Six protesters who were accused of participating in property destruction on Inauguration Day have been acquitted on all counts, including felony charges of inciting a riot. The prosecution and defense’s arguments highlight both right-wing efforts to discredit anti-Trump protesters and how protesters often manage to foil law enforcement. Both these subjects have come up repeatedly at other protests in the past year since the inauguration, including debate during and after the civil unrest in Charlottesville jumpstarted by a white supremacist gathering.
The jury was required to watch hours of footage of the protests, including a video turned over to the police by Project Veritas, a right-wing organization that tries to stage “sting operations” that discredit journalists and those on the left. Rather than show protesters plotting violence, however, the video only served to highlight techniques protesters use to protect their identities when they are concerned about encountering violence or harassment from law enforcement. Those include leaving ID at home, refusing to share personal information with police, and wearing dark clothing that obscures identifying features.
According to the Washington Post, Defense Attorney Sarah Kroff highlighted not only that video and audio footage of protesters can easily be shot or edited with intent to manipulate the viewer, but that the police themselves may have been biased against the protesters. Kroff explained, “This is about politics. This is about police and local prosecutors who work for the Department of Justice. And we know who they report to,” meaning the executive branch. She added, “All the government proved was that these individuals showed up and walked as protester. And that is not a crime.”
Just because these six — who came to D.C. from around the country to protest and work in a variety of professions — were found not guilty, however, doesn’t mean that the matter is settled. There are over a hundred other protesters who will go on trial for similar charges, and the set of problems represented by these cases won’t be easily resolved regardless of the outcome.
(Via Washington Post)