Take Action to Defend The Journalists Arrested Covering Trump Inauguration Protests



UPDATE | February 18th Charges against Shay Horse, an independent photojournalist, have been dropped. Charges still stand against Aaron Cantú, a freelance journalist and activist.


UPDATE | January 31:Charges against Alexander Rubinstein, Jack Keller and Matthew Hopard have been dropped.

In a statement, Keller said he was thrilled about the charge being dropped and thanked those who supported him. “It is critical that activists and journalists continue to work together moving forward in the fight against injustice,” said Keller.

Shay Horse, an independent photojournalist, and Aaron Cantú, a freelance journalist and activist – remain charged with felony rioting, according to court records.


UPDATE | January 27: Charges against Evan Engel have been dropped. As of 5pm PST Friday, January 27, the U.S. Attorney's Office is still pressing charges against Alex Rubinstein (RT America); Jack Keller (independent journalist); Matt Hopard (independent journalist); Shay Horse (independent photojournalist); and Aaron Cantú (VICE) and refuse to comment further on the case.



The information for this campaign was sourced from The Guardian.

PEN Center USA requests that the U.S. Attorney's office of the District of Columbia drop all criminal charges against journalists: Evan Engel (Vocativ); Alex Rubinstein (RT America); Jack Keller (independent journalist); Matt Hopard (independent journalist); Shay Horse (independent photojournalist); and Aaron Cantú (VICE).

These six journalists have been charged with felonies after being arrested while covering the protests around Donald Trump’s inauguration. The journalists are facing up to 10 years in prison and a $25,000 fine if convicted.

“All six were arraigned in superior court on Saturday and released to await further hearings in February and March, according to court filings. The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) said late on Tuesday that charges against journalists who were covering the protests should be dropped.”


Reporter Alex Rubinstein used Periscope to record the riot and soon after tweeted, “Here is the flash grenade they used that blinded me and left my ears ringing. Cops encircled crowd when I couldn't see, arresting everyone.” His last tweet: “Trying to get a video statement out about my arrest but it is not uploading yet. “

“These charges are clearly inappropriate, and we are concerned that they could send a chilling message to journalists covering future protests,” CPJ’s Carlos Lauría said in the statement.

According to a report by CPJ, “The criminal complaints say that the reporters are charged under section 1322(b) of the D.C. criminal code, which establishes penalties of up to 180 days in prison and a fine of up to $1000. The language in the complaint, however, references rioting that results in bodily harm or more than $5,000 in damage, which can be punished by a maximum of 10 years in jail and fines of up to $25,000. Police spokeswoman Rachel Reid told CPJ in an email she was unable to comment because a lawsuit had been filed in the case.” Read more HERE

We call on U.S. Attorney Channing D. Phillips and the U.S. Attorney's office of the District of Columbia to drop these charges immediately. Preliminary hearings for Cantú, Hopard, Horse, and Keller were set for mid-March. Hearings for Engel and Rubinstein were scheduled for mid-February.

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The first amendment rights of these journalists and free press liberties are in danger. Please join us in demanding the District of Columbia’s District Attorney drop these charges immediately. ADD your name to the form below and we will include your name this petition that will be sent to the D.C.’s District Attorney.

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