Target: Mr. Channing D. Phillips, U.S. Attorney for District of Columbia.
Goal: Praise decision to drop charges against four journalists arrested while covering inauguration protests.
Felony rioting charges against four journalists arrested during inauguration protests have been dropped. Journalists were among the more than 200 people swept up by the incredibly militarized police units that were in Washington, D.C. on January 20th, 2017. In violation of the freedom of the press, the arrest of journalists was even more worrisome in light of the felony record the journalists could get if convicted. Mobilization by advocates for free speech along with public outcries – such as a petition published on ForceChange – helped reverse the U.S. attorney’s office’s initial decision.
Two journalists have not yet had their charges dismissed, and there are more than 200 people whose future can still be destroyed by a felony rioting record, ten years in jail, and $25,000 in fines. However, the case of the four journalists might be the beginning of a shift in the right direction. The fact that every arrestee has received the same felony charge raises questions about the evidence collected by the police and offers a justification to keep pressuring the U.S. attorney’s office. If four cases were closed, the others could be too; the administration should explain the grounds of their charges.
The U.S. is a country of free speech and it is unacceptable that journalists, legal observers, medics, and committed activists have one of their most fundamental rights violated. For the time being, sign the petition below to commend the U.S. Attorney for having dropped the charges against four people who were just doing their job and to encourage him to work in favor of the other protesters.
Dear Mr. Phillips,
Thousands of people came to Washington, D.C. on January 20th, 2017 to express their opposition to the agenda proposed by now President Trump. In the United States, citizens can manifestly speak their minds, since the Constitution guarantees the right to free speech and the right to protest. The prosecution of activists and journalists on Inauguration Day can do severe damage to the backbone of this country. Therefore, I was extremely pleased by your decision to drop charges against four journalists arrested when covering inauguration protests.
While other journalists and citizens must be acquitted as well, I acknowledge the dismissal of four cases of felony rioting as a first significant step in the right direction. I applaud you with the hope that the American Constitution is going to remain respected.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: benben