Protests

Two Journalists Charged With Felony Rioting During Trump Inauguration Protests

Meanwhile, another journalist writes in The Nation about actively participating in rioting.

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Seems like it needs to be said.
Pax Ahimsa Gethen/Wikimedia Commons

Two journalists covering the protests coinciding with Donald Trump's inauguration have been charged with felony rioting, charges that could land them 10 years in prison and up to a $25,000 fine.

Evan Engel, a senior producer for Vocativ, and Alexander Rubenstein of RT America were among numerous arrests made at a large gathering of protesters near the intersection of 12th Street and L Street in Washington, D.C. last Friday.

According to The Guardian, Engels' arrest report reads in part:

"The crowd was observed enticing a riot by organizing, promoting, encouraging, and participating in acts of violence in furtherance of the riot," the police narrative said. "The crowd was observed braking [sic] windows, lighting fires, vandalizing police vehicles, burned a limousine, and other acts of violence. The damaged was determined to excess $5,000.00."

That last part is important, because under the DC criminal code, when property damage exceeds $5,000, the most serious rioting charges are applied. A spokesman for Vocativ said in a statement that Engel's arrest is "an affront to the First Amendment and journalistic freedom" and that they will help Engel fight the "unfounded and outrageous charge."

Rubenstein's Twitter feed shows that he was trailing black bloc demonstrators who at various points in the day were lighting fires, breaking windows, blocking Trump supporters from moving freely, and occasionally throwing punches. Rubenstein says he showed his press credentials and camera to police, but he was arrested as part of the sweep anyway.

The Metropolitan Police said in a statement that "Pepper spray and other control devices were used to control the criminal actors and protect persons and property."

One journalist who was not charged with any crime was Natasha Lennard, who penned a popular article for The Nation wherein she writes about how she actively participated in the "anti-capitalist, anti-fascist bloc" which rejected "polite protest" in favor of tactics such as "human blockades, smash[ing] corporate windows, trash-can fires, burning [a] limousine, "Make America Great Again" caps reduced to ashes," and of course, sucker-punching the loathsome alt-right leader Richard Spencer.

There's a lot to unpack here. Journalists need to be able to cover protests and they can't adequately report on them from a distance. Being close to the action should not make someone subject to arrest, and President Trump's oft-stated hostility to a free press raises reasonable concerns that reporters could face collective punishment for getting "too close" to a story, so to speak.

At the same time, police have an obligation to protect public safety and quell riots. And while one can be a journalist and an activist at the same time—one can't claim press freedoms should shield them from arrest if they are actively participating in committing crimes.

Both Engel and Rubenstein have court dates set for February.

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119 responses to “Two Journalists Charged With Felony Rioting During Trump Inauguration Protests

  1. “The crowd was observed braking [sic] windows, lighting fires, vandalizing police vehicles, burned a limousine, and other acts of violence. The damaged was determined to excess $5,000.00.”

    I like how whatever cop wrote that is absolutely not ashamed of being illiterate. You do you, ossifer!

    1. Hey! I’m challenging a ticket based upon the officer issuing it citing a nonexistant section of the traffic code and putting the time of the infraction two hours too early. (also they should have ticketed the guy who invented a lane and hit my car instead of me, but that’s a harder argument to win). Police illiteracy and innumeracy is not always a bad thing.

      1. ^This. Always pay attention to details. Get photos of the scene to establish exactly where the stop took place and double-check the ticket to see that the location is accurate. Also, take photos of any relevant signs, particularly the back of the sign – in Virginia the sign has to have an official government sticker on it to be valid. Etc, etc.

      2. I challenged a ticket that accused me of running a stop sign at an intersection that didn’t have a stop sign, but a traffic light.

        The judge ruled “you probably ran a stop sign somewhere else.” While this was true, and the cop put down the wrong intersection, that still pissed me off.

        But the judge died later that year so I got the last laugh.

        1. Generally the prosecution’s counter argument tends to be: “who cares, pay up!” An argument the judge tends to agree with.

          1. I like the way speeding in the state of Georgia works.

            You are guilty. That is all.

