FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 2, 2017
NEW YORK—The National Lawyers Guild (NLG) decries US Attorney Channing Phillips’ recently filed superseding indictment against hundreds of people indiscriminately rounded up and arrested on President Trump’s inauguration date, January 20. After the Washington, DC police “kettled” protesters, journalists, bystanders and legal observers, leaving them on the streets for hours without water or restrooms, the police conducted a mass arrest in violation of their policy for handling protests. The prosecutors then furthered this draconian attack against protesters and others by charging more than 200 people with felony charges for allegedly inciting a riot.
In court Friday, a group of defendants who were scheduled to attend status hearings were instead re-indicted on the superseding indictment, including new felony charges for “conspiracy to riot” and “assault on a police officer while armed.” Three additional people were indicted for the first time under the superseding indictment, including one who was the target of a destructive police raid in Washington, DC a few weeks ago.
As a progressive bar association active for the last 80 years, the NLG is all too familiar with the government’s use of politically motivated charges to punish dissent and target activists who take the streets in resistance of oppression. In particular, the NLG has seen prosecutors across the county use conspiracy charges to target and repress communities ranging from leftist activists at political gatherings to Arab Muslims in their mosques and community centers. Conspiracy charges are one of the government’s preferred tools of repression, although by no means the only one.
The NLG condemns the ongoing prosecution against the activists and others arrested and targeted by the government in relation to the alleged incidents of January 20. The NLG calls on the US Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia to immediately drop the charges against all the defendants. The NLG also calls on all people of good conscience and other legal organizations to endorse endorse the call to drop these charges.
The National Lawyers Guild, whose membership includes lawyers, legal workers, jailhouse lawyers, and law students, was formed in 1937 as the United States’ first racially-integrated bar association to advocate for the protection of constitutional, human and civil rights.
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Image: Police at the intersection of 12th and L Streets on Inauguration Day, Jan. 20, 2017 in Washington, DC. (Cynthia Tarana)