Washington, DC – After two days of deliberation, a DC jury today found all six Inauguration Day defendants not guilty on all eight counts—-misdemeanor rioting and conspiracy to riot, and five counts of felony property destruction. Defendants Jennifer Armento, Oliver Harris, Britt Lawson, Michelle “Miel” Macchio, Christina Simmons, and Alexei Wood left the courthouse today elated by the outcome.
The government still intends to try the remaining 188 Inauguration Day defendants on similar riot-related charges, but supporters are calling on the Trump administration to dismiss all of those charges. “This is a clear victory for the six defendants who were just tried and a rejection of the government’s attempt to criminalize dissent,” said Betty Rothstein of Defend J20 Resistance. “We’re continuing to call on the Trump administration to dismiss all charges against the remaining 188 Inauguration Day defendants awaiting trial.”
Supporters continue to point out that the government has attempted to chill political protest with high-level felony charges and that part of the punishment for defendant’s expressing their views is being forced to endure months of aggressive prosecution and a weeks-long trial. Most of the defendants facing trial have been working together to collectively defend themselves against the outrageous claims of the government, and will continue to do so.
The trial also underscored the extent to which the Trump administration was actively working with far-right and neo-fascist political groups like Project Veritas, Oath Keepers, Media Research Center and Rebel Media to criminalize and punish anti-fascist and anti-Trump activists. Despite what could be considered collusion with these groups, and the government’s attempt to criminalize “anti-establishment” views, the jury roundly rejected those efforts.
The next trial of seven Inauguration Day defendants on three misdemeanor charges—rioting, conspiracy to riot and one count of property detruction—has no scheduled trial date, but DC Superior Court Judge Lynn Leibovitz will hold a status hearing on January 19. The next trial on the same felony and misdemeanor charges used to try the defendants acquitted today is scheduled for March 5.
“It was not a close call. The prosecution admitted the morning of day one that they would present no evidence that any of the defendants committed any acts of violence or any vandalism.
From that point, before the defense ever uttered a sound, it was clear to me that ultimately we would find everyone not guilty. And while there was a great deal of careful discussion among the jurors, it ultimately at no point was … did it seem even possible that a guilty verdict would come down.
This was not close.” – Steve, a juror in the J20 trials
So, six down, 188 to go.