The following edited press release was issued on Jan. 19.
San Francisco, Jan. 18 — Chief Assistant District Attorney Shannon Woo announced the formal dismissal of charges against 11 activists, known as the J20 Resisters, who participated in protests on last year’s Inauguration Day. DA George Gascón has faced harsh criticism for squandering resources in pursuit of this case.
“The District Attorney could have chosen not to charge the J20 resisters from day one. Instead he chose to put our clients through the criminal process, wasting government resources for almost a year, knowing full well he never intended to take this case to trial, which Deputy District Attorney Shannon Woo acknowledged on the record today,” stated Gabriela Lopez, National Lawyers Guild member and defense attorney for J20 Resister Molly Jane Hammond.
Once charges were filed against the J20 Resisters, the DA encouraged them to accept pretrial diversion (PTD), which seeks to divert certain offenders from traditional criminal processes, restating this option at various points through the process. The Resisters refused PTD from the beginning, citing ethical opposition to the criminalization of protest. Finally, the DA dropped the charges against them instead.
“We decided to risk trial instead of taking a diversion, because solidarity doesn’t end with putting our bodies on the line — we also need to leverage our privilege in the (in)justice system. We refused to be intimidated by threats and manipulations of the state, and we encourage people to take a stand and be unafraid. We can win, we have won, and we will continue to fight until justice emerges,” says Hammond.
The day of victory for the local J20 Resisters is shared with the national resistance movement. On the same day the local Resisters’ case was dismissed, 129 Washington, D.C., protesters’ cases were dismissed as well. But the U.S. Attorney’s Office continues to seek multiple felony convictions for 59 of the people swept up in a mass arrest at the “anti-fascist and anti-capitalist march” during Trump’s inauguration on Jan. 20, 2017. The local J20 Resisters are committed to using their platform to fight for dismissal of all cases against Inauguration Day protesters.
The J20 Resisters also support the Black Pride 4, who were arrested during Columbus Pride on June 17. They took action in opposition to the June 16 acquittal of Jeronimo Yanez, the St. Anthony, Minn., police officer who killed Philando Castile. The Black Pride 4 continue to face charges and are scheduled to start trial on Feb. 5.
Kendal Blum, another J20 Resister, speaks to this commitment of solidarity: “We stand with resisters across the country who are still fighting. We will take this momentum and channel it into getting the charges against the D.C. J20 Defenders and the Columbus Black Pride 4 dropped. This is a win not just for each of us, but for all of our communities and all those with whom we stand in solidarity.”
On Jan. 20, the J20 Resisters will carry banners of solidarity for national activists, marching alongside GABRIELA National Alliance of Women at the Women’s March, who will march to “RISE against fascism; RESIST the militarization of our lands, communities and bodies; and UNITE for self-determination.” Even in light of this victory, the J20 Resisters continue to stand in resistance to the current presidential administration — and work toward justice for all activists arrested fighting for social justice.
The J20 Resisters will host a victory party in Oakland, Calif., to fundraise for the Black Pride 4. They’ll post details on their website (tinyurl.com/y9phv8wd) and Facebook page (tinyurl.com/yazt3do6) >