            It is the same for most traffic infractions, but I happen to know the speeding one. The only reasons you can use to fight a ticket are:

            a) was the equipment properly calibrated.
            b) was the officer properly certified.
            c) was the grade less than 35 degrees (I think that was it. Maybe it was 28 degrees)

            That is it.

            So “I wasn’t speeding, he pulled over the wrong guy” is not an argument that is even admissible in court. Not even with a video of the events in question.

            I happened upon this because I got pulled over in an Atlanta neighborhood. A guy in a pickup passed me going down a little hill in a residential area in fairly heavy traffic – just as we were passing a motorcycle cop with his radar set up. I was doing just bit under the speed limit at the time, having just pulled away from a stop light.

            Well, the officer was a few feet behind his bike and facing the other way when this happened. He turned around in response to the beep from his radar and spotted me. So he pulls me over.

            Now, any other day of the year, or any other time or place, you could have gotten me for speeding. But not at that time and place.

            That’s where I learned that it didn’t matter, and I need not worry about lining up witnesses who were in the car or searching for security camera footage.

            By the statute, I was guilty the second the officer wrote the ticket.

            1. Another perk I enjoy by not owning a car.

      3. I got out of a ticket once when the cop wrote down the wrong make of car.

    2. Given that it’s DC Metro Police that’s surprisingly literate.

      1. I know, I’m surprised he didn’t just try to draw a picture of what happened.

    3. And what the hell is “enticing a riot”?

      1. Whatever it is it sounds way more sexy than inciting a riot. I can only hope it involved lots of nudity, a giant chocolate cake and a twister mat.

        Did I just say that out loud?

      2. here, riot, here riot…come on you pretty riot, come here…

      3. I bet it involves public nudity.

  2. Rubenstein says he showed his press credentials and camera to police, but he was arrested as part of the sweep anyway.

    Welcome to Trump’s America. No more are journalists safe from vindictive administrations set on prosecuting them.

    1. I’d prefer being arrested by a city cop to being probed by the feds in search of treason charges. For the record, both are bad but one is much worse.

      1. Treason charges? Please. And the feds would be much nicer to you than virtually any local constabulary.

    2. Not sure what this has to do with Trump. DC cops have to put up with an enormous amount of ‘protest’ related bulls*t, and when they have an excuse they often aren’t too discriminating about who they round up. They were that way under Clinton, under Bush, and under Obama. Nothing to do with Trump.

      That said, while the cops have doubtless gone overboard, IF the damage claimed is real, at least SOME ‘protesters’ should end up being charged with something moderately serious. The Hobby Protest culture gets a lot of leeway, but I’m damned if I can see how you can stretch “the right of the people peaceably to assemble” to deliberate property damage.

      1. Hello, this is your friendly neighborhood commentator just stopping by to let you know that your sarcasm meter is in need of a tune-up. Have a great day, sir!

        1. It’s so hard to calibrate the damn thig. So much of what the Progressive Left comes out with should be satire, but they mean it with a dead seriousness that’s enough to paralyze a body.

  3. Call me when the jury reaches a verdict.

    1. Okay, but you’re not gonna like it.

    2. Yeah, that’s about where I am on this one.

      There is no special privilege for practicing the act of journalism. You are a citizen, like any other. And citizens who choose to remain in the presence of a violent destructive riot should not be especially surprised to find themselves under arrest.

      The conditions of an actual riot making it rather difficult, if not outright imprudent to take the time to sort out who is a ‘bad actor,’ who is a supporter, and who is an observer.

  4. You know who else was part of violent street tactics, including smashing windows and striking people…

    1. The guys in that Pink Floyd movie?

    2. Every character from GTA?

    3. French “students”?

    4. The cast of Breakin’ 2 Electric Boogaloo?

  5. Here is the flash grenade they used that blinded me and left my ears ringing. Cops encircled crowd when I couldn’t see; arresting everyone

    Uh… that looks like a charred piece of planted coke bottle.

    Presuming the flash bang worked and was too incapacitated to take a picture it seems exceedingly unlikely that, after all the cleanup, it was in the precisely same spot that it was deployed.

    I call bullshit.

    1. OK, possibly smoke or teargas (was it used?).

      Still, IME, you don’t get flashbanged or teargassed in a public place and then go back later, expecting to find *the* detritus that used against you specifically.

