Six J20 protesters acquitted after trial for Trump inauguration demonstrations

Trump protesters say they were prosecuted because they were anti-Trump

By Matthew Rozsa

Published December 21, 2017 2:52PM (EST)

 (AP Photo/John Minchillo)
(AP Photo/John Minchillo)

Six protesters associated with the #J20 protests at President Donald Trump's inauguration were acquitted on all charges on Thursday.

The six protesters were the first among approximately 190 protesters affiliated with the antifa (short for anti-fascist) movement to receive a sentence after facing criminal charges for their actions on inauguration day, according to Newsweek. The roughly 200 antifa protesters were accused of felony rioting charges, although their defenders claimed that the trials were an attempt to crack down on dissent against Trump. The defendants were bolstered by the fact that many of their demonstrations were peaceful; they could not be tied to any violent acts during the protests.

Prosecutors, in turn, argued that while there was no evidence the six accused individuals had actually damaged any property, their participation in the protest was tantamount to an effort to protect the identities of those who had committed those crimes, according to The Washington Post. The defendants included a nurse for cancer patients, a freelance photographer and a college student.

One particularly damaging piece of evidence were the indications that the police officers had political biases against the antifa protesters. They submitted to the jury as evidence a video manufactured by Project Veritas, a group that has been repeatedly discredited for producing deceptively edited videos that have been exposed as fraudulent. Defense attorneys also cited evidence from the personal Twitter accounts of some of the police officers, as well as police records of their statements, that they argued were anti-Semitic, homophobic and revealed biases against left-wing protest groups like Black Lives Matter.

"This is about politics. This is about police and local prosecutors who work for the Department of Justice. And we know who they report to,” defense attorney Sara Kropf told the jury in her closing argument. The comment about "who they report to" referred to Trump.

She added, "All the government proved was that these individuals showed up and walked as protesters. And that is not a crime."

Apparently the jurors agreed with her.

Matthew Rozsa

Matthew Rozsa is a staff writer for Salon. He holds an MA in History from Rutgers University-Newark and is ABD in his PhD program in History at Lehigh University. His work has appeared in Mic, Quartz and MSNBC.

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