Group fundraising for Inauguration protesters charged

Two hundred people were arrested and charged on Inauguration Day and some people are raising money to help.

WASHINGTON (WUSA9) - Remember the burning limousine? Store windows smashed in? The rioting on Inauguration Day?

Some are fundraising to help the more than 200-people arrested and charged that day.

WUSA9 talked to a man named Sam Menefee-Libey, who says he’s not an attorney but believes DC police broke the law. 

RELATED: Vandalism, fires, & dozens of arrests in DC inauguration protests

"The police targeted everyone indiscriminately,” he said, “kittled and mass arrested people, and who were just in a geographic location, that had nothing to do with anything in that moment, that's a totally unconstitutional arrest."

That's why Menefee-Libey is working on a Friday fundraiser at the Potter's House in Adam's Morgan. He’s a volunteer with a group called the "Dead City Legal Posse.” They have been helping the more than 200-people facing felony charges pay for things like travel and lodging. Many of the defendants are said to be from out-of-town. He also believes some of the people rounded-up last January are innocent.

The massive group protesting on Inauguration Day did so under the name “Disrupt J20.”

The volunteer won't comment on the most serious crimes as they go through court.

An impact statement submitted compared the rioters' to terrorists. Court documents say rioters some used crowbars, metal poles to smash windows. It also accuses others of indirectly rioting by helping the violent protesters hide.

We’re told the prosecution does not have the proof to identify every single person charged. The ACLU calls this abuse, a “prosecutorial” abuse according to an Attorney over the phone. He says they can only comment in general terms but the ACLU did actually sue the DC Police Department over arrest tactics. This was done on behalf of four individuals.

DC Police issued a statement pointing out that thousands protested peacefully that day and that the violent people injured at least six officers.

Here’s the full statement from a Metropolitan Police Department Spokesperson:

“Each year, the men and women of MPD protect the rights and ensure the safety of thousands of First Amendment assemblies, demonstrations and protests. During the 58th Presidential Inauguration, there were thousands of individuals who exercised their constitutional right to peacefully assemble and speak out for their cause. Unfortunately, there was another group of individuals who chose to engage in criminal acts, destroying property and hurling projectiles, injuring at least six officers. These individuals were ultimately arrested for their criminal actions, and the bulk of them are pending prosecution after being indicted by a grand jury. As with any pending criminal or civil matter, we will continue to support and respect the formal legal process. Moreover, all instances of use of force by officers and allegations of misconduct will be fully investigated."

MPD remains committed to ensuring the public safety of all residents and visitors of the District of Columbia.”

"I don't want this to be something that happens in my city,” said Menefee-Libey. “The fact that protesters could be rounded-up on mass and charged with life-altering felony charges is horrifying."

This back-and-forth as been going on for about six months now. Thursday, a group will be in court for a “Motion to Dismiss” hearing with people expected to rally/protest outside the courthouse.

A 31-year-old Florida man was the first rioter to be sentenced on felony charges some three weeks ago. He is one of 234 people arrested. Since him, 15-others have pled guilty to misdemeanor rioting offences and charges against 20 others were dropped. That leaves 198 people to still fight their case in court.

© 2017 WUSA-TV


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