    2. That’s a stingball, not a flashbang.

      1. There’s something screwy about his Twitter timeline then.

        At 7:46 he’s filming/posting. At 8:14, they’ve been arrested, processed, and released and are filming/posting again.

        I’ve had traffic stops that lasted longer.

        1. I thought he posted that the next day.

    1. *only with a ball-gag

  6. We have the right bust shit up and burn the bitch down because ma-1st amendment and whatever rights!

    YOU HAVE NO RIGHT TO DEFEND YOURSELF AGAINST MY RIGHT TO INFLICT HARM ON YOU AND YOUR PROPERTY. YOU JUST HAVE TO TOLERATE IT. OR ELSE YOU’RE A FASCIST.

  7. One journalist who was not charged with any crime was Natasha Lennard, who penned a popular article for The Nation wherein she writes about how she actively participated in the “anti-capitalist, anti-fascist bloc” which rejected “polite protest” in favor of tactics such as “human blockades, smash[ing] corporate windows, trash-can fires, burning [a] limousine, “Make America Great Again” caps reduced to ashes,” and of course, sucker-punching the loathsome alt-right leader Richard Spencer.

    What about moose and squirrel? Were they allowed to escape in the chaos?

    1. I larfed

    2. smash[ing] corporate windows

      OK… well then… that’s totes acceptable.

  8. But if someone were to sucker punch Natasha Lennard, say the owner of the smashed “corporate window” — well, that would be different…

    1. That would be fascist and anti-womyn. Not Okay.

    2. I hope the property owners sue the shit out of these people. That’s why the arrests are important – to establish evidence of criminal wrongdoing which can then be used in civil suits. Also, since these people are so anti-corporate I bet their little commie cells aren’t incorporated so it would be possible to sue the ringleaders as individuals.

      1. While that would be great, the odds of any of these turds having the resources to make suing them worthwhile are probably not very good.

        1. I’d be willing to bet the money trail goes a long way. And also that discovery just might find evidence of coordination between the rioters smashing shot and the people who came out to film the rioters smashing shit.

          Because there is a tremendous amount of symbiosis between those two camps.

      2. If Soros had any hand in it, it could lead to a decent sized payout.

    3. My protestor and your protestor were marching in rows
      My protestor punched your protestor right on the nose
      What color was the wall behind the federal magistrate’s rostrum?

  9. Alexander Rubenstein of RT America were among numerous arrests made at a large gathering of protesters near the intersection of 12th Street and L Street in Washington, D.C. last Friday

    Russians still meddling in our government

    1. But on the right side this time!

  10. In the age of the Internet, millions of blogs, and a video camera in every pocket, who *isn’t* a journalist?

    1. ^This. And while that might not get you credentialed into the White House Press Room, there is no longer any justification for treating journalists any different than anyone else at public events such as this.

      1. It’s always funny when journalists get persnickety about their uniquely sacrosanct 1A protection. Stand back, ma’am, I’m a JOURNALIST.

        1. Or Don Lemon telling viewers that it’s essentially treason for them to look at the email leaks directly but if they want to know about the contents of those emails, then they need to go through him, for whom it’s not treason to read the leaks because he’s an accredited journo.

          1. I soured on Don Lemon a long time ago.

            1. Where is Swiss when you need him?

              1. Busy practicing narrowing his gaze.

    2. certainly not moi!

  11. Call me when the jury reaches a verdict.

    Will you be across the street drinking boilermakers and smoking cigarettes with all the other hard-nosed crime reporters?

    1. Get me rewrite! And another shot of Schenley’s.

  12. Semi-Relevant. Was going to post in AM links, will post again in PM links (if we get those):

    Richmond police seize stolen property they suspect was to be used to block interstate in anti-Trump protest

    They were rehearsing that shit but got caught. Be on the lookout for people cutting access holes in fencing near interstates and for people stealing traffic cones, barrels, etc.

    Also, pay attention to any changes to local and state laws about obstructing passage of people and blocking roads without a permit.

    1. If it was near the Parham and Gaskins exits on I=64, the people stealing traffic barrels were probably doing so in order to play human bowling in the Copper Mill/Copper Spring Apartments parking lot up off Broad Street after leaving Breakers at 3 am.

