Feb. 22 (UPI) — A federal grand jury in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday indicted more than 200 people arrested during the presidential inauguration on felony rioting charges, spotlighting their intent to sabotage peaceful protests with violence and destruction.
Called out for individual acts of vandalism, violence and destruction, prosecutors alleged Tuesday that 214 protesters engaged in “black bloc” tactics on Jan. 20 during President Donald Trump’s swearing-in, causing damage to vehicles and property. Six police officers were also hurt during the riots as they exchanged flash-bang explosives with protesters hurling rocks and firecrackers at them.
D.C. police have stressed that the vast majority of protesters were peaceful, but that these 214 people — the other 17 people arrested during the inauguration were released from custody — showed up specifically to disrupt the event.
“Black bloc” protest tactics, which have been used by some protesters for decades, include dressing in black or dark colored clothing while concealing one’s face using scarves, masks and sunglasses. Some of the protesters brought with them hammers, crowbars, bricks, rocks, flares and firecrackers.
A Florida man, Dane Powell, is accusing of felony rioting and assault on three police officers, but most of the protesters are charged with smashing windows at Starbucks and McDonalds while others torched a limo. Many of the violent protesters threw items at police, as well.
If convicted, felony rioting carries a maximum jail sentence up to 10 years, and a fine of up to $25,000.