After making their initial appearances in D.C. Superior Court, nearly all defendants were freed pending future court appearances. Renata Cooper, a spokeswoman for the U.S. attorney’s office in the District, declined to comment on the cases.
D.C. police said they made 106 arrests from Saturday through early Monday, including dozens involving charges of felony rioting. But when the arrestees appeared in Superior Court on Monday, the U.S. attorney’s office dismissed rioting charges against most of the defendants. A handful still face that count.
Sporadic looting on Saturday and early Sunday spiraled Sunday night into Monday, leaving a path of destruction through downtown D.C. and in other neighborhoods. Newsham said looting and property damage mainly occurred in businesses north of Lafayette Square as well as those in Tenleytown and Georgetown.
In one case, a man was charged with jumping over two security barriers early Saturday morning and trying to “enter the White House complex, against the will of the United States.” In another, three men are accused of burglarizing the Walgreens drugstore at 1306 U St. NW at 4 a.m. Sunday and trying to make off with a cash register and four packs of candy, according to court papers.
In those cases, the defendants were released and ordered to stay away from the location associated with their arrests.
Other alleged break-ins, thefts or vandalism, according to court records, occurred at clothing stores and a gelato shop.
Joel Dilone, of Montgomery County, Md., said he felt compelled to join the protests Saturday and Sunday, and has no regrets, despite being arrested and charged with burglary and rioting.
“I feel like being silent right now is still being pro-racist,” Dilone said. “I know other people were in the cell for a good cause, too.”
Dilone said he is a manager at a car dealership and had never been arrested. He said he plans to fight the charges in court Aug. 30.
“The officers who arrested me were nice and peaceful,” Dilone said. “The only problem we really had is they stopped people for the wrong things.”
Dilone said he found some liquor bottles on a corner along Seventh Street NW, after two teenagers dropped them.
“I picked them up — free liquor,” Dilone said. “The police started chasing me. I didn’t run. I didn’t do nothing. I stood my ground. They didn’t ask me no questions. They automatically thought I broke into the place. I didn’t want to argue with them to make it worse.”
Court papers say surveillance video inside a store showed a person with Dilone’s build and distinctive T-shirt “forcefully entering the location” and taking bottles of alcohol.
Dilone said he didn’t learn of the rioting allegation until he was in his holding cell and that he did not understand why he had been charged on that count. There were several people behind him at the time police approached him late Sunday, he said, and many of them were arrested as well.
“I can’t really say too much,” Dilone said, adding that he wants to work directly with his lawyer to present his best defense.
“I’m a Latino and I feel like we have a voice, too. We’re part of a minority group. If we don’t speak up, nobody else will,” Dilone said after his release.
D.C. officials have said they welcome peaceful protests, but some among the thousands who descended on the city appeared prepared for mayhem.
Paul Duggan and Magda Jean-Louis contributed to this report.