More than 100 people who protested the inauguration of President Donald Trump last year are getting their charges dropped by prosecutors, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia said.
The announcement Thursday came as the office said it would proceed in cases against 59 others who are facing felony charges such as rioting and destruction of property in relation to the protests.
“The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia has filed notice with the Court that it is exercising its discretion and moving forward with the prosecution of 59 defendants indicted on felony charges related to the rioting that took place on January 20, 2017, in Washington D.C.,” the office said in a statement obtained by Fox 5 DC.
“The government will be filing motions to dismiss without prejudice the indictment against the other remaining 129 defendants so that it can focus its efforts on this smaller, core group that we believe is most responsible for the destruction and violence that took place on Inauguration Day,” it added.
Six protesters who went to trial were acquitted by D.C. Superior court last month, and on Wednesday, authorities released more than 200 videos used by the prosecution as evidence in the case, Fox 5 DC reported.
The defense attorneys in that case said their clients were not involved with the violence and were exercising their First Amendment rights.
“For a full year, the government’s abusive prosecution has upended the lives of these defendants, who’ve endured the anxiety of multiple court hearings and suffered disruptions to their educations or careers while facing the prospect of more than 60 years in prison,” said Scott Michelman, senior staff attorney for the ACLU of the District of Columbia.
“We hope the government continues to carefully examine the evidence it has against the remaining 59 defendants, at least some of whom we continue to believe are innocent.”