Local News


Lawyer: DC rioters should not be punished

Posted at 2:11 PM, Jan 24, 2017

Hundreds of people face felony charges for the riots in Washington, D.C. on Inauguration Day, despite only a relative few doing the most damage.

An attorney representing some of those charged not only believes no one will be punished, he says even the worst offenders shouldn't be anyway.

The riots that took place blocks away from Donald Trump's inauguration on Friday quickly stole the spotlight.

The windows to a Starbucks were smashed with people trapped inside, and a limo was smashed and set on fire.

The Associated Press reported the president of the company that owns the limo says it is unlikely insurance will pay for the damage.

Around 230 people were surrounded by riot police in D.C. on Friday and arrested. 217 of them are charged with felony rioting, a charge that carries a possible sentence of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

Jason Flores-Williams is an attorney who was in D.C. as legal counsel for the group #DisruptJ20, which had some of its members start the riot.

He's now representing at least 15 of those swept up in the mass arrests.

"It didn't matter what their role was," Flores-Williams said. "It didn't matter if they were going grocery shopping."

Most of the people had their faces covered.

When asked how police were supposed to tell the difference and how officers should have responded Flores-Williams said "that's exactly it. They can't tell the difference. The government has no chance of being able to prove its burden here."

Flores-Williams says he intends to take all the cases to trial. He says no officer could identify anyone and what their role was. He also says he does not believe even those who caused the most damage should face any repercussions.

"I think this country born of violence," he said. "This country commits violence all around the world all the time, so allegedly someone breaks a Starbucks window now they're facing 10 years ... I think the charges are obscene and I think what we need right now is a degree of beautiful trouble and civil disobedience in this country ... I don't believe anybody should face any punishment for what happened on Friday."

CBS News reported most of the people were released from jail without having to post bond on the condition they are not re-arrested in D.C. They will have to return to court in February.

There has also been a class action civil suit filed against D.C. Police for its response to the riots, alleging the mass arrests were without probable cause.

Six officers were hurt during the riots.