Drop Charges Against Peaceful Inauguration Day Protesters
On the day Donald Trump was inaugurated, D.C. police arrested hundreds of people exercising their First Amendment right to protest the inauguration of Donald Trump.
D.C. police indiscriminately pepper-sprayed protesters and deployed military-grade weapons such as “stingers” that release smoke, rubber pellets, chemicals, and concussion and flash-bang grenades.
More than 230 people – including journalists, legal observers, and medics – were rounded up and held on a street corner, and denied food, water, and even toilets for up to eight hours. Some had panic attacks from being held in this confined space. Others’ fingers went numb from too-tight ziptie handcuffs. Police officers mocked their pain and discomfort.
Currently 187 people face felony charges, including charges for inciting a riot and conspiracy, which together carry penalties of more than 65 years in prison.
The mass arrest and abusive treatment of peaceful demonstrators was unprecedented. Some pleaded guilty to avoid a near-lifetime in prison.
It’s true a small handful of people committed acts of vandalism that day. But the vast majority of the demonstrators were peaceful protesters.
This mass prosecution has no place in a democracy. It has already had a terrifying chilling effect on citizens wanting to exercise their freedom of speech both online and in person.
While we’ve filed a civil lawsuit against D.C. police for excessive force and false arrests, Attorney General Jeff Sessions needs to hear from you: Tell him to drop the criminal charges against the peaceful protesters arrested on Inauguration Day.