J20 DefendJ20

Interview: 188 Still Face Decades In Prison For Trump Inauguration Protest

Washington, DC – Despite the clear rejection of their first case by a jury last month, the US Attorney’s Office is continuing to seek multiple felony convictions for nearly every person swept up in a mass arrest at the ‘antifascist and anticapitalist march’ during Trump’s inauguration on January 20, 2017.

On January 12, 2018, we spoke with a J20 defendant, Olivia, and a supporter, Naila, about where the case stands now, after the first six defendants have been acquitted and the next trial groups have court dates approaching.

Through a superseding indictment brought in early 2017, the US government contends that every person present was responsible for the few instances of property damage that occurred – because they were wearing black, “moving with the group,” and participating in protest chants. The current set of charges, 6 felonies (incitement to riot and 5 felony property destruction charges) and 2 misdemeanors (engaging in riot and conspiracy to riot) carries a potential sentence of 61 years in prison.

Defense lawyers for the second trial group submitted a motion in December asking the judge to throw out the superseding indictment, alleging that Detective Greggory Pemberton deliberately gave false testimony to the grand jury.

We first spoke with Olivia about the case last summer in Chicago, when all defendants were still facing over 80 years in prison.

More recently, while waiting for the verdict in the first J20 trial in December, we sat down for an extended interview with Betty Rothstein and Jude Ortiz of Defend J20 Resistance about some of their observations on the case, and what it means to support defendants.

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