Aaron Cantú mugshot bracelet

Journalist Aaron Cantú arrested at Trump inauguration

May 24, 2017

Aaron Cantú — an independent journalist who has written for The Baffler, the website Truthout, and Al-Jazeera — was arrested while covering protests on the day of the inauguration of U.S. President Donald Trump. 

Cantú was among more than 230 people arrested in Washington on Inauguration Day after some individuals set fire to a car and broke windows of downtown businesses.

Cantú was one of nine journalists arrested during the protests. Charges were later dropped against most of the journalists, but not Cantú. On April 27, 2017, a grand jury indicted him on eight separate felony counts — inciting a riot, rioting, conspiracy to riot, and five counts of destruction of property. If convicted on all counts, he could face to 75 years in prison.

He is scheduled to go to trial in October 2018.

The U.S. Press Freedom Tracker catalogues press freedom violations in the United States. Email tips to [email protected]

January 18, 2018 Update

Federal prosecutors announced on January 18 that they would drop charges against 159 of the remaining 188 defendants.

However, the government refused to drop charges against 59 of the defendants — including Cantú.

In response, Cantú’s attorneys filed a motion on January 19 asking the court to dismiss the charges against him with prejudice:

Defendant Aaron M. Cantú is an established journalist who is facing eight criminal charges, including multiple felonies, as a result of his presence at a demonstration during the 2017 Presidential Inauguration. He respectfully moves the Court to dismiss the indictment on the grounds that the charges against him impermissibly infringe his First Amendment rights. The indictment is not narrowly tailored to advance any substantial government interest, and the government failed to provide Mr. Cantú with adequate notice that his newsgathering activities could subject him to felony prosecution, as is required under the U.S. Constitution and Super. Ct. Crim. R. 7. For these reasons and those set forth in the accompanying statement of points and authorities, Mr. Cantú respectfully moves this Court to dismiss the indictment with prejudice. 

Motion to Dismiss Indictment

July 6, 2018 Update

On July 6, all charges against Cantú were dropped.

“I’m stunned,” Cantú told the Santa Fe Reporter, where he is on staff. “It’s still sinking in. The trauma has been really severe. It’s taken a lot to be able to just hold it together and come to work and do the work. And now that that thing is not there, I need to figure out how to live my life.”

Related Incidents

More related incidents