GWU Student Accused Of Leading Attack On Jackson Statue [Updated]

Federal prosecutors have charged Jason Charter who is believed to be the alleged ringleader involved in vandalizing the statue of former President Andrew JacksonWe recently discussed the release of photos of suspects by the FBI of individuals connected to the attack on the statue of Andrew Jackson outside of the White House. One of those arrested is Jason Charter who is described as the “ringleader.”  He is also a George Washington University student and a professed supporter of Antifa.  Charter is likely to be a priority prosecution for the Administration. However, his criminal case could raise some challenging issues on admissibility of evidence of his affiliations and political views.

In the interest of full disclosure, I have been a long-standing critic of Antifa due to its profoundly anti-free speech views and its history of violence against those with opposing views, though I have opposed declaring Antifa a terrorist organization.  They have a history of attacking journalists, academics, and others. Indeed, I have been critical of Democratic leaders who have supported Antifa despite this history.   Some professors openly support the group, including its violence.

Notably, one of the Antifa attacks on our own campus was covered by our university newspaper, The Hatchet, and one of those interviewed at the scene was Charter. It has a surprising connection to an incident referenced in the current controversy.

However, my interest in this case (other than the connection to GWU) is as a criminal defense attorney and how such political views can be admitted into evidence.  There is always a concern that prosecutors will use political views to taint a case, particularly when you have an association with an extremist group like Antifa.

Charter's Twitter and Facebook profile shows him wearing various face masks

Charter was arrested at his home and charged with destruction of federal property. He is connected to not just the attack on the Jackson statue but the destruction of the statue of Confederate leader Albert Pike in Washington on June 19. The FBI states that news coverage shows Charter “standing over the toppled Pike Statue, pouring an unknown liquid onto the statue.”  It also says that he is seen “waving others away from the statue, and squatting down behind the statue where his hands are not visible. Seconds later, the statue catches fire. Charter is said to be ‘seen standing over the flames as it burns.”

That description could be attacked by the defense as incomplete and lacking direct evidence that he was the one who set the fire.  However, if he faces a single trial on both statues, a jury may be more inclined to rely on circumstantial proof in one due to the direct proof in the other.  The FBI reportedly has pictures of Charter on the statue and actively engaged in the effort to topple the statue.

What could also be interesting is the fight over the admissibility of Charter’s express association and support for Antifa. As defense counsel, I would fight any effort at admissibility due to its potential prejudicial impact. However, the government can make a strong case for the evidence on a couple of levels. First, it goes to his intent and belief in violent action.  Second, it goes to the organizing of these efforts through Antifa and antifascist groups. For example the complaint states that his Twitter account included a statement that “Tearing down statues of traitors to the nation is a service to this nation not a crime.” Charter praises the antifa movement repeatedly in social media posts and his Twitter bio includes the hashtag “#IAmAntifa.”

Various sites indicate that Charter has a background in programming and IT, including possible web design at GWU.

The FBI identified Charter as wearing Rose colored goggles and then alleged that they had other pictures of him without the googles.

One of the pictures shows the harassment of a conservative journalist, Jack Posobiec on June 26, 2020. He is shown being yelled at by someone wearing the same rose colored ski goggles. The man has been identified as Charter though his counsel may challenge that identification.

If it is Charter, it does not appear to be the first encounter between the two men.

The incident in 2017 involved an alleged Antifa supporter Sydney Ramsey-LaRee, 24, who was charged with simple assault after allegedly biking up and hitting Jack Posobiec, the Washington bureau chief of Rebel Media, a conservative group. The incident occurred near our Lisner Auditorium.   Charter was part of the D.C. Anti-Fascist Coalition demonstration and there is no indication that Ramsey-LaRee was part of the group.  However, Posobiec said that the masked members of the D.C. Anti-Fascist Coalition were calling him a “Nazi” when Ramsey-LaRee rode up and screamed “Where’s the Nazi? Where’s the Nazi?” Posobiec said that the group pointed at him and said  “He’s the Nazi. He’s the Nazi” and Ramsey-LaRee attacked him. (“Punching Nazis” is a common theme of Antifa).

Any competent defense counsel would argue that the Posobiec encounter in 2020 should be excluded.  However, the government again has an argument for admissibility in showing Charter wearing the same outfit as seen at the statue incidents.

