Politics

First Trump Inauguration Protester Sentenced to 4 Months in Prison

But protesters say Dane Powell acted heroically on January 20th.

Queer Resistance faction of the activism group, #DisruptJ20, hold a dance “block” party at the 13th Street Inauguration entry point on Jan. 20, 2017. (Matt Rhodes for CQ Roll Call)

Dane Powell will serve four months in prison and two months of probation for felony rioting and assaulting a police officer in the first sentencing of the nearly 200 people who were arrested in downtown Washington on the day of President Donald Trump’s inauguration.

Protests on Inauguration Day resulted in a few broken windows and other incidents of vandalism, as well as one burned limo.

Powell, who faced 14 charges, pleaded guilty to charges of felony rioting and felony assault on a police officer.

He told prosecutors he broke windows and threw “a brick, large rock, or piece of concrete at uniformed law enforcement,” WTOP reported. The U.S. attorney’s office for D.C. said in a statement that Powell “admitted being part of a group of rioters who moved approximately 16 blocks over a period of more than 30 minutes.”

“The group formed a ‘black bloc’ in which individual defendants wore black or dark colored clothing, gloves, scarves, sunglasses, ski masks, gas masks, goggles, helmets, hoodies, and other face-concealing and face-protecting items to conceal their identities in an effort to prevent law enforcement from being able to identify the individual perpetrators of violence or property damage. Some of the members of the black bloc were armed with hammers, crowbars, wooden sticks, and other weapons.”

Powell was sentenced to 36 months in prison, with all but four months suspended. Protesters face up to 75 or 80 years in prison for the charges, with some facing up to eight felony counts, including inciting or urging to riot, engaging in rioting, conspiracy to riot, and destruction of property.

Activists and other fellow arrestees gathered at D.C. Superior Court Friday to show their support for Powell and expressed their anger at the result.

“MPD attacked numerous people that day with pepper spray and flash grenades, seized people’s cell phones, mass arrested people, sexually assaulted people behind bars, and raided an activist’s house post-inauguration,” said Dylan Petrohilos, one of the defendants.

Powell's supporters have also circulated a video that they say shows him acting heroically, carrying a child away from advancing police and pepper spray to safety.

 

In June, the D.C. ACLU filed a lawsuit accusing police of unlawful arrests as well as abusing, manually rectally probing, and denying food, water, and bathrooms to protesters.

 

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