CRIME

D.C. Cops Raid Home Of Inauguration Day Riot ‘Conspirator’

The people who lived in the home that was raided weren't even arrested during the riot

CRIME
An anti-Trump protester screams after being hit by a paintball gun — AFP/Getty Images
Apr 07, 2017 at 4:10 PM ET

Police in Washington D.C. on Monday raided the home of a person they believe was a “conspirator” in the riots that ripped through the city on Inauguration Day, and that led to the arrests of more than 200 people, including journalists, many of whom still face felony charges.

The home raided by the D.C. Metropolitan Police Department does not belong to any of the 230 people arrested on Inauguration Day, said Sam Menefee-Libey, an activists with the D.C Legal Posse, a resource center set up for those swept up in the mass arrest on January 20. He said several officers kicked in the front door with their guns drawn and took everything from notebooks, flags, and banners to cell phones, computers, and even speakers.

“What could they possibly need to take speakers for?” Menefee-Libey said. They even took artwork of those who lived in the home.

Menefee-Libey would not say who was targeted in the raid, only that the person is a “known activist.” No names were on the search warrant, just the address of the residence.

“This is just a case of the cops trying to justify what they did on Inauguration Day,” he said. “They mass-arrested protestors with no evidence that they did anything and now they need to justify it [by saying it was part of a vast conspiracy.]”

Asked for comment, the D.C. Metropolitan Police Department said, “There are no updates to release as this is an on-going criminal investigation.”

The rioters, authorities say, caused more than $100,000 in damage as they paraded through the streets of D.C. smashing the windows of businesses and starting fires. The riot lasted about 40 minutes before police cornered about 250 of the roughly 1,000 activists and began deploying tear gas and firing rubber bullets into the crowd.

The riot came to an end when several of the activists crashed through a police line after they had been cordoned off by authorities. Those who did not get through the police line, about 230 people, were arrested and charged with crimes.

Despite the damage caused by the riots, a report released in February by the Office of Police Complaints found that authorities arrested people who had not committed a crime and that they used non-lethal weapons like pepper spray without providing adequate warning.

“When MPD corralled people, at 12th and L Streets, [the protesters] were not allowed to leave,” the report states. “In addition, there is no indication in witness reports, nor any observations by OPC monitors, that any warnings were given either before or after the police line cordoned off those who were later arrested.”

The D.C. Legal Posse, and others, have requested an independent review of how police responded to the protestors, and the charges filed against those who may have been present but committed no actual crime.

A GoFundMe page set up to raise money to replace the confiscated items was taken down, the organizers said, but was reinstated after organizers had to “answer a few questions” posed by crowdfunding site and what one activist called “Twitter activism.” GoFundMe did not respond to an email asking for an explanation.

“It is notable that these trumped-up charges, violent crackdown, and overblown response occurred on the very first day of the Trump administration,” Menefee-Libey said. “But this violent repression is not new; law enforcement agencies across the country have been engaged in an ongoing campaign to target, terrorize and harass communities of color in Ferguson, Baltimore, and beyond.”

Menefee-Libey cited felony riot charges against activists in states such as California, Minnesota and North Dakota in the last few months as other examples of excessive policing against protestors. “Similar excessive charges and politically-motivated grand jury subpoenas have also been used to harass and intimidate activists involved in the Standing Rock protests,” he said in reference to the months-long standoff that brought construction to a halt at the controversial Dakota Access Pipeline.