When news first broke out of the mass-arrest at J20 (Trump’s inauguration), I expected a non-specific blanket charge as a means of intimidation. I was wrong, as it turns out–the Department of ‘Justice’ alleged eight blanket charges, not just one–but the basic principle remains the same: Hold the group accountable for the actions of a few. While many liberals have tsked tsked about the anarchist presence at the J20 protest, they seemed to miss the actual point: If the J20 charges stick, that’s a blank cheque to not only mass-arrest protesters, but slap them with enough charges to imprison them for life as long as someone tips over a garbage can. It is, effectively, the single greatest assault on American civil rights that can occur in a single trial, regardless of how you feel about anarchists (this is without going into the fact that they’re facing 75+ years for wearing the same colours as someone who broke a window).
Well, as it turns out, the police and prosecutors haven’t waited for the trial. Felony rioting, a crime so loosely defined that you can be charged for being present around someone else’s property destruction, has been applied another ~250 times at protests since J20. Counter Repression Spokes is planning a fundraiser to support the legal organizations that have been helping the accused navigate their trials. These groups include Dead City Legal Posse (for J20); One People’s Project, who have been tracking violent extremist activities that go largely ignored by police; and St. Louis Legal Fund, for bail and defence lawyers for the St. Louis protesters who rightly objected to the acquittal of Jason Stockley, a police officer who admitted on camera that he intended to murder Anthony Lamar Smith, and who attempted to frame Smith by planting evidence.
Please consider donating to the fundraiser here. And also considering raising awareness in your own activities about the way prosecutors across the United States are using felony rioting charges to mass-arrest protesters.