Source: Huffington Post

A ‘sea of black masks’: prosecutors open felony trial of inauguration protesters

By: Ryan J. Reilly

234 people were arrested en masse during protests on Jan. 20, commonly referred to as the J20 protests. Among them were six defendents, the first group to go to trial, and their case could determine whether prosecutors continue pursuing felony rioting charges against the nearly 200 people who have trials spread out over the course of the next year. In a dramatic opening statement, Assistant U.S. Attorney Jennifer Kerkhoff repeatedly referred to a “sea of black masks” that roamed the city causing chaos, violence and destruction. Several attorneys for the six defendants, on the other hand, told the jury there was not evidence that their clients participated in any destruction. But they were indiscriminately treated by police, with defendants’ attorneys alleging that the D.C. Metropolitan Police Department ― which is facing a lawsuit for its tactics that day ― violated its own policies by “kettling” a large group of people. It’s much easier to treat everyone the same, call the protest a riot, and lock everyone up, rather than comply with the First Amendment, one lawyer argued. Read more here.

 

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