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
A public records request and lawsuit by the Partnership for Civil Justice Fund confirms that the Metropolitan Police Department failed to issue dispersal warnings or orders prior to mass arrests at the Trump Inauguration. The police actions on January 20 violated laws enacted by the D.C. Council in 2005, as well as the MPD’s own Standard Operating Procedures requiring such notice prior to arrest.
“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
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
The prosecution of hundreds of protesters at the Trump inauguration is approaching next month with federal prosecutors levying felony conspiracy and riot charges carrying terms up to 70 years in prison. PCJF Executive Director Mara Verheyden-Hilliard spoke to the "Loud and Clear" radio program on Oct. 25, 2017, to discuss the case.
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
"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.