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  • Demonstrators run from a stun grenade while protesting against U.S. President Donald Trump

    Demonstrators run from a stun grenade while protesting against U.S. President Donald Trump | Photo: Reuters

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Campaigners are calling for ralllies and want to raise funds for the detainees.

Six months after the U.S. President Donald Trump's inauguration, activists are holding a "week of solidarity" rallies to support the more than 200 people arrested during the J20 (January 20) protests.

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The demonstrators were charged with rioting under the Federal Riot Statute, which carries a maximum prison sentence of 10 years and a fine of up to US$25,000.

The week long solidarity protests are being organized in several U.S. cities including Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, New York City, Richmond, and Washington D.C..

Campaigners are calling for ralllies and want to raise funds for the detainees.

They allege the police used unlawful force to detain the protesters during the inauguration events and are demanding answers from the D.C mayor's office. 

The Metropolitan Police Department, MPD, used flash grenades and tear gas to break up the crowds.

A website called Defend J-20 Resistance alleges "the arrests were made by use of a "kettle" technique of individuals on the corners of L and 12th Street, without orders to disperse."  

It adds "On April 27th, multiple additional felony charges were added. The 211 remaining defendants could now face up to 75 years in prison".

Last week, 21 defendants filed motions to have their cases dismissed. 

In June, the American Civil Liberties Union in the District of Columbia, ACLU-DC, also filed a lawsuit against the city, MPD and the Police Chief Peter Newsham.

Scott Michelman, a senior staff lawyer at the ACLU-DC, alleged in an interview with Al Jazeera, that the police "decided to round up everyone, pepper spray everyone and, in some cases, subjected them to sexual abuse". 

"Our hope is that success in our lawsuit will send a clear message that the types of actions they engaged in on January 20 were unconstitutional and unacceptable," Michelman said. 

Thousands of people traveled from across the U.S. to Washington, DC, to protest on the first day of Trump's presidency. During the swearing-in ceremony, MPD officers blocked off a large area, penning in the demonstrators before making the arrests.

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In a statement released at the time, the MPD said those detained had been engaged in "criminal action".

"The fact that a lot of people are stepping up in the face of repression is a reflection of how bogus the charges are and the broad recognition of the criminalisation of dissent," Sam Menefee-Libey, a member of the DC Legal Posse activist group, told Al Jazeera.

"Defendants and supporters have called for this week of solidarity to shine a light on what's going on and to enlist additional supporters," Menefee-Libey added. 

On July 27, the protesters plan to hold a rally outside the D.C. court where a hearing will decide whether the felony charges issued against the inauguration day detainees will be upheld.

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