Monday Buzzfeed published an update on the next set of trials of people arrested last January as part of the Disrupt J20 protest in Washington, DC. Last December, the government’s first trial against six of the defendants. Prosecutors claimed the defendants had been part of an Antifa-style mob clad in black clothing, about 200 of whom were arrested after multiple acts of vandalism along their path. However, the defense argued that the prosecutors had failed to connect any of the six individuals on trial to a specific act of vandalism. Prosecutors argued that anyone who stayed with the group that was doing the damage was equally responsible even if they weren’t the ones breaking the glass, in the same way a getaway driver is part of the bank robbery even if he never enters the bank. But after two days of deliberations, the jury acquitted all six defendants. As I wrote last year, this seems like a very bad signal to send to an Antifa mob:
The message of this acquittal is going to be loud and clear to Antifa: Wearing masks is a get out of jail free card. As long as no one can identify who broke which window or who started which fire, you’re safe from all consequences. This was their plan all along. I guarantee you some of these 200 people know exactly who did what. Some of them recognize their friends in those videos, but they are operating as a gang. No one will snitch on their fellow gang members.
Shortly after the loss of the trial, prosecutors announced they would drop all charges against 129 other defendants and proceed to trial against 59 more. The government’s notice of intent to proceed stated it was, “focusing its efforts on prosecuting those defendants who: engaged in identifiable acts of destruction, violence, or other assaultive conduct” as well as those who planned the disruption. Buzzfeed reports the trial of the next four defendants will begin this week:
The latest trial — jury selection began Monday — will test whether that strategy pays off. In the first trial, there was no evidence the defendants were involved in destroying property. According to Defend J20 Resistance, a group supporting the defendants, prosecutors are expected to accuse some of the defendants on trial now of participating in the violence…
There are four defendants on trial now, each facing eight charges: one felony count of inciting or urging to riot, five felony counts of destruction of property, and two misdemeanor counts for engaging in a riot and conspiracy to riot.
The felony charges carry maximum penalties of 10 years in prison and a $25,000 fine. The misdemeanors have maximum penalties of 180 days in prison and a $1,000 fine…
Opening arguments are expected to begin later in the week.
So the government’s strategy didn’t work out well the first time around but this trial should be different. This time the defendants are being accused of specific acts. Hopefully, guilty verdicts will be the result and a clear message will be sent to other black bloc anarchists out there who are watching this trial closely.
Here’s a reminder of what the left-wing goons look like in action: