More than 200 people were mass-arrested at the Washington, D.C. protests against the inauguration of Donald Trump on Friday. Most of the protesters face felony riot charges that are punishable in Washington D.C. by up to 10 years in prison.
As reported by AlterNet, many of those arrested were journalists and legal observers. According to a local attorney they had their phones, cameras and other personal belongings seized as “evidence.”
Mark Goldstone, a National Lawyers Guild-affiliated attorney who has defended protesters in Washington, D.C. for more than 30 years, told AlterNet that a vast majority of the more than 200 people who were arrested during the protests Friday were charged under the felony riot act. Goldstone said he had never seen mass charges of this kind.
Jeffrey Light, another local Washington D.C.-based attorney, expressed similar words;
“I have been representing protesters for 13 years now, and I have never seen felony rioting charges in Washington, D.C. It is not one of the standard laws that they tend to use. This is unusual. It is rare to use that charge.” Light said, “Across the board, all phones and cameras are being held as evidence, and they are also detaining gloves and cell phone chargers as evidence. They are giving people their wallets back generally, but that’s it. It is extremely troubling.”
According to a class-action lawsuit filed by Light on Friday, many of those facing felony charges have already encountered violence at the hands of police. Light said police were gathering people in groups and using excessive force to mass-arrest them. Light was also troubled by the police officer’s vast weapon artillery. Light said police used batons, tear gas, flash bangs as well as other chemical irritants against protesters. He said he saw police use weapons he has never seen before.
Protesters who were arrested by police were forced to wait for hours in the streets and on school busses, many of whom had injuries that went untreated for hours.
Protests took place all across the country Friday, overshadowing the inauguration of Donald Trump. Shining light on our divided country and the disapproval of our current state.