More than 200 people arrested in connection with an outburst of violence during protests against Donald Trump’s presidential inauguration Friday are now facing rioting charges, which carry a maximum punishment of up to 10 years in jail or a fine of up to $250,000, federal prosecutors said Saturday. Some of the protesters facing such charges filed a class action lawsuit, however, alleging that they were unfairly arrested in what their lawyers described as mass, indiscriminate arrests by D.C. police.
Here’s what you need to know:
- Approximately 230 people were arrested in Washington, D.C., on Friday following protests that took place before, during, and after Trump was inaugurated as the 45th president of the United States. The bulk of those arrested will be charged with felony rioting, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
- One group of 10 protesters already appeared in court, on Saturday, with their lawyer entering not guilty pleas. They were all released on the condition they did not get rearrested in the District of Columbia. Most of those arrested will be released without bail to return to court next month.
- Some protesters have filed a lawsuit claiming the D.C. police “indiscriminately and repeatedly” used excessive force, deployed flash-bang grenades and used chemical irritants against people who were not involved in the riots at all.
- Though largely peaceful, some anti-Trump protests on Friday veered into violence with rioters setting fire to a limousine and others flinging rocks at police and local business.
- One group of protestors, dressed in black and wearing masks, armed themselves with crowbars and rocks, and smashed the windows of businesses in downtown Washington, including Starbucks, Bank of America, Wells Fargo, and McDonald’s.
- Another protester was caught on camera punching white supremacist Richard Spencer in the face. The video of the incident was quickly transformed into an internet meme.
- The bulk of the incidents took place before Trump’s inauguration, at 10:30 a.m. local time, when a crowd of around 500 people on 13th Street destroyed property, according to Interim Police Chief Peter Newsham. “The charge is rioting,” Newsham said. “Our intention going into this event was to make zero arrests, and unfortunately they forced our hand.”
- Riot police fought back using pepper spray, chemical irritants, and flash-bang grenades to disperse the crowds. In total, six police officers received minor injuries during the riots, with three of them hit in the head with flying objects.
- Larry King didn’t escape the wrath of rioters, tweeting that the windows of his SUV were smashed while he was in the studio.