The trial of six people accused of felony rioting during the inauguration of US President Donald Trump is under way in Washington DC.

The case could determine whether the government continues pursuing charges against the roughly 200 people who also allegedly participated in the protests organised by Disrupt J20, an anti-capitalist and anti-fascist group.

But civil rights activists say the case could have bigger implications - ones that threat the First Amendment to the US Constiution, which guarantees the right to free speech.

Elizabeth Lagesse, one of the J20 defendants set to go to trial over the next year, believes that.

"Now you're thinking, if I go to this protest, if I do this really basic thing I see on TV and I've done before, I could end up spending years of my life and find myself in jail. Do I care about this thing enough to protest?" she said.

So should you be punished for attending a protest during which illegal activity occurs? We will ask Lagesse and others at the center of the case when they join us for part one of this special two-part discussion.

On this episode of The Stream, we speak with:

Scott Michelman
Senior Staff Attorney, ACLU

Baynard Woods @baynardwoods
Senior Reporter, The Real News Network

Elizabeth Lagesse @ElizAriadne
J20 Defendant

Read more: 

First trials begin for those charged over inauguration day rioting - NPR
All you need to know about the nearly 200 people facing 60 years in jail for protesting Trump - Yahoo News 

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