On Jan 20th, 200+ protesters were mass-arrested, detained, and now face 8+ felonies.
The "J20" Arrests & Prosecutions
On Jan 20th, hundreds of inauguration protesters were mass-arrested, held in inhumane conditions, and are now facing at least 8 felony charges each. Their cell phones were confiscated and searched, their homes were raided, and their social media data was seized.
After an initial (already unusual) "felony rioting" indictment, prosecutors pushed for a series of revisions - pulling in more defendants and bringing each person's total charges to a staggering 8+ felonies.
Prosecutors in these cases have demanded vast troves of website data involving millions of unrelated people, sought gag orders forcing Facebook to silently hand over data without notifying users or allowing for legal due process, and 'cracked' over 100 defendant cell phones to extract terabytes of personal data.
At the same time, they requested a rare 'protective' order to keep defendants from sharing police body camera footage - shielding the police from public accountability, and complicating efforts to prepare a defense.
Most disturbingly, prosecutors have balked at their basic, constitutional duty to disclose individualized evidence - citing the workload of so many cases.
The irony of that complaint, given the disruption caused in over 200 people's lives by their choice to bring these charges, appears lost on both the prosecution and the court.
Most defendants will wait more than a year for their day in court - under the constant, debilitating threat of 70+ years in prison.
Throughout these cases, prosecutors have engaged in vindictive, intrusive, and excessive behavior - from detectives sent to eavesdrop on attorney-client conversations in the courthouse, to offers of 'wired' pleas designed to coerce easy 'wins' for the prosecutor by pitting defendants against family and friends.
But who 'wins' when prosecutors abuse their power and disrupt lives?
If we let these cases continue uncontested, we empower one of the world's biggest school-yard bullies - the modern American prosecutor - to set aside even the meager protection offered by everyone's favorite 10 Amendments.
We make the next abuse easier; the next target more vulnerable.
Fortunately, unlike so many of the complex problems we face, the power to end this lies squarely in the hands of a few specific people.
As US Attorney for the District of Columbia, Jessie Liu has near-complete prosecutorial discretion to drop these charges!
It's up to you to demand that she does
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