The final charges against the remaining activists arrested for their role in protests during President Donald Trump’s inauguration have been dropped, more than a year and a half after the group was arrested in Washington, DC.
The rioting charges against the remaining 38 activists were dismissed by federal prosecutors on Friday, effectively ending the government’s efforts to imprison more than 200 members of the Disrupt J20 protests who participated in the inaugural weekend demonstrations.
The dismissals come months after the first six protesters tried were acquitted on charges of felony property destruction, misdemeanor conspiracy to riot, and misdemeanor rioting. Shortly thereafter, prosecutors dropped felony rioting charges against an additional 129 protesters, choosing instead to focus on what they said was a “smaller, core group that we believe is most responsible for the destruction and violence that took place.”
There have been a total of zero convictions stemming from the inaugural arrests, although nearly two dozen protesters pled guilty to minor infractions, resulting in fines and community service. Throughout the various cases stemming from the J20 arrests, prosecutors struggled to prove that defendants were involved in the so-called “black-bloc” group of protesters who allegedly damaged property during the demonstration. They also were criticized for relying on footage provided by the repeatedly discredited, ultra-conservative Project Veritas group.
In a statement, the U.S. Attorney’s Office acknowledged its total failure to secure a single guilty verdict from the mass arrests:
The destruction that occurred during these criminal acts was in sharp contrast to the peaceful demonstrations and gatherings that took place over the Inauguration weekend in the District of Columbia, and created a danger for all who were nearby. Indeed, 21 people have pled guilty to charges for their conduct that day, including one to felony offenses. In light of the results of the cases brought to trial, however, the U.S. Attorney’s Office has now moved to dismiss charges against the remaining 38 defendants in this matter.