their third week of court, there’s a serious contradiction present that police brutality has not been fully investigated before the trial began.

The report is supposed to make findings on police conduct in the scope of Standard Operating Procedure under the First Amendment Rights Police Standards Act. It was revealed in court that once the Police Foundation releases its formal recommendations, it will be subject to review by the MPD Police Union, the treasurer of which is star prosecution witness Detective Greggory Pemberton. There is already witness testimony that members of the MPD that day did not follow Standard Operating Procedures.

File: 2017.11.27 - Trial Day 3, p. 22-23 highlighted

Ex-cops investigating cops

The Police Foundation's motto is "advancing policing through innovation and science". Essentially it’s an organization comprised of former police officers and law enforcement agents--the President Jim Bueermann is the former chief of police of Redlands, California. The organization’s work includes research and policy reform, as well as developing law enforcement training. The MPD has even hired the Police Foundation in the past to contribute to a “Biased Policing Report” which came out in 2004. The PF is closely associated with the Department of Justice, and works with partner organizations like the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP), and companies like Mark43 which produces the mapping software used by the MPD.

File: Screenshot of Police Foundation homepage

At the latest IACP conference in Philadelphia in October 2017, Police Foundation representative Eddie Reyes participated in a panel presentation called Almost There: How We Are Overcoming the Human Challenges of Information Sharing, about interdepartmental security collaboration and the margin of human error at the 2017 Inauguration Day Protests. Not coincidentally, the MPD Chief of Police Peter Newsham, who has repeatedly lied about details of the case, including when the limo fire occurred, was also at this conference to give a presentation about Body Worn Cameras.

This is not the first time that the Police Foundation has been hired to do an “independent investigation” of protest policing. Previous reports have all sided with the police without any real accountability. Recently they were commissioned by the city of Charlotte, North Carolina to investigate the Charlotte Mecklenburg Police Department (CMPD) after protests that erupted when a CMPD officer murdered Keith Lamont Scott without provocation. The report found no police misconduct and actually commended the CMPD for “professionalism and restraint”, and heavily emphasized the need for the CMPD to control the public narrative to avoid such protests in the future. However, at no point does the report critique the initial flashpoint--that an officer killed a community member without provocation--and conveniently leaves that judgment to the court.

Setting A Precedent

Image: MPD officers using chemical weapons on protesters, pulled from the Sarah Lazare article "Group Investigating Police Conduct on Inauguration Day Has A History of Siding With The Police"

Defendants have described the violent treatment they received by police officers, being detained for hours after being exposed to pepper spray and chemical weapons, brutality, and sexual assault. The ACLU has even filed a lawsuit on behalf of defendants against the MPD. The MPD spent $300,000 on police weaponry in advance of Inauguration Day, deploying such weapons 191 times during the protests. In addition, a lawsuit filed by the Partnership for Civil Justice Fund has confirmed that the MPD failed to issue dispersal orders on Inauguration Day and violated procedures that require the issuance of such an order.

In February, the Office of Police Complaints filed a critical report about the MPD’s handling of Inauguration Day. In the report, OPC monitors observed and were subjected to numerous violations from MPD officers. This included arrests without probable cause, failure to provide audible warnings before deploying less-lethal weapons, failure to provide a dispersal route or time to disperse, and use of police lines to surround demonstrators (kettling). When the OPC asked for documentation from MPD, the MPD refused, resulting in the OPC making the request for an independent investigation. Specifically, the OPC requested for the consultant to examine MPD conduct on Inauguration Day and make recommendations to update the Standard Operating Procedure of the First Amendment Assemblies Act.

As the trial approaches the third week, it’s outrageous to think that the arrests haven’t even been determined to be lawful in the first place. A timely and unbiased investigation could have avoided the whole matter, as charges should be dropped. Those who were brutalized by police that day -- especially defendants who are having their lives disrupted by this ongoing prosecution -- deserve an unbiased investigation of the MPD's conduct. Moreover, for anyone who might consider participating in a protest in Washington DC, it is critical that a truly independent investigation take place, otherwise police will likely shift their crowd control strategies to standardize the tactics used on Inauguration Day.

Support First Trials This Is How

SuperiorCourt

Pack the Court on Monday for Opening Statements for the first J20 trial!!

* When to Come *

8am on Monday, November 20th & Tuesday, November 21st. (Break for Thanksgiving, and trial continues on 11/27)

* Where to Come *

DC Superior Court, 500 Indiana Ave, NW Courtroom 203 (2nd floor)

(Judiciary Square, Red line metro OR Archives - Navy Memorial - Penn Quarter, Green line metro)

* What to Do *

The jury for the N15 trial group has been selected and 6 defendants begin trial this coming Monday morning. They are still facing 6 felonies and 2 misdemeanors, which adds up to a mac of about 60 years they are facing. We need everyone to come out on Monday morning to pack the court in support of the N15 trial group.

Please arrive by 8am so that you have lots of time to get though security; don’t bring anything that they won’t let through; wear snazzy court support clothes if you have them (black if possible, but we’ll have black blazers to borrow for folks who want/need that to be able to ).

The jury will sit at 10:30am on Monday morning and we need everyone seated and situated long before then, because the judge will take the bench at 9:30am to handle preliminary matters. Ideally, we’d like to have the courtroom packed by then.

Expect a full day in court on Monday and Tuesday. Be prepared to listen attentively to the proceedings, to show love to our friends on trial (as they hear the government try to vilify them), and to show respect to the jurors.

The central utility of your presence in court is to provide loving support for the defendants. Being present in the courtroom space so that they are able to observe that loving support, and draw energy from it, is incredibly important.

Please share our fundraiser page with everyone you know! We’re raising $250k to support the J20 defendants through trial starting this month through October 2018: https://fundrazr.com/j20resistance

* What NOT to Do *

Please don’t do anything that could reflect poorly on our friends on trial, that could cause jurors to have an unfavorable view of them or of us, or say or do anything that could put you (or others) at risk. Whenever you are inside the courthouse (or in the immediate area out front), please assume that you are under surveillance, that the purpose of that surveillance is to gather evidence against our friends, and conduct yourself accordingly.

Obviously, you should avoid saying anything incriminating, but sharing any personal details at all about anyone has the potential to create/trigger unintended consequences.

Similarly, please don’t post anything on social media that could be damaging to any of the defendants. Boost @defendj20’s posts instead. And please direct all media inquiries to the media spokespeople who will be in court each day instead if doing interviews yourself.

Please be aware that the judge has issued very specific guidelines for decorum on this case. It is important that we follow these guidelines in order to avoid adverse outcomes, for those on trial and/or for the rest of us. The judge has ordered that there be no communication whatsoever to jurors.

Additionally, the judge has ordered that cameras/phones should not even be out anywhere on the second floor. Any violation of the judge’s orders (even courteous small talk to jurors) can result in criminal charges, such as contempt of court or jury tampering.

Thank you for all the Love and Support for the N15 Defendants. Solidarity Forever.

Charges Reduced to Misdemeanors for 7 J20 Defendants But Resistance to This Repression Remains Strong

Yesterday, the government, represented by AUSA Jennifer Kerkhoff, reduced the charges of seven J20 defendants set to go to trial on December 11 in DC. Six felony and two misdemeanor counts are now only three misdemeanor charges: conspiracy to riot, engaging in a riot and one count of property destruction. Without explanation, Kerkhoff changed the charges for these defendants (and these defendants alone at the moment), reducing the total time they are facing from around 60 years to under 2.

This announcement indicates a positive development, but it is unclear how this will impact the case overall. It is welcome news that these seven defendants no longer face life-altering felonies, but the prosecution has not given any indication as to why these changes have come to this particular group. There has been no change in the charges of the 186 other defendants, particularly the group slated to begin trial this Wednesday, November 15th. They continue to face a maximum sentence of 60+ years in prison. As this blog entry is being posted, the N15 trial group is about to begin their final pre-trial hearing.

The three misdemeanors charged against these seven defendants does not change a chilling legal maneuver attempting to broadly define conspiracy and implement a problematic DC Riot Statute. The U.S. Attorney’s Office not only seeks to put hundreds on the line for a few acts of vandalism—they are also attempting to criminalize political organizing and attending a protest as conspiracy. The majority of the prosecution’s arguments in court for these first two trial blocks so far has been focused on developing a conspiracy theory based on clothing, texts and online activity. If they are successful in this effort, it will still set a legal basis for district courts nationwide to conduct similar dragnet prosecutions and target activists based on any perceived political affiliations or actions.

Most of the defendants continue to work in solidarity with each other and understand that this case is an act of political repression aimed at criminalizing resistance. From the overcharging to force plea agreements to the state’s effort to redefine basic acts of political organizing as conspiracy, this case intends to send a message that resistance of any kind will be met with aggressive prosecution.

We will continue to support each other through these charges and will not stop until every single charge is dropped or every trial ends in acquittal. J20 defendants need your support now more than ever. Stay tuned for more updates and ways to be in solidarity, particularly about the N15 trial group after their court hearing today.

DC's Police Chief Lied About Inauguration Day On The Kojo Show

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Donate to the J20 Legal Defense Fund

In the days following the Inauguration Day protests, one of the most widely circulated scenes was that of a limo on fire. The photo continues to be a frequent accompaniment to any article on the ongoing prosecution of protesters, however the limo burning has no factual relevance to the case. This incident was also referenced by the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) in the original charging document used to justify the mass arrest and to support the charging of 234 individuals with felony rioting on January 20. It stated that: “Members of the group also caused a limousine to be set alight, which destroyed the vehicle. The damage caused by the group was in excess of $100,000.” More recently, USA Today wrote that the “archists and activists tore through the streets for 16 blocks, tossing bricks at police officers, setting trash cans and a limousine on fire “ during the Anti-Capitalist/Anti-Fascist march. Aside from their print edition featuring the limo fire on the front page, USA Today also created a graphic stating that the limo was set alight as part of the march:

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The limo fire makes for a dramatic image and appears to lend legitimacy to the government’s claim that the Inauguration Day protests were a “riot” and that those mass-arrested are deserving of the charges they are currently facing. However, the fire happened nearly five hours after people were in custody.

While protestors were kettled at 12th and L streets in DC, protest actions continued all over the city. In the proximity of the kettle, protestors gathered to observe the police action and were soon pounded with pepper spray and pushed down the street by police. Flash bang grenades were used throughout the area. Police used these weapons aggressively against those both inside and outside of the kettle. While protestors were detained at the corner of 12th and L, unknown individuals set fire to the limo.

Six months later, after it was well-known the indicted protestors could not have conceivably started the fire, MPD Chief Peter Newsham appeared on the September 13, 2017 episode of the Kojo Nnamdi Show. Newsham stated that the J20 defendants were responsible for the limo. Newsham has made no effort to correct this error, as it captures the attention of the public in the way that his mass-arrest orders have not. Newsham’s strategy is clear: he will use false information to justify the arrest and prosecution of the Inauguration Day protestors.

