Judge Throws Out “Inciting A Riot” Charges, Upholds Remaining Charges In J20 Case

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December 12, 2017
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December 15, 2017

This morning, following a motion for acquittal, Judge Lynn Leibovitz dismissed the felony “inciting a riot” charge against all defendants in the trial of the first six people arrested during an anti-capitalist, an anti-fascist march on Inauguration Day 2017.

The dismissal of the felony charge is a tremendous victory for the six defendants, their attorneys, and the activists who have mobilized to support them.

We, nonetheless, are deeply disturbed by the failure to dismiss the other seven charges, including counts of property damage, conspiracy to riot, and engaging in a riot. In her ruling, Judge Leibovitz endorsed some of the most disturbing arguments of the prosecution. This includes arguments that wearing black is indicative of a conspiracy, or that being a journalist live-streaming a protest or a medic at a protest is “aiding and abetting” those who commit crimes.

DRAD was not able to be in court today, but Unicorn Riot was:

This is not the end of the struggle. Prosecution and defense will give closing arguments later this week and then the matter will be in the hands of the jury.

Since the inception of this sordid prosecution, Defending Rights & Dissent has called on all of the charges against all of the defendants to be dropped. The prosecution’s entire theory of the case rests on the notion that the anti-capitalist, anti-fascist march was in fact a premeditated riot. The prosecution argues that this theory is somehow proved by the fact that it was announced in advance and advertised online. By showing up dressed in black, individuals were seeking to further this criminal conspiracy.

The prosecution has conceded no one on trial engaged personally in property destruction. Instead, they were part of a conspiracy. But the conspiracy that they allege–participating in an openly advertised anti-capitalist, anti-fascist march–is First Amendment protected activity. The prosecution is attempting to chill speech and curb the right to assembly by making individuals present at a protest where vandalism occurred guilty of said vandalism.

This is an unacceptable affront to the right to dissent. We continue to stand against the prosecution’s attempt to criminalize dissent and stand in solidarity with Michelle Macchio, Jennifer Armento, Christina Simmons, Alexei Wood, Oliver Harris, and Brittne Lawson as they continue to face seven charges after being swept up in a mass arrest on Inauguration Day.