Alexei Wood is a San Antonio-based photographer and journalist currently facing 70 years in prison for eight felony charges he incurred after documenting anti-Donald Trump protests in Washington, D.C. the day of Trump’s inauguration, January 20, 2017.
Wood broadcasted live on his professional Facebook page from Washington on Inauguration Day, following a group of anti-capitalist “black bloc” protesters as they chanted in the streets and confronted police. Eventually, Wood found himself in the middle of a group of 230 protesters and journalists who were surrounded and arrested by members of the Metropolitan Police Department. Though Wood was focused on filming, he was surprised to find that the entire group was arrested before an order to disperse was issued, which is typical for contentious protest situations. Most of those detained received felony charges the next day.
In the weeks following the inauguration, a handful of journalists in the detained group had the charges against them dropped. However, Wood’s charges were expanded to include five felony property destruction charges and three felony rioting charges, which could carry a maximum of 70 years in prison.
Wood denies any involvement in violent or destructive actions, and argues that his public protest footage (which will serve as court evidence) speaks for itself—it shows him clearly complying with police officer’s requests to raise his hands and move to designated areas.
In May, Wood was offered a plea deal of one year in prison deferred to one and a half years probation, a $1,000 fine, and six months of community service. He rejected the deal before even hearing its terms. His trial is set to begin November 20.