Police mass arrested 234 people on Inauguration Day amidst a situation exacerbated by police tactics. These tactics were inconsistent with MPD codes of conduct and targeted people indiscriminately. The District of Columbia Office of Police Complaints filed an initial report raising concern about police abuses on Inauguration Day and are now undertaking a formal investigation. According to FOIA requests by the NLG, DC police spent 300k dollars on different “less-lethal” weapons” “From an estimated security budget of $200 million for the inauguration weekend, the DC Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) spent more than $300,000 to militarize its police force. MPD purchased equipment such as 1,000 gas masks ($171,610) and 500 batons ($38,935), and spent more than $42,000 on “less-lethal” munitions, including 140 Stinger Rubber Ball Grenades, 140 Rubber Baton Rounds, 140 Stinger Rounds, and 20 smoke bombs.”

Polce Chief Newsham’s decision to mis-inform the public was an intentional effort to reinsert false information onto an unprecedented legal case. Similar to the style of the arrest he ordered, it was imprecise and unjustifiable. The statements on Kojo intended to create the appearance of victory on Inauguration Day, which helps to rationalize a war-zone atmosphere at protests and secure substatial budgets for the future.

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Donate to the J20 Legal Defense Fund

MEDIA ADVISORY: Trump Admin Will Spend Millions to Try Inauguration Day Defendants, Each Facing Decades in Prison

For Immediate Release: November 6, 2017

Contact: Sam Menefee-Libey of DC Legal Posse sml47@protonmail.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.

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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. DefendJ20Resistance.org is a product of their work.

UE: Defend Our Civil Liberties

The following resolution was adopted by the 75th convention of the United Electrical, Radio and Machine Workers of America, national union representing some 35,000 workers in a wide variety of manufacturing, public sector and private non-profit sector jobs.

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Defend Our Civil Liberties

UE has warned for years that when the government is given powers of domestic surveillance and “counterintelligence,” it can and will use them against ordinary, innocent Americans, particularly those who speak out against government policies, and especially those who represent a credible power base, such as the labor movement. We saw this during the McCarthy period in the 1940s and ‘50s when the combined forces of the federal government, big business, and their business union co-conspirators nearly destroyed the UE and progressive trade unionism.

These warnings are more relevant than ever with the election of Donald Trump. The Trump administration represents a severe threat to civil liberties. Trump has demonstrated a hostility to dissent, praised authoritarian law enforcement and intelligence practices, and scapegoated Muslims and immigrants. Trump wasted no time in issuing a Muslim ban via executive order but was thwarted by massive outpourings of solidarity, including protests at airports and actions by unionized taxi drivers.

Trump’s administration has coincided with a dramatic crackdown on the right to protest. Across the country, state legislators are proposing and even passing laws targeting the right to protest. During Trump’s inauguration, DC police engaged in a mass arrest of hundreds of people, including not only protesters, but also journalists and legal observers. Using guilt-by-association tactics, prosecutors charged 214 protesters with felonies carrying penalties of up to a decade of prison. Prosecutors do not allege that each of these protesters individually engaged in unlawful property destruction, but that by merely being present at the demonstration and participating in chants, such as, “Whose Streets? Our Streets?” they are collectively guilty. One individual has been charged in relation to the inauguration protests who was not even present at the protest, but helped facilitate planning meetings.

Bosses try to instill fear in workers during union organizing campaigns — that is the kind of fear that the government has tried to spread across society as a whole. People may avoid anti-globalization rallies if they know they are under government surveillance. A union member will think twice about voicing their outrage on a picket line if they know they could face trumped-up terrorism charges or be held liable for the actions of others. Fewer people attend organizing meetings if they suspect that someone in the room could be a police agent.

Even prior to Trump’s election, civil liberties in the U.S. had long been under attack. Documents made public by Edward Snowden revealed that the FBI and NSA are sweeping up the telephone, email, and internet use data of virtually every person in the U.S. Agencies like the FBI, NSA, and CIA, along with politicians in Washington, appear more concerned with persecuting whistleblowers than rectifying the civil liberties violations, human rights deprivations, and war crimes that they expose.

The FBI continues its role as the political police. Released documents have uncovered that the FBI spied on groups it acknowledged were peaceful, in some cases for decades often under the guise of “counterterrorism.” Those spied on or visited by the FBI include the Occupy movement, School of the Americas Watch, Black Lives Matter, Standing Rock Water Protectors, and other environmental protesters. Unsurprisingly, the FBI’s main targets continue to be those who struggle for peace, workers’ rights, economic justice, racial justice, and other progressive causes disfavored by big business.

The most basic civil liberty is the right to live without fear of being harassed, beaten, or killed. African Americans and other people of color are disproportionately targeted by police and are much more likely than white people to be victims of police harassment and violence. The abundant and growing audiovisual record of law enforcement officers using excessive force against people of color when stopped for traffic or other minor civil infractions documents that race remains a major factor in depriving people of their civil liberties. Movements against police brutality, mass incarceration, and racism, such as Black Lives Matter, have been able to win some gains in recent years. Yet, Attorney General Jeff Sessions is intent on rolling back even the mildest of reforms.

A growing number of Americans also question the use of the death penalty. When evidence such as DNA testing reveals death row prisoners are innocent, it confirms our justice system is fundamentally flawed. The question of capital punishment is historically of great concern to union members. On numerous occasions our government has framed and executed labor leaders, including the Haymarket martyrs, Industrial Workers of the World leader Joe Hill, immigrant labor activists Sacco and Vanzetti, and the coal miners known as the Molly Maguires. Tom Mooney, who spoke to an early UE convention, and the legendary Big Bill Haywood, were spared the death penalty only after massive campaigns to save them.

The chilling effect of denials of our democratic freedoms curtails political debate within the U.S., limits the ability of all citizens to make democratic choices for the future of our country, and thereby undermines our livelihoods and living standards. It is clear that the fight to protect and regain civil liberties must continue regardless of which party controls the White House.

THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED THAT THIS 75th UE CONVENTION:

  1. Opposes any change in the law that would further undermine our right to defend the interests of working people, specifically including changes designed to make picket-line activity subject to federal prosecution;
  2. Urges all locals to support organizations such as Defending Rights & Dissent, the National Lawyers Guild, the American Civil Liberties Union, the Committee to Stop FBI Repression, the National Conference of Black Lawyers, and the Southern Poverty Law Center;
  3. Demands that Congress investigate revelations of political spying and disruption by the FBI and other federal agencies and pass legislation definitively outlawing these practices;
  4. Opposes any laws designed to limit the right to protest;
  5. Calls for the end of mass arrests and charges against protesters not supported by suspicion of actual individual wrongdoing, and for the charges against the Trump inauguration defendants to be dropped;
  6. Calls for legislation to prohibit random or blanket drug testing in the workplace as well as legislation to ban telephone and internet monitoring of employees and to further restrict the use of lie detectors and other surveillance technologies in employment;
  7. Opposes preventive detention and Justice Department policies that allow for closed hearings, secret evidence, refusal to name those detained, elimination of attorney-client privilege, and long detentions without bond without any specific articulated reason;
  8. Demands that Congress reform the process for placing groups on terrorist lists to ensure that they have sufficient notice and a meaningful opportunity to respond to the charges;
  9. Supports legislation to strengthen the Freedom of Information Act, supports strong whistleblower protection legislation, and opposes efforts to intimidate or bar the press and other news media from reporting on government activities;
  10. Supports repeal of McCarthy-era “speech crime” laws, including the Smith Act and the Subversive Activities Control Act, and opposes exclusion of foreigners based on political beliefs or memberships;
  11. Supports the abolition of the death penalty and an end to mass incarceration;
  12. Urges locals and regions to support and stand in solidarity with protestors arrested for political protests including J20, including supporting providing legal support to protesters facing charges at the federal and state level.

Press Release: DC Police Spent Over $300,000 in Weapons, Ammunition to Use Against Inauguration Day Protesters

From the DC National Lawyers Guild

PRESS RELEASE
DC Chapter of the National Lawyers Guild

Defending Rights & Dissent

For Immediate Release: October 30, 2017

Contact: Maggie Ellinger-Locke, DC National Lawyers Guild, 314.805.7335, ellinger.locke@gmail.com Chip Gibbons, Defending Rights and Dissent, 202.529.4225, Chip@rightsanddissent.org

DC Police Spent Over $300,000 in Weapons, Ammunition to Use against Inauguration Day Protesters

New FOIA disclosure comes as independent investigation into questionable arrests, police conduct begins

Washington, DC – New, previously undisclosed records obtained through a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request by the DC Chapter of the National Lawyers Guild (DC NLG) and Defending Rights & Dissent (DRAD) details the types, quantities, manufacturers and costs of munitions used against protesters on Inauguration Day, January 20, 2017.

From an estimated security budget of $200 million for the inauguration weekend, the DC Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) spent more than $300,000 to militarize its police force. MPD purchased equipment such as 1,000 gas masks ($171,610) and 500 batons ($38,935), and spent more than $42,000 on “less-lethal” munitions, including 140 Stinger Rubber Ball Grenades, 140 Rubber Baton Rounds, 140 Stinger Rounds, and 20 smoke bombs.

The recent DC NLG disclosures complement FOIA records published earlier this month by Democracy in Crisis and the Real News Network. According to these records, MPD deployed weapons on at least 191 occasions on Inauguration Day, including the use of 74 Stinger Grenades—a weapon that indiscriminately projects rubber balls and metal shards in a 50-foot radius.

MPD also used copious amounts of chemical agents like pepper spray and tear gas against protesters, journalists, medics, legal observers, and bystanders alike, none of which was detailed in the documents recently obtained by DC NLG and DRAD. According to the Real News Network, police used pepper spray both before and after more than 200 people were trapped and detained by MPD. Most of the people attacked by police were later arrested and indicted on at least eight felonies each.

“Unfortunately, it’s not surprising to see these kinds of weapons purchased in advance of major political demonstrations—this is the new normal,” said Maggie Ellinger-Locke of the DC NLG and the attorney who filed the FOIA request. “However, the wanton police violence on Inauguration Day which only helped to escalate tension in the streets is inexcusable and should be condemned, not tolerated.”

MPD denied requests for public records related to the use of force on January 20, claiming that the “production of such records would interfere with enforcement proceedings.” DC NLG and DRAD are still pursing the type and number of weapons deployed that day and any contracts or agreements that MPD had with other DC government agencies related to the procurement of munitions as part of the same FOIA request.

The recent records disclosure comes as DC’s Office of Police Complaints initiated an independent investigation earlier this month into MPD misconduct on January 20. Despite lingering questions around the legality of the arrests that day and the extent of police misconduct, criminal trials for Inauguration Day defendants are scheduled to begin on November 15 in DC Superior Court.

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Defend J20 Resistance October Newsletter

Sign-up to get this newsletter via email

On January 20th, 2017, over 200 people resisting Trump’s Inauguration in DC were kettled and arrested by police. Over the next couple of months, they have received multiple felony charges, and currently face the possibility of being sentenced to decades in prison. This newsletter is meant to keep supporters updated on the case, and plugged in to support and solidarity initiatives as they arise. To get in contact with us, you can e-mail defendj20-newsletter@riseup.net.

