Janine Jackson interviewed Sam Menefee-Libey about a J20 prosecution update for the June 22, 2018, episode of CounterSpin. This is a lightly edited transcript.
Janine Jackson: Listeners know that Washington, DC, police mass-arrested more than 200 people, including journalists, during protests at Donald Trump’s inauguration, in which a few windows were broken and a limousine set on fire. Federal prosecutors have surprised some by vigorously pursuing felony riot charges against some of the so-called “J20 protesters,” resulting in decades of prison time, even those they acknowledge engaged in no damage or violence but were simply present, and in some cases reporting.
Perhaps the only hopeful part of what seems a clear effort to criminalize dissent is that the wheels seem to be coming off it. Joining us now to bring us up-to-date is Sam Menefee-Libey, an organizer and member of the Dead City Legal Posse, a community group that’s come together to support J20 protesters. He joins us now by phone from Washington, DC. Welcome to CounterSpin, Sam Menefee-Libey.
Sam Menefee-Libey: Thanks so much for having me.
Unicorn Riot reports that a jury has just found another defendant not guilty on all but a riot charge, which the judge essentially dropped with a mistrial when the jury deadlocked. We’ve seen other jury acquittals, we’ve seen charges dropped. How many J20 defendants remain at this point, and what do you make of the current status of the government’s case against them?