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
PCJF Files Lawsuit Over D.C. Police Department’s Relationship with Right-Wing Organizations to Infiltrate and Surveil Protest Groups
PCJF today filed a FOIA lawsuit demanding government disclosure of documents regarding the D.C. Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) and its officers’ relationships with Project Veritas, Oath Keepers and other groups who helped the MPD infiltrate and surveil protest groups. Read more
The U.S. Attorney’s office “is desperate in the remaining cases to establish that people can be imprisoned not for criminal actions but rather for their association and proximity to others,” Mara Verheyden-Hilliard, a constitutional lawyer and executive director of the Partnership for Civil Justice Fund, told The Intercept. “The third category of defendants are being prosecuted based on presumed shared political views and association, specifically participation in a political march while wearing black.” Read more
Alex Rubinstein, an independent journalist who was one of the 200 people falsely arrested during the "J20" protests at the Trump inauguration, interviews PCJF Executive Director Mara Verheyden-Hilliard about the work of the PCJF, in particular how it relates to the rights of the arrested protesters and the behavior of the police.
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.