In this newsletter:

  • November 15 & December 11 – Upcoming Trials
  • New Fundraiser
  • Dane’s Getting Out (post-release fundraiser)
  • Dreamhost Victory
  • Government Demands Data on 6,000 Facebook Users, Then Drops Demand
  • Office of Police Complaints Investigating MPD for conduct on J20

November 15 & December 11 - Upcoming Trials

The first J20 trials are rapidly approaching. The first round of defendants had their dates moved up in an unusual proceeding, making November 15 the opening day of court. They’ll need lots of support, personal and political. Now’s the time to brush up on the details of this important case and strategize with your friends and neighbors about how to push back against the dangerous, repressive precedent being sought by Jeff Sessions’ Justice Department. Consider how to spread the word and build broad solidarity in the face of repression, particularly since the outcome of this first round of trial can set the tone - for better or worse - for all 200 defendants.

The second round is also following closely afterwards. The next crew of defendants start trial on December 11. Remember that all the defendants are facing decades in prison and that if Trump’s administration scores a win against them, it will mean harsher future persecution of other grassroots resistance. And since the defendants can’t stop till this is over, neither will the rest of us!

New Fundraiser

Funds are only one element of a collective strategy based on solidarity, care and resistance. But it is an important part since defendants are facing tens of thousands of dollars in legal costs each. DCLP has created a new fundraiser to address this problem. Check out the link here:

https://fundrazr.com/j20resistance?ref=ab_Ao0sg1XqIh5Ao0sg1XqIh5

Please share this with people in your circles. We can’t let the government intimidate us and make us afraid to show our support. An injury to one is an injury to all!

Also, check out this fundraiser for NYC arrestees. In addition to supporting them, the wealth of links on the page is a great reference for staying updated on the vast range of solidarity initiatives underway.

https://www.youcaring.com/5boroughantirepressioncommittee-984038

Dane’s getting out (post-release fundraiser)

Dane Powell, the first of the J20 arrestees to be sent to prison, is getting out on October 31st. While this is exciting news, it’s notable that he will be spending the next two years on probation and forced to observe restrictive release conditions. This will be costly and burdensome on him and his family, especially as he adjusts to life after prison. If you have a few bucks to spare, please consider donating to his post-release fund, which can be found here:

http://www.dclegalposse.org/dane-powell-is-coming-home/

Dreamhost Victory

For the last couple of months, the Department of Justice has been trying to get identifying information about people who, prior to J20, visited the website disruptj20.org, as part of their prosecution strategy. This court order targeted the company Dreamhost, which hosted the disruptj20 website. If this court order went forward unchallenged as the DOJ originally worded it, over one million peoples’ IP addresses would have been handed over to the government for viewing this website. That said, we are happy to report that a judge has ruled that the DOJ “does not have the right to rummage through the information contained on DreamHost’s website” to “discover the identity of…individuals not participating in alleged criminal activity.” While Dreamhost is still required to hand over some information, they have redacted all identifying information regarding people who have viewed the site.

Government Demands Data on 6,000 Facebook Users, Then Drops Demand

Recently, the Department of Justice issued warrants to facebook regarding the names of 6,000 facebook users who had ‘Liked’ the DisruptJ20 facebook page, in addition to more detailed information and communications about three J20 arrestees. After a short period of time, a gag order about the case, and the request for the data about the 6,000 people, were both dropped. Unfortunately, the government is still demanding information from two J20 arrestees’ facebook accounts.

This is evidence that the state can easily access information through our social media activity and use it against us. Consider thinking critically about your social media usage, and looking into good practices using the anonymizing Tor Browser when accessing websites. The Electronic Frontier Foundation is a good resource: https://ssd.eff.org/

Office of Police Complaints Investigating MPD for conduct on J20

In February a report was filed with the DC Office of Police Complaints accusing some cops of abusing their power and violating procedures during the anti-Inauguration demonstrations on J20. Money for this investigation became available on October 1st, and the department has since begun its investigation. Information gathered from this could be helpful to J20 Defendants, but it is unlikely that anything will come up by November 15, the day of the first round of trials. For more information: http://wjla.com/news/local/office-of-police-complaints-investigates-mpd-response-to-inauguration-weekend-protests

As always, for more information check out the Support J20 Resistance website at www.defendj20resistance.org.

-Defend J20 Newsletter Crew

Donate to the J20 Legal Defense Fund

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DONATE HERE

Almost two hundred people are facing multiple felony charges after being mass arrested during the Inauguration Day protests on January 20, 2017 (J20) in Washington, DC. After an initial “felony rioting” indictment (which is already unusual), prosecutors pushed for a series of revisions—pulling in more defendants and bringing each person’s total charges to a staggering 8+ felonies and up to 75 years in prison. The majority of cases are now headed to trial, with the first trials beginning November 15 and continuing through the end of next year.

Under dubious and flimsy legal standards, prosecutors under the Trump presidency are attempting to turn protesters into felons and working to set dangerous legal precedents for all those who work for change.

These cases have disrupted the lives of the J20 defendants, who have lost jobs, incurred legal expenses, and been forced to make repeated trips to DC.

Despite these circumstances, there has been an astonishing display of solidaritywith almost two hundred people committed to fighting these charges. These defendants are investing in collective legal strategies when possible, using solidarity and mutual support to keep each other safe, and are choosing to go to trial and fight the charges instead of accepting plea deals.

We have the collective power to do everything we can to stop the Trump administration from destroying the lives of these defendants, people who could just as easily be you or me or your friends or family. And who will be next? Already there is a bipartisan effort to have the Department of Justice classify activists who manually shut down tar sands pipelines as “domestic terrorists.” But we know who the real criminals and domestic terrorists are.

What we allow the Trump administration to get away with in these trials will affect all who fight for a better world. These prosecutions are historic. But, this is also our opportunity to make this a historic defeat for them. Your financial support is needed and endlessly appreciated—will you join this effort?

Funds will be used for legal defense and to support defendants during trial, funding housing, travel expenses, food, and other support needs as consensed upon by DCLP. For more information about the legal defense effort and transparent accounting of how the money is being used, please visit defendJ20resistance.org.

Please help us fund this historic fight!

The J20 Case

Prosecutors in these cases have demanded vast troves of website data involving millions of unrelated people, soughtwarrants forcing Facebook to silently hand over data without notifying users while attempting to skirt legal due process, and extracted terabytes of personal data from any defendant’s cell phone that was unencrypted. They also raided an organizer’s home in DC, and defendants have had their personal information leaked online.

At the same time, the prosecution requested a rare “protective” order to keep defendants from sharing police body camera footage—shielding the police from public accountability and complicating efforts to prepare a defense. Perhaps most disturbingly, prosecutors have balked at their basic, constitutional duty to disclose individualized evidence—citing the workload of so many cases (which they created in the first place!).

These cases could set dangerous legal precedents, with widespread implications for all those who resist, march, rally, protest, and organize across the continent. It means that at any demonstration, if someone commits an illegal act (perhaps even a police provocateur), then the entire demonstration could be subject to conspiracy charges in addition to the wanton police violence that so often happens in the streets.

Further Context

On January 20, 2017, tens of thousands of people converged in Washington, DC, for protests to oppose Trump’s inauguration. A combination of blockades, marches, and festive demonstrations shattered the spectacle of a quiet transition of power, making it clear around the world that people do not recognize Trump’s authority. What could have been a day signaling resignation and defeat became a moment of defiance and resistance. As such, the protests on J20 set a tone and precedent for the events that unfolded shortly after, including the notably successful, mass direct actions at airports against Trump’s Muslim ban as well as ongoing resistance to deportations. While Trump and his Far Right foot soldiers have encountered few meaningful obstacles from liberal politicians in the halls of power, grassroots resistance has continued to prove a substantial force.

Unfortunately, with resistance comes repression. In addition to shooting pepper spray and concussion grenades indiscriminately at protesters, including children, the elderly, and people with disabilities, DC police cordoned off an entire block and mass arrested more than 230 people in an attempt to stop an anticapitalist and antifascist march. While mass arrests are not unheard of, in this case arrestees were originally charged with felony riot—a charge that potentially carries ten years in prison. On April 27, the prosecution announced additional felony charges against the entire group: inciting to riot, rioting, conspiracy to riot, and five counts of property destruction.

With these heightened charges, the state is trying to set a precedent for harsh crackdowns of disruptive protest in the future, so that Trump can proceed with his agenda unimpeded by anything but symbolic hand-wringing. This strategy corresponds with a broader wave of repression and reaction, from the arrests and grand jury investigations of indigenous water protectors at #StandingRock, to backlash against #BlackLivesMatter and black-led organizing against the violence of policing. The arrests at J20 also inform local strategies for repression, including antiprotest laws that have been proposed in eighteen different state legislatures, further criminalizing commonly used tactics like highway takeovers and in some cases making it legal for drivers to knowingly hit protesters marching in roadways.

The charges against the J20 defendants are an experiment. If the courts are able to successfully prosecute those arrested at J20, this will send a green light to the forces of repression seeking to contain, control, and eliminate social movements around the country. Just as all our struggles are connected, we understand these arrests to represent a real threat to all efforts toward egalitarian forms of freedom, dignity, and mutualism.

Dane Powell Is Coming Home

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Reposted from Dead City Legal Posse:

We’re so happy to update you on Dane Powell, our comrade in prison. His release date is fast approaching. We want to provide as much post-release support to Dane and his family and loved ones as we possibly can, as they traverse the challenging transition from incarceration to freedom. It’s important to note, too, that he will be under highly-monitored probation restrictions and governed by extensive release conditions that will substantially curtail the exercise of his freedom.

We are so thrilled about his release. It is a day to celebrate, but we must be mindful, too, of the post-release challenges that await Dane, and offer our help, whenever, however, and wherever we can. Rebuilding his life (under probation restrictions and release conditions) is no small thing. Folks who know Dane personally will realize how different the life he will be required to live over the next two years on probation will be from the life he envisioned for himself—in the short term, at least.

Let’s offer whatever financial support we can, if we are able, to assist as Dane celebrates his release and figures out how to enjoy this new version of freedom, together with his family and loved ones.

We are most concerned, obviously, with assisting with his immediate challenges of securing (probation-approved) housing, employment, educational opportunities, reliable transportation, and whatever physical and emotional health and wellness support that he and his family may potentially require through this transition. We must, of course, also bolster Dane’s capacity to provide for his amazing kids.

Dane’s attention, together with the rest of ours, is on his co-defendants, especially those with upcoming trials in November and December of this year, and rightly so. But we must spread the love and resources around, so that everyone at every stage in these criminal proceedings, from arrest through post-release, experiences the loving support of this community. The quality of support Dane receives upon release, after serving four months in federal prison, will send a clear and valuable message to others embroiled in this drama about the love, solidarity, and continuum of care that they, and their loved ones, can anticipate as they stand against state repression.

Donate to Dane’s Post-Release Fund

Defend J20 Resistance Newsletter, September 2017

On January 20th, 230 people were mass arrested during demonstrations against Donald Trump’s Inauguration. The arrests were made by use of a “kettle” technique of individuals on the corners of L and 12th Street, without orders to disperse. After multiple rounds of charges, the 194 remaining defendants could now face up to 75 years in prison on 8+ identical felony charges.

