FLASHBACK: More Than 200 People Rioted During Trump’s Inauguration, Most Charges Were Dropped


Brianna Lyman News and Commentary Writer
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Residents of Washington D.C. are worried about the possibility of Inauguration Day violence, forcing businesses to board up and shut down ahead of Jan. 20 as thousands of National Guardsmen are patrolling the streets of D.C. in preparation for violence.

Rioters descended down the streets of Washington D.C. carrying anti-fascist flags while President Donald Trump’s inaugural parade made its way down the street just blocks away, according to The New York Times (NYT).

Rioters damaged storefronts, threw rocks and bricks at police officers and lit a limousine on fire just blocks away from the inaugural parade, the NYT reported at the time.

“We’re not peaceful” one unidentified protester said, according to the NYT.

Police officers were forced to use pepper spray, flash grenades and other nonlethal measures to disperse the large crowd. Even with these measures in place, six officers sustained minor injuries and more than 200 individuals were arrested, according to the report.

Rioters were said to have taunted police officers patrolling the scene, according to NBC News.

“I saw one guy, he was like pushing a cop, kind of antagonizing him, and the cop with the riot shield was banging him back,” Johnny Silvercloud, a freelance journalist who witnessed the event, told NBC News.

Reed Arahood of Massachusetts who went to Washington to peacefully protest said she was concerned how the violence would make peaceful protesters look but ultimately stood in “solidarity” with them, the NYT reported.

“I don’t think I have words to accurately describe how I feel about them,” she said about the protesters.

Washington D.C. wasn’t the only city that saw protests during Trump’s inauguration. Seven individuals were arrested in New York City outside of Trump Tower that same day, while in Chicago at least five individuals were arrested, according to NBC News. In Chicago at least one business was damaged and police were pelted with eggs and ice balls, according to the report.

Protesters in San Francisco blocked a train track, leading to eight arrests, according to the NYT. Others chained themselves to Uber and Wells Fargo offices, according to the same report.

Ultimately, 217 people were charged with rioting in D.C., according to NBC News. (RELATED: Trump To Leave For Florida Before Inauguration, Report Says)

The U.S. Attorney’s Office, however, eventually had to drop the charges as many protesters wore black clothing and masks that obscured their faces, according to NBC News.

In one trial all six defendants were acquitted. After that the government dropped charges against 129 defendants, arguing prosecutors would focus on defendants whom they had the most evidence against, according to the report. A second trial against four people also ended up in acquittals for most charges and a hung jury on the remaining charges, NBC News reported.

By July federal prosecutors dropped charges against the remaining 38 defendants, according to the NYT.

A statement from the district attorney’s office said prosecutors believed “evidence shows that a riot occurred on Jan. 20, 2017, during which more than $100,000 in damage was caused,” according to the NYT.

Twenty-one individuals that were arrested for D.C. protests did plead guilty to charges, according to the report.

A recent Hill-HarrisX poll found 73% of voters are somewhat or very concerned about violence leading up to President-elect Joe Biden’s Jan. 20 inauguration.

The FBI released an internal bulletin that warned armed protests are being planned in all 50 state capitols, including Washington D.C., ABC reporter Aaron Katersky tweeted.

Since the Jan. 6 riot, the capital has been locked down to prevent any further incidents. With around 21,000 National Guard members headed to the capital, the FBI, fearing an insider attack, is vetting every National Guard member deployed to Washington D.C., so far with no credible concerns detected, according to the Associated Press.