Charlottesville, Virginia turned the public’s attention to violence committed by both sides of the political spectrum. Although figures within the mainstream media and political establishment have almost universally ignored the aggressive tactics used by left-wing groups like Antifa, the Trump administration is making efforts to prevent further potential invitations to violence.
According to The Hill, a DC court ordered on Thursday that the web hosting company DreamHost must produce Department of Justice-related information on an anti-Trump website responsible for organizing violent Inauguration Day protests and property damage in January.
Judge Robert Morin, who heads the Superior Court of Washington, DC, ordered DreamHost to comply with a search warrant from the Justice Department (DOJ) for data on the website disruptj20.org, which is hosted by DreamHost.
The DOJ is investigating the riots that took place on Inauguration Day, which were some of the most destructive protests against a presidential inauguration. As the Washington Times reported, 217 individuals were arrested in connection with Inauguration Day rioting.
DC police in riot gear were called in to deal with multitudes of organized rioters on the day President Trump took office. Officers found themselves using pepper spray and crowd control munitions on protesters engaging in dangerous vandalism.
Many of the rioters who were detained were dressed in black and had their faces concealed with masks. Rioters with hammers and crowbars shattered the windows of local banks and restaurants. They even dragged trash cans and newspaper boxes onto the street to ignite fires.
In one heavily publicized incident, rioters broke the windows of a limousine and then set it on fire. Ironically, the owner of the limo is a Muslim man, Muhammad Ashraf, as reported by the Washington Post. Also of note is that the driver at the time was a Hispanic man.
Disruptj20.org was one of the main forces behind the Inauguration Day riots, as detailed on their website. In addition to organizing protests, the left-wing group puts together workshops and training that teach its members how to respond to police during riots.
A Google Doc included among their training literature describes role-play scenarios in which some members pretend to be police officers while others practice body-limping techniques that make it harder for authorities to haul them away. There are also descriptions of elaborate group techniques for resisting police efforts, including one known as “puppy piling.”
As the disruptj20.org training guide expounds: “Puppy piling: When cops snatch protester, she drops, neighbor throws herself on top, forming a bridge with hands and knees, others pile on top, attempting to protect their own stomachs, and each others’ heads, etc. make the following points: Person on the bottom must curl up and make themselves small.”
It is not yet known whether DreamHost will appeal the court order. The web hosting company’s spokespeople claim the move violates the First Amendment rights of their customers by exposing the information of website users.
However, the US Attorney’s Office specified that it is not interested in obtaining the 1.3 million IP addresses of the website’s visitors, and has modified its warrant to reflect that.
If the investigation into disruptj20.org results in legal action against riot organizers, it would be a major blow to the aggressive left-wing activist groups that have grown in response to Trump’s presidency.