The Department of Justice has brought felony charges against nearly 200 people arrested during an Inauguration Day Protest. The charges stem from an indiscriminate mass arrest of protesters at an anti-capitalist, anti-fascist march. Similar to the arrest, these mass felony charges take are of an indiscriminate nature. They follow the logic that anyone present at a march where vandalism occurred is collectively guilty. This includes not just protesters, but also journalists.
Defending Rights & Dissent has repeatedly expressed concern with the arrests, the charges, and surrounding encroachments on civil liberties. We have called for the all of the charges to be dropped and joined with press freedom groups in raising specific concerns about the prosecution of the two journalists. We have called on the Department of Justice to end its digital fishing expedition against DisruptJ20.org and joined with the DC National Lawyers Guild in filing a FOIA request to learn more about police infiltration of Disrupt J20.
As part of this advocacy, on November 13, 2017 Defending Rights & Dissent sent a letter to the UN Special Rapporteurs on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association and Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression. In our letter, we alerted both special rapporteurs to the ways in which the trials and arrest of the inauguration protesters violate international human rights norms.
The letter can be read below or a PDF of it is available here.