PCJF Op-Ed in the Washington Post: The Trump administration wants to tax protests. What happened to free speech?
For the first time, the U.S. government wants demonstrators to pay to use our parks, sidewalks and streets to engage in free speech in the nation’s capital. This should be called for what it is: a protest tax. This is a bold effort by the Trump administration to burden and restrict access to public spaces for First Amendment activities in Washington. If enacted, it would fundamentally alter participatory democracy in America. Read more
The Intercept: With Last Charges Against J20 Protesters Dropped, Defendants Seek Accountability For Prosecutors
“The prosecution, as we now know, utterly failed. But it failed at the point at which the very ugly, unethical conduct of the prosecutors and police was being cracked open,” according to Mara Verheyden-Hilliard. Referring to PCJF's current lawsuit demanding disclosure from the DCMPD of their relationships and communications with Project Veritas and others, she said: “I think there’s a real question here as to whether or not the police were attempting to skirt constitutional and statutory restrictions by using right-wing organizations as a proxy.” Read more
U.S. Attorney's Office drops charges against remaining J20 anti-Trump defendants; PCJF calls for an investigation into the US Attorney's Office and the DC Metropolitan Police Department for this crime against the First Amendment. Read more
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.