- Jessie LiuUS Attorney for the District of Columbia
- John GidezChief - USADC Felony Major Crimes Section
- Robin AshtonHead - DOJ Office of Professional Responsibility
- Michael HorowitzDOJ Inspector General
- Sarah FloresDirector, Department of Justice Public Affairs
Drop the Charges Against Trump's First Political Prisoners
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On January 20, 2017, tens of thousands of people converged in Washington, D.C. to oppose the inauguration of Donald Trump. A wide variety of demonstrations countered the spectacle of the inauguration, making it clear to the world that many of us reject Trump's cruel and divisive leadership.
A day of defeat became a moment of resistance, and set the stage for the travel ban protests that followed. While Trump and his army of trolls have encountered few meaningful obstacles in the halls of power, grassroots resistance has persisted.
Unfortunately, with resistance comes repression. After terrorizing protesters with pepper spray and ‘stinger’ grenades, DC police cordoned off an entire city block and mass-arrested more than 230 people.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Jennifer Kerkhoff (under the authority of U.S. Attorneys Channing Phillips and Jessie Liu) later sought an indictment charging more than 200 people with at least eight felonies each—for rioting, inciting a riot, conspiracy to riot, and property destruction—punishable by up to 75 years in prison.
(Read more about the prosecutions here: story.dropj20.org)
With these unprecedented, excessive charges, the state is cracking down on dissent - allowing Trump to pursue his agenda challenged only by symbolic hand-wringing. This strategy corresponds with a broader wave of repression, from arrests and grand jury investigations of Indigenous water protectors at #StandingRock, to the demonization of #BlackLivesMatter.
Just as our struggles are connected, these arrests represent a threat to all people fighting for true freedom, dignity, and autonomy.
Join the ACLU, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, the Partnership For Civil Justice Fund, the Committee to Protect Journalists, and other civil liberties advocates in standing with the J20 defendants.
Call on the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia to immediately drop all charges.
Learn more at dropJ20.org
- US Attorney for the District of Columbia
- Chief - USADC Felony Major Crimes Section
- Head - DOJ Office of Professional Responsibility
- DOJ Inspector General
- Director, Department of Justice Public Affairs
As someone who values my right to dissent, I was horrified to learn that over 200 people were improperly arrested, mistreated in detention, and threatened with excessive felony charges - simply for giving voice to that same dissent. We are all entitled to due process, and to protected rights like choosing who we associate with and criticizing our government.
Despite the US Attorney's near-complete prosecutorial discretion, and a sworn obligation to the very system that establishes those protections, your office has chosen a path of repression and intimidation.
These prosecutions create an unacceptable political climate; a world where those who challenge the status quo must do so under threat of losing decades to prison - decades without children, friends, or the most basic personal freedoms.
In uncertain times, your duty is to empower the people you serve to participate in their communities. Please do the right thing: stop the criminalization of dissent, and drop every charge against the J20 defendants.
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