PRESS RELEASE - Judge Dismisses s"Inciting a Riot" Charge against All Six Defendants in First Inauguration Day Protest Trial

Defend J20 Resistance
For Immediate Release: December 14, 2017

Contact:
Sam Menefee-Libey of DC Legal Posse : 909.576.3113 / sml47@protonmail.com
Kris Hermes of Defend J20 Resistance 510-681-6361 or krishermes@earthlink.net

Judge Dismisses "Inciting a Riot" Charge against All Six Defendants in First Inauguration Day Protest Trial


Prosecution and defense rest, closing arguments scheduled for 10am Thursday in widely watched trial


Washington, DC – Yesterday, DC Superior Court Judge Lynn Leibovitz dismissed the felony charge of inciting a riot against six defendants currently on trial in a widely watched case involving 194 people arrested at Inauguration Day protests on January 20. Defendants Jennifer Armento, Oliver Harris, Britt Lawson, Michelle “Miel” Macchio, Christina Simmons, and Alexei Wood are being tried on five felonies and two misdemeanors stemming from a mass arrest orchestrated by the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD). Each defendant is still facing more than 50 years in prison if convicted.

“The dismissal of a felony charge against these trial defendants is a victory and shows the weakness of the federal government’s prosecution,” said Betty Rothstein of Defend J20 Resistance. “But, it’s important to recognize that these defendants, along with nearly 200 others, are still facing serious felony charges and still need our support.” Yesterday’s dismissal on a singular charge does not apply to any of the defendants set to go to trial next year.

The prosecution rested its case on Tuesday after calling more than two dozen witnesses and showing extensive video footage of the same broken windows again and again, yet admitting that none of the defendants personally engaged in property destruction.

On Wednesday, in a customary trial proceeding called a Motion for Judgment of Acquittal, Judge Leibovitz characterized the role of “street medic” as aiding and abetting the alleged riot. Further, Leibovitz claimed that by providing such a service to protesters, street medics are considered “co-conspirators,” establishing a dangerous precedent for an important role at mass protests. Two trial defendants, Britt Lawson and Miel Macchio, have been identified by the prosecution as street medics.

Judge Leibovitz also claimed Wednesday that a person’s “mere presence” at the anti-Trump march was “aiding in the riot” and that covering one’s face is something “greater than mere expression,” despite masks being ubiquitously used for political reasons as well as a guard against alt-right harassment.

In the same trial proceeding, livestreamer Alexei Wood was accused of trying to “recruit” viewers to join what Judge Leibovitz is calling a riot, alleging that shouting out and narrating what was happening to his viewers constituted “aiding and abetting.” All this despite the presence of other journalists who were broadcasting live coverage but are not being prosecuted. For instance, right wing livestreamer Lauren Southern was allowed by police to leave the area, whereas Wood and another journalist, Aaron Cantu, are still being prosecuted.

Earlier in the week, MPD Detective Greggory Pemberton testified on Monday how he’s worked full-time since Inauguration Day to build a case against the roughly 200 people being prosecuted. Notably, the evidence gathered by Pemberton includes video footage from right wing groups like Project Veritas, Rebel Media, Oath Keepers, and Media Research Center, whose “sole mission is to expose and neutralize the propaganda arm of the Left.”

On Friday, media outlet Unicorn Riot posted a screenshot from Pemberton’s twitter indicating that he followed /pol/ News Network, a white supremacist news-sharing platform, causing Pemberton to lock his Twitter account. Pemberton’s twitter was also found to contain tweets and retweets promoting far-right conspiracy theories, including a tweet that suggested “police shootings of unarmed black youth” was a funded “myth.”

On cross-examination, Pemberton admitted Tuesday that he also follows white nationalist media outlet Breitbart News Network and far-right Project Veritas founder James O’Keefe, all pointing to a bias against the defendants on trial. Pemberton was also questioned about a 2016 interview with right wing media outlet One America News Network about which presidential candidate would get endorsed by the Fraternal Order of Police, during which he speaks favorably of Trump’s law-and-order policy platform.

Closing arguments in the trial are scheduled to begin on Thursday at 10am, followed by jury instructions and deliberations which could extend into next week.

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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.

PRESS RELEASE - Trials in Widely Watched Inauguration Day Protest Case Enter Fourth Week, Still Shy of Evidence

Defend J20 Resistance
For Immediate Release: December 7, 2017

Contact:
Sam Menefee-Libey of DC Legal Posse : 909.576.3113 / sml47@protonmail.com
Jude Ortiz of Defend J20 Resistance 612-466-0770 or jude.ortiz@riseup.net

Trials in Widely Watched Inauguration Day Protest Case Enter Fourth Week, Still Shy of Evidence


DC police commander claims protesters were put on notice of arrest by sirens, lights, use of pepper spray


Washington, DC – Trials entered their fourth week yesterday for six of the 194 defendants arrested on January 20, 2017, Inauguration Day, in a widely watched political trial. Defendants Jennifer Armento, Oliver Harris, Britt Lawson, Michelle “Miel” Macchio, Christina Simmons, and Alexei Wood are being tried on riot-related felonies and misdemeanors and each face more than 60 years in prison if convicted.

Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) Commander Keith Deville continued his cross-examination this week, followed by other law enforcement, including the testimony of MPD Lead Detective Greggory Pemberton on Tuesday and Wednesday.

Commander Deville testified Monday that protesters were put on notice of arrest shortly after the anti-capitalist and anti-fascist march started, despite earlier testimony on November 30 that people were “free to leave” as close as three blocks away from where they were entrapped. Remarkably, Deville said protesters should have known “with the police presence, with the sirens, with the lights, with the use of pepper spray” that they were “going to be stopped and detained by police.”

Assistant US Attorney Jennifer Kerkhoff has emphasized Commander Deville’s announcement over the police radio that day, characterizing the entire group as engaging in “riotous behavior.” But, on Monday, Deville told Macchio’s attorney Jamie Heine on cross-examination that there was actually a smaller “core group,” indicating a shifting and ambiguous definition of what constitutes and riot and who, in particular, was allegedly engaged in rioting.

Deville was also cross-examined about a lawsuit filed in June by the American Civil Liberties Union of DC against the District of Columbia, MPD and Police Chief Peter Newsham for “making unconstitutional arrests,” and “excessive force” by police, including the misuse of chemical weapons. Deville was forced to admit to Harris’s attorney Steven McCool on cross-examination that criminal convictions in this case might limit the civil liability of police, thereby giving Deville a motive to push for convictions.

