WASHINGTON - Prosecutors are dropping charges against 129 people related to the Inauguration Day protests that took place last year.
However, the U.S. Attorney's Office for the District of Columbia says it will proceed in cases against 59 other defendants facing felony charges that include rioting and destruction of property.
"The U.S. Attorney's Office for the District of Columbia has filed notice with the Court that it is exercising its discretion and moving forward with the prosecution of 59 defendants indicted on felony charges related to the rioting that took place on January 20, 2017, in Washington D.C.," the U.S. Attorney's Office said in a statement. "The government will be filing motions to dismiss without prejudice the indictment against the other remaining 129 defendants so that it can focus its efforts on this smaller, core group that we believe is most responsible for the destruction and violence that took place on Inauguration Day."
This latest development comes after six protesters who went to trial were acquitted in D.C. Superior Court last month.
"The US Attorney has essentially admitted it never had the evidence to charge these innocent people in the first place, and we're gratified to see they've come to their senses," Scott Michelman, senior staff attorney for the ACLU of the District of Columbia, said in a statement. "For a full year, the government's abusive prosecution has upended the lives of these defendants, who've endured the anxiety of multiple court hearings and suffered disruptions to their educations or careers while facing the prospect of more than 60 years in prison. We hope the government continues to carefully examine the evidence it has against the remaining 59 defendants, at least some of whom we continue to believe are innocent."
Court documents say 20 others have entered guilty pleas for their participation in the rioting that took place in the nation's capital last January.
On Wednesday, authorities released more than 200 videos that the prosecution used as evidence in the trial against the acquitted six protesters.