Last January police in Washington, DC arrested several hundred anti-capitalist marchers for rioting during Trump’s inauguration. A grand jury brought charges against 215 people and since then 20 individuals have pleaded guilty. As of last month, there were 188 outstanding cases. The plan was to hold trials for all of them in small groups over the coming months.
In December the first such trial resulted in all 6 defendants being acquitted by a jury. The problem with the prosecution’s case was that they could prove the defendants were part of a large protest but couldn’t tie them to specific acts of vandalism. In light of that outcome, prosecutors announced a change of plans today. Instead of proceeding against all of the remaining 188 defendants, prosecutors will focus on 59 individuals who can be connected to specific “acts of destruction,” while charges against the remaining 129 defendants will be dropped. From the motion of intent to proceed:
In light of the legal rulings by the court and the jury’s verdicts in the first trial of these cases, the government has decided to proceed with all of the pending charges set forth in the superseding indictment (to include felony charges) for the above-captioned fifty-nine (59) defendants. The government is focusing its efforts on prosecuting those defendants who: engaged in identifiable acts of destruction, violence, or other assaultive conduct; (2) participated in the planning of the violence and destruction; and/or (3) engaged in conduct that demonstrates a knowing and intentional use of the black-bloc tactic on January 20, 2017, to perpetrate, aid or abet violence and destruction…
The government will file individual motions to dismiss, without prejudice, the indictment against the remaining129 defendants whose cases remain pending. In so doing, the court, the government, and the fifty-nine (59) defendants can proceed more expeditiously with their trials.
Here’s how the motion describes the action of the defendants on inauguration day:
On January 20, 2017, several hundred people met in and around Logan Circle in Washington, D.C., to participate in an anti-capitalist march without a parade permit. This unpermitted anti-capitalist march was advertised and planned, with instructions for participants to wear black clothing In addition, the term “black bloc” was used by organizers in planning meetings. The planned use of a black bloc is significant in this case. The term “black bloc” refers to a tactic, not a particular group or organization, and is frequently used when participants within the larger black-bloc group intend to commit violence or destruction of property.
On January 20, 2017, several hundred people participated in a black bloc as part of the unpermitted anti-capitalist march that started in Logan Circle and moved through downtown DC. At or about 10:19 AM on January 20, 2017, a black bloc moved south from Logan Circle on 13th Street NW. Within minutes of leaving Logan Circle, individuals participating in the black bloc began to destroy or damage public and private property. The black bloc continued moving through the streets of the District of Columbia for approximately sixteen (16) blocks for more than thirty(30) minutes, while participants in the black bloc continued to destroy or damage property as the group moved. It was a riot.
Assuming prosecutors can tie the remaining 59 defendants to specific crimes and actually secure convictions in those cases, this seems like a much better approach. And if you add in the 20 individual who have already pleaded guilty you could wind up with as many as 79 convictions out of 215 people charged. That would be a decent result and should put a dent in future Antifa organizing and rioting in the city.