- Facebook / Alexei Wood
Wood was arrested on January 20, 2017 along with nearly 200 other journalists, protesters, and bystanders who were indiscriminately rounded up and arrested after the anti-Trump protest turned violent. He had been photographing and live-streaming the protest as a journalist, and played no role in organizing the event.
Regardless, Wood was charged with six felony charges (one charge of inciting a riot and five counts of destruction of property) and two misdemeanor counts of rioting and conspiracy to riot.
He faced up to 70 years in federal prison.
With a total 181 defendants, the D.C. Superior Court Judge Lynn Leibovitz made the unusual decision to try the defendants in groups, rather than one at a time. Wood and five others have been the first and only group to see their day in court thus far. All six defendants were acquitted of their combined 42 charges Thursday afternoon.
This nearly year-long case has become a pivotal examination into how freedom of speech (and of the press) is valued under the new Trump Administration.
Instead of looking at each defendant's case individually, United States attorneys slapped everyone the same charges — making each defendant responsible for any criminal actions taken by others who happened to be arrested in the same sweep.
"The prosecution is not accusing any of us [six defendants] of property destruction individually — we're charged with aiding and abetting the people that did," Wood told the Current last week.
That means a guilty verdict would have confirmed that anyone who participates in a protest that turns violent or where one person breaks the law can be convicted for merely "aiding" in the protest's existence.