Last Friday afternoon, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia dismissed charges against the 39 remaining J20 Inauguration Day protesters under indictment, bringing a close to a year-and-a-half-long saga marked by police aggression, prosecutorial overreach, and heartening displays of solidarity by the defendants and their supporters.
“I was sitting in the front row of a civil court proceeding when I heard,” said Ella Fassler, a 25-year-old defendant from New York, whose charges were dropped last week. “I had to hold back a yelp of disbelief. I walked out as quickly as I could and met up with a co-defendant; we hugged, danced around, and called our loved ones. Radical leftists don’t win all that often, so we have to pause and soak in the victory when we do.”
While the U.S. government may be finished with the J20 prosecutions, however, J20 defendants are not done with the prosecutors. Amid the celebrations, the defendants and advocates are turning to a new task: holding prosecutors accountable for their conduct at trial — and for the unnecessary anxiety and ambient trauma suffered by the defendants.