Washington, D.C. police and federal prosecutors have been collaborating with notorious right-wing groups and using doctored videos to ambush their targets in an attempt to convict and jail protesters from President Trump’s inauguration. How deep is the relationship between the police, federal prosecutors and these extremists? And in MPD’s case, are DC police breaking the law, as its city council has passed laws barring them from spying on protesters or protest groups? A PCJF FOIA lawsuit seeks to answer these questions. Read more
The Police Foundation “is extremely tied in with police departments and with police leadership, as well as police officials who retire and go into the very lucrative business of police consulting,” said Mara Verheyden-Hilliard, a constitutional lawyer and executive director of the Partnership for Civil Justice Fund, which filed a lawsuit in March charging that D.C. police are unlawfully denying public records requests related to Inauguration Day. “We believe that, for there to be a truly independent investigation, it would need to be through an entity that has no ties to police departments, police officials, or former police officials.” Read more
“This was a mass dragnet arrest that’s devoid of probable cause … they are holding people responsible for the actions of other people,” said Mara Verhayden-Hillard, executive director of the Partnership for Civil Justice Fund. “It’s evident that the U.S. Attorney’s Office under the Trump administration, working with the D.C. police department, are eager to send a very dangerous and threatening message to anyone who participates in protest activity: that they may be facing decades in prison, not for any unlawful action for their own, but for being near someone else.” Read more
NPR affiliate WAMU reports "Critics Say GSA Stonewalling Over Trump Hotel" including PCJF's revelation that certain communications with the Trump Organization were conducted over private channels. Read more
Mara Verheyden-Hilliard: "Police often seem to use these [National Special Security Events], at least in past years, as an opportunity to requisition all manner of new weapons and gear ... It's a spending spree for them, and they can legitimize it by saying 'The demonstrators are coming to town.'" Read more
If convicted, Wood faces between 70 and 80 years in federal prison. Critics have called the charges “arbitrary” and “unbelievably harsh” while the MPD has been accused of using excessive force in a bellicose attack of basic First Amendment rights. Read more
FAIR (Fairness & Accuracy in Reporting) reviews the media coverage of the mass arrests of protesters at the Jan. 20 Inauguration of Donald Trump.
The Supreme Court has declined to review whether it's legal for American police to mass-arrest peaceful protesters without first giving them a warning and an opportunity to disperse. "The Supreme Court has let stand a Second Circuit ruling that poses a clear and present danger to democracy, free speech and a free press," says Mara Verheyden-Hilliard, executive director Partnership for Civil Justice Fund and an attorney for the protesters. "It signals all those who would join a peaceful police-escorted demonstration, or report on it, that even if they comply with all police directives they can nonetheless be arrested with no warning and be subject to years of prosecution and possibly years of imprisonment," she says. Read more
An important case defending the right of protesters against mass arrests may be headed for the Supreme Court. "The [lower] court, de Blasio and the NYPD are telling people that if you want to engage in peaceful First Amendment assembly, if you see a demonstration, if you join an activity that's visibly escorted by police — even if you think you're obeying the law — you can suddenly find yourself in jail with no notice, no warning, no opportunity to disperse," says Mara Verheyden-Hilliard of the Partnership for Civil Justice Fund. "And who can take that risk?" Read more
"The superseding indictment is an unprecedented effort to explicitly charge people with acts they did not commit, that were committed by others, based solely on proximity and assumed shared political views. That basis for prosecution stands in direct violation of the First Amendment's guarantee of freedom of expression, assembly and association," says Mara Verheyden-Hilliard of the Partnership for Civil Justice.