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Justice Department Demands Records From Anti-Trump Protest Website

  • VOA News

FILE - Riot police clear an intersection in Washington, Jan. 20, 2017, after the inauguration of President Donald Trump.

The U.S. Justice Department has requested information from a California web hosting provider about anyone who visited DisruptJ20.org, a website that coordinated protests against Donald Trump's presidency on Inauguration Day.

DreamHost received a search warrant last month requesting any "record or other information" related to the DisruptJ20 website, which the company said amounted to more than 1.3 million visitor internet protocol addresses.

In a post on its website Monday, DreamHost said complying with the request would require it to hand over "contact information, email content, and photos of thousands of people," prompting the company to question the legality of the order.

"That information could be used to identify any individuals who used this site to exercise and express political speech protected under the Constitution's First Amendment," DreamHost said. "That should be enough to set alarm bells off in anyone's mind."

In a court filing last month, government prosecutors said the DisruptJ20 website was "used in the development, planning, advertisement and organization of a violent riot that occurred in Washington, D.C., on January 20, 2017."

FILE - Demonstrators torch a car during the demonstration in downtown Washington, Jan. 20, 2017, during the inauguration of President Donald Trump.
FILE - Demonstrators torch a car during the demonstration in downtown Washington, Jan. 20, 2017, during the inauguration of President Donald Trump.

In April, authorities charged 234 people with felony rioting for their roles in riots that played out in Washington on Inauguration Day. Video of the incidents shows rioters throwing rocks and bricks at police and using crowbars and bats to smash storefronts and vehicles. Six police officers were injured in the mayhem, and one limousine was set on fire.

DreamHost called the search warrant a "clear abuse of government authority" and said it would fight the warrant in court.

A hearing on the matter will take place Friday.

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