Hundreds of protesters arrested during US President Donald Trump’s inauguration rallies are likely to receive decades-long jail sentences, a new report has revealed.
Police arrested more than 230 people on January 20, the day thousands of people headed to Washington, DC, to protest Trump’s swearing-in, Al Jazeera reported Wednesday.
Law enforcement officers began indiscriminately detaining people after Black Bloc anarchists and anti-fascists clashed with police and vandalized public property.
Only a day later, most of the detainees were charged with felony rioting, looking at a maximum sentence of a $25,000 fine and 10 years in prison.
However, in late April, the Superior Court of the District of Columbia leveled a superseding indictment against 212 of the protesters, raising the maximum prison sentence to a whopping 80 years for some defendants.
The figure stood at 70 years for the rest of the defendants, including some journalists.
The new indictment brought more serious charges like urging to riot, conspiracy to riot and destruction of property.
While a handful of defendants have made deals with the authorities to get significantly shorter sentences, more than 130 of them have reached a “Points of Unity” agreement with each other to avoid any form of cooperation with police.
“I am wondering if my 24th birthday next week will be my last as a free person,” said Olivia Alsip, one of the defendants.
“Our experience in police custody [that day] was totally dehumanizing. We were kettled, treated like animals and denied basic human rights and dignity,” she added.
Another defendant, identified only as Taylor, told Al Jazeera that the heavy sentences were aimed at “stifling resistance.”
“It is no coincidence that this repression coincides with the first visible manifestation of resistance to Trump’s regime,” he noted.
Anti-Trump protests have become a routine affair. The new Republican head of state’s attempts to crack down on immigration, repeal the Obamacare healthcare law and expand the military spending are some of the key policies that have outraged his opponents.