Mass Arrests of Protesters: Outrageous in Russia, Barely Worth Mentioning in US
By Adam Johnson
July 13, 2017
Major media’s relative lack of interest in the mass arrests by Metro DC police on Inauguration Day is a fact noted by activists and journalists since the incident almost six months ago. One way to measure the dearth of coverage is to compare the attention paid to comparable protester arrests in Russia last month.
On June 12, over 1,700 Russians throughout the country were arrested for “unauthorized protests” in opposition to President Vladimir Putin and government corruption. “Dozens”—including opposition leader Alexei Navalny—[AD note: Alexei Navalny’s Alma mater is Yale University so it is a safe bet he was probably vetted by US intelligence later becoming an activist in Russia. Considering his bio he had active participation in some of Russia’s biggest oil and gas companies and now works under the auspices of fighting corruption.] were kept in jail longer than a day, but the vast majority were let go immediately. (Navalny, as well as some others, got between 15–30 days in jail.)
More than 200 Americans were arrested on January 20 after “rioting” broke out in downtown Washington, DC, in the hours leading up to and after President Donald Trump’s inauguration. Some were let go over the next few weeks, but the bulk of the 200+ still face 10–80 years in federal prison for “felony rioting.”
It’s important to note at least two major differences between the two events: At the Moscow protests, there was no apparent property damage or assaults on police; the protesters’ “crime” was protesting in sections of the city that were not “authorized.” It should be remembered, though, that there’s no public evidence that the vast majority of those arrested in DC—who included journalists, medics and legal observers—had been responsible for any of the vandalism or the objects thrown at police that did occur that day. As Mara Verheyden-Hilliard, executive director of the Partnership for Civil Justice Fund, told FAIR in January (1/31/17):
In their charging papers, [DC prosecutors] are acknowledging that the people that broke the law, that form the basis for their actions against the larger group, are not the people that they then have arrested in the larger group. They even, in some of the charging papers, appear to be holding people who were arrested responsible for actions that occurred after they were in custody, which I don’t believe people have the, you know, time-travel capacity to be doing this. And it really shows the indiscriminate nature of the police arrests.
The other major difference is the penalty faced by those arrested in Moscow and other cities in Russia is far less severe than the 10–80 years in federal prison faced by the 200+ awaiting trial in US federal court. For the purposes of comparison, this article assumes these two pieces of context (the lack of “rioting” in Russia vs. the decades-long prison sentences in the US) render these two instances of mass arrests, at the very least, comparable in terms of news value.
Please go to FAIR to read the entire article.