This e-mail newsletter exists to keep supporters updated about the case and plugged in for when support and solidarity initiatives are being organized. The first trials are scheduled for this fall, so now is the time to stand up in solidarity. If you know someone who’d like to be added to our newsletter, please e-mail us at defendj20-newsletter@riseup.net and let us know or sign-up here.

In this newsletter:

  • #Defend J20 Week of Solidarity
  • Motions to Dismiss & Reveal Grand Jury Instructions
  • Petition to Drop the Charges
  • Police investigation
  • DreamHost Updates
  • Charlottesville
  • Support Dane!
  • Fundraising

#Defend J20 Week of Solidarity

In response to a call for a week of solidarity with J20 Defendants from July 20 - July 27, a number of events and actions took place in dozens of cities internationally to publicize the case, generate support, and demonstrate solidarity with the defendants.

Banners with messages demanding the charges be dropped were hung in public spaces. Benefits and events where information was spread about the case were organized in multiple cities. Flyers, stickers, and posters were put in public areas around the US. For more information, and to see all the posters and banners, check out this report back:

http://defendj20resistance.org/2017/07/31/defendj20-solidarity-actions.html

Motions to Dismiss & Reveal Grand Jury Instructions

On July 27, a motion to dismiss the charges for all the defendants was presented in court. In addition, a motion was argued to compel the court to release the instructions given to the grand jury which led to the charges being filed. The motions to dismiss the charges were built on a number of different grounds, including constitutional rights and challenges to case law related to the case. On September 14, Judge Lynn Leibovitz issued an order denying all the motions to dismiss except for one count- an additional misdemeanor charge of assault of an officer that included some but not all defendants. In light of this denial, we are continuing to stand in solidarity with each other and take these charges to trial.

Please visit the Support J20 blog for a statement on the judge’s order and a link to the order itself:

http://defendj20resistance.org/blog/

Drop the Charges

Looking for a way to help out with the case? Check out this petition addressing U.S. Attorney Channing Phillips demanding all the charges be dropped: https://actionnetwork.org/petitions/dropj20-end-the-repression/

Or visit our “Drop the Charges” campaign and call or write U.S. Attorney Channing Phillips and demand directly that they drop all charges against J20 protesters:

http://defendj20resistance.org/dropj20

Investigation of Police Misconduct on J20

Earlier this year, the District Council approved $1.5 million in funding for an investigation of police misconduct on J20. The call for an investigation stems from a critical report issued after the Inauguration Day protests by the Mayor’s Office of Police Complaints (OPC), detailing how police were indiscriminately violent and used unlawful tactics to mass arrest more than 200 people. Funds for the investigation become available on October 1, 2017. Please urge the OPC to begin investigating the police as soon as possible, before the first trial in November: http://defendj20resistance.org/investigate-the-mpd.html.

Call Rochelle Howard at the Office of Police Complaints at (202) 727-3838 or e-mail: dcpolice.complaintsoffice@dc.gov

The DreamHost Case: Mass Surveillance by the Department of Justice

In early August, the Department of Justice subpoenaed the webhosting company DreamHost for all data they had on the hundreds of thousands of visitors who viewed the disruptj20 website, which had publicized the demonstration before the inauguration. This data grab led to public anger and to pushback by a judge. The DOJ pared down its request to target only defendants and alleged DC organizers in response, but as the Electronic Frontier Foundation documents, the subpoena remains a threat to internet and general freedoms. DreamHost announced in early September that they plan to appeal the ruling.

https://www.eff.org/deeplinks/2017/08/doj-backs-down-overbroad-j20-warrant-problems-still-remain

Charlottesville

Our condolences go to the family and comrades of Heather Heyer, murdered by a Neo-Nazi during the clashes in Charlottesvile, Virginia, and to all those who were injured and arrested fighting back against white supremacy. The Charlottesville clashes demonstrate that the movement kicked off on J20 - against Trump’s chauvinistic aim to “Make America Great Again” continues across the US. This article highlights where the police fall politically in this context, as they move to repress anti-fascist and anti-capitalist demonstrators in DC, while they actively ignore Neo-Nazi gunfire against unarmed anti-fascist protestors in Charlottesville:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/the-police-threw-the-book-at-trump-protesters-in-dc_us_59a57c35e4b0b234aecad23b?ncid=engmodushpmg00000004

Support Dane!

Dane Powell, the first of the J20 Defendants to see jail time, was recently transferred to a federal prison in Florida, where he’ll likely be until November. After this four month sentence, he will be on probation for over a year. In the meantime, check out this page for more information on how to support him with commissary, sending books, and writing him letters. http://defendj20resistance.org/blog/

He can be written to at this address:

Dane Powell BOP Register number 82015007 Federal Correctional Institution – Low PO Box 1031 Colman, Florida 33521

Fundraising

The first two trials are scheduled for November and December. Defendants are going to trial in groups of 8 at a time and could last for weeks. We are in need of money for travel, housing, and other associated costs. Support is needed in terms of fundraisers, info-nights, and donations directly to the website. Please click the link below and donate to trial costs:

http://www.dclegalposse.org/donate/

As always, for detailed information about the case, check out http://defendj20resistance.org. We greatly appreciate all supporters out there who are paying attention to this important legal case. More updates coming soon!

–Defend J20 Newsletter Crew

Letter from #J20 Anarchist Prisoner Dane Powell

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From It’s Going Down:

Throughout my whole life, I’ve had a running list of worst fears that changed over the years, as many times as I have. My latest, having been the most likely to occur were fears of houseless-ness and prison. I used to have nightmares of the two where I would wake up in sweats. I’ve since been cured of them both but only by living through each.

With work inside our local communities, most, if not all, activists see people when they need solidarity the most. The houseless, the jobless, the drug addicts, the ones that have been tossed out, abused, and left for dead by our capitalistic system are the ones who we eat dinner with, laugh with, seek treatment with or aid mutually more than most others. A lot of these people have hit the preverbal bottom with unwavering abandonment from the state. The presence of these fears was only the state legitimizing itself in my subconscious mind. Facing my fear of houseless-ness was voluntary and a choice I made before leaving for Standing Rock last year. My arrest on Jan 21st was not voluntary what so ever and I would soon learn how to de-legitimize the state through control of ones own fears.

After the courts released me on January 26th, my fears were put into overdrive after five days in DC jails’ intake wing. Our culture is centered around punishment. Our TV’s highlight it, our movies romanticize it, our politicians run on it’s platform, and our judges make a mockery of it by sending youth to “Scared Straight” programs. The latter of these I had the honor of attending at the youthful age of 14. Having grown adults insinuate that they would kill you if given the chance at such a young age is a shining example of just how loving our justice system is. Occupied Turtle Islands’ obsession with punishment is unavoidable and a symptom of society’s sickness in the same way that cops are glorified and reality TV stars become president.

This fear was so crippling that it started to consume my personal life. I allowed it to consume me so much that the state had already won. I lost my closest comrade and became closed off to others. The only way I was able to de-legitimize the fear was by living through it. I hope these words find the eyes of my J20 codefendants and others who may be in similar situations. I hope through my own experiences to assist others in helping to deal with their own fears that they may be holding in with the possibility of becoming another statistic to the state. What my codefendants are facing now is real, but nothing new for those who seek a better world on the ashes of theirs. We should never seek their cages, but if we happen to find them our work will continue and we’ll become more caring, more loving, more understanding, and more reliant as we use that time to improve ourselves and the others around us.

I challenge the reader to find a revolutionary who has stood against the imperial, capitalistic, and centralized state while not finding the inside of a cell throughout their course of work. It almost seems like a right of passage in many revolutionary autobiographies. There’s a distinct reason for this; jail cells radicalize. What is radicalize but another word for educated. Not educated with their reactionary lessons but an education from our own teachers based on revolutionary thinking. They fear this education which is why the word “radicalize” has become so stigmatized.

Even those who are on the fringes of political space, know exactly what is keeping them from their loved ones and freedom when they’re locked up, the state. If one enters in prison with a support structure of radicals, that captive will be digesting Kropotkin, Bookchin, Goldman, and Proudhun in no time. Free of the excuses one gives when they have access to Netflix, YouTube, or the vast diversity of services that we have filled the void of cable TV with, these captives are drawn to their books and the ideas within them. The education gained behind bars is greater than any to be found at Ivy league colleges. Prisons have always been the colleges of the revolutionaries.

As a present day anarchist I have felt my main weakness was in my theory. I knew the basics of our theories, but I never made it a priority to improve my revolutionary theory. What I failed to realize was that a clear understanding of theory allows the revolutionary to criticize current models, including their own, instead of just being a parrot with no ideas they can call their own. Lessons learned in prison provide the revolutionary with the proper re-education to be able to hold a conversation on something as basic as whether an issue is reformist or reactionary and the reasons why. So many of us are able to walk the walk but can’t talk the talk when the time presents itself, and what does that make us but a rebel without a cause. Not being able to properly put voice to our beautiful ideal de-legitimizes our movement more than any reactionary can. As revolutionists’ we need to be as well rounded as possible to be able to bring our beautiful ideal to the masses in a way that divorces reform; with theory and action. We need to turn our weaknesses into our greatest strengths.

One thing that revolutions of the past have in common is that the common people were facing oppression from above that was unbearable. In this way, prisons are a micro-cosism consisting of those same conditions that breed revolutions and could very easily become the revolutions vanguard. Washington DC jail is 98% people of African decent. Once prisoners learned of my charges I was sought after for questions on my leftist views. I planted as many seeds as I could in that short amount of time. I left books and zines that I’m sure are still being passed around today, and for months to come. Was the BPP main recruitment not done in the prisons and jails? Like our martyr August Spies said before he was executed, “Here you will tread upon a spark, but there and there, and behind you and in front of you, and everywhere flames will blaze up.” The conditions are the tinder and we are the sparks of Spies’ blaze.

When I first got to prison in Florida the guard who was processing me in exclaimed to his co-worker, “We got our first Trump protester!” They laughed at my expense for a couple of hours but I didn’t play into their games. I was soon approached by the prisons gang task force and threatened over organizing in their prison. They said that if there was a strike they were coming for me and my time would be extended. The state knows our capacities and they’re threatened by it. Earlier this year saw one of the largest prison strikes in history. We have what it takes and the most important denominator in that equation is time.

The legitimizing factor of all oppressive centralized states is the complacency and domination over the masses through state sponsored murder, kidnapping, and extortion. The regime of occupied Turtle Island is no different. A wise man one said that when we no longer fear death, we can truly live. Once these chains of the mind are removed so too will the physical ones of the body follow. Change has always proceeded the de-ligitimization of the state. Just as in the past, occupied Turtle Islands’ regime will do the same, but we can help speed that process up.

Until the last wall is torn down, we need to use their own weapon against the regime as best we can while simultaneously dismantling the power structure it creates. While doing time we can make others and ourselves better comrades. While outside, we should remove the power the state holds over us and, while not seeking it, we should lose the fear of prison for this is the best way to delegitimize the power it holds over us. Doing so will help us attain our goal that a more just world is possible for all instead of the few.

