Left-wing counter-protesters in Pacific Beach clash with Trump supporters face harsher penalties than January 6 insurgents

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Screenshot from the video shows a Trump supporter in a light blue shirt punching a man in a black shirt.

Thanks to the San Diego County District Attorney’s Office, a group of 11 left-wing counter-protesters have just been indicted by a county grand jury for their role in a January 2021 Pacific Beach “patriotic march” organized by Trump supporters. The indictment does not add any charges beyond what they were originally charged with in December in San Diego Superior Court.

But incredibly, the 11 people charged face heavier sentences than the defendants in the Jan. 6 insurrection cases. It is well known that many insurgents received only misdemeanor sentences and very light or very light prison sentences.

Yet the PB defendants were charged with 29 counts, including conspiracy to commit the crime of rioting. Thank you DA Stephan Summer

Experts who study such cases say this is the first time nationwide that prosecutors have used a conspiracy charge specifically to prosecute suspected antifascists, or “antifa supporters,” as prosecutors have described them.

There have been many issues regarding this incident from the beginning.

First, only left-leaning counter-protesters were arrested, despite violence from both sides during the January 2021 incident. Second, San Diego police sided with pro-Trump supporters.

And third, given the context of this historic moment, at least 5 Trump supporters during the PB incident were also on Capitol Hill on January 6 as insurgents.

Context is very important here. The clash took place on January 9, when Trump was still calling himself “president” and just 3 days after the violent Trump-inspired insurrection on Capitol Hill. Trump was still trying to overturn President Joe Biden’s election victory (he still is) and about 100 Trump supporters showed up at PB for a so-called “patriotic march” to press his treason case.

About 100 counter-protesters also showed up. Many of them were Americans sickened by the Capitol’s attempted insurrection and Trump’s continued refusal to admit defeat. Clashes erupted this afternoon between Trumpists and counter-protesters. The San Diego Police Department was there and eventually declared an unlawful assembly — but that only applied to counter-protesters.

At the time, Kylee Belanger, director of the National Lawyers Guild of San Diego’s Legal Observer Program, which documented the police response to the Pacific Beach events, told the Union-Tribune that she thought that the police department had clearly shown a bias against the counter-protesters. . Belanger said in January that she and other lawyers with the Legal Observer Program witnessed “fighting” on both sides of the protests, but said police did not treat Trump supporters the same way they did. she had controlled the counter-protesters.

The Union-Tribune reported that its reporters and editors documented some violence at the scene from pro-Trump rally attendees and counter-protesters. Video taken during the clashes documented that:

a pro-Trump crowd attacked a barefoot man wearing a George Floyd t-shirt. Just before the attack, a man in the group spat at the barefoot man. Moments later, as the shoeless man tried to break up a fight between two women, the spitting man punched the barefoot man, knocking him to the ground.

Two other men from the right-wing group – including one carrying a Trump flag – punched and kicked the man while he was on the ground.

Alright, now fast forward to this week. According San Diego Union-Tribune:

Ten of the defendants pleaded not guilty at an arraignment Tuesday, according to the district attorney’s office. The latest defendant is expected to be brought to trial later this month.

All but one of the 11 defendants were already out on bail before Tuesday’s hearing, according to Kerry Armstrong, one of the defense attorneys in the case. Armstrong said the judge released those defendants on Tuesday on their own recognizance in the new case. …

Videos also showed members of the pro-Trump group attacking a barefoot man, a Trump supporter throwing a canister of ammunition at counter-protesters and anti-fascists attacking people, including pepper spraying an apparent passerby walking by. his dog.

The defendants named in the indictment were Alexander Akridgejacobs, 31; Jesse Merel Cannon, 31; Brian Cortez Lightfoot Jr., 25; Christian Martinez, 23; Luis Francisco Mora, 30; Samuel Howard Ogden, 24; Bryan Rivera, 20; Faraz Martin Talab, 27; Jeremy White, 39; Erich Louis Yach, 38; and Joseph Austin Gaskins, 21.

The indictment also names a 12th person, referred to as an “unindicted co-conspirator”, and refers to “other unidentified co-conspirators”.

Lawyers for some of the defendants criticized the new indictments. Attorney Kerry Armstrong told UT that his client Martinez was present at the protest, but it was “difficult to see who did what” from the hundreds of hours of video footage prosecutors turned over. Attorney Dod Ghassemkhani, representing Ogden, said he had seen “no evidence that my client was there”.

The lawyer criticized prosecutors for “going after these individuals more harshly than they did against the January 6 insurgents”. Another lawyer, Pedro Bernal, defending Akridgejacobs, said:

“This event occurred just three days after violent extremists attempted to overthrow our government in Washington, DC, and several people were killed.”

Bernal also added poignantly, it “should give us all pause” that anti-fascist counter-protesters “face longer sentences than people who tried to overthrow our government.” And, “law enforcement in San Diego has been solely focused on our customers…who have decided to exercise their First Amendment rights and protest the barbaric actions of the Capitol Rioters, their supporters, and their enablers.” “.

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