Scores of Trump Inauguration Day Protesters Face Possible Imprisonment
by Stephen Lendman
January 20 inauguration day events proceeded smoothly. Protests were largely peaceful.
Over 200 others clashing with police were arrested, charged with felony rioting – defined under District of Columbia code as follows:
A DC “riot…is a public disturbance involving an assemblage of 5 or more persons which by tumultuous and violent conduct or the threat thereof creates grave danger of damage or injury to property or persons … if in the course and as a result of a riot a person suffers serious bodily harm or there is property damage in excess of $5,000, every person who willfully incited or urged others to engage in the riot shall be punished by imprisonment for not more than 10 years.”
Under DC code, fines up to $25,000 may be levied on offenders, including for vandalism.
Those arrested face possible longterm imprisonment – up to 80 years after DC Superior Court charged them with rioting, conspiracy to riot and destruction of property.
Sweeping arrests mean activists caught up in what went on while protesting peacefully, along with freelance journalists covering the street actions, face possible longterm imprisonment for exercising their First Amendment rights – a chilling precedent perhaps affecting future legitimate protests.
Federal, state and local police state laws targeting demonstrators for varying reasons potentially make exercising their constitutional rights a crime.
Following the January 20 DC arrests, lawyers for some of the targeted protesters filed a class action lawsuit against the city’s Metropolitan Police Department, claiming excessive use of force and false arrests – independent journalist/filmmaker Evan Engel affected.
He explained saying he was arrested along with over 200 others, while covering inauguration day protests.
He’s reported on demonstrations for years, he said, at times pepper-sprayed and tear-gassed, never before arrested until January 20.
Besides Engel, RT America’s Alexander Rubinstein and freelance journalists Matthew Hopard, John Keller, Shay Horse and Aaron Cantu were arrested.
Days later, Engel said charges against him and journalists Rubenstein, Hopard and Keller were dropped.
Horse and Cantu remain charged, like over 200 others facing possible longterm imprisonment – a shocking indictment of police state viciousness if things turn out this way.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at email@example.com.
His new book as editor and contributor is titled “Flashpoint in Ukraine: How the US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III.”
Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com.
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