According to a report from The Guardian, two US journalists were arrested during inauguration-related protests on Friday in Washington, DC. The men are charged with the most severe crime under DC’s laws against rioting. Evan Engel and Alex Rubinstein could be fined $25,000 each in addition to a possible 10-year jail time, if convicted of the crime. Some key facts about the case:
- More than 200 people were arrested in DC on Friday, January 20, for rioting and vandalizing property.
- DC’s laws define a riot as: A public disturbance involving an assemblage of 5 or more persons which by tumultuous and violent conduct or the threat thereof creates grave danger of damage or injury to property or persons.
- Vocativ issued a statement claiming that “The arrest, detainment and rioting charge against journalist Evan Engel who was covering the protests ... are an affront to the First Amendment and journalistic freedom.”
- Engel’s police report says that “Numerous crimes were occurring in police presence” and “the crowd was observed enticing a riot by organizing, promoting, encouraging, and participating in acts of violence in furtherance of the riot.”
- Rubenstein reported on Twitter that he was blinded and deafened by a flash grenade when the arrest took place. He said, “By the time I was done being treated [for the grenade] and I could see again, we were encircled by police and I was told that everybody present would be arrested. It doesn't matter that I'm press.”