On Tuesday, MPD Patrol Officer Michael Howden from the 7th District was asked about comments he had made while entrapping protesters on Inauguration Day at 12th and L Streets. Howden’s comments were caught on his own body-worn camera footage, which was replayed in court for the jury. “I’m fairly accustomed to that sort of rioting,” said Howden to another officer. “Herding people through Barry Farm when they’re rioting, when they’re out of control.” Howden was referring to a housing project in his district where MPD’s use of “aggressive stop-and-frisk searches of civilians has drawn public scorn and official sanction in recent years,” according to Think Progress.

Det. Pemberton began his direct examination Tuesday and continued into Wednesday. Pemberton has worked full time since January 21st to review and compile video, photographic, phone and other physical evidence, indicating the level of time and cost for the federal government to prosecute and try these politically motivated cases. With Kerkhoff’s prompting, Pemberton identified defendants sitting in court then laboriously pointed out similarities in articles of clothing and other items allegedly carried by the defendants with individuals shown on large poster boards, and in video footage and PowerPoint presentations.

“The federal government is inundating the jury with video footage of the same broken windows in order to obscure the fact they have failed to present a compelling case to the jury,” said Kris Hermes of Defend J20 Resistance. “It’s indefensible for the Trump administration to spend millions of dollars to try nearly 200 people on several felonies for property damage that doesn’t even amount to $50,000.”

After federal prosecutor Kerkhoff announced in court yesterday that the government would likely conclude its case this Monday, defense attorneys indicated that they would need approximately three days for their case. DC Superior Court Judge Lynn Leibovitz informed the jury that she expected they would begin deliberations by Monday, December 18.

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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.

PRESS RELEASE DEC. 4 - DC Police Commander Questioned on Use of Force against Inauguration Day Defendants in Widely Watched Felony Trial

PRESS RELEASE

Defend J20 Resistance
For Immediate Release: December 4, 2017

Contact:
Sam Menefee-Libey of DC Legal Posse : 909.576.3113 / sml47@protonmail.com
Kris Hermes of Defend J20 Resistance 510-681-6361 or krishermes@earthlink.net

DC Police Commander Questioned on Use of Force against Inauguration Day Defendants in Widely Watched Felony Trial

Police failed to issue dispersal orders, admitted to use of chemical, projectile weapons despite lack of danger to public

Washington, DC – Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) Commander Keith Deville testified for the third day Monday in a widely watched political trial for six of 194 people facing serious felony and misdemeanor charges from Inauguration Day protests on January 20, 2017. Defendants Jennifer Armento, Oliver Harris, Brittne Lawson, Michelle “Miel” Macchio, Christina Simmons, and Alexei Wood are being tried on riot-related charges and face more than 60 years in prison if convicted.

Deville, who works in the MPD Homeland Security Bureau and was in charge of the Civil Disturbance Units (CDUs) during the Inauguration weekend, was questioned about when and how he ordered MPD officers to “kettle,” or trap and arrest, protesters that day. Deville was also questioned about the unannounced deployment of chemical and projectile weapons used to “disrupt” and “disorient” the group leading up to the mass arrest of more than 230 protesters, journalists, medics, legal observers and bystanders.

In apparent violation of the MPD Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) for Handling First Amendment Assemblies and Mass Demonstrations, Commander Deville admitted he failed to “identify and make contact with the group organizers” in order to determine their plans for the demonstration. On cross-examination Thursday, Deville also admitted failing to instruct MPD officers to give dispersal orders despite the SOP requiring it even for unplanned civil disturbances. Deville told the jury on Thursday that he was part of a 2003 committee that modified the SOP policies, and that he taught them to police personnel.

Commander Deville said there were at least 10 large vans full of MPD officers, many outfitted in “riot gear,” deployed in advance of the anti-capitalist, anti-fascist march that day, as well as numerous CDU officers on motorcycles and bicycles, Deville claimed an inability to get in front of the march or to arrest people on individualized probable cause.

 

Commander Deville repeatedly claimed that police showed “enormous restraint,” yet he approved the wanton use of chemical and projectile weapons against protesters in an area of downtown Deville defined as “the footprint of capitalism.” Body worn camera videos showed officers unloading copious amounts of pepper spray using large MK-46 dispensers, referred to by police as “Super Soakers.” Deville admitted on cross-examination Thursday that his officers deployed pepper spray even though people in the march were not “endangering public safety or security,” an SOP requirement for the use of chemical weapons. Deville also approved the use of multiple “Stinger” grenades that propel smoke, rubber pellets and pepper spray in a 50-foot radius, which were thrown into the “kettled” crowd, causing several injuries to protesters.

“Not only has MPD Commander Deville failed to show any clear threat to police or public safety in order to justify the use of chemical and projectile weapons on Inauguration Day, he has also failed to provide any evidence of unlawful behavior by the defendants on trial,” said Jude Ortiz of Defend J20 Resistance. “Instead, Deville has focused on the political ideology of protesters as ‘anarchists,’ claiming the entire group was the threat that day.”

 

On Thursday, Harris’s attorney Steven McCool questioned Commander Deville about Internal Affairs Division (IAD) complaints and disciplinary sanctions he received related to his bias against Jewish people, as well as gay and transgender police personnel. Despite some of these complaints being upheld and entered into his personnel file, Deville refused to admit to any bias. Many of the protesters arrested on Inauguration Day are queer and trans.

 

The cross-examination of Commander Deville will continue Monday morning with the government’s case set to wrap up by Wednesday. The trial could continue through Monday, December 18, when another set of seven Inauguration Day defendants are scheduled to begin their trial on misdemeanor charges.

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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.

PRESS RELEASE NOV 30 - Federal Prosecutor in First Inauguration Day Trial Tries to Use Alt-Right Video as Evidence of Conspiracy

PRESS RELEASE Defend J20 Resistance For Immediate Release: November 30, 2017

Contact:
Sam Menefee-Libey of DC Legal Posse : 909.576.3113 / sml47@protonmail.com
Jude Ortiz of Defend J20 Resistance : 612.466.0770 / jude.ortiz@riseup.net

Federal Prosecutor in First Inauguration Day Trial Tries to Use Alt-Right Video as Evidence of Conspiracy

Project Veritas video shows Trump administration colluding with ultraconservative organizations to criminalize its political opposition

SuperiorCourt Officer Bryan Adelmeyer went undercover to investigate protest organizers and was present at the meeting filmed by Project Veritas.

