Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

Corporate gatekeepers and big tech monopolists are making it more difficult than ever for independent media to survive. Please chip in today.


More than 200 people who protested during President Donald Trump's inauguration were rounded up by police and dozens faced felony charges. (Photo: Elvert Barnes/Flickr/cc)

Victory for Dissent as Government Drops Charges Against Group of J20 Protesters

The developments followed revelations that the government lied about evidence—but that wasn't enough to delay closing arguments for one group of defendants

Jessica Corbett

This is a developing story and may be updated...

In a series of victories for civil disobedience rights on Thursday, the U.S. Attorney's Office (USAO) dropped charges and dismissed several cases against people involved with the #DisruptJ20 march during President Donald Trump's inauguration, and a federal judge sanctioned prosecutors for lying about evidence.

As Common Dreams has reported, last year "more than 200 anti-Trump demonstrators, legal observers, and journalists were 'indiscriminately' swept up in mass arrests carried out during inauguration protests."

Although a jury found the first group of protesters not guilty of all charges in December, federal prosecutors have continued pursuing cases against 59 of the rounded-up demonstrators—trying them in groups, seeking to imprison them for decades on felony charges, and relying heavily on recordings by the right-wing activist group Project Veritas.

Following a revelation last week that "prosecutors suppressed potentially exculpatory evidence," known as a Brady violation, it was revealed in an overnight filing by defense attorneys that the government concealed 69 Project Veritas audio and video files and altered other recordings.

In response to the new Brady violations, at a pre-trial hearing on Thursday, Superior Court Judge Robert Morin dismissed conspiracy charges with prejudice—meaning that they cannot be refiled—but dismissed lesser charges without prejudice, meaning the government can still pursue those, according to reporters from the Huffington Post and Unicorn Riot.

The USAO has dropped felony charges against those in the May 29 trial group—the third group of J20 protesters—and all charges against those in the June 4 group.

However, the revelations about prosecutors concealing evidence and Morin's subsequent ruling have not yet impacted the second trial group. During Morin's hearing on Thursday, closing arguments for the May 14 trial group were taking place on another floor of the same courthouse.

Reporters were quick to point out that prosecutors used the same evidence that led to Morin's sanctions to build a case against the May 14 group. If anyone from the second group is found guilty, appeals are expected to cite the new findings.

Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

We've had enough. The 1% own and operate the corporate media. They are doing everything they can to defend the status quo, squash dissent and protect the wealthy and the powerful. The Common Dreams media model is different. We cover the news that matters to the 99%. Our mission? To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good. How? Nonprofit. Independent. Reader-supported. Free to read. Free to republish. Free to share. With no advertising. No paywalls. No selling of your data. Thousands of small donations fund our newsroom and allow us to continue publishing. Can you chip in? We can't do it without you. Thank you.

'Dark Money Is Dark Money': Sanders Calls on DNC to Ban Super PAC Cash in Primaries

"A super PAC is a super PAC, whether it is funded by Republican billionaires or Democratic billionaires," said Sen. Bernie Sanders.

Jake Johnson ·

Study Finds Many Existing Oil and Gas Sites Must Be Shut Down to Avert Climate Disaster

"Our findings show that halting new extraction projects is a necessary step, but still not enough to stay within our rapidly dwindling carbon budget," said one researcher.

Jake Johnson ·

'Cancel It, Don't Means Test It!' Omar Says of Student Debt

Progressive lawmakers and other critics continue to warn the Biden administration against the "logistical nightmare" of limiting debt cancellation by income.

Jessica Corbett ·

Trump DOJ Casting Long Shadow Over Biden Admin: Analysis

The Biden administration "should adopt Trump's positions about as often as a stopped clock is accurate," the Revolving Door Project argues.

Brett Wilkins ·

'Fueling the Flames': Model Shows Growing Risk of Wildfires in US

"It's time to end fossil fuels and better manage our forests."

Jessica Corbett ·

Common Dreams Logo