      At least thats why we used to do it 10-11 years ago.

  13. Did anyone poop on a cop car? Was there an outbreak of scabies? I love when leftist protests feature that.

    And did any of the courageous anarchists not wear a bandana covering their face?

    1. “Anarchists” who want a giant all-powerful government and simultaneously want no rules. Yeah… those aren’t anarchists.

      1. ^This

        Most of them are hardcore communists. They even carry hammer-and-sickle flags with their own little spin on the coloration. They want their rules, that’s all.

      2. They’re convinced that they are. They genuinely believe they are the anti-authoritarians. Commies are just really, really stupid.

  14. in favor of tactics such as “human blockades, smash[ing] corporate windows, trash-can fires, burning [a] limousine, “Make America Great Again” caps reduced to ashes,” and of course, sucker-punching the loathsome alt-right leader Richard Spencer.

    The limo they burned was owned by a Muslim immigrant

    So way to go, anti-capitalist social justice crusaders. You burned down a person of colors livelihood.

    1. Well, he is a capitalist.

    2. Oh, that is delicious.

  15. But if someone were to sucker punch Natasha Lennard, say the owner of the smashed “corporate window” — well, that would be different…

    Vigilantism!

    NOT OKAY.

  16. Rubenstein says he showed his press credentials and camera to police, but he was arrested as part of the sweep anyway.

    Showing my age here: my first arrest was in DC during the May Day protests against the Viet Nam War. I was a teenager and not actually doing anything other than watching. DC police rounded up everyone on our block, protesters, bystanders, whomever. We all spent the day being held at RFK Stadium (they had run out of jail space because of the mass arrests all over the city).

    Nice to see nothing has changed.

  17. I’ve seen several pics from the inauguration of various black bloc members and, as far I’ve seen, every single one of them appears to be a white person. I’m not entirely sure what to make of that.

    1. +1 Shaun King

        1. I’m stealing that without attribution.

    2. I saw the crowds all through the weekend. The rioters on Thursday and Friday were as far as I could tell entirely white. The Women’s march seemed to have a decent number of black women involved, but the riots were all white people from what I could see.

      1. If there is one thing I’ve learned from diversity, it is that 99% of black folk know better than to knowingly engage with police.

  18. http://www.washingtonexaminer……le/2612747

    The Limo those retards were all so happy to destroy belonged to a Muslim immigrant and their burning it may cost him his business and way to make a living. I wish the media would do follow up on the people who are actually harmed by this shit. These assholes show up and start breaking things and it is portrayed as all belonging to some evil corporation that had it coming or something.

    1. Grand Moff beat you to that one.

      1. Yeahs I saw that. But it is worth repeating. The only thing is that it doesn’t matter that the owner was a Muslim. He could have been of any persuasion and it would be just as wrong.

    2. Well, they DID say that if Trump won there would be violence against Muslims. Guess they were right.

  19. I am shocked the “I AM A JOURNALIST!!!!” defense didn’t work. Shocked.

    1. more likely to cause you to be whopped by everyone in the vicinity…everyone hates reporters

  20. “Protesting is not rioting”.

    No, rioting is rioting. See how that works?

  21. Being close to the action should not make someone subject to arrest

    Nonsense. Your media credentials aren’t some sort of get-out-of-jail free card.

    1. Not that the police were necessarily doing or thinking this; but being close to the action with a camera could be considered, in some circles, as documenting facts or gathering evidence even.

  22. Fun fact: The Nation is a corporation.

    The Nation is a corporation!

    The Nation is a corporation!

    1. And they’re writing from inside the house!

    2. Yeah, but it’s a shitty unprofitable corporation that only survives by soliciting additional donations from readers! So there!

    1. The best picture was from the person who took the pic of all the “reporters” taking a pic of the garbage can.
      Also: what would we do without reporters??!?

  23. Both Engel and Rubenstein have court dates set for February.

    What do you call two lefty/commie “journalists” being arrested for rioting?

    A good start.

  24. Anyone catch RT coverage of the marching/riots? From the typical MSM source I expect a pro-march slant but I would expect RT to emphasize the violence from anti-Trumpers.

