I have written before about the punitive prosecutions launched in Washington, DC against 234 people who were arrested during the anti-Trump demonstrations at his inauguration last year and charged with ‘felony rioting’. After a trial, a jury cleared six protestors of all charges. Then prosecutors were forced to drop charges against six others after the judge found that they had behaved unethically.
After those cases, the prosecutors dropped charges against more than 100 other demonstrators but proceeded against 59 others. 21 people pleaded guilty to lesser charges, leaving 38 still facing trial. Now Xeni Jardin reports reports that prosecutors have abruptly dropped all the charges against the remaining protestors.
Charges brought by the U.S. government against more than 200 people who protested on the day Donald Trump was inaugurated President were abruptly dropped today.
The government’s case amounted to threatening 234 people with a maximum sentence of 70 years in prison for 6 broken windows. It’s great that reason prevailed. It’s not great that it took a year and a half, and that exercising their right to free speech cost these people so much.
The justice system has great power to make life hell for people by charging them for crimes and threatening them with stiff penalties. The 234 people in this case faced a maximum sentence of 70 years in prison for disturbances that resulted in 6 broken windows, though it was never established that any of them were the ones who caused the disturbances. Even if people are completely innocent, it often takes a lot of time and money to clear your name. The problem is that prosecutors who bring frivolous or harassing charges rarely face repercussions because they usually only do so against the weak, the poor, and the powerless.