Washington, DC - Inauguration day rioters who were arrested faced their first court appearance Monday morning. Rioters face felony charges and large fines if convicted. As some were released this morning after court, a crowd was standing by, cheering for them. Police in riot gear lined the streets.
Friday's Inauguration brought hundreds of protesters to the streets as President Donald Trump was welcomed to the White House. The protests escalated to rioting, as those involved started smashing windows, starting fires, blocking entrances to inauguration festivities, and throwing feces, bottles full of nails, bricks, and explosives at police.
Unlike recent riots were mostly able to escape, many of these these rioters were trapped by police, arrested, and charged.
The U.S. Attorney's Office for the District of Columbia filed the charges on Saturday, against approximately 230 rioters. According to NBC4 those arrested face felony rioting charges, punishable with up to ten years in jail and a $25,000 fine. However, that's not how the court system actually operates, and despite these accused felons' high flight risk, they were all released.
According to news reports, the judge released the first batch of rioters, gave them a stern talking to, and told them not to be arrested again in DC. They are scheduled to return to court on February 26. As the first group left the D.C. Superior Court, a crowd cheered at their release. Police have formed a familiar line, as they stood in riot gear, ensuring that the scene didn't escalate.
It has also been announced that the rioters are suing the police for arresting them, with the attorneys and media drawing comparisons to the 400 people arrested during the 2002 World Bank. During those arrests in 2002, police had given protesters an order to disperse, but their routes to disperse were all blocked. The city had to pay out $13.25 million in the resulting lawsuit.
The inauguration rioters are hoping for a similar payout, except the difference is that these rioters were actively engaging in violence and destruction. There was already probable cause to arrest them for rioting without a dispersal order being given. When people are assaulting officers and destroying property they don't need to be given a chance to disperse; they are committing felony crimes and need to be arrested.
Time will tell if any of these rioters show back up to court, if the charges are taken seriously, or if they will get a payout for their rioting.
Do you think that the rioters should have been released without paying a significant bail? Please let us know on our Facebook page or in the comments below.