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Charges dropped against more journalists arrested after inauguration rioting

Police fire pepper spray on protestors during a demonstration after the inauguration of President Donald Trump, Friday, Jan. 20, 2017, in Washington. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)

WASHINGTON — Prosecutors in D.C. Monday moved to dismiss rioting charges against three journalists arrested after a violent outburst by protesters shortly before the inauguration of President Donald Trump.

Felony rioting charges were dropped Monday against RT America reporter Alex Rubinstein, documentary producer Jack Keller and independent journalist Matt Hopard.

“After a review of evidence presented to us by law enforcement, we have concluded that we will not proceed with the charges against the three defendants, who are journalists,” Bill Miller, a spokesman for the U.S. attorney’s office for D.C., said in a statement Monday.

Prosecutors are continuing to work with D.C. to review evidence, Miller said.

“As in all our cases, we are always willing to consider additional information that people bring forward,” he said in the statement.

In all, six journalists were among the 230 people arrested after a group of protesters began smashing windows in downtown D.C. and later clashed with police on Jan. 20.

Last week, the U.S. attorney’s office announced it was dropping charges against another of the journalists, Evan Engel with the online news site Vocativ.

As of Monday afternoon, felony rioting charges had not yet been dropped against independent journalists Shay Horse and Aaron Cantu.

The American Civil Liberties Union has raised concerns about the journalists’ arrests and police conduct during the inauguration.

Monica Hopkins-Maxwell, the executive director of the ACLU of the District of Columbia, said last week the group reviewing whether police indiscriminately corralled protesters including journalists.

In a response to a previous WTOP inquiry, a D.C. police spokesman said police are directed to try to identify journalists and not arrest them during protests. Journalists who were initially detained in downtown D.C. on Inauguration Day who could provide media credentials were released, the spokesman said in the statement.

“Information regarding all other individuals arrested at that time was presented to the US Attorney’s Office, which made the determination to charge those detained with felony rioting,” the spokesman said in a statement. “Currently, the investigation is being carried out by the US Attorney’s Office.”


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