Washington, D.C., prosecutors have dismissed felony rioting charges against journalists swept up in the arrests by D.C. police of scores of people during violent Inauguration Day protests, the Washington Post reports. Charges were dropped against Alexander Rubinstein, 22, who worked for the media outlet Russia Today; John Keller, 27, who was working on a documentary called “Story of America”; Matthew Hopard, 32, an independent journalist, and Evan Engel, 30, on assignment for Vocativ, a media and technology enterprise.
The journalists were among 230 people arrested after a small group of demonstrators rampaged through a four-block area of downtown during President Trump’s inauguration on Jan. 20. Protesters broke windows on cars and stores and knocked over mail and newspaper boxes. A stretch limousine was torched, and police were pelted with rocks and bricks. Officers in riot gear responded with pepper spray and crowd-control devices that emitted disorienting bangs, smoke and flashes of light. Defense attorneys argued that at the time of the arrests, the scene was chaotic and police were unable to distinguish nonviolent demonstrators from the rioters. The rioting charge carries up to 10 years in prison.