SAN DIEGO — Charges have been filed against 11 Antifa members by the San Diego County District Attorney’s Office. Prosecutors said the group violently disrupted a pro-Trump rally earlier this year.
“Video evidence analysis shows that overwhelmingly the violence in this incident was perpetrated by the Antifa affiliates and was not a mutual fray with both sides crossing out of lawful First Amendment expression into riot and violence,” District Attorney Summer Stephan’s office said in a news release, the San Diego Union-Tribune reported.
The defendants “are self-identified to be affiliated with Anti-fascists or Antifa,” and gathered on Jan. 9 in San Diego to take “direct action” against a pro-Trump “Patriot March,” according to the DA’s office. “Direct action” is defined as “acts of violence such as assault, battery, assault with deadly weapons, arson, and vandalism.”
On the day of the clashes, the San Diego Police Department declared an unlawful assembly.
Last Thursday, law enforcement raids took place in Southern California to round up the suspects. At least seven defendants were arraigned on Monday.
They’re accused of using various weapons, such as tear gas, sticks, flag poles and other items to attack the Trump advocates, according to the San Diego Union-Tribune. Moreover, the criminal case is believed to be the first to use conspiracy charges against suspected Antifa members, the news outlet reported.
Hence, the group of violent offenders face several charges, which include conspiracy to commit a riot and illegal use of tear gas, according to FOX 5 San Diego.
A Los Angeles based videographer recorded some conflicts involving pepper spray and a wooden folding chair, which appears to match an attack described by prosecutors.
Several more altercations between the counter-protestors and others at the Boardwalk.
The counter-protestors shout “Proud Boy Killer,” as several people are chased out of the area. pic.twitter.com/UzczqlREtP
— Sean Carmitchel (@ACatWithNews) January 10, 2021
Prosecutors allege that act was committed by Jeremy Jonathan White, 39, one of the defendants who remained jailed Monday in lieu of $200,000 bail. White faces charges of conspiracy, assault with a deadly weapon, use of tear gas not in self-defense and animal cruelty, the San Diego Union-Tribune reported.
The Trump supporters held flags and signs at the rally such as “Stop The Steal” and “Trump 2020.”
According to the criminal complaint, one Antifa group originated in San Diego, while the other took shape in Los Angeles prior to the pro-Trump rally.
As part of the conspiracy, they’re accused of circulating a Jan. 2 social media post calling for a counter-protest to the pro-Trump rally, “in essence agreeing to take part in the ‘direct action.’ Others agreed by showing up in Pacific Beach on January 9th, 2021 and participating in the violence,” prosecutors say in the criminal complaint, according to FOX.
The defendants who were arraigned on Monday were identified as Luis Francisco Mora, 30; Joseph Austin Gaskins, 21; Faraz Martin Talab, 27; Bryan Rivera, 21; Brian Lightfoot, 25; Jesse Merel Cannon, 31; as well as the previously mentioned Jeremy Jonathan White, 39.
The San Diego Union-Tribune reported that an arrest warrant was issued for 37-year-old Erich Louis Yach.
Also facing charges, according to a spokesperson for the District Attorney’s Office, are Alexander Akridge-Jacobs, 31; Christian Martinez, 23; and Samuel Howard Ogden, 24, according to the news outlet.
The prosecutor’s office said in the release that prosecutors file charges when evidence supports the allegations beyond a reasonable doubt, regardless of the political affiliation of victims, because “the right to peaceful protest must be protected.”