Statement of Solidarity with #DisruptJ20 Defendants
On January 20, 2017, tens of thousands of people converged in Washington, D.C. for the #disruptJ20 protests to oppose the inauguration of Donald Trump. A combination of blockades, marches, and festive demonstrations shattered the spectacle of a peaceful transition of power, and made it clear around the world that people do not recognize Trump’s authority. What could have been a day signaling resignation and defeat became a moment of defiance and resistance. As such, the protests on J20 set a tone and precedent for the events that unfolded shortly after, including the notably successful, mass direct actions at airports against Trump’s Muslim ban, as well as ongoing resistance to deportations. While Trump and his alt-right foot soldiers have encountered few meaningful obstacles from liberal politicians in the halls of power, grassroots resistance has continued to prove a substantial force.
Unfortunately, however, with resistance comes repression. In addition to shooting pepper spray and concussion grenades indiscriminately at protesters, including children, the elderly, and people with disabilities, DC police cordoned off an entire block and mass arrested more than 230 people in an attempt to stop an anti-capitalist and anti-fascist march. While mass arrests are not unheard of, in this case arrestees are each being charged with felony riot, a charge that potentially carries ten years in prison.
With these heightened charges the state is trying to set a precedent for harsh crackdowns of disruptive protest in the future, so that Trump can proceed with his agenda unimpeded by anything but symbolic hand-wringing. This strategy corresponds with a broader wave of repression and reaction, from the arrests and grand jury investigations of Indigenous water protectors at #StandingRock to backlash against #BlackLivesMatter and black-led uprisings against police. The arrests at J20 also inform local strategies for repression, including anti-protest laws that have been proposed in 18 different state legislatures, which further criminalize commonly used tactics like highway takeovers and in some cases make it legal for drivers to knowingly hit protesters marching in roadways.
The charges against J20 defendants are an experiment. If the courts are able to successfully prosecute those arrested at J20, this will send a green light to the forces of repression seeking to contain, control, and eliminate social movements around the country. Just as all of our struggles are connected, we understand these arrests to represent a real threat to all efforts towards true freedom, dignity, and autonomy. We call for the immediate dropping of all charges, and express our sincere solidarity with and support for those arrested, and encourage others to do so as well.
For general info and legal updates, check out DClegalposse.org and defendJ20resistance.org. To donate to legal support, you can visit any number of coordinated groups set up to facilitate support of defendants from different regions:
PITTSBURGH, PA: » Support Pittsburghers Arrested at J20
NORTH CAROLINA: » North Carolina #J20 Defense Fund
RICHMOND, VA: » Support #DisruptJ20 Richmond Arrestees
BALTIMORE, MD: » Help the #Baltimore13 Fight Felony Riot Charges
HAMPTON ROADS, VA: » Hampton Roads Justice Network Antifascist Legal Fund
PHILLY, PA: » Philly J20 Solidarity Financial Support Fund
WEST MICHIGAN: » West Michigan J20 Support Fund
WASHINGTON DC: » #NYC2DisruptJ20 Legal Fund
INDIVIDUALS: » “Help Human Rights Activists Fight for Justice”
Dayton Anti-Racist Action
University of Texas National Lawyers Guild
UNControllables (Chapel Hill, NC)
The Final Straw Radio