Write to Dane Powell:

Dane Powell

BOP Register number 82015007

Federal Correctional Institution – Low PO Box 1031

Colman, Florida 33521

Statement in response to Judge Leibovitz’s refusal to dismiss our charges

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Inauguration Day (J20) defendants continue to stand in solidarity with each other and against state repression despite Thursday’s denial of a motion to dismiss our charges filed by our defense on July 27th.

An overwhelming majority of J20 defendants remain committed to “points of unity” which include a refusal to testify or cooperate with the state against any of our co-defendants.

We did not need to “politicize” our cases; the federal government has done that for us. By conducting a mass arrest, charging over 200 people with eight identical felonies, and threatening us with 75 years in prison for protesting in the streets, the state is escalating their war on dissent.

Everyone should be concerned about the precedent this case sets. Free expression is at stake, and not just for black-clad radicals. Anyone who stands up and opposes the Trump administration is at risk unless we put an end to this legal charade.

The first trials in this case start in November of 2017 and we need your support. Please:

  • Join us in calling on the government to drop the charges!
  • Join us in condemning the violent acts of police and the unlawful mass arrest they carried out. Police misconduct must be investigated before our cases go to trial, otherwise we would be ignoring and giving credence to the true perpetrators of violence.
  • Donate to our legal fund.

Also, stay connected via DefendJ20Resistance.org, signing up for our email list or following us on social media (Twitter, Facebook, Instagram) for additional ways to support defendants as the case develops.

An Update on Our Comrade in Prison

From Dead City Legal Posse:

Dane Powell was recently transferred from the DC Jail to a federal facility, which is luckily much closer to his family. His transfer is finally complete. We and his loved-ones have been in regular (but somewhat sporadic contact) throughout the transfer process. Now that his transfer is final, all of us can be back in touch with him!

Dane continues to amaze us all with his capacity to take on this challenge, and to rise to it, at every turn. Please know that Dane is really looking forward to hearing from everyone!

☆☆ Dane’s Birthday is NEXT Thursday (September 7th). It would be so wonderful if everyone who reads this update could send him a birthday card right away (and a gift from his wishlist ONLY if that is financially manageable for you). Amazon Wishlist Link: http://www.amazon.com/registry/wishlist/1304CQUAW2GEG

Some of the rules and regulations in federal prison are different from DC Jail and others are the same. Please carefully review all of this updated info. Thank you!

Dane Powell
BOP Register number 82015007

Jail Mail

Jail Mail Address
Dane Powell
BOP Register number 82015007
Federal Correctional Institution – Low
PO Box 1031
Colman, Florida 33521

Jail Mail Regs

  • Hardcover books may be sent from publishers only
  • Paperback books may be sent by friends & family (at most 2-3 at a time)
  • Magazine subscriptions are okay
  • Photos: 25 photos or less may be sent in personal mail, so long as the content is permissible.
  • Return Address is required
  • Greeting cards are okay with no music or noise maker built in. Send him a birthday card as soon as you read this because his birthday is next Thursday (September 7th)
  • Some drawings are allowed on envelopes, so long as it is permissible content and doesn’t obstruct address information

☆ It is important to remember that ALL MAIL will be opened and read by BOP staff. Please daft your jail mail accordingly!

Commissary

Dane has a new commissary account. DCLP will be feeding that Commissary account from Dane’s Generosity Fund, at Dane’s instruction and in accordance with his wishes.

Please donate what you can (if you can) there OR make a selection from the Amazon Wishlist, which has been updated with the latest transfer details, as to mailing address.

Generosity Link:
https://www.generosity.com/emergencies-fundraising/support-our-friend-dane-powell

Amazon Wishlist Link
http://www.amazon.com/registry/wishlist/1304CQUAW2GEG!!!

Visitation

Visits are also monitored, and require pre-approved authorization. Additionally, there are limits upon how many folks can be listed (beyond primary family). Luckily, because he is back on his home turf, his friends and loved-ones have his visitation covered. Please reach out to us well in advance of any planned travel to Dane’s neck of the woods, if you wonder if a visit might be possible.

#DefendJ20 Solidarity Actions

In response to a call for a “week of solidarity” with J20 defendants from July 20 to July 27, numerous events events were held across the United States to raise awareness about the J20 case.

In addition, numerous other gestures of solidarity – from banner drops to graffiti – took place during the week. The following list compiles many of these autonomously undertaken intiatives.

Demonstrations / Actions

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International Solidarity

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Statements

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Posters

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Graffiti

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Graphics, Posters, and Stickers

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The Week of Solidarity with J20 Defendants Starts Tomorrow

From Crimethinc:

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The Week of Solidarity with J20 Defendants begins tomorrow! July 20 marks six months since the mass arrest on L and 12th Street in Washington, DC; more than 200 defendants are now facing up to 75 years in prison apiece on Trumped up charges. We’re calling on all supporters to organize events and actions in solidarity with the J20 defendants throughout the week. Send reportbacks, photographs, and inquiries to J20solidarity@protonmail.com.

Ongoing Solidarity Actions

Before the week has even begun, we’re already learning of solidarity actions around the country:

  • Graffiti reading “200 People, 80 Years, Just for Protesting?” along the Atlanta Beltway;

  • Graffiti on a Starbucks in Binghamton, NY that says “Dismiss J20, Drop the Charges!”

  • Banner drops in Pittsburgh, PA and Elgin, IL demanding that the charges be dropped;

  • And a shout-out from Camp White Pine, the action camp in Pennsylvania currently resisting the development of the Marine East 2 Pipeline.

Organizations across the country have signed on to the Statement of Solidarity issued by DefendJ20Resistance, while a campaign is underway to demand that the DC Office of Police Complaints release $150,000 allocated for an investigation into the DC Metropolitan Police Department.

Events

A host of events is planned across the country to keep the pressure on throughout the week:

New York City, NY

Durham | Chapel Hill | Asheville, NC

  • July 20 • Anarchists on the Silver Screen @ Firestorm Books & Coffee

  • July 22 • BBQ, Bakesale and Benefit Show @ the Back House, 6:00PM

  • July 24 • Letter-Writing/Call-In Party @ Northgate Park, 6:00PM

  • July 25 • The Nightlight Presents “Institute”, A Benefit for J20 Defendants @ The Nightlight, 9:00PM

  • July 26 • Resisting State Repression, A Press Conference @ Durham Central Park, 12:00PM

Pittsburgh, PA

  • Roundtable discussion with Jude Ortiz of the Tilted Scales Collective for Pittsburgh J20 Defendants

  • Film Screening of “Born in Flames” @ 40th Street Bridge in Lawrenceville

Ypsilanti | Lansing, MI

Richmond, VA

  • July 20 • Screening of “Trouble - Episode 4: No Justice, Just Us” @ Community Room, 6:00PM

  • July 22 • Solidarity Demo @ Carycourt, 12:00PM

More events are being organized each day, and there are plenty of ways to plug in and plan one in your local area!

Resources

We’ve put together a resource kit specifically for tabling, so you can use these materials to explain the case to people where you live. It includes:

  • How the Government is Turning Protestors into Felons - a zine produced from an article written by Natasha Leonard describing the state’s intention to use the J20 case to set a precedent for mass arrests in the era of the Trump regime.

  • Why I Am Facing 75 Years - a zine produced from an op-ed written by Carlo Piantini, a J20 defendant, about the political nature of the J20 case, its connection to the larger scope of political repression in the United States, and the need for continued resistance.

  • An Unpresidented Case - a brief graphic zine composed of recollections from defendants about the Inauguration Day protests, the kettle, and the repression that has followed since.

  • “Week of Solidarity” - A new flyer and web graphics for this second Week of Solidarity to use for wheat-pastings and social media blasts.

  • “Show Up For Dane Powell” - A flyer calling for solidarity with Dane Powell, the first political prisoner of the Trump regime.

  • “#DropJ20” - A flyer to announce #DropJ20, a campaign demanding that the US Attorney’s Office drop the J20 charges.

  • “I Want You!” - A set of six flyers calling for action to demand an investigation into the conduct of the DC Metropolitan Police Department on Inauguration Day.

The kit also includes an archive of previous J20 solidarity flyers and a host of resources on legal support and prisoner solidarity, analysis and theory on Trump and anti-Trump resistance, anti-policing zines, and material for newcomers on how to join the resistance!

Stay in the Loop

Visit Defendj20resitance.org to sign up for email updates about the case, or follow “Defend J20 Resistance” on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.

PRESS RELEASE: Rights Groups File FOIA to Uncover Details About Police Use of Force, Infiltration of Inauguration Protests

From Defending Rights & Dissent:

####Rights Groups File FOIA to Uncover Details About Police Use of Force, Infiltration of Inauguration Protests

FOIA filing comes as D.C. Council moves to investigate police misconduct on January 20

Contact:

Chip Gibbons, Defending Rights & Dissent (202) 529-4225 chip@rightsanddissent.org

Maggie Ellinger-Locke, DC National Lawyers Guild (314) 805-7335 Ellinger.Locke@gmail.com

JULY 11, 2017 - DC National Lawyers Guild (DC NLG) and Defending Rights and Dissent, two groups who defend the right to protest, are demanding answers about the Metropolitan Police Department’s conduct during anti-Trump inauguration protests.

Earlier today, the two groups filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request asking for records pertaining to police use of force against protesters, including the deployment of chemical and projectile weapons, and the use of police infiltrators leading up to the January 20 protests.

“The police assault on the right to protest on January 20 is part of a broader trend of cracking down on dissent taking place across the nation,” said Maggie Ellinger-Locke, co-chair of the DC NLG Demonstration Support Committee. “We hope that shedding light on the MPD’s actions during the inauguration will be an important step to promoting real police accountability.”

In an unprecedented move, U.S. Attorney Channing Phillips indicted more than 200 people in April on eight felony charges each, punishable by up to 75 years in federal prison. Both the DC NLG and Defending Rights and Dissent have strongly condemned the charges as being an intimidation tactic meant to severely punish Inauguration Day protesters and deter people from participating in future activism.

As the FOIA Request describes, “This is one of the largest, and harshest en-mass prosecutions of political demonstrators in U.S. history.”

On January 19 and January 20 police repeatedly and indiscriminately used excessive force against protesters, including the use of pepper spray, tear gas, and new weaponry called stingers which have a combined pepper spray, tear gas, rubber bullets, and flash bang deployment. The police assaults included attacks on children, journalists, legal observers, medics, passersby, and protesters. On January 20 police entrapped, or “kettled,” over 200 people, holding them for eight hours and arresting everyone en masse.

The filing of today’s FOIA comes just a month after the District Council approved $150,000 for an investigation into police misconduct during the Inauguration Day protests. The Council’s action comes after the Mayor’s Office of Police Complaints issued a report in February critical of the MPD response to protests on January 20. Notably, the report found concerning multiple potential violations of the D.C. First Amendment Assemblies Act, and the indiscriminate use of weapons such as stingers without adequate warnings.

In addition to the use of force against protesters, both groups were deeply troubled by revelations that an undercover member of the MPD infiltrated organizing meetings ahead of the protests. Under D.C. law, infiltration of First Amendment activity requires prior written approval by a MPD commander or similarly ranked official. For authorization to be received the officer must submit a written memorandum. As part of the FOIA Request, both groups hope to obtain the memorandum requesting authorization, as well as, the authorization itself.

