Trump inauguration protesters found not guilty

Trump inauguration protesters found not guilty
© Victoria Sarno Jordan

A jury in a D.C. Superior Court case has acquitted a group of Inauguration Day protestors on all charges, according to multiple media reports.

Six activists who were arrested while protesting on Inauguration Day as part of the "J20," or Jan. 20, protests were each facing five felony charges of destruction of property and two misdemeanor counts of engaging in a riot.

Jennifer Armento, Oliver Harris, Brittne Lawson, Michelle Macchio, Christina Simmons and Alexei Wood were protesting President TrumpDonald John TrumpFormer Watergate prosecutor: Trump taking the fifth would be political suicide Comey: I’m ‘embarrassed and ashamed’ by Republican party Comey, Anderson Cooper clash over whether memo release violated FBI rules MORE's inauguration.

Judge Lynn Leibovitz earlier this month dismissed the more serious charges of inciting a riot. 

The defendants were acquitted Thursday after a four-week trial.

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More than 200 people were arrested during the protests, and the six acquitted Wednesday were being prosecuted for the more than $100,000 of damage that occurred across the city.

The defense argued that the J20 group, which totaled about 500 people, mostly consisted of peaceful protestors, and that the six on trial were not personally responsible for the damage to cars, windows and other property.

Prosecuting attorneys, according to The Washington Post, argued that while the six were not personally involved, their decision to march with the J20 group was “essentially providing cover” for those responsible.

“This was not a First Amendment activity,” said Assistant U.S. Attorney Rizwan Qureshi. “They conspired by joining in the group to do unlawful things on the streets of your city.” 

An additional 166 defendants arrested on Inauguration Day are scheduled to face trail in small groups through the middle of next year. Twenty others have pleaded guilty, and another 20 had the charges against them dropped, according to the Post.

Defense attorneys argued that law enforcement officers were biased against the group, citing evidence that one officer was heard calling the protesters “anarchists.”

“This is about politics. This is about police and local prosecutors who work for the Department of Justice. And we know who they report to,” said defense attorney Sarah Kroff in her closing argument. “All the government proved was that these individuals showed up and walked as protesters, and that is not a crime.”

Updated 8:40 p.m.