The government could also seek to put on expert testimony that the googles and face coverings are viewed as signature characteristics of Antifa activists.  Again, this would call for a pre-trial motion in limine to keep out such evidence as prejudicial.  While Charter has praised the antifa movement repeatedly in social media posts and his Twitter bio includes the hashtag “#IAmAntifa,” the affidavit notably does not state that he was an active member or carrying out these actions as part of the group.  Absent a direct connection, I would argue that this does not meet the threshold for admissibility under Rule 403.

Rule 403. Exclusion of Relevant Evidence on Grounds of Prejudice, Confusion, or Waste of Time

Although relevant, evidence may be excluded if its probative value is substantially outweighed by the danger of unfair prejudice, confusion of the issues, or misleading the jury, or by considerations of undue delay, waste of time, or needless presentation of cumulative evidence.

The greatest problem is that, with a growing number of arrests, there will likely be much more evidence seized, including computer records, social media postings, and other items.  There may also be cooperating witnesses.  By identifying Charter as the “ringleader,” he is the least likely to be able to cut a deal as opposed to be the target of other deals on cooperation.  The fact that they have him at the scene of two scenes of destruction makes his case the most likely to generate a significant sentence if convicted.

Even with these motions in limine, Charter is in a very poor legal position. A court is likely to allow in some of this evidence and the photos from the scene are quite damning.  The defense could try to challenge the allegation that he cause the requisite level of damage.  As discussed earlier, the government is likely to proceed under 18 U.S.C. §1361 for any damage exceeding $1000.

1361. Government property or contracts

Whoever willfully injures or commits any depredation against any property of the United States, or of any department or agency thereof, or any property which has been or is being manufactured or constructed for the United States, or any department or agency thereof, or attempts to commit any of the foregoing offenses, shall be punished as follows:

If the damage or attempted damage to such property exceeds the sum of $1,000, by a fine under this title or imprisonment for not more than ten years, or both; if the damage or attempted damage to such property does not exceed the sum of $1,000, by a fine under this title or by imprisonment for not more than one year, or both.

Update: Charter appears to have responded on an unverified Twitter account and asked for people to support his legal fund.
Jason Charter
@JasonRCharterI am innocent and the fact @realDonaldTrump is tweeting at and prosecuting a crippled 25 year old activist shows how desperate his is to creates false narratives. Please support my legal defense

71 thoughts on “GWU Student Accused Of Leading Attack On Jackson Statue [Updated]”

  1. This case has not matured yet. It’s quite possible that the FBI will connect Charter to a wider criminal conspiracy with domestic terrorism elements. Therefore, I think it’s a bit premature to be discussing his defense strategy.

  2. “I have been a long-standing critic of Antifa due to its profoundly anti-free speech views and its history of violence against those with opposing views, though I have opposed declaring Antifa a terrorist organization. They have a history of attacking journalists, academics, and others. Indeed, I have been critical of Democratic leaders who have supported Antifa despite this history. Some professors openly support the group, including its violence.”

    Well, in that case Prof Turley, aren’t you using your white privileged to be lenient – that is until you are attacked by him and or his ilk?

  3. Perhaps, he might donate himself to Alligator Trolling to see what they will actually eat. This study should be funded by Grant Funds.

  4. Let’s get real.

    Charter comes from an affluent family and was in all likelihood raised by a Nanny, and his parents neglected him. Which is a common thread that ties almost all Antifa members together.

    The only thing that will ever serve to wake this guy up is a thorough asswhipping that lands him in a hospital for a few weeks. Where he has lots of time to consider how he ended up in that position.

    At his current rate that will occur either in prison, or on the street, and could end up being the best thing that ever happened to him.

    “Some men you just can’t reach. So you get what we had here last week, which is the way he wants it… well…. he gets it.”

    – Captain (“Cool Hand Luke”)

    1. Very few people employ domestic help these days apart from once-a-week cleaning ladies hired through agencies, au pairs for pre-school children, and home health aides for the infirm. Unless his family has money to burn or is very retro, he didn’t have a nanny. Affluent people these days have a small complement of youngster and favor time-consuming child-rearing strategies. If anything, they tend to over-water their children.

      Given that he’s a student at a private research university, it’s a reasonable inference his family is affluent. A reasonable inference, not a slam dunk. Suburban white males aren’t a demographic segment the bien pensants care to recruit, so it’s a reasonable conjecture as well that he isn’t receiving much of a discount to attend GW. You’d think were he an ordinary youngster who won a discounted ride from his high school academic performance, he’d be more practical about the use of his time.

