DC Felony Prosecutions of Inauguration Day Rioters Will Deter Illegal Protests

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Rather Than The All-Too-Usual Small Fines and a Soapbox, Inauguration Day Rioters Face 10 Years in jail
WASHINGTON, D.C. (January 22, 2017): In what appears to be a departure from the norm where those engaging in crimes during protests receive at most a small fine, and often a soapbox to spout their cause, most of the approximately 230 arrested in D.C. on Inauguration Day will be charged with felony rioting, which carries a penalty of up 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000.

The threat of real prison time, and huge fines, will help deter many protesters who think engaging in criminal acts for a cause is appropriate, especially if the penalties are usually minor, if indeed they are even even imposed, suggests public interest law professor John Banzhaf.

A much more typical outcome occurred on the same day when authorities in Multnomah County (Portland) announced that virtually all of the criminal cases against people arrested – for disorderly conduct, interfering with a peace officer, and even for attempted assault on a peace officer – in an anti-Trump protest would have their cases dismissed.

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This is not surprising, says Banzhaf, since nearly all of those arrested for criminal behavior during the protests received nothing more than citations.

Too many people apparently believe that it is permissible, perhaps even protected by the constitution, for those sincerely concerned about a cause to deliberately block traffic, throw paint, and engage in other so-called “non-violent” protests – although for some the definition of “non-violent” may even include stealing from stores and setting fires to cars since it’s “o