More than three dozen defendants in the year-long #DisruptJ20 trial celebrated Friday evening after prosecutors dismissed all remaining charges against them, following a number of failures to prove the protesters were guilty of wrongdoing.
"The state failed at silencing dissent and today our movement is stronger than it was on #J20," tweeted Dylan Petrohilos, who was charged with conspiracy, rioting, and destruction due to his participation in planning to protest—even though he did not attend. "I'm proud of all my co-defendants, and everyone in the streets who resisted fascism and state violence."
Aaaaannnnd the #J20 trials are over. Government has dismissed charges against remaining 38 defendants. After charging more than 200 people with felonies, they got one single felony guilty plea. Pretty epic failure! pic.twitter.com/xQ9jBsEGfr
— Ryan J. Reilly (@ryanjreilly) July 6, 2018
The Department of Justice (DOJ) dropped charges against 38 people who were among the 234 arrested on January 20, 2017 at a protest against President Donald Trump's inauguration. Some of the charges had carried sentences of more than 60 years in prison.
The government initially charged the protesters with felony rioting, but were able to secure only one guilty plea to the charge. Twenty pleaded guilty to misdemeanor charges.
The protesters have been tried in groups, with six defendants acquitted late last year after prosecutors failed to convince a jury that the protesters were responsible for the property damage they were accused of committing.
Prosecutors also came under scrutiny for relying on videos shot by the right-wing group Project Veritas to build their case—leading to a judge's ruling in the trial of 10 protesters in May, that the government had withheld evidence.
"I do think it's a serious violation," Wasington D.C. Superior Court Chief Judge Robert Morin said of the prosecution's failure to disclose the entirely of Project Veritas's undercover video of a meeting about the protests.
The protesters and their supporters posted on social media about their victory in court on Friday.
BREAKING: the District Attorney's office just dropped 38 of the last 39 #J20 defendants.
THIS IS HUGE #DefendJ20
But people will still need to cover legal fees so please get at this https://t.co/aoeMP6OdAR
— Dylan Petrohilos (@dpetrohilos) July 6, 2018
— Aaron Cantú (@aaron_con_choco) July 6, 2018