NEW YORK—In response to the Justice Department dropping felony charges against 129 defendants arrested following the Inauguration Day protests, PEN America Washington Director Gabe Rottman issued the following statement:

“This is certainly positive news, but these charges shouldn’t have been brought in the first place, and 129 innocent lives have been upended. These peaceful protesters should never have been arrested. We also still fear that the 59 remaining defendants face charges for merely marching beside individuals who engaged in property destruction, and we will look closely at the remaining cases. Police and prosecutors clearly did not do enough to separate bad apples from Americans who were merely exercising their First Amendment rights. The District of Columbia is going to be the epicenter of political protest for the foreseeable future. Steps need to be taken now to prevent this from happening again.”


PEN America stands at the intersection of literature and human rights to protect open expression in the United States and worldwide. We champion the freedom to write, recognizing the power of the word to transform the world. Our mission is to unite writers and their allies to celebrate creative expression and defend the liberties that make it possible.

Anoosh Gasparian, External Relations Coordinator:, +1.646.981.0685