  25. Why do you have to be in the mob to cover it? You can be behind the police line and see what is going on just as well. Moreover, you can tell the cops who you are and show your credentials when you show up. I find it hard to believe it is that hard to cover a riot without being arrested. Where these people guilty of being part of the riot? Maybe. It is impossible to tell given the facts we know.

    What they are guilty of is being stupid, arrogant assholes. If nothing else they showed up and blended in with the mob and stood around watching them destroy shit. Then when the cops arrested them thinking they were part of the mob thought they could use the “but I am a reporter” card. Sure you are honey. How were the cops supposed to know who they were and not just another dipshit hipster down there burning things?

    1. It’s also probably galling for the other protestors when a couple of their number who had gleefully followed the mob start getting indignant about being arrested for it. “No, I’m not one of these lunatics, I’m just documenting it!”

      1. +1 Leni Riefenstahl

  26. Natasha Lennard’s article praised the “kinetic beauty” of the violence her group committed.

    She went on and on about “anti-fascismm” but describing political violence as “kinetic beauty” sounds like a fascist aesthetic.

    1. It’s the left Eddie. They are always and everywhere the same. There is no difference between Natasha and the perpetrators of Krystalnacht, Bolshivists that shot people in the streets, Chavistas that burned radio stations or Castroists that lined up and shot homosexuals. All the same ilk just different opportunities.

  27. Also, when do they charge Natasha Lennard for the crimes to which she confessed in public?

  28. “President Trump’s oft-stated hostility to a free press ”

    No such thing. Trump’s objection has always been about dishonest press, something the public at large agrees with and for good reason.

    I don’t remember hearing much objection when that cunt that ran against Trump claimed if elected she would crush news organizations that had no right to exist. Barely got a mention. Reason did a lot of whistling past the graveyard. You are lucky she didn’t win Tony.

  29. Gonzo Journalism has it’s risks and rewards, but it’s still journalism.

    1. more like it’s still 99% bullshit

      1. When has journalism ever been more than 1% not bullshit?

      1. Geez, get a room already.

      2. ((()))

  30. Journalists need to be able to cover protests and they can’t adequately report on them from a distance.

    Define “from a distance”. Now, explain why it can’t be.

    Being close to the action should not make someone subject to arrest, and President Trump’s oft-stated hostility to a free press raises reasonable concerns that reporters could face collective punishment for getting “too close” to a story, so to speak.

    Jesus Christ. Trump hadn’t even been in office for 15 minutes, if at all, when this happened so you can stop with the pants-shitting. This shit has been going on for decades if not longer. So you lose a lot of credibility when you lament that Trump’s hostility could lead to this kind of thing happening…which is already happening.

    Reading this piece makes me thing a flash grenade of retardation just landed at my feet. When I stop laughing, I’ll start looking for the remnants so I can post them on twitter.

    1. It’s gonna be all pants-shitting, all the time now that Trump’s in office.

  31. Protesting is not journalism either.

  32. Gasoline isn’t typically a self defense weapon. Nor crowbars.

    Pure speculation, but the two journalists probably thought it would be fun to wear masks like the other vandals, and Natasha Lennin had sense to remove hers when the police got there. Or else just normal corruption got her out.

    If they are innocent of any actual crime the unedited footage they have should serve to exonerate them.

    If the actual paid vandals go to the pokey for 10 years I g0f.

    It’s all so pathetic sad. These black bloc and blm morons are being paid to bust shit up, to be an excuse for an expanded police state. This is what happens to kids that come out of government schools, can’t tell horsepucky when it’s paying them.

  33. If you knowingly add yourself a crowd that rioters are using to hide in, and do nothing to stop them from rioting, you should be treated as a rioter. Period.

    I really don’t give a shit about the supposed need for the press to be reporting from inside a riot.

  34. That last part is important, because under the DC criminal code, when property damage exceeds $5,000, the most serious rioting charges are applied.????? ???? ???
    ????? ???? 2017 A spokesman for Vocativ said in a statement that Engel’s arrest is “an affront to the First Amendment and journalistic freedom” and that they will help Engel fight the “unfounded and outrageous charge.”

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