MENU
component-ddb-728x90-v1-01-desktop

WATCH: Prosecutors release trove of video from Inauguration Day protests

Police deploy smoke and pepper grenades during clashes with protesters in northwest Washington, Friday, Jan. 20, 2017. (AP Photo/Mark Tenally)

The images are stark, frightening, and violent.

Groups of masked men using bricks to smash windows in a bank and a Starbucks.

Others, using metal poles or sticks to break windows in a McDonalds.

Newspaper racks tossed into the street and torn open.

A limo, its windows punctured, set on fire; a man is seen throwing a lit flare inside.

This was Inauguration Day: January 20, 2017 or as some called it “j20”.

As festivities for Donald Trump’s inauguration were getting underway, a crowd that grew to 500 people marched along 13th Street toward Franklin Square in downtown DC.

Some chanted profanity-laced anti-Trump slogans.

Others carried signs: “Our streets,” said one. “Fight back now.”

Another: “No peaceful transition.”

It turns out, the police were watching.

So were journalists, on-lookers, and pretty much anyone else with a cell phone camera.

On Wednesday, the US Attorney’s Office in the District released a trove of video from surveillance cameras, a police helicopter, officers’ body-cams, and other sources.

Some of the material was used in a December trial, to bolster a prosecutor’s argument that six defendants, while not personally involved, remained with the protest group “DisruptJ20” and covered for them.

In closing arguments, prosecutors said the group “tore up your city, putting people in danger.”

But after four weeks of trial, and two days of deliberations, a jury acquitted the six on rioting and destruction of property charges.

“The government charges are ridiculous,” Jennifer Armento, a defendant from Philadelphia, said afterward. “They are an attempt to criminalize dissent in this country.”

Defense attorneys said their clients--- and most of the protesters were peaceful; that police failed to identify a smaller group that broke away before going on a rampage.

They said police herded a group of about 200 people together, and charged them with rioting.

“I was anxious,” recalled defendant Oliver Harris. “A certain part of me was certain the right result would happen.”

The prosecution’s case relied heavily on police testimony and video evidence.

After the verdict, the US Attorney’s Office issued a statement reiterating there was evidence that, indeed, a riot had occurred.

“The destruction impacted many who live and work in the District of Columbia, and created a danger for all who were nearby,” it said.

188 people still face charges before a judge in connection with the protests.

They will be tried in groups of five or six, with proceedings expected to finish up sometime in mid-2018.

Hearings for the next group of defendants will begin this Friday.

The statement by the US Attorney’s Office appears to make clear that prosecutors aren’t done.

“In the remaining pending cases, we look forward to the same rigorous review for each defendant,” it says.

close video ad
Unmutetoggle ad audio on off

Trending