“There is a reason why the City Council imposed statutory restrictions on investigations involving First Amendment protected activity. History shows that such infiltrators oftentimes purposefully sow chaos. Even under the best of circumstances such agents chill speech and deter political participation,” said Chip Gibbons, Policy and Legislative Counsel for Defending Rights and Dissent.

Support Our Comrade in Prison!

From Dead City Legal Posse:

On Friday, July 7th, Dane Powell became the first of the #DisruptJ20 arrestees sentenced to prison. Dane is a father, veteran, water protector, and active community member, but will now forever be known as the first political prisoner of the Trump era. Today, he needs your support more than ever for the four months he is behind bars. Please share far and wide—we want him to be flooded with love and support from every continent. So if you know anyone in Antarctica …


Dane Powell

DCDC #358 530

Commissary

Funds can be added in person in cash at the machines in the CTF building. Now that the account has been initiated, folks can also add funds remotely at www.connectnetwork.com (through the website or phone app) using Dane’s name and DCDC number. Commissary funds can be used for either commissary or for phone, but phone account funds may only be used for phone.

Mailing Address:

Dane Powell DCDC #358 530 DC Jail 1901 D Street, SE Washington, DC 20003

If it would be easier to email rather than post letters, you can email jailmail@dclegalposse.org and we can either print out and mail the letters, or read them aloud to him during visits. Bear in mind that in addition to being read by DOC staff, anything you send to that email address will be read by DCLP.

Jail Mail Regulations & Suggestions

  • Photos are okay with permissible content: up to 10 per envelope
  • Greeting cards okay with no music
  • Nothing on the outside of the envelope except the address (no decorative designs, stickers, notes, etc)
  • No staples (likely best to number multiple sheets of paper)
  • No supplies: everything must come through commissary, which Dane can use for either commissary or for phone. Phone account funds may only be used for phone.
  • No content you wouldn’t say directly to a cop. Every letter WILL BE opened and read by jail staff before Dane sees it. Note: this clearly means nothing incriminating against anyone else either.

☆ It would be wise to include your phone number and your mailing address on every letter so that Dane can write back to you or call you collect. Return addresses are preferred by the DOC, but not required on the envelopes in order to be received.

☆ Nothing incriminating against anyone else! Every letter will be opened and read by jail staff.

Mailing Books

Books must be mailed directly to Dane at the address above from the publisher, from Amazon (wishlist on the way), or from a bookstore. No hardcover books. Dane has specially requested books from AK Press, PM Press, and Feminist Press.

Video Visits

Dane is permitted two visits a week. All visits are done by video now, even “in person” ones. You can visit on-site at the DC Jail’s Video Visitation Center on the on DC General Complex:

Note: once you have a visitor ID set up, you can add multiple inmates and store their info in your account.

J20: Call for an International Week of Solidarity, July 20-27, 2017

From Crimethinc:

We are calling for a Week of Solidarity with the J20 defendants from July 20 to 27, 2017. July 20 marks six months from the initial actions and arrests during Donald Trump’s inauguration, and on July 27, a motion to dismiss the charges will be argued in court. The case has finally begun to receive the media attention it warrants; with this court date approaching and the cases underway, this is a crucial time for a second Week of Solidarity. Send reportbacks, photographs, and inquiries to J20solidarity@protonmail.com.

On January 20, 2017, thousands of people came to Washington, DC to protest the presidential inauguration of Donald Trump. In the early morning, blockades shut down security checkpoints and discouraged people from attending the inauguration itself, while impromptu marches and direct actions occurred throughout the day. There was a spirit of defiance in the air.

Iconic images circulated almost immediately, from the punching of white supremacist Richard Spencer to pictures of a limousine on fire. These were only the most spectacular images, however, of a day that was characterized by generalized disruption.

Midmorning, an “anticapitalist and antifascist” march of several hundred people made clear its opposition not just to Trump but also the system that made Trump possible. Led by banners reading “MAKE RACISTS AFRAID AGAIN” and “TOTAL LIBERATION FROM DOMINATION,” the disruptive march took the streets of DC to the sound of fireworks and anticapitalist chants. After about half an hour, the march was brutally attacked by police, who used chemical and crowd control weapons along with physical force, then boxed in (“kettled”) and mass-arrested people. Everyone on an entire city block was arrested and given the same charge of felony rioting. Approximately 214 arrestees now face a total of eight felony charges, including conspiracy and destruction of property. All of the J20 defendants are now facing up to 75 years in prison.

A great deal has happened in the six months since the inauguration. Confrontational protests have taken place across the continent, challenging the political landscape shaped by Trump’s election. Participants have stood up to emboldened white supremacists, disrupted airports in the face of anti-Muslim bans, blockaded proposed pipeline routes, set up sanctuary spaces and rapid response networks against ICE deportations, and much more. In turn, states are passing legislation aimed at further criminalizing protest and limiting resistance.

The J20 case fits into this wave of repression. The police seized and hacked phones in an attempt to strengthen the government’s case, and subpoenaed social media accounts. They raided an organizer’s home in DC. Arrestees had their personal information leaked online. The prosecution filed additional charges, essentially accusing the entire group of breaking the same handful of windows. All this has disrupted the lives of the defendants in the J20 case, who have lost jobs, incurred legal expenses, and been forced to make repeated trips to DC. The majority of cases are now headed to trial, with a handful of trials set for November and December 2017 and the rest scattered throughout 2018. Despite the fact that the state forced a large number of strangers into this situation at random, the majority of defendants are working together, responding to the charges in a collective way.

In order to continue to build our capacity to counter state repression and strengthen our interconnected struggles, we are calling for a Week of Solidarity from July 20 to 27, 2017, to make support for the J20 defendants widely visible. July 20 marks six months since the initial actions and arrests; on July 27, a motion to dismiss the charges will be argued in court.

We call on supporters to organize events and actions in solidarity with the J20 defendants throughout the week. Be creative and strategic! Help cultivate a spirit of resistance and mutual aid! Some ideas and areas to focus on during the week include:

Fundraising – As with any legal case, fundraising for legal and travel costs continues to be important. You can consult a list of regional fund-raising sites here and make donations to the general DC fund here. One easy fundraiser activity would be to organize a screening of the new subMedia film “No Justice … Just Us: Movement Defense against State Repression”. Other ideas include bake sales, raffles, speakers, or benefit shows. Some folks have also made t-shirts and tote bags.

Take Political Action – The J20 arrests were so plainly illegal that even the DC city council has funded an investigation into police abuses that day. This could turn up evidence useful to the defendants, but only if it takes place soon! During the Week of Solidarity, flood the DC Office of Police Complaints with demands that the investigation happen NOW. For more details, go here.

Outreach – One reason these prosecutions are possible in the first place is the lack of visibility around the case. Find ways to spread the word, with an eye toward translating visibility and public awareness into the capacity for material and emotional support. If you are part of an organization or have connections to one, ask it to endorse the “Statement of Solidarity,” or write and release your own statement against the prosecution in solidarity with those arrested on J20. Circulate statements widely among all the networks you have access to.

Increase Visibility – Design posters and decorate your town with them. Several poster designs are available here, but more designs are always welcome. Consider designing handbills or other agitational materials. Share them in the days before the Week of Solidarity. Drop banners. Paint graffiti. Set up an information table at a public event or space. Spread the word on social media; try to persuade people who are well known to take a public position. Organize public visibility actions to spread the word about the case; international readers could consider taking action at US embassies to demand that the charges be dropped as a means of raising awareness.

Build Connections – Use the Week of Solidarity as a means of connecting struggles. The J20 defendants aren’t the only ones facing felony charges for their resistance or presence at political events. Organize joint events to benefit other defendants as well. Think of ways to connect across movements, using such events as a stepping-stone toward building robust and combative movements that can withstand repression and take the initiative.

Build Capacity - It’s also important to remember the many and varied reasons that people took to the streets on January 20. Those are at least as urgent now when so many people are facing charges. It is imperative that people not turn away out of fear of repression or isolate themselves. That is what the state wants. We must meet these charges with defiance and continued resistance. We must respond not just as supporters but also as active comrades in a shared struggle.

Finally, we encourage folks to visit Defendj20resitance.org to sign up for e-mail updates about the case, or follow “Defend J20 Resistance” on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.

#J20 Defendant Speaks Out Against Ongoing Repression

From Unicorn Riot:

UNICORN RIOT VIDEO

Recently in Chicago, IL we spoke with Olivia, one of the 200+ people charged and indicted after police surrounded and mass-arrested everyone in the vicinity of the antifascist ‘black bloc’ march during Trump’s inauguration on January 20.

In February a federal grand jury returned an indictment on counts of Felony Riot, with sentences of up to ten years, for 214 individuals swept up in the kettle. On April 27, a new superseding indictment was issued, adding several more felony charges to all defendants, with many now facing potential sentences of up to 80 years.

The indictments generally do not refer to individual defendants but refer to the collective guilt of those who chose to engage in an anarchist protest, at times citing protest chants, or black clothing, as evidence of a “conspiracy.”

Last week, the American Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit against DC police over constitutional violations, physical and sexual abuse, and other violations carried out by DC and US federal authorities during the mass arrest.

Trouble #4: No Justice… Just Us: Movement Defense Against State Repression

From subMedia:

SUBMEDIA VIDEO

The struggle for a new, better world is not for the faint of heart. Movements of collective liberation, if they are effective, will inevitably face repression. The institutional pillars of domination and exploitation are well-entrenched in society, well-versed in manipulation, and utterly ruthless in their efforts to crush any and all threats to their legitimacy. At this critical juncture in history, our movements are confronted by incredibly powerful enemies, who use a variety of sophisticated methods to discredit, disrupt and deter resistance. Far-right populist movements, goaded on by corporate fear-mongering and neo-fascist propaganda, are increasingly resorting to violent vigilante attacks against their perceived enemies. And as if this wasn’t enough… standing firmly behind these new reactionary movements lies the naked power of the state – namely its heavily-militarized police, racist legal system and vast network of prisons. Yet despite this terrifying political atmosphere, our movements continue to grow. Our future success and growth demands that we develop the capacity to anticipate the strategies and tactics that the state will use against us, build our own infrastructure to defend against these attacks, and incorporate meaningful solidarity and collective defence into all facets of our organizing. In this month’s episode of Trouble, anarchist media collective subMedia interviews a number of individuals engaged in legal defence and prisoner solidarity, and looks at some of the ways we can begin to build movements that are more resiliant in the face of state repression.

Check out the Tilted Scales collective’s book: The Tilted Guide to Being a Defendant

To support the J20 Defendants, click here

To donate to the Water Protectors Legal Collective, click here

PRESS RELEASE JUNE 21; ACLU Lawsuit Against MPD, D.C. Police Chief Newsham for Excessive Force, Invasive Bodily Searches

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

June 21, 2017

CONTACT: media@acludc.org

WASHINGTON – The American Civil Liberties Union of the District of Columbia today filed a lawsuit against the District of Columbia, Metropolitan Police Department officers, and D.C. Police Chief Peter Newsham for making unconstitutional arrests, using excessive force, denying arrested people food, water, and access to toilets, and invasive bodily searches of protesters exercising their First Amendment rights on Inauguration Day.

