Originally posted at VDARE by Nicholas Stix
National Policy Institute’s 2016 conference at the government-owned Reagan Center in Washington D.C. was peaceful if controversial, but the facility’s management now apparently thinks it has found a way to way to weasel out of its First Amendment obligations: “security concerns” [Federal building in D.C. rejects Richard Spencer’s request to host conference, by Perry Stein, Washington Post, November 2 2017]. (Disgracefully, NPI’s subsequent attempt to move to a private venue was also frustrated: Richard Spencer hosted an event at a Maryland farm. Halfway through, everyone was kicked out, by Perry Stein, Washington Post, November 21, 2017. Perhaps NPI should have claimed to be holding a homosexual wedding). Of course, these “security concerns” would not exist if the D.C. police had enforced the law against violent disruptors in the past—which is why I argued recently that it is so important the 200-plus Antifa rioters arrested on President Trump’s Inauguration Day (“J20”) receive “exemplary sentencing.”Finally, after protracted jury selection, the first major trial, of six defendants for felony riot, felony conspiracy, etc. began Monday (November 20).
- Michelle Macchio, 26, of Naples, Fla.;
- Jennifer Armento, 38, of Philadelphia;
- Christina Simmons, 20, of Cockeysville, Md.;
- Alexei Wood, 37, of San Antonio;
- Oliver Harris, 28, of Philadelphia; and
- Brittne Lawson, 27, of Pittsburgh
The first two days of the trial have been devoted to opening arguments, and then to showing jurors surveillance videos and those made by witnesses, and having witnesses testify to horrific experiences when the rioters attacked their business or vehicle [Witnesses describe destruction during Inauguration Day riots, by Neal Augenstein, WTOP, November 21, 2017, 3:50 p.m.]
Generally, I don’t think we’ll see J20 defendants taking the stand, because a skilled prosecutor could hang them with their own words. Thus the Leftist webzine Truthout recently quoted Carlo Piantini, a defendant in a later J20 trial, at length:
“Charges like these are intended to silence communities when the time comes for people to resist, whether that be the activist community, the anarchist community, or any other. How are people expected to be brave enough to resist when the consequences could be a lifetime of incarceration? Never mind the beatings from the police. When taking the streets and demonstrating could mean facing concussion grenades, jail cells infested with roaches, and the promise of eight felony charges, who is going to stand up and fight back? These charges are intended to keep people afraid, indoors and obedient. And this case itself is intended to set the precedent for all of this.’”
[As Trial Begins, Trump Protest Attendees Face 60 Years in Prison, by Chris Steele, November 15, 2017.]
- “Resistance” means riots.
- “The activist community” means riots.
- “The anarchist community” means riots.
- “Taking the streets” means riots.
- “[T]he beatings from the police” is a fabrication. If only!
- “Jail cells infested with roaches…” Jail cells with roaches, oh my! Get down with the people, brother! They live with roaches. Don’t be an elitist.
As for Pianatini’s fear that this case will “set a precedent”, one can only hope. But note that police and prosecutors enforcing the law has now become a radical idea—kind of like enforcing the America’s immigration laws.
There were even crazier sections in the Truthout article, such as “Comparing Charlottesville to J20: A Case Study in Hypocrisy.” CultMarx Enforcer Steele again quotes Piantini:
“The resistance that took place on J20 was not beneficial to the state; the white-supremacist violence that took place in Charlottesville was. This country has always been a colonial, white-supremacist project, and the Trump regime rode its way into power by renormalizing explicit white-nationalism.”
Putting aside the fact that the Alt Right protestors held without bail in Charlottesville (still) are not rioters but political prisoners, Steele’s assertion that the authorities were “hypocritical” presupposes that the same authority—none other than Donald J. Trump—was in control in both instances.
But Trump wasn’t even president when the police strategy and assignments for the Inauguration were decided. He wouldn’t have had any authority regarding the D.C. Metro Police anyway. And prosecutorial decisions were made by a black diversity-oriented Obama appointee, U.S. Attorney Channing D. Phillips.In Charlottesville, policing and prosecutorial decisions were made by black supremacists City Manager Maurice Jones and Police Chief Al Thomas, and the Leftist Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office (there was then no CA).
Similarly, future J20 defendant Elizabeth Ariadne Lagesse was lovingly showcased in the New York Times:
[A]s Inauguration Day approached, I became so disgusted by President-elect Donald Trump’s behavior that I felt it would have been negligent to remain a bystander. So I traveled from Baltimore to join hundreds of thousands [sic] of protesters at counterdemonstrations around Mr. Trump’s swearing-in.
Little did I know that I would be swept up into a legal nightmare that demonstrates how prosecutors intimidate and manipulate defendants into giving up their rights….
In addition to seizing the contents of at least 100 cellphones, prosecutors secured broad warrants for Facebook pages and records relating to a political organizing website.
