Statement on the First J20 Trial Verdict

On December 21, 2017, six defendants of the J20 Inauguration Day trials were found not guilty on all charges, including five felonies and two misdemeanors. Throughout the trial, the prosecution has admitted they had no substantial evidence that any defendants actually committed the acts for which they were charged. Metro DC DSA applauds this victory of justice and condemns the State’s attempt at criminalizing dissent.

The outcome of these trials has far-reaching implications for our future as a free society. Two hundred and thirty demonstrators were kettled, arrested and summarily charged with multiple felonies, for which they face decades in prison and hundreds of thousands of dollars in fines. Federal prosecutors have made illegal requests for unsettling amounts of data, including identifying information on the more than two million visitors to the DisruptJ20 website. Convictions for these demonstrators would also set a dangerous precedent for police practices in the District, which paid out millions in settlements in 2002 to World Bank protestors whose constitutional rights were violated by the very same tactics used by the Metropolitan Police Department against J20 protesters. As this first trial has shown, the United States Attorneys Office has acted without merit in an attempt to intimidate and discourage protestors by indicating that even being near a demonstration could result in similar consequences.

While six defendants have been exonerated, many more must continue to live with the threat of these egregious punishments for months to come. Defendants have spent thousands of dollars on legal defense and travel to attend their hearings and trials, and have endured tremendous emotional stress for almost a year. Metro DC DSA reaffirms its support for the J20 defendants and asserts that the State must drop all charges against the remaining defendants.

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