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May 4, 18

US Attorney Seeks to Admit FBI Analyst as Expert Based on their Reading of Books that Mention Black Bloc

Update on the J20 case from support group, Defend J20. States how the State will call an FBI ‘expert’ who has read several books which mention the black bloc, including some works that were published after the events of January 20th, 2017. 

Washington, DC – On Friday, United States District Attorney Jennifer Kerkhoff filed a notice naming a purported “expert” witness to be used in an upcoming trial against 6 people arrested in relation to protests against Trump’s inauguration.

According to the filing, the expert is a Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) analyst named Christina Williams. Williams’ expertise is “…based on her training and experience” which includes her work in the Counterterrorism Analysis Section of the FBI and her review of “open source material”. According to the filing, much of Williams’ alleged expertise will be based on her reading of four widely available books including the national bestseller Antifa: The Anti-Fascist Handbook by historian Mark Bray.

“This expert filing is just the latest example of government overreach in this case” said Sam Menefee-Libey of DC Legal Posse. “After delaying two trials citing the need for a so-called ‘black bloc expert’, the best the government could come up with is an FBI analyst who read a couple of books on the black bloc and who is willing to reiterate the points contained in the overly broad indictment in this case.”

The filing comes following a failed request by the government to admit an expert witness who acted as an undercover agent infiltrating protest movements. The government sought to admit that expert – whose identity remains unknown – as an anonymous witness citing their past undercover work. However, after opposition from defense attorneys, Judge Robert Morin ruled against that request and greatly limited the scope of what the witness could say. In response, the government filed for a delay in the trial citing the need for an expert. In a telling admission of the weakness of their case, the government wrote that it cannot in “…good conscience, ask another fourteen citizens to sacrifice a substantial amount of time and energy to sit on this jury without presenting the evidence of an ‘educational’ expert on the black bloc tactic and terminology used.”

In January, the government dismissed charges against 129 defendants, but 59 defendants are each still facing multiple felonies relating to the Inauguration day protests. The next trial – which does not involve this expert witness – begins on May 14 in the Superior Court of DC at 500 Indiana Ave NW. Trials for the remaining defendants are spread throughout the year and will continue until October.

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On January 20th, 230 people were mass arrested during demonstrations against Donald Trump's Inauguration. The arrests were made by use of a "kettle" technique of individuals on the corners of L and 12th Street, without orders to disperse. 214 of these arrestees were charged under the Federal Riot Statute. On April 27th, multiple additional felony charges were added. The 211 remaining defendants could now face up to 75 years in prison.

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