Some protesters arrested and released without being charged are receiving criminal citations in the mail.
The new charge some of the protesters supporting Black Lives Matter face is misdemeanor rioting.
“We’re still learning the facts about many of these incidents,” said Scott Michelman of the ACLU of DC.
Michelman thinks the new charges may come from last week’s very public falling out between D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser and acting U.S. Attorney for D.C. Michael Sherwin over why his office has not pursued charges against the majority of people arrested for felony rioting during overnight protests since June.
Late last week, Metropolitan Police Department Chief Peter Newsham said he and Sherwin came to “a meeting of the minds.”
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Within days, some protestors began receiving the new citations.
“My concern at this time is that the U.S. attorney in trying to patch things up — now that he let the cat out of the bag about the troubling arrest and kettle practices of Metropolitan Police, is trying to do some sort of extra charging to show he’s serious about crime, and that is obviously a terrible reason to charge anyone with anything,” Michelman said.
“Our view is that they should have been charged, they should have been charged at the time,” Bowser said.
Michelman also expressed concern over protesters, citizen journalists and at least one credentialed journalist who were not charged and are still awaiting the return of cameras and cellphones confiscated from them by police.
“Amateur journalists and the rise of cellphone videos has been a game changer in terms of police accountability, and the police know that, and so I think in confiscating and in holding for extended periods of time cellphone cameras and other documentary equipment, the police are trying to protect themselves from accountability,” Michelman said.
News4 reached out to D.C. police for comment about why the cellphones and cameras of people who were not charged have not been returned and was told those cases remain under investigation.