A federal judge has declined to drop the cases against 200 protesters charged with rioting on President Trump’s inauguration day.
Judge Lynn Leibovitz of the District of Columbia Superior Court issued her decision Thursday, denying motions to dismiss the criminal cases filed by defense attorneys arguing that their clients couldn’t be tied to specific incidents on Jan. 20.
Attorneys put forth the argument that their defendants’ conduct was well within their right to free speech.
Inauguration day protests grew violent as the day wore on, and in some cases, led police to use flash-bang grenades to quell the crowd. Police arrested 234 individuals as the result of a riot that caused over $100,000 worth of property damage.
Police officers said the riot started around 10 a.m. the morning of the inauguration when members were seen ripping trash cans and newspaper boxes off of sidewalks, then dragging them into the center of the street and lighting them on fire. Protesters continued to wreak havoc, smashing car windows up and down the downtown area.
Reportedly, police officers followed them for around 28 minutes, after which the crowd began smashing out the windows of a Starbucks Coffee, Sun-Trust Bank, and Wells Fargo Bank, before setting a limo on fire.
Protesters also gathered outside of Trump Tower at noon the day before the inauguration, in accordance with Trump being sworn in. The protesters shouted and jeered chants: “No justice, no peace. Resist from day one.”
Of those charged, 19 have pleaded guilty, thus far. Criminal trials are scheduled into 2018, with the first trial set for November of this year. All were charged with breaking D.C. rioting laws, and some face charges for property destruction.
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