      1. Whether you call them a “Nanny” or something else, is irrelevant. I have known lots of wealthy people who paid other people to do the hard work involved with raising a child.

        He’s a spoiled rotten sh*thead who never really experienced being brought up solely by his parents. Again, that is a common thread with the Trustafarian/Antifa crowd, and it is why they are so filled with hate. Their hate is what compels them to project their self-loathing onto other people whom they don’t even know.

        1. I have known lots of wealthy people who paid other people to do the hard work involved with raising a child.

          I haven’t, and I wasn’t a stranger to the wealthy growing up. That was fifty years ago. If anything, domestic service is less prevalent now than then.

          Per the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there are fewer than 400 private household cooks in the United States. Childcare workers number about 560,000, but the majority of them work for daycare centers and the like. About 270,000 work in private homes. There are about 33 million households with minors, so household child-minders are currently to be found in 0.8% of these. Even for the 2 or 3% who might be called patrician, it’s an atypical practice.

  5. I have been a long-standing critic of Antifa due to its profoundly anti-free speech views and its history of violence against those with opposing views, though I have opposed declaring Antifa a terrorist organization. They have a history of attacking journalists, academics, and others.

    Opposed you say? Here is the FBI’s definition of Domestic Terrorism. What element is missing from your description that would make you see there is no difference?

    Domestic terrorism is the unlawful use, or threatened use, of violence by a group or individual based and operating entirely within the United States (or its territories) without foreign direction committed against persons or property to intimidate or coerce a government, the civilian population, or any segment thereof, in furtherance of political or social objectives.

    1. And trying to stop these people while in the act would take how many police to make the arrest and take that person away? Hmmm?

      1. Why do you care. Deploy the manpower you need. If that mean’s blasting them with fire hoses spewing colored water which will stain their clothes, go for it and make mass arrests. March them in front of JPs who will given them seven minutes a case a la Judge Wapner.

  6. Does anyone think his attorney will be able to talk him out of wanting to testify? Because if this putz takes the stand —- game over.

    1. LML, while I don’t doubt this post by you, I would like to know what proof is there that it is the terrorist wing of the Dem party?

  7. LOCK HIM UP, put in max security prison for life, lets see how long he survives? – Antifa is a domestic terrorist organization – perhaps his only way out of a long sentence if he rats on Antifa and others leadership and who supplies them with $$$$. Suspect they will find a trial to some key people and that who you want the backers/the brains.

    He might already be singing

  8. They only need your eye area for facial recognition. That’s it!

    He, as a young man, thought to himself, that he wouldn’t get caught, bc of the face covering and the large amount of people participating 🙄

    Error. Wrong.

    Another sad case, another brainwashed youth, another youngster who pissed their life down the drain before it even got started.

    It just baffles me, truly.

    1. “another brainwashed youth” Yes, and who can we blame. We can blame the teachers and their union – 1 of the most corrupt unions in this country. The teachers unions make James Hoffa’s unions look like a boy scout organization.

  9. Turley– “It is a sad prospect for any young person, particularly someone from our own community.”

    ****

    It seems unlikely he would have gone quite this far with his fascist and destructive behavior if local governments had not been ignoring it or cheering it on. I wonder if there is evidence of his participation in other wrecking?

    I think it is cheering rather than sad that one of these little thugs is looking at jail time.

    Meanwhile the Molotov attorneys have been granted bail. Gives the impression the fix is in for selected criminals. Who spoke up for them? Details, please.

    1. Young– even though the case looks strong for the government, I think the venue could be a problem. There are at least two barriers to conviction. First, The DC federal magistrate released Charter on his own recognizance and even appointed a lawyer for him even though he apparently can afford $55,000 a year in GW tuition. That’s pretty good evidence that she did not take the charges seriously. As we know, all it takes in one juror with the same attitude toward Charter and the crime to derail the prosecution. Second, we know that Judge Berman welcomes tainted jurors in her DC court if they hate the right people. I don’t know how cases are assigned in DC but if this case falls in her court, I think she can be expected to shield Charter with the same zeal that she skewered Roger Stone and Paul Manafort.

