Reporters Covering Inauguration Day Anti-Trump Protest Face 70 Years In Prison (VIDEO)

On January 20 this year, more than 230 people were arrested without warning in relation to the anti-Trump protests that took place in Washington DC. Now some of those involved face up to 70 years behind bars, including the reporters and photographers who were just trying to bring us the news.

Heavily-armed riot police closed off an entire city block in Washington on the day of Donald Trump’s inauguration, encircling the bulk of the protestors, however, the order to disperse never came, police just started arresting protestors.

“It didn’t even cross my mind that was what was happening,” said independent photographer and videographer Alexei Wood. “I was waiting for an order of dispersal and the mass of people showed no sign of resistance when the police completely surrounded them.”

Almost all of the protests that took place that day went by without violence or arrests on a mass scale, with the exception of Black Bloc anarchists and anti-fascists clashing with police. Wood was unfortunate enough to be scooped up when police retaliated by firing rubber bullets and tear gas at the protestors, as well as launching concussion grenades into the crowd.

When the smoke had cleared, more than $100,000 worth of damage had been inflicted on property, cars, and buildings, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia. The following day, more than 230 people, including Wood and several other journalists, were arrested for felony rioting, a charge that carries a statutory maximum sentence of 10 years in prison and a fine of $25,000, however, some were lucky enough to have the charges dropped.

Things went from bad to worse for Wood and company when, on April 27, the Superior Court of the District of Columbia returned a superseding indictment giving additional charges to 212 defendants, three of whom hadn’t even been previously charged. These new charges include urging to riot, conspiracy to riot and destruction of property and could see the defendants spending between 70 and 80 years in prison. Wood alone faces five felony property destruction charges and three felony rioting charges.

Alexei Wood, based in San Antonio, Texas, focuses on social justice struggles and resistance movements in his work, but now he finds himself in the exact same position as those for whom he tries to do justice, stating that the implications of the defendants’ cases “are humungous for striking fear into protesters. The state is not just going after window-breakers, which in itself may not be justified.”

“Instead, the state seeks to criminalize dissent by indiscriminately arresting more than 200 people and imposing a slew of felony charges that carry the potential of decades in prison,” Wood continued. “But it also means if we’re [journalists] too close to a newsworthy story, we could be facing more than 70 years.”

Wood posted live footage of the anti-fascist march on his Facebook page, the 42-minute video showing him complying with police orders, while at no stage suggesting that he took place in any violent acts.

“The livestream speaks for itself. It’s right there for everybody to see. I love that it’s there for everybody to see because I want individual people to see my work and make their own decision,” he said. “I think it’s a very clear case.”

Take a look at the livestream and decide for yourself if the man filming it deserves to spend what could possibly equate to the rest of his life in prison.

Anti fascist black bloc DC

Posted by Lex Shoots on Friday, January 20, 2017

Featured image via Kevin Dietsch – Pool/Getty Images