Protestors torched a limo on Inauguration Day. Photo by Marie Machin.

Dozens of defendants, each sitting with their own lawyers, fill a courtroom in Washington, D.C., looking like college students wearing their nicest clothes for a job interview. It is far more serious than that. They are all facing charges of felony rioting, conspiracy to riot, and destruction of property from the morning of Donald Trump’s inauguration, when they were scooped up en masse by police with a controversial crowd-control technique in which protestors are corralled in a “kettle.”

This is only one of the four groups among the 215 defendants who have been indicted on nearly identical charges. Many had to travel back to the District to be arraigned today, June 9.

One man who traveled from Santa Fe is sitting with his lawyer off to the side. He wears a black suit and has a black goatee and identifies himself as Tejano. He looks around the room like he is taking notes. Everyone else has already been arraigned before Judge Lynn Leibovitz. But this man, Aaron Cantú, wasn’t indicted until May 30, just a week before the hearing. He is a journalist who has written about policing, propaganda, drugs, and politics for The Intercept, Al Jazeera, The Baffler, and many other publications. Reporting from the RNC on the possibility of a Trump presidency, Cantú wrote, “dream darker.”

SMTX-FTW April18-300x250-trail18Democracy in Crisis is a syndicated column from Washington, D.C.