Minutes before Donald Trump's oath of office and a few blocks away, over 230 people were mass-arrested during an anti-capitalist and anti-fascist march. A 36-hour detention was followed by two long indictments, amounting to eight felony charges. The prosecution's aim was to create a story of conspiracy, where those wearing black, carrying medic supplies, or using any form of face protection were guilty by association of any property destruction.
One group of six went to trial in November of 2017, and were acquitted. The trial itself revealed a great deal about legal and police approaches to undesirable protest. 59 more defendants will go to trial throughout this year, and still face decades in prison.
We talk with three former defendants and one supporter who has written extensively about the case and its connection to a broader history of repressive policing, legal statutes, and public discourse. We will also discuss the new era of popular #resistance, in which many are quick to condemn property destruction, barricades, and identity concealment.
The J20 case has been the canary in the coal mine of Trump's presidency: anarchists and anti-capitalists are a testing ground for the criminalization of protest and anti-state expression. There has already been an up-tick in felony charges for water protectors, radical queer activists, and Black Lives Matter protesters. We welcome conversation on this topic and ways to make links and solidarity between defendants across cases.
The J20 trials are a in-depth course in how right-wing elements flex their strength through the police and Justice Department. They have also been a test of the strength of radical movements, who have risen to face legal and personal costs amidst a two year courtroom battle. For more info, visit defendj20resistance.org.