Police fire pepper spray on protesters during a demonstration after the inauguration of President Donald Trump, Jan. 20, 2017, in Washington. John Minchillo/AP Photo
More than 200 protesters are facing felony convictions next year after their arrests by D.C. police on Inauguration Day.
Many of the protesters facing felony riot convictions say they had nothing to do with the window smashing and fires near Franklin Square that day and are instead being prosecuted for their proximity to the event.
A court filing from the U.S. Attorney's Office for D.C. says the riot caused more than $100,000 in damages to buildings, property, and vehicles, and minor injuries to six officers. The USAO
called the event a "violent riot."
In March, a grand jury returned additional charges for 212 of the defendants. There was one count of inciting or urging to riot, one count of engaging in rioting, one count of conspiracy to riot, and five counts of destruction of property.
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Anti-Trump protesters face felony charges in Washington, D.C. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)[/caption]
The day after the initial arrests, lawyers for a number of the demonstrators filed a class action lawsuit against the police, alleging false arrests and excessive force. The Office of Police Complaints called for an independent investigation into law enforcement actions that day.
We were fully aware of the possibility of additional charges, but the indiscriminate nature of the charges is outrageous," said Sam Menefee-Libey, a spokesperson for support group Dead City Legal Posse.
The group formed to help defendants with housing, travel reimbursements, and hospitality, and has raised upwards of tens of thousands of dollars.
The trials for the accused rioters won't begin until March 2018 at the earliest, The Washington Post
reports. Defense lawyers are looking at the more than 650 hours of video available through cell phones, police body cameras, and helicopter cameras. Prosecutors have been mining nearly 200 phones confiscated on Inauguration Day.