All Out to #DropJ20: The Trial and the Path Ahead
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In this very important episode of the IGDcast, we talk with three people facing charges from #DisruptJ20 as well as someone from the Tilted Scales Collective. The charges, described by lawyers as “unprecedented,” that have been thrown at the almost 200 defendants, amount to life sentences, and are an attempt to attack dissent and the anarchist movement in particular. As events have played out since January, we have learned that police sexually assaulted arrestees, worked openly with Alt-Right media, and we have watched as the State has moved to gain access to vast amounts of private electronic data in an assault on basic freedoms. As a movement, we must, stand behind these comrades.
— dropj20 (@dropj20) October 26, 2017
In regards to the charges, defendants are all collectively charged with breaking the same group of windows, but also having organized a “conspiracy” before hand to do so. Moreover, the arrest in which defendants were swept up in, a massive kettle, included people on the street as well as journalists. Those arrested also were forced to stand for hours on the street without access to food, water, or bathrooms, and police are also now facing a lawsuit for sexual assaulting and molesting a group of arrestees.
— dropj20 (@dropj20) October 31, 2017
The story of the J20 protesters should frighten anyone concerned about the future of both free assembly and dissent in the United States. The charges—which include felony rioting, inciting or urging others to riot, conspiracy to riot, and property destruction—all stem from the same mass arrest, during which police indiscriminately swept up protesters, journalists, and legal observers. What makes the charges all the more troubling is that prosecutors then failed to allege that the bulk of defendants did anything specifically unlawful; rather, merely being at the protest was a crime.
A case in point: The prosecution charged all of the defendants (at one point numbering 214) with breaking the same windows. Prosecutors, of course, know that 200 people cannot break the same windows. But the logic of the case dictates that the defendants’ mere presence at a protest during which property damage occurred makes them guilty.
Despite the fact that only a few windows were broken during the march, the State is pushing for collective punishment and to “move the goal post,” both in terms of its ability to militarize police forces and through the crushing of popular mobilizations in the courts. In this context, it’s paramount that we stand behind the J20 arrestees and support them during their trials, which begin on November 15th.
— dropj20 (@dropj20) October 25, 2017
Throughout this interview, we discuss what has happened with the case in the last few months, including both the press picking up on the story in part due to numerous journalists facing felony charges for covering the event, as well as the collusion between the State and the far-Right. For instance, a list of defendants’ names were leaked to the Alt-Right website, GotNews, which is run by Alt-Right troll Charles C Johnson, a friend to neo-Nazi leaders such as Richard Spencer and Andrew Anglin. The prosecution has also based some of its evidence on chopped together footage from far-Right media outlets.
— dropj20 (@dropj20) October 5, 2017
Beyond this, the State has also attempted to obtain massive amounts of personal electronic data, both from defendants phones and also by attempting to obtain the IP addresses of millions of people who visited the #DisruptJ20 website and even everyone who “liked” the page of Facebook. In short, the J20 case will have a sweeping impact on the future of policing, dissent, and protest.
Email messages, texts, social media posts, contacts, search histories, a record of all calls, logins, chats, images, videos, downloads and more have been seized from other, unencrypted phones. This case will likely be instrumental in deciding to what extent the government can take data from our phones in order to gain information and quell dissent. It is particularly dangerous in the case of a reporter who may be in contact with confidential sources.
Prosecutors want to use highly inflammatory videos created by conspiracy theorists as "evidence" https://t.co/KqzP3gAP5p
— Defending Rights & Dissent (@RightsDissent) October 11, 2017
The repression, raids, and felony charges surrounding the J20 case are an attempt to stop the growth of autonomous social struggles and crush resistance on the streets. In the face of this, over the past 10 months people across the world have organized a wide range of actions and events to show solidarity with defendants as well as organizing weeks of solidarity with those facing lengthy prison sentences. Going forward, we all need to spread the word about the case, demand that the charges be dropped, as well as step up to support everyone who will soon be going to trial starting November 15th.
Music: Ab-Soul and Eliphante
This post was written by It's Going Down