      1. Honest– I have to agree about the venue problems, both judges and jurors. I would like to see the DC federal courts abolished, leaving only the Supreme Court there and maybe even make them move around the country. The DC court cases could be taken up by other federal courts. The DC courts have become ‘overmighty’ as was once said of powerful and dangerous lords in England and they seem not even to mind that they look corrupt.

        Congress could do it. All federal courts but the Supreme Court exist at sufferance of Congress and some of them are becoming insufferable.

        This particular little Antifa wart may have committed crimes in other jurisdictions where charges could be filed away from the DC stench of corruption.

      2. Honest– Berman and Sullivan together suggest there may be a poisonous, corrupt culture in the DC courts. It would be nice if the DOJ began to investigate them.

      3. honestlawyer – I have a feeling Main Justice is going to take more control over DC Justice. I think we are going to start seeing automatic motions for recusal for Berman

  10. campaign director of Fieldwork…

    I challenge you to look at the funding and associations behind that “political action group”

    http://www.fieldworks.com/

    there you get your connections to antifa and other radical anarchist organizations and how they roll.

    and with a bit more diving, not requiring a great amount of investigative energy, the actual sponsors who bankroll this and other groups like it.

    spoiler: you aren’t going to be shocked to learn the usual suspects.

    this group and many like it just have zero opsec at all….and that’s kind of disappointing to me. for a band of anarchists who could have been a contender, it’s obvious they never spent a moment thinking about the long game….ahhh..to be a young idiot.

    nevermind the political aspect of this case…that’s a given. and provable in court.

    about the only thing that’s going to save this guy’s bacon from a long stretch is having someone like sullivan handle the case…

    1. His poor parents! This is so tragic! These kinds of shenanigans used to be carried out by youngsters—and their immaturity was taken into consideration. These current “college students” seem to have the maturity level of middle schoolers! They don’t know that they are actually playing “for keeps” until it’s too late! Just awful! Who is encouraging these childish antics? They should be prosecuted too!

    2. TDM, I went to the link & read about the founders. Especially Laurie Moskowitz. Ya just gotta wonder what & how their brain works. They all see America as evil. I see America as having a history of good with a mix of bad. People like these don’t realize that there is a glass that is half FULL, and you don’t need to through out the bath water with the baby in it.

    3. actually antifa has had for decades an internal culture akin to other criminal groups that use basic measures to avoid prosecution

      but they continuously recruit young people who are fools, so, they are not able to perpetuate what you call “opsec” because it requires habits
      habits are generally the province of people with experience, and young people, by definition. lack experience

      now they have tried to counteract that by hiring more veterans and professionals, as they money has flowed their way from Soros and the like

      obviously their loud declarations that they “are a collective and not an organization” are patent attempts to avoid RICO prosecution and respondeat superior and joint tortfeasor forms of liability

      these sorts of verbal trick rarely hold up in court; but you have to get the cases against them into court in the first place. that’s where it’s been a slow roll in the past

      maybe things will change? we will see

  11. Turley knows, better than most, how a lawyer can argue up is down or left is right and win. Charter should get nailed. The crime greater than destruction and threatening assault here is his damaging of the necessary core arguments which make up the impetus for the protests. Nothing argues against a valid point than extremism. For the sake of his own arguments, put him in the slammer for a while, set an example, keep the arguments in court, the legislates, on the placards.

        1. honestlawyer – now, when I was going to college, this was enough to get you expelled. Will GWU expell him?

          1. Paul C– I was asked to leave the first university I went to when a group of us were arrested for inciting a riot that never actually occurred. When we went to court the next morning, we were strongly advised by the judge to leave the university and city in which it was located and not return, in exchange for which the charges would be dropped. We did and they were. Had we actually damaged anything we probably would still be in jail.

  12. “The FBI states that news coverage shows Charter “standing over the toppled Pike Statue, pouring an unknown liquid onto the statue.” It also says that he is seen “waving others away from the statue, and squatting down behind the statue where his hands are not visible. Seconds later, the statue catches fire. Charter is said to be ‘seen standing over the flames as it burns.”

    That description could be attacked by the defense as incomplete and lacking direct evidence that he was the one who set the fire.”

    Turley has taken leave of his senses.

    1. You can “argue” the moon is made of Swiss cheese. Doesn’t mean anyone will buy it even if it is white and holey.

    2. “Turley has taken leave of his senses.”

      *****

      No he has not.

      He is looking for case weaknesses as any good defense attorney would do. It is an analysis. I like the technical analysis even though I want the guy in prison.

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