Washington, DC – Trials entered their second week yesterday for six of the 194 defendants arrested on January 20, 2017, Inauguration Day, each facing six felony charges and two misdemeanors. This first trial group—out of more than 20 trial groups to be tried over the next year—includes defendants Jennifer Armento, Oliver Harris, Brittne Lawson, Michelle “Miel” Macchio, Christina Simmons, and Alexei Wood.

On Wednesday, Assistant US Attorney Jennifer Kerkhoff called to the stand Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) intelligence officer Bryan Adelmeyer, who infiltrated multiple protest planning meetings in advance of Inauguration Day. Adelmeyer authenticated video footage from a January 8 meeting, taken covertly by Project Veritas, the controversial “ultraconservative” group known for ethically dubious and deceptively edited sting operations against liberal and leftist groups.

Instead of the video depicting any of the defendants on trial, it showed a political organizing meeting for a public, planned anti-capitalist and anti-fascist march attended by about 300 people planning numerous other anti-Trump demonstrations throughout downtown DC. Cross-examination of Adelmeyer revealed that he signed an MPD contract to infiltrate “anti-establishment” groups engaged in First Amendment activity.

In response to cross-examination, Adelmeyer acknowledged that targeted groups included ones engaged in work such as racial and socio-economic justice, LGBTQ rights, climate change, “anti nazi-ism,” and anti-fascism. Adelmeyer testified that he did not focus on faces when infiltrating the meeting and acknowledged that people recorded on the video who were not identified could have been members of Project Veritas. Adelmeyer also admitted that Project Veritas is a right wing organization known for surreptitiously editing its video footage for political purposes.

“The Project Veritas video shows that the federal government is in collusion with ultraconservative organizations to criminalize its political opposition,” said Kris Hermes of Defend J20 Resistance. “The Trump administration is using these cases and serious felonies to disrupt political organizing and chill dissent.” The prosecution may also enter into evidence another video in its possession filmed by the far-right group Oath Keepers.

Adelmeyer was one of several police officers who have been called as prosecution witnesses, none of whom identified the defendants on trial as doing anything unlawful. Kerkhoff has also called several store managers and workers from businesses that sustained damage in the form of broken windows, none of whom testified about the defendants on trial.

On Wednesday, November 22, DC Superior Court Judge Lynn Leibovitz denied a motion to suppress some of the evidence based on a lack of probable cause. Leibovitz ruled that police had “particularized probable cause” against each defendant that justified to “kettling,” or trapping and detaining, more than 230 marchers just by virtue of their presence in the group at the time of arrest.

“There’s no way that police had particularized probable cause to mass arrest people,” said Hermes. “Prosecution witnesses have failed repeatedly to testify about the trial defendants doing anything related to the charges.” Prosecution witnesses also testified that dozens if not hundreds of protesters joined and left the march after its departure from Logan Circle, and that they had no knowledge of whether people joined or left the march at any point, calling into question the idea that being kettled and arrested is particularized probable cause for being arrested.

Notably, on Wednesday, November 28, Kerkhoff tried to insinuate through direct examination of MPD officer Kamil Rembiszewski that the limousine fire depicted by numerous mainstream media outlets had occurred during the march instead of hours later in the day. In order to avoid confusion, Judge Leibovitz interjected with a specific instruction for the jury. “You may have heard of news reports about a period later in the day that that same limousine was engulfed in flames,” said Judge Leibovitz, telling the jury to “disregard” any of those news reports or images.

The prosecution’s case is expected to last at least another week before the defense has a chance to put on its case. The trial is likely to last at least two more weeks, despite the next trial scheduled to begin on December 11.

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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.

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

For Immediate Release: November 14, 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 six defendants—Jennifer Armento, Oliver Harris, Britt Lawson, Michelle “Miel” Macchio, Christina Simmons, 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

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 a hearing yesterday, Assistant US Attorney Jennifer Kerkhoff reduced the charges against seven defendants scheduled for trial on December 11, 2017 to three misdemeanors: engaging in a riot, conspiracy to riot, and property destruction. The reduction of charges to misdemeanors for these defendants means that the trial will be held before Judge Leibovitz without an empanelled jury.

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. All but the seven defendants scheduled to be tried on December 11 are 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.

PRESS RELEASE: 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.

PRESS RELEASE: Judge Reduces Two Felony Charges to Misdemeanors in Cases Against Inauguration Day Defendants

For Immediate Release: November 1, 2017

Contact: Sam Menefee-Libey of DC Legal Posse sml47@protonmail.com or (909) 576-3113

Judge Reduces Two Felony Charges to Misdemeanors in Cases Against Inauguration Day Defendants

DC Superior Court Judge Lynn Leibovitz issued an order on Wednesday, November 1st reducing two of the felony counts against more than 190 Inauguration Day protestors headed to trial.

In an indictment issued in April, each of the more than 200 defendants at the time were charged with at least 8 felonies each–riot, inciting a riot, conspiracy to riot and multiple counts of property destruction. But, on Wednesday, Judge Leibovitz corrected the ‘engaging in riot’ and ‘conspiracy to riot’ charges by reducing them to misdemeanors. Each defendant is still facing as much as 60 years in prison.

“Judge Liebovtiz’ order highlights the absurdity of the prosecution’s efforts to fabricate charges that don’t exist under the statute,” said Sam Menefee-Libey of the DC Legal Posse. The judge concludes in the order that the plain reading of the law, in which there is no felony ‘engaging in’ or ‘conspiracy to riot’ statute is the correct one.

This is not the first time an element of the indictment has had to be revised by Judge Leibovitz. In July, at a hearing on multiple defense motions to dismiss the charges, Judge Leibovitz ruled that count 11 was founded on an inoperative version of the assault on a police officer statute. The inoperative version was replaced after grassroots pressure campaigns and investigative journalism shined a light on the abuse of the overly broad statute, and Assistant US Attorney Jennifer Kerkhoff attempted to use the widely criticized and outdated version.

The extreme nature of the indictment has been criticized from the very beginning by community leaders, civil liberties organizations, and defense attorneys alike. The indictment, in which the more than 200 people who were trapped, detained and mass-arrested are charged with at least 8 felonies each, is widely seen as an attempt to intimidate protestors and chill dissent.

The first seven trials of the more than 190 defendants going to trial are scheduled to begin November 15th at 9:30am.

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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.