The lawsuit was filed on behalf of a legal observer, a photojournalist, and two others arrested that day.

While the overwhelming majority of Inauguration Day protesters demonstrated peacefully, a small number caused property damage. In response to the vandalism, MPD officers employed a controversial crowd-control tactic known as “kettling,” where officers corralled more than 200 protesters—including many who had broken no laws—by trapping and detaining them for several hours before formally arresting them. Officers also deployed nonlethal crowd-control devices—including pepper spray, tear gas, flash-bang grenades, concussion grenades, and smoke flares—upon protesters and others both on the street and inside the kettle, without warning or threat of harm to officers or other members of the public.

The complaint filed by the ACLU-DC also outlines incidents in which MPD officers handcuffed detained individuals so tightly as to cause injury and subjected some individuals to unlawful manual rectal probing.

“The MPD’s extreme tactics against members of the public, including journalists, demonstrators, and observers, were unjustifiable and unconstitutional,” said Scott Michelman, senior staff attorney for the ACLU-DC. “People from all over the country come to the nation’s capital to exercise their constitutional right to protest. MPD’s wanton and vindictive conduct on January 20 chills free speech, which is a vital part of our democracy.”

The ACLU-DC’s lawsuit, filed in federal district court in Washington, seeks monetary compensation for the four individuals in an amount to be determined by a jury.

Among the plaintiffs in today’s case are New York resident Shay Horse, who was covering the protests as a photojournalist, and Baltimore resident Elizabeth Lagesse, an activist who travelled to D.C. to peacefully protest President Trump’s inauguration. An MPD officer witnessed Horse taking photos to document the protest, then pepper-sprayed him. Lagesse did not participate in any acts of vandalism whatsoever. Both Horse and Lagesse were kettled and subjected to pepper spray, tear gas, and painful handcuffing, and they were denied food, water, and bathroom access for several hours.

The ACLU-DC also represents D.C. resident Judah Ariel, a legal observer whose neon-green hat clearly marked him as an observer and who was monitoring the conditions of the people trapped in the kettle when he was pepper-sprayed by MPD officers without warning or justification.

The ACLU-DC is also seeking damages on behalf of Horse and fellow detainee Milo Gonzalez, who were subjected to invasive manual rectal probe searches while in police custody.

“I’ve been documenting protests for years and I’ve never seen police act like this in America in such an open, blatant way in broad daylight,” Horse said. “So many of us suffered tremendously just for exercising our First Amendment rights to cover the demonstrations or participate in them. With this lawsuit, I want to stand up for all the protestors who were abused and bullied and assaulted and molested.”

In addition to the constitutional claims under the First, Fourth, and Fifth Amendments, the lawsuit charges MPD violated D.C.’s First Amendment Assemblies Act. That act specifies that tactics that “substantially encircle” protesters are unlawful unless police have probable cause to believe protesters “have committed unlawful acts” and “police have ability to identify those individuals.” The lawsuit also raises claims for assault and battery and false arrest, among others.

The lawsuit is titled Horse v. District of Columbia. The complaint can be found here.

Video Panel Discussion: The RNC 8, Standing Rock, and J20 Cases

From Crimethinc:

Crimethinc Video

This is our second live video presentation about how to respond to the wave of repression sweeping the United States, with outrageous charges being brought against arrestees from Standing Rock, Trump’s inauguration, and more. This panel includes a defendant from the conspiracy case that followed the protests against the 2008 Republican National Convention and legal support workers responding to the repression of Standing Rock and J20 defendants. They discuss how to survive a politically motivated court case, how to organize a collective strategy against outrageous charges, how to engage with the criminal legal system as radicals, and other important questions facing current and future defendants. View the video here on this page or via facebook.com/CrimethIncDotCom.

Fighting State Repression: An Overview of the J20 Prosecution

Reposted from Crimethinc.com

DCLP Crimethinc Presentation

NLG Denounces Politically Motivated Superceding Indictment in DC Inauguration Felony Cases

NLG Denounces Politically Motivated Superseding Indictment in DC Inauguration Felony Cases Posted on May 2, 2017 by Communications Director

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

May 2, 2017

Contact: Jude Ortiz, NLG Mass Defense Committee Chair
612-466-0770
jude.ortiz@riseup.net

NEW YORK—The National Lawyers Guild (NLG) decries US Attorney Channing Phillips’ recently filed superseding indictment against hundreds of people indiscriminately rounded up and arrested on President Trump’s inauguration date, January 20. After the Washington, DC police “kettled” protesters, journalists, bystanders and legal observers, leaving them on the streets for hours without water or restrooms, the police conducted a mass arrest in violation of their policy for handling protests. The prosecutors then furthered this draconian attack against protesters and others by charging more than 200 people with felony charges for allegedly inciting a riot.

In court Friday, a group of defendants who were scheduled to attend status hearings were instead re-indicted on the superseding indictment, including new felony charges for “conspiracy to riot” and “assault on a police officer while armed.” Three additional people were indicted for the first time under the superseding indictment, including one who was the target of a destructive police raid in Washington, DC a few weeks ago.

As a progressive bar association active for the last 80 years, the NLG is all too familiar with the government’s use of politically motivated charges to punish dissent and target activists who take the streets in resistance of oppression. In particular, the NLG has seen prosecutors across the county use conspiracy charges to target and repress communities ranging from leftist activists at political gatherings to Arab Muslims in their mosques and community centers. Conspiracy charges are one of the government’s preferred tools of repression, although by no means the only one.

The NLG condemns the ongoing prosecution against the activists and others arrested and targeted by the government in relation to the alleged incidents of January 20. The NLG calls on the US Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia to immediately drop the charges against all the defendants. The NLG also calls on all people of good conscience and other legal organizations to endorse endorse the call to drop these charges.

The National Lawyers Guild, whose membership includes lawyers, legal workers, jailhouse lawyers, and law students, was formed in 1937 as the United States’ first racially-integrated bar association to advocate for the protection of constitutional, human and civil rights.


Related:

2/2/17 NLG Calls on DC Prosecutors to Drop All Charges against J20 Demonstrators, Legal Observers and Journalists

1/23/17 Lawsuit Challenges DC Police Dept’s Unlawful Use of Chemical & “Less Lethal” Weapons, Felony Riot Charges on J20

New Blanket Felony Charges Pressed against J20 Arrestees

This is reposted from Crimethinc:

On January 20, when downtown Washington, DC was crowded with massive protests against Trump’s inauguration, police cordoned off an entire city block and mass arrested over two hundred people, slapping the same charge of felony riot indiscriminately on every one of them.

On April 27, the prosecution filed a superseding indictment adding several more felony charges to each of these defendants: inciting to riot, rioting, conspiracy to riot, and destruction of property. About half of the defendants are also charged with the same count of assault on a police officer. This is punitive charging: the intention is clearly to terrorize the defendants into taking plea deals so that these inflated charges will never come to trial.

Adding additional felony charges to hundreds of defendants rounded up in a mass arrest is unprecedented in the contemporary US legal system. It marks a dramatic escalation in the repression of protest in this country. Essentially, over two hundred people swept up for being in the vicinity of a confrontational protest are being accused of breaking the same handful of windows.

Imagine if everyone in the vicinity of an Occupy or Black Lives Matter demonstration at which a little property destruction took place had been charged with eight felonies. Thousands of people would have charges now. If the prosecution is able to set this precedent for blanket intimidation and collective punishment, it will mark a significant step in the rise of tyranny.

This case is of concern not only for the hundreds who face these charges, but to the tens of thousands who might face similarly indiscriminate prosecution if the prosecution is able to set this example.

Please print out these handbills and spread the word.

Download handbills here

Donate to support arrestees

Defend J20 site

For more information…

March 29 Update from Dead City Legal Posse

This is reposted from the Dead City Legal Posse:

Comrades,

It’s been a busy week: we testified against the very bad interim police chief who ordered the mass arrests on J20, saw the first plea deal get taken (deep breath: it actually matters very little in this case, which we’ll explain), and learned current schedule for groupings. We’re going to review all that, plus do some housekeeping. And, once more with feeling: none of the following is legal advice. We are not lawyers.

Travel Reimbursements

We are able to reimburse defendants for their travel to and from DC. You must save your receipts to receive reimbursement. This includes receipts for gas and tolls. To submit a reimbursement request, fill out the DCLP Travel Reimbursement Form and email your receipts to reimbursements [at] dclegalposse.org. We are happy to answer any questions about reimbursements and travel at that email address as well.

Groupings

You can skip this section if you read last week’s update. It’s a repeat for those who did not:

The most significant development was that the government prosecutor, Kerkhoff, submitted her proposed “case groupings” to Leibovitz: Group 1, Group 2, Group 3, and Group 4. Leibovitz has yet to accept Kerkhoff’s proposed groupings, which vary in size from 12 to 138. Additionally, Leibovitz instructed Kerkhoff that she wanted 6 person trials, because it would be too burdensome on the jury to hear more than 6 cases at a time. Kerkhoff was resistant to this and said she would put a response in writing about why her grouping system is important particularly regarding Groups 1 and 2. There are different options for how to respond to the grouping system that you should inquire about and discuss with your attorney.

The basics seem to be that Kerkhoff is making plea offers, at discovery conferences, to defendants in Group 3 and Group 4, which include a misdemeanor charge reduction and require an allocution (or statement of facts), but do not require cooperation (which means that these pleas include a non-cooperation clause).

What was less clear at this point were Kerkhoff’s intentions with regard to plea offers to defendants in Group 1 (and potentially Group 2). We are not sure, obviously, if this means that those plea offers with not include the misdemeanor charge reduction(s), or if they will seek to require cooperation (meaning they would not include a non-cooperation clause). This is potentially alarming news, but folks should remain calm and strategic in their thinking. Contact your attorneys to discuss your specific situation (and the degree to which this update reflects your circumstances).

Groupings Schedule

The numbering of the groupings corresponds to the order of status hearings and trials. You will receive notice of hearing dates both in the mail and from your attorney. We’re not publishing it here for your safety: email us if you want to get on our update list: info [at] dclegalposse.org.

At Friday’s round of status hearings on 3/24, every defendant who showed up was told that they did not actually have to be there. If you have an upcoming hearing before April 20th, no matter which grouping you are in, please check with your lawyer and confirm whether you must be there. It’s very possible you will not need to come. On Friday, the court stated that attempts had been made to communicate this to defendants’ respective attorneys. The court said they had sent e-mails and some lawyers simply misunderstood or never got the e-mails.

We’re also working on meeting with defendants in a safe, non-court space either the night before hearings, or immediately after the hearings. Timing would depend on when folks are meeting with their lawyers. We wouldn’t be able to discuss legal strategy or speculate on case theories with you, but we can set up the interaction and talk about what support we’re providing, what support is needed, and give you all the space to talk. Though, another important note: no conversations with fellow defendants or support are privileged or protected like your conversations with your lawyer are.

