Freedom of Assembly

Government Drops Charges in Inauguration Protest Prosecution

Defense attorney slams the attempt to prosecute for being part of the protest, which raised First Amendment concerns, for being a "waste of time and a waste of taxpayers' resources."

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Criminal charges against the 39 remaining Inauguration Day protesters still being prosecuted were all dropped today by federal prosecutors, as reported today in The Washington Post.

Originally 234 people alleged to be part of a protest called "DisruptJ20" were arrested on that day, 21 of whom later pleaded guilty.

A protest organizer, Lacy MacAuley, noted to the Post that in situations like this, justice delayed is in a real sense justice denied, since the defendants have had their lives disrupted merely waiting over a year enough under criminal charges. "How do you plan for your job and family and personal life when you are facing decades in prison?" MacAuley said.

Two sets of the arrested that day went to trial previously and were not convicted; jurors never felt the government had proven these specific people committed any specific criminal act.

Mark Goldstone, who represented two of the defendants, told the Post that the government "overreached in terms of their legal theory…that a person is responsible criminally for any destruction and violence incurred by someone in the same vicinity because of the clothes they wore — and because of that, a person is facing seven years in jail because of someone else's actions — that absolutely preposterous." The failed attempt to prosecute was then "a waste of time and a waste of taxpayers' resources."

C.J. Ciaramella reported on an earlier wave of failures to convict on what has been known as the "J20" arrests, which many found infringed on First Amendment rights of speech and assembly. Many of the arrestees, as the jurors in previous cases noted, had no provable connection to any actual property destruction that occurred during the D.C. Inauguration Day protests. The government tried to argue that merely being at the protest—that is, exercising their First Amendment rights—marked the arrested as members of a criminal conspiracy to aid the rioters. The Justice Department's investigation on these crimes including trying to access organizers' Facebook accounts and IP addresses for visitors to a protest website.

Ciaramella quoted an ACLU attorney at the time of those earlier acquittals saying the failure to convict on these arrests "reaffirms two central constitutional principles of our democracy: first, that dissent is not a crime, and second, that our justice system does not permit guilt by association."

Today's action rightly does so more firmly.

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  1. Horrible alt-text. Fibonacci Blue? What about Legendre Green? You monster!

    1. Sounds like a TV drama about the brave men and women who patrol the mean streets of Fibonacci.

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  2. first, that dissent is not a crime

    Doesn’t that depend entirely on what you’re dissenting against?

    1. More like who, not what.

    2. More like “how” you’re dissenting. In this case by rioting, smashing windows, and setting cars on fire.

      What this really demonstrates is something the Klan figured out over a century ago: In a legal system based on individual determinations of guilt, if you travel in groups and wear masks, you can commit crimes and get away with it.

      There’s no question at all that crimes, serious crimes, took place that day, and premeditatedly. But they managed to sufficiently obscure exactly who physically committed them, and who just stood around providing cover, to allow most of the perpetrators to get away with it.

  3. that our justice system does not permit guilt by association.”

    Southern Poverty Law Center hardest hit.

  4. “went to trial previously and were not convicted”

    Were they acquitted? If so, why not use the word “acquitted”?

    “Not convicted” could mean a hung jury or some kind of dismissal.

  5. The process WAS the punishment.

    1. It usually is. Would anyone take 6 months in jail in lieu of being dragged through the mud and incur 6 figures worth of legal bills? i wonder…

  6. What the hell does “Fake News? Fake Economy!” Mean?

    1. Fake (economic) news will lead people to assume that the economy is faking it. But what they don’t understand is “fake it ’till you make it.” Or something.

      1. that’s what she said

    2. “What the hell does “Fake News? Fake Economy!” Mean?”

      These are people who hope for a major downturn in the economy and the market, since it would vindicate their TDS.
      Anecdote:
      Stephen Ambrose, writing about troops in WWII makes reference to the “false prosperity” of the 1920s.
      No, it wasn’t “false”; many people did very well indeed in the rising market, and those who were somewhat savvy had a clue and bailed before they lost their shirts.
      The government (notably FDR) managed to turn a recession into a horrible depression, but that’s another issue.
      These dimbulbs are hoping others (not them) suffer similarly.

      1. And then, during all the mayhem that ensues, slip her majesty into the White House. IT WAS HER TURN!

  7. But they still get counted as having been part of the inauguration crowd size, right?

    1. The biggest protest arrests in history. Believe me.

  8. It seems prosecutors pay no penalty for overcharging – on the contrary they often manage to extract plea deals based on this tactic.

    I suppose so long as “he’s plainly guilty of *something*,” then you can tack on all the charges you want, and worst case scenario they get cleared after an paying extra for an expensive defense and raising bail money.

    1. Absolutely right. Prosecutors are judged by their conviction rate. So it does not matter what the person is convicted for, as long as there is a guilty verdict for something!

  9. And once again, Reason fails to give credit where credit is due to the man responsible for this, Donald Trump. It is the one sure redeeming feature of a Republican administration – suddenly people start giving a shit about civil rights. Just wait until the next time the Dems take over, you’ll see an end to free hate speech and the right to dissent be a truth-denier. The guilt by association we already got, at least for us Nazis who still insist on self-identifying as cis-gendered white males.