PRESS RELEASE: Inauguration Day Defendants Go to Court Tuesday to Resist Gag Order on Evidence of Police Misconduct

MEDIA ADVISORY

Defend J20 Resistance

For Immediate Release: October 9, 2017

Contact: Sam Menefee-Libey of Dead City Legal Posse

sml47@protonmail.com or (909) 576-3113

Inauguration Day Defendants Go to Court Tuesday to Resist Gag Order on Evidence of Police Misconduct

Meanwhile $150,000 became available last week to begin investigating the police response to protests

Washington, DC – Defense attorneys for people arrested on Inauguration Day will go to court Tuesday to argue that defendants should be able to make public evidence obtained through discovery in their criminal cases. A hearing on the “protective order” will be held on Tuesday, October 10 at 11am in DC Superior Court before Judge Lynn Leibovitz.

An amicus “support” brief in opposition to the government’s protective order was filed on Friday by the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press and ten news media organizations including the Washington Post.

“The government doesn’t get to place a gag order on evidence that’s clearly in the public interest,” said Kris Hermes of Defense J20 Resistance. “The public needs to know that the police violently attacked hundreds of people on the streets that day and carried out the same kind of unlawful mass arrest that previously cost DC millions of dollars.”

What: Hearing on protective order that would seal evidence in Inauguration Day criminal cases

When: Tuesday, October 10, 2017 at 11am

Where: H. Carl Moultrie Courthouse, 500 Indiana Ave NW, Washington, DC

Trump Administration prosecutors are actively fighting to keep video footage and other evidence of police misconduct under wraps in what defendants and their supporters are calling an effort to avoid embarrassment and public condemnation.

Notably, Trump Administration prosecutors moved to seal the evidence soon after a story was published in June by The Indypendent, featuring previously unreleased police body camera footage that showed Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) officer brutalizing protesters.

On January 20, MPD violently attacked hundreds of protesters, journalists, legal observers, and bystanders with chemical and projectile weapons, then “kettled” more than 200 people before arresting everyone. All of those arrested were charged with felony rioting, followed in April by a superseding indictment that charged all defendants with at least eight felonies each, punishable by up to 75 years in prison.

Tuesday’s hearing comes just a week after $150,000 became available for an independent investigation into MPD misconduct on Inauguration Day. The move by the District Council to fund an investigation came after the Mayor’s Office of Police Complaints (OPC) issued a report in February criticizing the MPD for violating its own crowd control policy, as well as misuse of chemical agents, failure to provide proper dispersal orders, and making questionable arrests. The report recommended appointing an independent consultant to “investigate and examine all aspects of MPD’s actions on January 20, 2017.” Defendants, whose trials begin next month, are calling on the OPC to begin the investigation as soon as possible.

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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.

PRESS RELEASE: $150,000 Becomes Available for Investigation into Police Misconduct on Inauguration Day

PRESS RELEASE

Defend J20 Resistance

For Immediate Release: October 2, 2017

Contact: Sam Menefee-Libey of DC Legal Posse sml47@protonmail.com or (909) 576-3113

$150,000 Becomes Available for Investigation into Police Misconduct on Inauguration Day

Office of Police Complaints will oversee independent investigation as criminal trials begin in November

Washington, DC – With the new fiscal year beginning in the District of Columbia yesterday, $150,000 became available for a long-promised investigation into misconduct by the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) on inauguration day 2017.

On January 20, 2017, MPD violently attacked large crowds of people with chemical and projectile weapons, injuring many. Police unlawfully trapped and detained, or “kettled,” more than two hundred people, arresting protesters, journalists, medics, legal observers, and bystanders en masse.

The call for an investigation came after a report was issued in February by the Mayor’s Office of Police Complaints, criticizing the MPD for violating its own crowd control policy as well as its misuse of chemical agents, failure to provide proper dispersal orders, and making questionable arrests. The report recommended appointing an independent consultant to “investigate and examine all aspects of MPD’s actions on January 20, 2017.” Meanwhile, the US Attorney’s Office is continuing to prosecute 194 people on at least eight felony charges, with each defendant facing a sentence of more than 70 years in prison. Trials are scheduled to begin on November 20, 2017.

“It’s striking that the US Attorney would begin trying people arrested for protesting at Trump’s inauguration before fully investigating the violent and unlawful arrests by police,” said Kris Hermes of Defend J20 Resistance. “An independent investigation must begin as soon as possible so the facts of what happened on that day don’t get swept under the rug or ignored as people face the specter of decades in prison.”

Standing to gain considerably from keeping misconduct hidden from the public, the MPD and its chief Peter Newsham have proactively worked to conceal pertinent information. In March, after refusing to turn over documents related to the police response on inauguration day, Newsham and the MPD were sued by the Partnership for Civil Justice Fund, which claimed that police “are standing in willful disobedience of their lawful obligations to disclose information” even where such information disclosures are mandated by law.

This preoccupation with opacity was underscored in June when Assistant US Attorney Jennifer Kerkhoff filed for a gag order on video footage disclosed during discovery in the criminal cases, after media published police body camera footage showing MPD brutalizing demonstrators on inauguration day. The gag order was granted in July, but defendants are continuing to fight for the full disclosure of this evidence.

Funds for a police investigation are becoming available just a week after a new US Attorney for the District of Columbia took office. Jessie Liu, who will now oversee the prosecution against inauguration day defendants, is a Justice Department careerist and a former member of Trump’s transition team. Liu has already come under fire for being the only US Attorney nominee to meet with President Trump as part of her interview process, which experts and former US Attorneys say is virtually unheard of and “serves to undermine the rule of law.”

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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.

PRESS RELEASE: J20 Conspiracy Case Defendants and Supporters Condemn Intimidation of Organizers and Activists

CONTACT:

Sam Menefee-Libey (D.C. Legal Posse)
sml47@protonmail.com
http://www.dclegalposse.org
(909) 576-3113

PRESS RELEASE

Defend J20 Resistance and The Dead City Legal Posse

For Immediate Release: August 28, 2017

J20 Conspiracy Case Defendants and Supporters Condemn Intimidation of Organizers and Activists

_Judge’s ruling on government subpoena of “www.disruptj20.org” server host enables prosecutor’s “chilling effect” on activism

Washington, DC - Data Released to DOJ will have far reaching consequences on the organizing and resistance to the Trump agenda. Anyone who communicated with a political website, or organized under the name DisruptJ20 could be under investigation.

The subpoena will give the DC Police, Department of Justice, and numerous other federal agencies the information to broadly increase the amount of information on organizers in Washington, DC, and a database of people interested in attending and participating in an anti-Trump protest.

This request was made to assist the DOJ with the case they have been building against 230 people mass-arrested on Inauguration Day. The Dreamhost subpoena was intended to intimidate organizers of protests on Inauguration Day, particularly those added to the mass-arrest case.

