A federal judge sentenced one of the 234 people arrested during rioting in Washington, D.C. on Inauguration Day to prison. The defendant admitted he joined with 200 others to form a “Black Bloc” wearing black, gloves, scarves, ski masks, gas masks, and goggles to conceal their identities. He also carried a black flag, a hammer, and a gas mask. He is the first to be sentenced in connection with the riots.
A statement signed by 31-year-old Dane Powell said that others with the “Black Bloc” at Logan Circle wore sunglasses, helmets, hoodies, “and other face-concealing and face-protecting items to conceal their identities to prevent law enforcement from being able to identify the individual perpetrators of violence or property damage.”
The statement obtained by Breitbart Texas from the DOJ’s U.S. Attorney’s Office, District of Columbia Division, also said that the rioters traveled over approximately 16 city blocks during a period of more than 30 minutes. The Black Bloc army carried hammers, crowbars, wooden sticks, and other weapons.
Dane Powell admitted that he helped break windows at two businesses and to “throwing a brick, large rock, or piece of concrete at uniformed law enforcement officers during the riot.”
Breitbart News reported in January that the rioters got about a mile from the White House. The article describes the damage reported and the actions of the mob. It also noted that “as shown in the Stephen K. Bannon film Occupy Unmasked, the Black Bloc anarchists are closely aligned with the Occupy Wall Street movement.”
The gathering of “anarchist, socialist and communist groups” for an event called “DisruptJ20” called for Black Bloc protesters to come to Logan Circle in Washington, D.C. on Inauguration Day. The article said, “its distinctive dress is to allow protesters to break the law” and its leftist “anti-American” ideology and its goals are not to be underestimated.
After the arrests of the protesters, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) countered in June suing “1-150” Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) officers, “1-20” supervisory MPD officers, and MPD Police Chief Peter Newsham in their individual capacities (#1:17-cv-01216-ABJ).
The federal complaint for damages begins with the statement that people came from all over the country to take to the streets to exercise their constitutional right to freedom of speech and assembly “to express their disapproval of [President Donald Trump’s] policies.” The ACLU lawyers add, “Journalists came to report on the demonstrations. Legal observers came to document any violations of the demonstrators’ legal rights.”
The ACLU complains of tear gas and pepper spray being used by the officers, and about three of the plaintiffs allegedly being denied food, water and access to a toilet for 7 to 16 hours, tight handcuffs, and that two of the plaintiffs “were subjected to intrusive, humiliating, and unjustified manual rectal probing and grabbing of their testicles.”
On Friday, Dane Powell was sentenced to 36 months in prison as his supporters, and the supporters of police officers took up all the seats in the courtroom and 20 seats in a second courtroom, reported the Tampa Bay Times, the defendant’s home town newspaper. The judge suspended all but four months of the sentence on the condition that he successfully complete two years of supervised probation. Powell was immediately taken into custody.
Dane Powell was choking with emotion when he asked Judge Lynn Leibovitz of the Superior Court of the District of Columbia for leniency. The Tampa Bay Times reported that he urged, “I stand before you today asking for forgiveness for anyone who was scared, hurt or felt threatened by me on that day.”
An assistant U.S. attorney played a 10-minute video and accused Powell of throwing bricks and rocks at peace officers and breaking the windows of stores. His eyes were exposed although he was dressed in black and he had his face covered. Assistant U.S. Attorney Jennifer Kerkhoff told the judge that Powell was seen the day before in Logan Circle carrying the same flag, a hammer, and gas masks. “He came to the District of Columbia to engage in violence by hiding his face, throwing rocks and running. He’s a violent coward,” she argued, the Times reported.
The government lawyer also charged that one of the police officers during the riots was knocked unconscious with a brick or large rock, but there was no evidence that Powell struck that officer.
Powell’s defense lawyer said her client, a U.S. Army veteran, came to Washington because he was “worried about the direction of this country” but he admitted he got “carried away.”
Powell pleaded guilty in late April to the charges of felony rioting and felony assault on a peace officer. He had faced 14 charges.
The Metropolitan Police Department and the District of Columbia U.S. Attorney’s Office are investigating the Inauguration Day rioting cases.