  10. We think we’re safe from fascist takeover because the imprisoning of dissenters, military parades, and concentration camps all seem like a fucking joke coming from that orange assclown.

    1. I see you’re a not-from-concentrate kind of guy, this dimension’s current me. That’s weird since I’m the opposite. I wonder what happened in either dimensions that would cause this discrepancy.

      1. I am freshly squeezed all the way.

        1. So that is what caused the oil slick!

    2. Tony|7.6.18 @ 10:48PM|#
      “We think we’re safe from fascist takeover because…”
      Fuck off, shitbag

    3. God forbid rioters who are initating violence against people, engaging in political violence get thrown in prison. That would just be fascism if you don’t let communists like Lacy MacAuley riot and try to murder people.

      1. None of the charges against these protesters was for rioting. The charges were that by helping organize protests, they were in a conspiracy with the rioters. No evidence has been presented in any of the trials to prove that. In fact, the government has been caught hiding evidence of the contrary.

    4. “We think we’re safe from fascist takeover because

      Guns. We are safe from fascist takeover because we have guns. Lots of guns. Full stop.

      1. Pretty much. That’s why the fascists in America, (Who take a page from Orwell and call themselves “anti-fascists”.) are so big on gun control.

  11. FYI these people were rioting and violently assaulting people. it wasn’t a “protest.” Stop calling riots where people are violently assaulting others and burning things down, smashing things up and looting “protests.”

    Lacy MacAuley is a mentally ill adult child and violent antifa who got raped by her Turk boyfriend repeatedly while in Turkey and blamed it on white men.

    1. They weren’t convicted of any violent crimes.

      1. They should be but since the system is infiltrated and infested with those sympathetic to them, they can assault people at will and get off on charges due to activist judges and prosecutors who’ve turned the system into a third worldist legal system where the who/whom matters more than any facts.

        The media liars who are in on it as well are all-too-happy to call violent riots even where parts of cities burn down “mostly peaceful protests.”

        1. Exactly. If you’re in Leftist jurisdiction, you can beat the Right with impunity.

          1. Yeah, trying to put together a jury to convict somebody of rioting at a Republican event in D.C. is pretty much futile. Republicans have no rights the Democrat is bound to respect.

      2. By Turkey? Quelle surprise.

    2. The people charged were not charged with rioting. In fact most of them were nowhere near the riots. They were charged with conspiracy to riot, despite the government having no evidence of this. The government actually got caught hiding evidence to the contrary.

    3. Thank you.

      At least one person at Reason isn’t cheering for the stormtroopers.

  12. So a mob torches a limo (owned by a muslim immigrant no less) and no charges?

    1. 21 guilty pleas, for whatever that’s worth (see above)

  13. Dozens of people were assaulted for the crime of attending the inauguration. A guy say his livelihood destroyed by a mob. And Reason never has and never will give a fuck. Reason has become a pro fascist magazine at this point. If these were right wing rioters reason would be having a shit fit. Wherever there is a leftist beating the shit out of someone, there is a reason staffer there to inform us that the leftist is peaceful and the someone had it coming.

    1. John has become quite adept at whimpering, after decades of losing the culture war.

      1. He also seems unclear on the concept of probable cause based on individualized suspicion.

    2. It’s become a pro-communist open borders website in which the only distinguishing features from it and HuffPo are a shitty layout and some libertarian lingo.

  14. All we’re learning is that mass groups should wear masks and then go hog wild, killing and injuring anybody they want and destroying anything they wish.

    1. Bingo.

      Black Bloc terrorism declared “protest”.

  15. So now its legal to keep others from getting to attend an inauguration

  16. “Criminal charges against the 39 remaining Inauguration Day protesters still being prosecuted were all dropped today by federal prosecutors”

    You heard it, boys.

    Just make sure you wear a mask when you riot.

  17. Well, I was there and I saw what you did
    I saw it with my own two eyes
    So you can wipe off that grin,
    I know where you’ve been
    It’s all been a pack of lies

  18. What it seems like to me is fhat a lot of people who just came to hold signs were accused of being part of the violent element which was in fact not so in many cases, or at least unlikely and not provable. I also suspect that a few of those guilty pleas were the result of the prosecution leaning on defendants pretty hard.

    1. Yes and they were also aiding and abetting the violent mob by allowing them to hide within them as they were all dressed in black bloc.

      1. That’s why there are widespread laws dating back to the time of the Klan prohibiting the wearing of masks in public.Time to dust them off.

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  20. Sounds like this is probably a combination of innocent pussy hat wearing idiots getting off because they didn’t break the law, and people who probably are Antifa thugs who SHOULD have been busted getting off because it can’t be proved…

    It’s unfortunate for the Antifa assholes. Those people need to start getting prosecuted, and HARD every time this shit happens. After a bunch of your idiot commie buddies get busted and thrown in prison it may make some of the others stop doing it. As annoying as it can be when people who are obviously guilty get off, we must remember there are important reasons our justice system skews the way it does… So the government can’t just railroad innocent people. Guilty people getting off is the price we have to pay for that.

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