On Jan. 20, the day of Donald Trump’s presidential inauguration, protests broke out across Washington, D.C. Thousands of people flocked to our nation’s capital to announce to the world that they could not abide the man elected president, nor the things he stands for.
The protests were almost uniformly nonviolent, and D.C. police corroborate that view, but they also arrested over 200 people that day on riot-related charges following a scuffle. The Daily Beast reports that the first six of those arrested have been declared not guilty by the jury.
The federal jury somehow came to this conclusion after a trial that literally involved the prosecution bringing up YouTube conspiracy theory videos and footage edited by James O’Keefe as evidence, not to mention a star witness who was not even present at the protest itself. Other highlights included an attempt to characterize a photojournalist’s monopod as a dangerous “baton” and an attempt to question why an oncology nurse volunteering as a medic at the protest would need medical gauze.
The real crown jewel of the trial came when Assistant U.S. Attorney Jennifer Kerkhoff was reprimanded by the judge after she told the jury that “reasonable doubt” shouldn’t influence their decision. (Paste would like to note here that if you are serving on a jury, reasonable doubt should, in fact, influence your decision).
The trial began in November with Kerkhoff saying that the United States had not indicted these six defendants because they had anything like evidence of them breaking windows or hurting anybody. Of course not, that would be silly. Instead, she explained that they were trying to convict the accused of inciting a riot.
Well, with no evidence of any violent behavior, the jury decided that maybe people shouldn’t be imprisoned for protesting. We can’t remember exactly which law it is, but we’re pretty sure American citizens are guaranteed the right to express their opinions in the form of protest. The rest of the 194 protesters indicted for their roles in the riot will be tried next, in equally small groups. For now, Michelle Macchio, Jennifer Armento, Oliver Harris, Brittne Lawson, Christina Simmons and Alexei Wood are free to go.