The information the United States demanded from Dreamhost includes: emails to protest organizers, emails between protest organizers and the accounts used to create a website for a protest. This is the latest effort to criminalize political expression, as trials for protestors -charged with eight felonies are coming up later this year. Efforts to investigate the behavior of the DC Police have not yet begun, although 2018 budget money has been earmarked for these purposes.

The state has dropped the request for 1.3 million IP Addresses, Sam Menefee-Libey from the Dead City Legal Posse commented “they are still demanding every communication between individuals wanting to attend a protest and the organizers of said protest. This is an attack on political speech and the right to organize in Washington, DC, and will create a chilling affect for anyone who seeks to visit a politically dissident website.”

“Protesters and organizers should not have to live in fear. The fundamental right to organize is under attack,” said Dylan Petrohilos, a J20 defendant.

_**###**_

_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. _@defendj20

The Dead City Legal Posse is a collective of DC activists formed in response to the January 20, 2017 arrests and is working to provide support to those facing charges. www.dclegalposse.org. @dclegalposse

MEDIA ADVISORY JULY 26: DC Community Rallies Thursday as Lawyers Argue that Charges against Inauguration Day Protesters Should Be Dismissed

CONTACT:

Sam Menefee-Libey (Dead City Legal Posse)
sml47@protonmail.com
http://www.dclegalposse.org
(909) 576-3113

MEDIA ADVISORY

Defend J20 Resistance and The Dead City Legal Posse

For Immediate Release: July 26, 2017

DC Community Rallies Thursday as Lawyers Argue that Charges against Inauguration Day Protesters Should Be Dismissed

Hearing on motion to dismiss comes as groups demand US Attorney Channing Phillips drop the charges

Washington, DC – Defense attorneys for Inauguration Day protesters go to court on Thursday to argue that their charges should be dismissed. Oral arguments for a motion to dismiss will be heard by Judge Lynn Leibovitz this Thursday at 11am in the Superior Court of the District of Columbia. The motion was filed last month on behalf of more than twenty Inauguration Day protesters but now includes the vast majority of defendants currently facing charges.

What: Hearing on a motion to dismiss charges against Inauguration Day protesters

When: Thursday, July 27, 2017 at 11am

Where: H. Carl Moultrie Courthouse, 500 Indiana Ave NW, Washington, DC, Courtroom 215

Before the hearing, several local DC community organizations, including Stop Police Terror DC, and the DC chapters of The National Lawyers’ Guild, Black Lives Matter, Democratic Socialists of America, and the Industrial Workers of the World, will rally outside the courthouse demanding that the cases be dismissed. A press conference will be held by supporters at 10am Thursday in advance of the hearing outside of the H. Carl Moultrie Courthouse.

On January 20, Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) officers indiscriminately attacked hundreds of protesters, journalists, legal observers, and bystanders with chemical and projectile weapons, then “kettled “ more than 200 people before arresting everyone. All of those arrested were charged with felony rioting, followed in April by a superseding indictment that charged all defendants with at least eight felonies each, punishable by up to 75 years in prison.

“The Trump administration is suffering from a crisis of legitimacy which extends to the outrageous charges levied against all of us, “ said Elizabeth Lagesse, one of the Inauguration Day defendants who filed the motion to dismiss. “More than six months after we were rounded up and violently arrested, the government has failed to make its case but continues to waste the public’s money by maliciously prosecuting us. “

Defense attorneys will argue at Thursday’s hearing that the current indictment violates the Inauguration Day protesters’ constitutional rights and fails to establish a basis for the charges. According to the motion to dismiss, “The government’s unprecedented theory of non-individualized, ‘group’ criminal liability has produced an Indictment that is overrun with fatal defects.”

Defense attorneys will also argue Thursday for disclosure of the government’s legal instructions to the grand jury, which are typically secret and hidden from public scrutiny. Defense attorneys claim that the indictment issued in April “misconstrues the relevant law,” and accuse the government of “improperly instruct[ing] the grand jury on the law.”

Trials are scheduled to begin in November 2017 and will continue into the fall of 2018. Meanwhile, more than 130 defendants are working collectively together to fight their charges, and have agreed to ‘ Points of Unity ,’ including a refusal to cooperate with the prosecution or testify against each other.

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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.

The Dead City Legal Posse is a collective of DC activists formed in response to the January 20, 2017 arrests working to provide support to those facing charges._

MEDIA ADVISORY JULY 20: Inauguration Day Protestors Call for a Week of Solidarity from July 20-27 in Support of Their Defense

CONTACT:

Sam Menefee-Libey (Dead City Legal Posse)
sml47@protonmail.com
http://www.dclegalposse.org
(909) 576-3113

Inauguration Day Protestors Call for a Week of Solidarity from July 20-27 in Support of Their Defense

Many defendants are refusing plea bargains unless all defendants are offered the same deal

Washington, DC - Suporters of protestors facing multiple felony charges stemming from the Inauguration Day protests are calling for a “week of solidarity” beginning on Thursday, July 20th. Thursday marks the six month anniversary of the mass arrest that swept up 200+ anti-Trump protestors on the corner of L and 12th.

“The aggressive prosecution of Inauguration Day defendants should frighten everyone in America that believes that protest is a necessary and fundamental good,” said a supporter and organizer with the Metropolitan Anarchist Coordinating Council. “The Week of Solidarity is about speaking out against a vision of American society in which you can be jailed for life simply for attending a demonstration.”

Community members and supporters in DC, the US, and around the world are organizing a variety of events, including fundraisers and benefits, press conferences, as well as marches and demonstrations. The week is intended to increase awareness and visibility of the extreme political repression being faced by Inauguration Day defendants. Several actions ahead of the week have already taken place, including artwork painted in support of defendants in Altanta, GA and Binghamton, NY, as well as banner-drops in Elgin, IL and at Camp White Pine, the tree-sit action camp in Huntington, PA currently resisting the construction of the Marine East 2 Pipeline. Events have been planned in cities across the east coast, including: New York City and Albany, NY; Richmond, VA; Durham, Asheville, and Chapel Hill, NC; and Washington, DC.

A list of planned events is available here: http://defendj20resistance.org/2017/07/19/week-of-solidarity-starts.html

The week will also act as a platform to unveil multiple political campaigns being organized by various defense committees.