The Great Plea Deal Caper You May Have Already Heard About

Here’s the deal: this is unfortunate but we don’t think it has much bearing on anyone else’s cases. The plea deal that was accepted on Friday by one (1) defendant was both a bad deal and irrelevant to everyone else’s cases. The defendant who took the plea deal was sentenced under the Youth Rehabilitation Act (D.C. Code §§ 24-901 to 906), which allows for a young person who “will derive benefit” to get special treatment under the law. Said defendant in this case is 18 and about to start college in the fall, and was accompanied the whole time by their parents. They pled guilty to one count of misdemeanor rioting or inciting to riot, a suspended 180-day sentence, 1 year of supervised probation, a $500 fine, and 50 hours of community service.

There was no discussion of cooperation, and we have no evidence of the defendant cooperating. We suspect the prosecution had no identification of the defendant beyond the fact of his presence (as evidenced by his arrest). Where it gets interesting is after the plea deal was accepted, when the prosecutor is required to say what the government “would have been able to prove,” they claim they could have proven that said defendant:

  • Joined a black bloc with 200 other people.
  • Marched with the black bloc for 30 minutes.
  • Had multiple opportunities to leave and did not.
  • Wore black and goggles.
  • “Knew or reasonably should have known that the black bloc was causing destruction.” (yes, direct quote)
  • “The actions of the black bloc caused and constituted a riot.”

The defendant was in Grouping 4. That, above, is literally all they had on him. As one of our wonderful NYC defendants said, “This was a terrible plea … the burden of proof is high and the evidence is very weak.” (See above!). “Keep in mind that because they gave us super exaggerated charges, it makes their lives so much harder. It gives them leverage with pleas, as in they can offer you something slightly less insane, but it makes the actual going to trial thing much much harder for them as they have to prove something way more intense. If you go to trial, you’ll be on trial for your charge, not the best plea. Which is to say if they offer you misdemeanor disorderly conduct or something, no jail no fine 12 hours community service and you say no, they still have to prove that you were engaged in felony riot, not disorderly conduct.”

We’re not saying this is legal advice, because we’re not lawyers and neither is this defendant, but, and we quote: “The state has a terrible case. They want you to plead because they won’t be able to convict you. That is how this works.”

Discovery

Discovery has not exactly proceeded very quickly. We have a summary of this lovely exchange between Judge Leibovitz and the prosecutor, Kerkhoff, to offer: the judge asked if she had extended the same plea deal (or any other plea deals) to any other defendants. Kerkhoff demurred and prevaricated: she started to say that yes other plea deals had been offered but then simply said that pleas will be discussed with those attorneys with whom she has had in-person discovery conferences. The usual line of discourse followed (as shown by this loose court reporting):

Leibovitz: With whom have you had discovery conferences?

Kerkhoff: A lot of people. Not that many. None. I’ll get to it when I can. There’s a schedule. These people will get their chance eventually. I swear.

Leibovitz: Okay great, well obviously y’all are on it and hey attorneys who keep asking about it, I am going to give the government time to finish up and really give them a wide berth on other motions and rulings because I want them to have all the time they need to do the discovery, but I’m going to say this in a way that convinces any random journalist who shows up for the first time in a month that what I’m actually doing is STERNLY INSISTING that Kerkhoff really put her nose to the ol’ grindstone on this.

This conversation has more or less been unchanged for more than a month.

Housing

As you can see by the groupings schedule above, it is going to be fun finding housing for everyone coming into town on those days. If you need housing for one of the above dates, please email us! We are confident that we can house all of you, but we need to know in advance: housing [at] dclegalposse.org. If you are planning to reach out to someone who hosted you previously, please cc us on the email, or email us once you’ve confirmed with them.

Newsham Hearing

On Friday, four members of the Dead City Legal Posse testified against the appointment of Peter Newsham as police chief. He’s the one who ordered the arrests on J20, and infamously cost the city $13 million in a lawsuit filed against him after the 2002 Pershing Park arrests.

Media Coverage

We’ve got a Facebook and a Twitter: follow us! We post cool things, like news of the new lawsuit filed against DC MPD over Inauguration Day by the Partnership for Civil Justice (their executive director also testified against Peter Newsham). There’s also this piece from Evan Engel, one of the journalists arrested in the kettle, on why he left Vocativ, his former employer. He wrote about the J20 arrests for the Freedom of the Press Foundation.

Going Forward

If you are reading this on our website, and you would rather receive it in your inbox, please email info [at] dclegalposse.org. Thanks y’all.

Love and solidarity,

The Dead City Legal Posse

Learning As We Go:

An Interview with a J20 Defendant

ItsGoingDown

March 20 Update from Dead City Legal Posse

This is reposted from the Dead City Legal Posse:

Comrades,

It’s been a busy week, and several significant things have already happened—you may have already seen the two motions that were shared, about grouping cases and cell phone data. In this update we’re going to attempt to provide some context for what happened in court on Friday where those motions were presented for the first time, in addition to some updates on CJA contribution options, attorneys, the schedule, a crucial reminder that court is not a safe space: you are in the company of prosecutors, U.S. marshals, cops, and other assorted people you do not want knowing your business. When you’re in court, even in the bathroom, or the hallway, you must act and speak as though you are being surveilled, because you are.

You’ve heard this before, but we’re stressing again: none of the following is legal advice. We are not lawyers. Sorry about the length of this email: a lot happened, and information is power.

CJA Contributions

Several lawyers have requested that their clients be re-interviewed regarding their CJA contributions. In court on Friday, Leibovitz indicated that she would be accepting motions filed for defendants seeking to be re-evaluated for contribution by CJA. This is good news because it could decrease your financial contribution to your appointed counsel, and it has already proven successful in at least one case. If this is relevant to you, ask your lawyer whether they will file a motion to be re-evaluated/re-interviewed for your CJA contribution. If they are, email us so that we can give you more information.

Attorney Update

Prior to Friday, the most significant thing we learned from the litany of court dates was about attorney qualifications. Judge Leibovitz confirmed that she has been screening all of the attorneys that she has been appointing in this case for felony experience (which is not always required of CJA panel attorneys). This is good news because it means that all appointed attorneys will be technically qualified to handle felony trials. Hopefully many of you are satisfied with your attorneys—those who aren’t should still make that fact known (along with the rationale for your dissatisfaction).

The Dead City Legal Posse is also actively seeking lawyers with extensive criminal defense experience who would be willing to take on cases pro bono. We are somewhat limited by the fact that many firms who we would contact are already on this case, but there are ways to use out-of-town counsel (who are not necessarily barred in DC). If you have connections to any criminal defense lawyers in the Northeast, Mid-Atlantic, or Chicago, please let us know. We are ready to reach out.

Court Update

This next section is intended to serve as a bit of an update on recent in-court developments. None of the detail included herein is intended as legal advice, nor is it case-specific to any named defendant. The reason for this intentionally generalized update is that none of this information is veiled by attorney-client privilege. Because it isn’t private or protected, we will not risk jeopardizing any named defendant by sharing the specifics of their case. That is a choice for individuals to make in conjunction with their attorneys (and loved ones).

As many of you already know, there was a group of felony arraignments and re-arraignments on Friday, which were much the same as the many felony arraignments that have come before. People who were not previously arraigned under the superseding indictment were.
Groupings & Pleas

The most significant development was that the government prosecutor, Kerkhoff, submitted her proposed “case groupings” to Leibovitz: Group 1, Group 2, Group 3, and Group 4. Leibovitz has yet to accept Kerkhoff’s proposed groupings, which vary in size from 12 to 138. Additionally, Leibovitz instructed Kerkhoff that she wanted 6 person trials, because it would be too burdensome on the jury to hear more than 6 cases at a time. Kerkhoff was resistant to this and said she would put a response in writing about why her grouping system is important particularly regarding Groups 1 and 2. There are different options for how to respond to the grouping system that you should inquire about and discuss with your attorney.

The other significant development was that Kerkhoff and Leibovitz had their first substantive exchange about Kerkhoff’s plea offer plans. One person’s counsel acknowledged, in open court, that their client had been offered a plea, which was now under consideration. That person’s name and specifics will not be shared here, out of an abundance of caution for their case. Instead, an explanation follows of the exchange between Kerkhoff and Leibovitz.

The basics seem to be that Kerkhoff is making plea offers, at discovery conferences, to defendants in Group 3 and Group 4, which include a misdemeanor charge reduction and require an allocution (or statement of facts), but do not require cooperation (which means that these pleas include a non-cooperation clause).

What was less clear at this point were Kerkhoff’s intentions with regard to plea offers to defendants in Group 1 (and potentially Group 2). We are not sure, obviously, if this means that those plea offers with not include the misdemeanor charge reduction(s), or if they will seek to require cooperation (meaning they would not include a non-cooperation clause). This is potentially alarming news, but folks should remain calm and strategic in their thinking. Contact your attorneys to discuss your specific situation (and the degree to which this update reflects your circumstances).

Schedule for Groupings

The numbering of the groupings corresponds to the order of status hearings and trials. Although a certain set of dates were announced on Friday with regard to those groupings, the court docket does not appear to reflect that yet. The most reliable source for status hearing dates will always be your lawyer, and the notice mailed to you by the government. If and when the court dates become solidified by grouping, we will send another update.

According to Kerkhoff, discovery for Groups 1 and 2 will be available in 2 weeks. Group 3 will be ready in a week and a half. Nothing was said about Group 4. However, attorneys must contact Kerkhoff to schedule a discovery conference wherein she is supposed to be pointing to individualized evidence. If she continues to fail to provide evidence attorneys will likely continue to sustain and file pre-trial motions requesting relevant discovery such as Bill of Particulars, Rosser Letters etc.

Motions

The last two generalized developments that were significant on Friday were both related to motions. You should also check with your attorney to see if you are impacted by these motion developments. Firstly, there are a several different conflicts that have been asserted by attorneys. Kerkhoff has committed to responding in writing (by Omnibus motion) to a specific subset of these motions by the 24th (this Friday).

Secondly, the government issued a motion for a protective order regarding the collection of cell phone data. Cell phones will be used as evidence, which we anticipated. Kerkhoff has requested in her motion that attorneys be restricted to sharing only “relevant data” to clients’ cases with them. It’s important to note, though, that neither of these motions have been granted yet by Leibovitz. Kerkhoff filed them in court on Friday, but Leibovitz has yet to grant either the groupings motion or the protective order regarding cell phones.

Media Coverage

In case you missed it, Buzzfeed wrote a surprisingly in-depth article on the case, and the Washington Post provided an update as well.

Going Forward

Again, this is not legal advice, nor is it privileged or specific to anyone, nor is it an admission by anyone of anything, nor is necessarily an accurate description of the case specifics being faced by any specific individual. We’re hoping to empower you through information on both what has happened and what to expect. We will be sending out another update next weekend with the results of Kerkhoff’s response to the conflicts motion, above, along with anything else that comes up.

Please also remember, as we said at the beginning, that court is not a safe space and you should speak and act as though you are under state surveillance. We’ve amped up our physical presence in court, and will have people there for every hearing this week—both before and afterwards. Look for the DC Legal Posse badges.

If you need anything, or have any questions, you can contact us as ever. And if you need housing for any upcoming court date, please try to ask a week in advance!

Love and solidarity,
The Dead City Legal Posse