Act for free received on 1/1/2018
On January 20, 2017, tens of thousands of people greeted President Donald Trump’s inauguration with large protests ranging from creative blockades to militant street actions. Among the demonstrations that day was an “anti-capitalist and anti-fascist bloc” led with banners reading “No Peaceful Transition” and “Make Racists Afraid Again”. In response to the protest, police violently attacked and encircled nearly ~230 people, arresting them for allegedly committing or being in the proximity of property damage.
After a series of indictments and legal maneuvering, around 200 people were ultimately charged with six felonies (5 counts of property destruction and inciting a riot) and two misdemeanors (engaging in a riot and conspiracy to riot) each. This means that each of these people are facing 61 years in prison.
This unprecedented case is important because it is an attempt by the United States government to clamp down on the disruptive protests that spontaneously occurred in response to Trump’s election. The charges are intended to stifle active resistance and to send the message that resistance will not be tolerated at a time when it is needed more than ever. In many ways, the case is an experiment in expanding the repressive powers of the state, with prosecutors seeking to charge everyone as a group for the same handful of broken windows based merely on presence. Moreover, the police and other state actors are trying to redefine basic political organizing — holding meetings, planning protests, and marching as a group — as an act of conspiracy. This is part of an ongoing trend on both the national and international level of escalating repression directed at social movements in so-called “democratic” states. If the United States is successful in prosecuting social movements in this way, it will likely encourage other governments
to do the same.