Authorities seized cellphones, computers and a black “anti-capitalist, anti-fascist” flag from Petrohilos’s front lawn, according to the court documents.
Petrohilos has not been charged with any crimes. He says he did nothing illegal as he helped plan the protests and participated in them.
The search was part of an effort by authorities to build a legal case against hundreds of activists accused of conspiring to riot and incite violence on the day President Trump was sworn in. But it also has reignited concerns from activists and others who question whether police went too far in making mass arrests Jan. 20 or in investigating demonstrators exercising their right to free speech.
“We believe this is an aggressive assault on the right to organize, to protest,” said David Thurston, an organizer of Disrupt J20, a group that planned protests at the inauguration.
The D.C. Superior Court document — an affidavit providing justification for searching Petrohilos’s home — shows that law enforcement infiltrated several meetings where Disrupt J20 organizers discussed logistics. One was a multiday “action camp,” according to the affidavit. At another, the undercover police officer and other attendees were asked to place their cellphones in a microwave for fear that law enforcement or people opposed to the group were seeking access to their plans, the document states.
–Perry Stein and Keith L. Alexander, D.C. police infiltrated inauguration protest group, court papers show