January 27, 2017
Here come the jackboots: six journalists charged with felony rioting for observing a riot
by Simon Reichley
As you may have heard, the National Coalition Against Censorship (NCAC) released a statement at the beginning of January urging caution to the many voices calling for a boycott of Simon & Schuster, which began in response to a book deal signed between notorious fascist fucko Milo Yiannopoulos and conservative publishing imprint Threshold Editions. According to the NCAC, “the suppression of noxious ideas does not defeat them; only vigorous disagreement can counter toxic speech effectively,” and their report “underlines… the chilling effect the response [i.e. a call for boycotts] will have on authors and publishers who want to tackle topics and ideas that some may find disfavorable.”
In our opening salvo against the S&S deal, we noted that the whole Yiannopoulos dust-up was a “minor skirmish.” After only a week of President Trump, the war appears to be in full effect.
According to reports in the New York Times and Guardian, “at least six” journalists are facing felony rioting charges for covering the inauguration day riots in Washington. The charges, if sucessful, would carry a maximum sentence of ten years in prison and $250,000 in fines. Journalists Evan Engel, Alex Rubinstein, Jack Keller, Matt Hopard, Shay Horse, and Aaron Cantú were arrested along with more than 200 other individuals, including some legal observers and medics. The arrests occured in response to the actions of black bloc protestors who had stormed through DC during Trump’s inauguration ceremony, smashing commercial storefront windows and possibly setting a limosuine on fire.
The Guardian’s Jon Swaine reports that the US attorney’s office for Washington DC alleges in five of the six arrests that “numerous crimes were occuring in police presence” and that police reports claim “the crowd was observed enticing a riot by organizing, promoting, encouraging and participating in acts of violence in furtherance of the riot.” William Miller, a spokesman for the attorney’s office, said in a statement, “Based on the facts and circumstances, we determined that probable cause existed to support the filing of felony rioting charges… As in all of our cases, we are always willing to consider additional information that people bring forward.”
Of course, the defense sees things differently. Mark Goldstone, who is representing several individuals included in the mass arrest, claims that cops “basically identified a location that had problems and arrested everyone in that location.”
This kind of overt thuggery and intimidation against the press is a signature move of the young Trumpist movement. And it is more “chilling” by far than any boycott against a multi-million dollar corporate publishing house could possibly be. If charges are sucessfuly brought against journalists and legal observers, it would set a truly disastrous precedent. We only hope that the NCAC and their allies in the anti-censorship movement are as strong allies to Engel, Rubinstein, Keller, Hopard, and Horse as they were to Milo Yiannopoulous and Carolyn Reidy.
Simon Reichley is the rights and operations manager at Melville House.