January 20th 2017 marked the inauguration of the 45th U.S. president. As it so often has in our pathologically violent and morally ambiguous history, the state marked this day with the punitive and unlawful repression of those who were brave enough to protest this Electoral College decree. Inauguration Day began with over 200 protesters, medics, legal observers, and journalists being trapped and mass arrested by a DC police force tasked with sanitizing protest. After being forced to stand for hours on wintery city streets, the group was processed and then each protester charged with the same eight blanket felonies for what amounted to a handful of broken windows. The majority of these tenuous charges have since been dropped “without prejudice” (a legal term that allows the prosecution to refile charges within a year). Through the application of flimsy legal standards, prosecutors are attempting to to turn activist into felons and to set dangerous legal precedents of criminalizing dissent. There are still currently 59 people facing charges. The next group court appearance is on April 17th and will focus entirely on members of the IWW (yes folks, people are being singled out for being members).
On January 20th 2018, Southern Maine IWW partnered with local groups to organize a legal defense fundraiser for defendants facing charges for protesting. The event was held at Local Sprouts on Congress street in Portland. Local speakers from Southern Maine IWW, Portland Confront, and Maine John Brown Gun Club were joined through Skype by organizers from DefendJ20Resistance, Tilted Scale Collective, and Rising Tide North America who spoke on organizing the protest. Participants from the march put together a slideshow illustrating the structure of organizer spokes councils and the J20 protest itself. Fundraiser success was furthered by offering beverages and prints from the Beehive Collective (from Machias, ME) for donations. The folks at Local Sprouts were generous in allowing us to use their space and donating their time.
All told, the event was a success. With community help, we raised $436.00. This was donated to D.C. Legal Posse at https://fundrazr.com/j20resistance for defendant use, support during the trials, and other needs as determined by the DCLP and the J20 Finance and Fund-Raising Working Group.
As the next round of trials gear up we must continue to show our support and solidarity in whatever manner possible. An injury to one is an injury to all. As all of our individual struggles are connected under capitalism, we believe that these trials and their outcomes represent a very real threat to all efforts to build more equitable structures of freedom, dignity, and mutualism. The charges brought against the J20 defendants are an experiment by the state in criminalizing dissent. If the courts are able to successfully prosecute those arrested at the J20 protests, they will have a sweeping new legal mechanism for repressing, containing, controlling, and eliminating social movements around the country.