Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Was the rioting that greeted Trump's inauguration Free Speech?

The heading on the report excerpted below was "Inside The Trial That Could Determine The Future Of Free Speech In America's Capital".  But the trial has got nothing to do with free speech.  The defendants are being charged with deliberate property destruction -- which only a Leftist would call free speech

Macchio is one of six individuals currently on trial in the nation’s capital, facing felony charges that could potentially land them in federal prison for decades, or at the very least leave them with felony convictions that would stunt their career prospects and deprive them of certain rights.

Another 181 individuals are facing felony trials in the coming year, though the ultimate resolution of a large number of those cases could depend on how this first trial plays out. Twenty other defendants arrested that day have already pleaded guilty, but just one defendant pleaded guilty to a felony. Seven others facing misdemeanors are scheduled for a trial by judge.

The charges all stem from a mass arrest conducted by police in downtown D.C. aimed at a group of marchers that included anti-capitalists, anti-fascists and anarchists under the umbrella of an organization called DisruptJ20.

Police had kept an eye on what demonstrators had planned that day, sending an undercover officer into a planning meeting where an organizer said their goal was to “make inauguration a giant clusterfuck.” Things quickly got out of control once the group left their gathering point in Logan Circle, with individuals from within the group of mostly black-clad demonstrators breaking store windows, throwing newspaper boxes, spray-painting cars, smashing parking meters and hurling rocks at officers.

In her opening statement in the trial on Nov. 20, Kerkhoff repeatedly referred to a “sea of black masks” that caused destruction that day. The possession or wearing of black clothing has become a central aspect of the prosecution’s case. During one day of the trial, she held up a skull cap featuring an image of a skull that was seized from defendant Christina Simmons, a 20-year-old from Maryland who offered snacks from her backpack to officers who processed her, according to her defense attorney.

Jurors have heard from numerous business owners and employees who had their property damaged by members of the group that day. They’ve also heard from numerous police officers about the chaos they encountered, including an officer injured as he tried to apprehend an individual who threw a patio chair at his colleague.

What jurors haven’t heard, and prosecutors don’t intend to offer, is evidence that any of the six individuals currently on trial ― Macchio, Simmons, Jennifer Armento, Oliver Harris, Brittne Lawson and Alexei Wood ― actually engaged in any property damage or violence. Under the government’s theory of the case, in which anyone arrested in the group is part of a conspiracy and is responsible for any actions taken by others, the lack of individualized wrongdoing doesn’t matter.

Prosecutors have charged all six with eight charges, including six felonies. If convicted, they’d be exposed to a potential maximum sentence of more than 60 years in federal prison (though such an extreme sentence is extraordinarily unlikely).

“Each of them made a choice, and each of them played a role,” Kerkhoff told jurors in her opening statement. “You don’t personally have to be the one who breaks the window to be guilty of rioting.”



Anonymous said...

Protestors think that they can do whatever they want without respect for others.

Stan B said...

This falls under the RICO Act - that the protesters, by dressing in a standardized "uniform" knowingly identified with and became part of a "criminal conspiracy." Once you have a criminal conspiracy, you get mass guilt for the bad actions of any player.

It's a very well established criminal theory - and the fact that the protesters were organized ahead of time, with the intention to cause a cf, means that they were part of the conspiracy.

Bill R. said...

Rioting and destroying property does not fall under free speech. Those are criminal acts.

Anonymous said...

Protesting is protesting and is legal but when you cross the line and start performing damage to other people and property you have crossed the line between protesting and rioting.

It is really simple, these people planned to riot, not protest. They deserve the full punishment for rioting.

Tidford Tatt said...

This is an interesting case – a case which could easily lead to abuse and shutting down of free speech. Imagine how a Hillary, a Barack or a Bernie could misuse an overly broad decision in this case. I can easily see a younger, stupider me getting caught up in some protest that villains turned violent.

Having said that, there is a great difference between going to a non-violent demonstration in street clothes and going to a demonstration expected to go violent dressed in the uniform of violence, including a prosecution avoiding mask.

Once the dispersal order is given, any voluntarily remaining person wearing that uniform of violence including prosecution thwarting mask is, at minimum, surely giving cover to those acting violently and thus has entered into a violent RICO conspiracy.

It is true that there may be some particularly stupid people who did not foresee their conspiracy becoming violent. But there is an old adage in the law: “Ignorance of the law is no excuse.” In a similar vein, “Stupidity is no excuse.” Indeed, if stupidity were an excuse which of us could, in good conscience, ever convict any Democrat of anything? A plea of "Abject Stupidity" would become a "get out of jail free card" for each and every Democrat in the land.

Bird of Paradise said...

Typical spoiled brat liberals cant take the fact the american people made their choice so why dont these little snowflakes and anarcists scumballs just go and Soak their Heads

Anonymous said...

It might well have significant effects on free speech.
If, by participating in a rally, you also bear potential criminal liability if that protest gets out of hand and criminal damage is caused - then the freedom to assemble and march in support of a cause will be jeopardised.
It is the classic issue of mass rallies. Some are there for one thing, some another, but they all get lumped together when something goes bad.

Spurwing Plover the fighting shorebird said...

Remember those miserble little collage Bolsheveks like to try and shout down conservative speakers their all scum on the very bottom of the swamp

Stan B said...

Anon 7:20 -

it is the premeditation of the violence by a self-identifying organization that caused the conditions required to trigger RICO prosecution. If you go to a rally in "street clothes" and the rally turns violent, and you have no ties to the group which PREMEDITATED the violence, you have no worries. However, if you joined the group BECAUSE they were planning to become violent, then you have a problem, whether you actually committed the violence or not.

Anonymous said...

But doesn't that cause issues Stan.
Let's say you go along and wear the gear because you support the cause.
Unbeknownst to you, the organisers have planned something more inflammatory.
Is your identification with the group enough to 'buy in' to the violence, even though you knew nothing about what was planned?