A call-in campaign to Rochelle Howard in the Office of Police Complaints and DC Mayor Muriel E. Bowser is being organized to demand that the $150,000 allocated for the investigation of the DC Metropolitan Police Department be released immediately. The investigation was prompted by a critical report released by the OPC in February, which described police conduct on Inauguration Day as violent, indiscriminate and in violation of their Standard Operating Procedures. The report has been followed by a civil lawsuit filed by the DC ACLU, asserting that the police committed several human rights violations, including sexual assault against arrested protestors as a punitive measure. The investigation is set to begin in October, but defendants are insisting that the investigation begin immediately.

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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.

PRESS RELEASE JUNE 29: More Than 200 Trial Dates Set for Inauguration Day Protesters in Fall 2017, Spring 2018

CONTACT:

Sam Menefee-Libey (Dead City Legal Posse)
sml47@protonmail.com
http://www.dclegalposse.org
(909) 576-3113

More Than 200 Trial Dates Set for Inauguration Day Protesters in Fall 2017, Spring 2018

Many defendants are refusing plea bargains unless all defendants are offered the same deal

Washington, DC – Following hearings over the past several days, trial dates have now been set for nearly all of the more than 200 defendants arrested en masse at the January 20 Inauguration Day protests in Washington, DC. The first trial, which includes six defendants, is scheduled for November 20, 2017. That trial is followed by an eight-person trial on December 11, and the rest of the trials are scheduled for the spring and summer of 2018.

As the last trial dates are set, more than half of the defendants are mounting a collective defense and have agreed not to cooperate with the prosecution and not to testify against their co-defendants. In line with their determination to see the state's case collapse at trial, defendants have agreed that no further pleas will be considered unless they are offered, uniformly, to the entire group.

On January 20, Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) officers indiscriminately attacked hundreds of protesters, journalists, legal observers, and bystanders with chemical and projectile weapons, then "kettled" more than 200 people before arresting everyone. All of those arrested were charged with felony rioting, which was followed by a superseding indictment issued in April charging all defendants with at least eight felonies each, punishable by up to 75 years in prison.

The final trial dates come as a growing number of organizations have criticized the arrests, including the DC chapters of the National Lawyers Guild and the American Civil Liberties Union, which last week filed a lawsuit against the District of Columbia, the MPD and its Police Chief Peter Newsham, challenging the police misconduct that occurred on January 20.

In February, the Office of Police Complaints (OPC) issued a report criticizing the police response to the Inauguration Day protests, pointing to violent and indiscriminate attacks by police and their failure to issue the required dispersal orders.

The OPC report, in part, prompted the District Council earlier this month to approve $150,000 for an investigation into police misconduct that weekend. Defendants argue that the investigation should be fast-tracked in order to underscore the illegitimacy of the charges levied against them.

"Assistant U.S. Attorney Jennifer Kerkhoff is wasting a huge amount of money on malicious prosecutions at a cost to the public that far outstrips any damage that occurred that day," said Sam Menefee-Libey of the Dead City Legal Posse which is supporting the Inauguration Day defendants.

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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.

PRESS RELEASE MAY 30: Inauguration Day Protesters File Motions to Dismiss Felony Charges, Disclose Grand Jury Instructions

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: May 30, 2017

CONTACT:

Sam Menefee-Libey (Dead City Legal Posse)
sml47@protonmail.com
http://www.dclegalposse.org
(909) 576-3113


Inauguration Day Protesters File Motions to Dismiss Felony Charges, Disclose Grand Jury Instructions

More than twenty defendants highlight absurdity of charges, seek an end to politically-motivated cases

Washington, DC – Twenty-one Inauguration Day defendants charged with at least eight felonies each and who face more than 70 years in prison if convicted filed a motion to dismiss their charges on Friday.

 

Picking apart each charge as insufficient to bring a case against Inauguration Day defendants, the defense motion states that “the government’s unprecedented theory of non-individualized, ‘group’ criminal liability has produced an Indictment that is overrun with fatal defects.” The motion also asserts that certain counts “fail to allege facts sufficient to establish the offense charged,” and others “do not even allege a crime.”

 

On January 20, Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) officers indiscriminately attacked hundreds of protesters, journalists, legal observers, and bystanders with chemical and projectile weapons, then “kettled” more than 200 people before arresting everyone.

 

Originally, Inauguration Day arrestees were charged with a single count of “riot,” but eventually the federal prosecutor used a grand jury to indict 214 people for not just felony “riot” but also felony “inciting or urging a riot,” “conspiracy to riot,” multiple counts of “destruction of property,” and misdemeanor “assault on a police officer.”

In another motion filed Friday, defense attorneys seek to disclose the government’s legal instructions to the grand jury, which are typically secret and hidden from public scrutiny. Defense attorneys claim that the superseding indictment issued on April 27 “misconstrues the relevant law,” and they accuse the government of “improperly instruct[ing] the grand jury on the law.”

It was bad enough to be violently attacked by police while protesting in the streets, but now the government is trying to imprison us for decades,” said David Silverberg, one of the Inauguration Day defendants. “By piling on the charges, federal prosecutors are trying to scare us into pleading guilty before trial, but we stand defiant against such threats.”

More than 130 Inauguration Day defendants have agreed to ‘Points of Unity,’ including working collectively together to fight their charges, and refusing to cooperate with the prosecution or testify against each other.

By entrapping and violently attacking protesters on January 20, MPD violated its own crowd control policy – Standard Operating Procedures for Handling First Amendment Activity – which was modified after the department was sued in the mid-2000s for similar actions against protesters.

In February, the DC Mayor’s Office of Police Complaints issued a critical report, claiming that police responded to protests violently and without warning. In April, the district’s Judiciary Committee Chair Charles Allen promised to launch an independent investigation into the police response on January 20, but has yet failed to do so.

# # #

Defend J20 Resistance is a large group of felony defendants arrested on January 20, 2017 in Washington, DC and their supporters who have all agreed not to testify against each other and are working together to collectively defend themselves. </span>DefendJ20Resistance.org is a product of their work.

PRESS RELEASE APRIL 28: INAUGURATION DAY PROTESTERS DECRY SUPERSEDING INDICTMENT CHARGING THEM EACH WITH SEVERAL MORE FELONIES

PRESS RELEASE: Defend J20 Resistance For Immediate Release: April 28, 2017

CONTACT:

press@defendj20resistance.net

929-335-4713

Inauguration Day Protesters Decry Superseding Indictment Charging Them Each With Several More Felonies

Meanwhile, More Than 100 Defendants Have Agreed To Work Together And Are Refusing To Testify Against Co-Defendants

Washington, DC – Activists arrested during the inauguration of President Trump are condemning a superseding indictment filed yesterday by US Attorney Channing D. Phillips. The superseding indictment newly charges three people with felonies and applies several additional felony charges to the more than 200 people arrested on January 20.

