Venezuelan Embassy Protesters Hit With Federal Charges

Four protesters who occupied the Venezuelan Embassy for weeks in support of President Nicolas Maduro appeared in federal court Friday and were charged with “interfering with the protective functions of the State Department,” according to the Associated Press. The demonstrators—Kevin Bruce Zeese, 64, Margaret Ann Flowers, 57, Adrienne Pine, 49, and David Vernon Paul, 70–were arrested Thursday at the embassy by federal agents after authorities posted trespassing notices on the doors and turned off the building’s water last week. The group’s “refusal to leave” the embassy “interfered” with the State Departments role of “maintaining the security of the Venezuelan Embassy,” according to their charging papers. The protest reportedly started about a month ago, with over 30 activists occupying the space—but their numbers dwindled overtime. Opposition leader Juan Guaidó’s newly appointed U.S. ambassador had reportedly asked federal authorities for help clearing the building.