[How Prosecutors Turn a Protest Into a ‘Riot’ by Elizabeth Ariadne Lagesse, November 15, 2017.]
Bunk! There was no “political organizing website.” It was DisruptJ20, set up with the sole purpose of conspiring to riot (note its NAME!!!) and thereby make it impossible to hold the inauguration of a lawfully elected president.
That Lagesse would not want prosecutors to be able to search her cellphone, DisruptJ20, or Facebook pages (presumably those limited to a private group) makes perfect sense… if she’s guilty of the charges against her.
She had some self-serving criticisms of the criminal justice system:
The trouble starts with the indictment process, in which prosecutors present their case to a grand jury in secret…
Ferguson redux. If we’re going to eliminate the secrecy of grand jury testimony (as was already done in Ferguson), then the grand jury system is kaput.
I became so disgusted by President-elect Donald Trump’s behavior…
[a] lawsuit filed on behalf of me and three other plaintiffs by the American Civil Liberties Union. (One of this case’s many paradoxes is that I’ve been advised not to talk publicly about what happened before my arrest.)”
Lagesse better avoid getting called to the witness stand in her own defense. Otherwise, prosecutors will force her to come up with a story about what she was doing just “before my arrest.”
Since Trump wasn’t yet President, his only “behavior” that could have “disgusted” her was in his beating Hillary Clinton against astronomical odds. The only “disgusting behavior” I’m aware of between the election and the inauguration, was that of Democrats seeking to undo the election and make it impossible for the new president to govern.
Lagesse reminds me of black supremacist leaders (Al Sharpton) in New York,who threatened to burn the city down when Rudy Giuliani was elected Mayor, before he had even been inaugurated, and acted as if he were “racist,” before he had even done anything.
Lagesse keeps using cutesy variations on “disrupt,” only they are all about how inconvenienced she was by police and prosecutors. Nowhere does she acknowledge that anyone rioted.
Lagesse criticizes the police practice of “kettling” riot suspects, asserting that it sweeps up innocent rioters, er, “demonstrators.”
However, as one commenter on the Washington Post recounted, one mob of kettled rioters charged as one on a police line, and broke through to escape.
At this first major J20 trial, a commenter at the Washington Post’s reportsuggested that the furious note-taking during juror voir dire by Alt Left court spectators was to collect information on each juror sufficient to “dox” him and thereby destroy his life.
Presiding Judge of the Criminal Division of the Washington, D.C. Superior Court Lynn Leibovitz (PDF) is described as D.C.’s “toughest judge” according to Leftist propaganda outlet The Indypendant [#Disrupt J20 Defendants Stand Trial, by Gary Roland, Nov 17, 2017]. Unfortunately, thus is belied by her sentencing J20 rioters who have already pleaded guilty, whether to felonies (Dane Powell) or misdemeanors (Cody Stewart), to token sentences of seven months or less, which she then suspended—exactly the slaps on the wrist that the Alt Left expects from complicit political establishments.
Certainly Judge Leibowitz gave the appearance of being exceedingly rigorous, sitting at a table right by where each prospective juror was undergoing voir dire, and looking in the witness’ eyes. Some attorneys even asked her to please move, because the prospective juror was speaking very softly, and they couldn’t hear him. She refused.
Judge Leibovitz asked each prospective juror what their views were on the reliability of testimony by a policeman. If they testified that they put more faith in a cop’s than a civilian’s word, she immediately dismissed them.
Reports on the session insinuated that the judge would also immediately bounce prospective jurors who testified that they put less stock in cops’ testimony… but didn’t report her doing so.
Judge Leibovitz also interrogated each witness as to their views of the President. However, reporters did not tell us the rest of the story—what she heard, and how she reacted. [“Judge asks potential jurors in Inauguration Day riots trial, ‘What are your feelings about the president?’” By Keith L. Alexander and Paul Duggan, Washington Post, November 15, 2017.]
In their opening arguments, defense attorneys maintained that police indiscriminately rounded up peaceful demonstrators.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Jennifer Kerkhoff countered that the defendants continued to walk with the rioters, after the latter had wreaked mayhem. If they were in disagreement with the rioters’ tactics, she argued, they were obligated to separate from them, the way other demonstrators did, who were not charged.
Kerkhoff said there was video that showed the co-defendants changing out of their black clothes and removing their masks to avoid capture, an effort, she said, that proved they were connected with the rioting.
[Inauguration protesters were “playing a role in the violence and destruction,” prosecutor says, by Keith L. Alexander and Paul Duggan, Washington Post, November 20 2017]
AUSA Jennifer Kerkhoff has an uphill battle. Over 40 years of de-policing and prosecutorial laxity has led millions of Americans to believe that all sorts of crimes are legal.
I’ll be following these trials for VDARE.com