Charges against defendants now include felony “inciting or urging to riot,” “rioting,” “conspiracy to riot,” “destruction of property,” and misdemeanor “assault on a police officer,” but the indictment provides no new evidence to back up the charges. “We haven’t seen a shred of new evidence to support this superseding indictment,” said Sarah Hailey, one of the defendants arrested on January 20. “The prosecutor is just using excessive charges in order to scare and coerce us into pleading guilty.”

The superseding indictment comes as Assistant US Attorney Jennifer Kerkhoff offered plea deals to multiple defendants in court today, seeking convictions in cases that have barely been prosecuted yet. In one rebuffed plea deal, Kerkhoff offered to downgrade a defendant’s charges to misdemeanor riot if the defendant agreed to testify against their romantic partner at trial.

“The prosecutor is using the threat of years in prison to obtain convictions before she has even bothered to make a case against anyone,” said Olivia Alsip, one of the felony defendants who was offered, but refused, a plea deal. “Many defendants, like myself, believe their charges are politically motivated and want to take their cases to trial.”

The news of additional felony charges comes as nearly half of the Inauguration Day defendants—more than one hundred people—have announced their intention to work collectively together to fight their charges. The defendants have established “Points of Unity,” which include an agreement not to “cooperate against any of our co-defendants, nor accept any plea deals that cooperate with prosecutors at the expense of other co-defendants.”

PRESS RELEASE APRIL 12 ACTIVISTS CHALLENGE INAUGURATION DAY ARRESTS AT D.C. COUNCIL’S POLICE OVERSIGHT HEARING

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: April 11, 2017

CONTACT:

Sam Menefee-Libey (Dead City Legal Posse)
smenefeelibey@gmail.com
http://www.dclegalposse.org
(909) 576-3113

Matthew Whitley (Defend J20 Resistance)
press@defendj20resistance.net
http://www.defendj20resistance.net
(929) 335-4713


APRIL 12: ACTIVISTS CHALLENGE INAUGURATION DAY ARRESTS AT D.C. COUNCIL’S POLICE OVERSIGHT HEARING

Washington, D.C., April 12, 2017 – Activists with the Dead City Legal Posse will join Stop Police Terror and the ACLU of D.C. in testifying at D.C. Council’s budget oversight hearings of the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) and the Office of Police Complaints. The groups are demanding an independent investigation into the unconstitutional and illegal police tactics used on Inauguration Day, including the mass arrest of over 200 demonstrators now facing felony riot charges. The Dead City Legal Posse and Defend J20 Resistance are calling for the charges to be dropped and for an independent investigation to follow the Office of Police Complaints report about police misconduct on Inauguration Day. The hearing will take place at 9:30 AM in Room 500 of the John A. Wilson District Building, and the public may testify.

Last week, the Dead City Legal Posse announced a call-in campaign to D.C. Councilmembers David Grosso and Mary Cheh from the Committee on the Judiciary and Public Safety, which is overseeing the hearing, to ask that they use the April 12th hearing to press the MPD for answers about the mass arrest on January 20th. Dead City Legal Posse member Sam Menefee-Libey said, “These 214 felony rioting cases are evidence of the extreme police overreach on Inauguration Day. MPD had no good reason to arrest so many people, least of all without a dispersal warning, so they’re chalking them up as criminals when it’s the police who broke the law.”

The Office of Police Complaints report from February 27th includes Police Control Board observations of officers deploying chemical weapons indiscriminately, using police lines to “kettle” and mass arrest demonstrators, and officers failing to audibly warn demonstrators before using force against them—all of which are tactics that violate the First Amendment Rights and Police Standards Act of 2004 as well as MPD’s own Standard Operating Procedures for Handling First Amendment Assemblies and Mass Demonstrations, updated in December 2016. The Police Standards Act was passed after Acting Chief of Police Newsham, who ordered the arrests on Inauguration Day, ordered the similarly illegal mass-arrest of hundreds of demonstrators at World Bank protests in 2002. The 2002 arrests resulted in lawsuits that D.C. settled for over $11 million.

The D.C. Council and the Mayor have essentially remained silent on the February report from the Office of Police Complaints, which recommended, “an independent consultant should be appointed to investigate and examine all aspects of MPD’s actions on January 20, 2017.” No such investigation has been initiated. By contrast, activists and First Amendment advocates have been raising their voices against the police abuse on Inauguration Day: the National Lawyers Guild and the Partnership for Civil Justice Fund have already sued MPD over the arrests, and both organizations testified alongside the ACLU and numerous community organizations against the appointment of Peter Newsham as metropolitan police chief.

This is not the first instance of police—both in the District and in the nation—using aggressive tactics to target those critical of an authoritarian state: these tactics are an everyday reality for marginalized communities, particularly those of color or of the undocumented. Moreover, these particular circumstances are a direct analogue to the police response to the 2002 Pershing Park protests. Matthew Whitley of Defend J20 Resistance stated, “D.C. police have done this before: mass arresting hundreds and only giving up after mounting public pressure against them. They think they can get away with it this time by overcharging the demonstrators with felonies. So before any of these cases go to trial, we need to put the police on trial and make them answer for their indiscriminate abuse of demonstrators.”

For more information, contact:

Sam Menefee-Libey (Dead City Legal Posse)
smenefeelibey@gmail.com
(909) 576-3113

Matthew Whitley (Defend J20 Resistance)
press@defendj20resistance.net
(929) 335-4713


Hearing Details:

Budget Oversight Hearings on Fiscal Year 2017:

Wednesday, April 12, 2017 at 9:30AM 1350 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW Washington, D.C. 20004 Room 500

Relevant links:

Dead City Legal Posse

Stop Police Terror Project D.C.

D.C. Police Complaints Board report on Inauguration Day police misconduct

First Amendment Rights and Police Standards Act of 2004:

Metropolitan Police Standard Operating Procedures for Handling First Amendment Assemblies and Mass Demonstrations:

Call-in campaign targeting D.C. Council

Video of elderly woman and child getting pepper sprayed by police at Inauguration Day demonstrations

National Lawyers Guild lawsuit against the MPD

ACLU accuses MPD of violation protesters’ rights

Partnership for Civil Justice Fund lawsuit against the MPD for withholding information on Inauguration Day arrests

Firsthand journalist account from the mass arrest on Inauguration Day

PRESS RELEASE WEEK OF SOLIDARITY

On January 20th, 2017, at approximately 10:30AM, over two-hundred and fifteen protesters were illegally mass-arrested, or “kettled,” by the Metropolitan Police Department in Washington, DC. The arrest took place on the corner of L and 12th Street during the inauguration of the Trump regime, in the proximity of an anti-capitalist and anti-fascist demonstration assembled to resist his administration’s transition into power.

