- The Washington Times - Monday, January 30, 2017

Federal prosecutors have dropped charges against three journalists who were among the more than 200 people arrested in connection with rioting and vandalism that took place in Washington, D.C., on Inauguration Day.

Monday’s decision comes three days after the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District filed its first notice to dismiss a felony rioting charge against a journalist who was reporting from the scene that day, Evan Engel of Vocativ.

“After a review of evidence presented to us by law enforcement, we have concluded that we will not proceed with the charges against the three defendants, who are journalists,” said Bill Miller, a spokesman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

The reporters who saw the rioting charges dropped on Monday are independent journalist Matthew Hopard, and RT America’s John Keller and Alexander Rubinstein.

D.C. police corralled and arrested 230 adults and charged them with felony rioting after demonstrations in the nation’s capital turned violent on Inauguration Day. A group of individuals involved in demonstrations on Jan. 20 began breaking storefront windows, damaging other property such as ATMs, and setting small fires, including to a limousine. The Guardian reported at least six of the individuals arrested with the group were reporters who were covering the demonstrations.

Reporters from several other outlets were also initially corralled with the group of protesters but officers allowed them to leave the area and they were not taken into custody.

A spokesman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office declined to address the fate of the charges brought against two other reporters, identified by The Guardian as Shay Horse and Aaron Cantú, but indicated that a review of the mass arrests is ongoing.

“We are continuing to work with the Metropolitan Police Department to review evidence related to the arrests on Jan. 20,” said spokesman Bill Miller in a written statement. “As in all of our cases, we are always willing to consider additional information that people bring forward. Because these matters remain pending in the Superior Court of the District of Columbia, we have no comment on other specific individuals beyond our public filings.”

Vocativ’s editorial director Ben Reininga said Friday the news organization was pleased to see the charges dismissed.

“Learning that one of our journalists was arrested while on assignment and faced charges carrying severe fines and jail time served as a chilling reminder that we must never take our First Amendment freedoms for granted,” he said.

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