The First Amendment Rights and Policy Standards Act, which took effect within DC in 2005, outlines official policy that the MPD is required to implement while interacting with persons exercising their first amendment rights, as those assembled gathered to do. As noted in the final Monitoring Report issued by the District of Columbia’s Police Complaints Board, in addition to the language of the Act itself, the arrest was in violation of several sections of Title I: the arrest was an indiscriminate round-up of those present on-site at L and 12th as the police lines closed off the public block (including medics, those seeking medical attention, legal observers, journalists, pedestrians, and PCB monitors themselves), as opposed to the arrest of specific non-compliant demonstrators against which they had probable cause (Section 107 C); they failed to provide audible warnings or dispersal orders to the crowd present for the demonstration, at no point did they inform those present for the demo that their first amendment protest had allegedly become “riotous” action, and they did not afford those seeking medical attention or those intending to leave the demo a means of exiting safely (Section 107 E.1); throughout the duration of the march and the arrest, the police used chemical weapons and concussion grenades (“stingers”) against protestors as a generalized method of crowd control, with or without provocation (Section 116 B.1-3); as the vast majority of the ~500-700 people in the crowd were engaged in peaceful demonstration - noted by legal observers of the DC National Lawyers Guild and journalist accounts of the arrest - it was likewise a violation for the police to corner off L and 12th with police lines, as there was no “probable cause to believe that a significant number or percentage of the persons located in the area or zone have committed unlawful acts” (Section 108); and as seven journalists were swept up in the arrest, the media were clearly not afforded full access to the site of the demonstration (Section 114 C.1-3).

The conditions of the arrest likewise violated the MPD’s own Standard Operating Procedures for Handling First Amendment Assemblies and Mass Demonstrations, updated in December 2016, which outlines that when a first amendment protest allegedly becomes “violent”, the police are required to issue warnings (at least one and up-to three) and dispersal orders prior to arrests - no warnings were issued at any time throughout the duration of the march (Section V.F.2 & IX.G.7). The SOP likewise re-enforces the language of the First Amendments Rights Act by stating that if arrests become necessary, they must be “of those individual law violators based on probable cause.” (Section V.F.3)

The illegal arrest was ordered by new Police Chief Peter Newsham. The District remembers Newsham as the Assistant Police Chief who ordered the mass arrest of over four-hundred nonviolent demonstrators that assembled in Pershing Park in 2002; protestors were hog-tied, detained for twenty-four hours, and ultimately released. No convictions were made, and the illegal arrest cost the District an ~$8.25 million settlement in a civil lawsuit. It is unclear how much this new arrest will cost the city or what promotion Newsham will receive for it, but what is clear is that he maintains his policy of “arrest first, indict later,” to the detriment of the District. On March 24th, four members of the Dead City Legal Posse testified against the appointment of Newsham, along with the Partnership of Civil Justice, which has filed a new lawsuit against DC MPD.

It is clear that this arrest was not only a distinct violation of city ordinance and police policy, but that it is an act of political repression from the Trump administration against those peoples who assembled for the demonstration. These charges are unprecedented, and an extraordinary reach by the prosecution. The demo that assembled at Logan Circle did so autonomously, in a moment of direct action against a hostile Presidential administration, a militarized State of police officers ready to follow orders, and a rising tide of far-right populism prepared to wield political violence against marginalized communities. Protestors have been shot in Seattle at anti-Trump rallies; mosques are burning across Texas; Jewish communities have seen waves of bomb-threats and harassment all around the country; family members are being detained and delivered to detention centers for involuntary labor, or shot dead in the streets. For those assembled, families, friends, and communities are under attack. The demonstration assembled on January 20th to stand in direct opposition to this assault, and to refuse both Trump’s “election” and the entire order that legitimizes him.

In this repression, the two-hundred and fifteen arrestees are not alone. Since last April, over eight-hundred water protectors have been arrested in Standing Rock, ND. A literal army of police units from across multiple states was deployed to ensure the colonization of Standing Rock for the benefit of Energy Transfer Partners and the Dakota Access Pipeline. In the face of this genocide, water protectors were subjected to police dogs, blows to the head and knees from batons, rubber bullets to the face and concussion grenades that maimed limbs, water cannons in below freezing temperatures, and hundreds of cases of hypothermia. For months, sniper rifles were set upon the encampments at least twenty-hours a day, despite being full of elders and children; this is neither unexpected or uncommon - a crowd of nonviolent protestors from the Festival of Resistance were similarly brutalized with chemical weapons by MPD during the kettle that included an elder and a seven-year old child. And yet, these thousands of Indigenous resistors and activists stood against the Dakota Access Pipeline in overwhelmingly nonviolent direct action. Now they face prosecution from grand juries of the very same kind that issued indictments for the L12 arrestees.

They are joined by the one-hundred and six people recently alleged by the California Highway Patrol to have participated in an antifascist confrontation with the Traditionalist Workers’ Party, a neo-Nazi political party, in Sacramento last summer where six people were stabbed. They are joined by over six hundred immigrants, from across eleven different states, who were ripped out of their homes and kidnapped from their families during ICE sweeps the mornings of February 9th, 13th and 14th. They are joined by dozens of people arrested and detained in Seattle and Chicago during the national airport demonstrations against the Muslim Ban. They are joined by the hundreds of prison-slaves already incarcerated - at Allegheny County Jail, Tecumseh State Correctional, and James T. Vaughn Correctional - who have organized labor strikes, set fire to mattresses, and seized temporary control of the prisons to demand humane living conditions, access to real medical care, and the provision of educational and rehabilitation programs.

The context, method, or tactics of these moments of resistance are inconsequential to the arrests made and to this regime; they arrest simply because people resist. But people must continue to resist, and to struggle against the institutions that place their families, their homes, and their lives under attack. We must resist illegal arrests; the grand juries convened to indict us; prosecutors who takes their orders directly from Trump; and most especially, we will continue to resist Trump himself and the systems that give him power.

This week, the week of April 1st to April 7th, we invite people everywhere to take action in a Week of Solidarity with political prisoners across the country, from Standing Rock to the District! You are the resistance!

Useful Articles

Metropolitan Police SOP

First Amendment Rights and Police Standards Act of 2004

Police Complaints Form

Learning As We Go

What Happened During My Arrest