Leftist Counter-Protesters at Pacific Beach Clash With Trump Supporters Face Stiffer Sentences Than Jan. 6 Insurrectionists

by on June 9, 2022 · 0 comments

in Election, Ocean Beach, San Diego

Screen grab from video shows Trump supporter in light blue shirt sucker-punching man in black shirt.

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

But incredibly, the 11 charged individuals are facing more serious sentences than defendants in the January 6 insurrectionist cases. It is well known that many of the insurrectionists have only been given misdemeanors and very little or light jail sentences.

Yet, the PB defendants were indicted on 29 felony counts, including conspiracy to commit the crime of riot. Thank you DA Stephan Summer

Experts who study these type of cases say this is the first time nationwide that prosecutors have used a conspiracy charge specifically to prosecute alleged anti-fascists, or “antifa supporters,” as prosecutors described them.

There have been many problems regarding this incident since the get-go.

First, only left-wing counter-protesters were arrested, despite violence being committed by both sides at the January 2021 incident. Second, San Diego Police sided with the pro-Trump supporters.

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

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

Roughly 100 counter-protesters also showed up. Many of these were Americans sickened by the Capitol insurrection attempt and by Trump’s continued refusal to admit defeat. Clashes broke out that afternoon between the Trumpists and the counter-protesters. San Diego Police Department were there and eventually declared an unlawful assembly — but it only applied to the counter-protesters.

At the time, Kylee Belanger, director of the San Diego National Lawyers Guild Legal Observer Program, who documented the police response to the events in Pacific Beach, told the Union-Tribune then she believed the Police Department showed clear bias against the counter-protesters. Belanger said in January that she and other lawyers from the Legal Observer Program witnessed “combat” on both sides of the protests, but said police didn’t deal with Trump supporters in the same way they policed counter-protesters.

The Union-Tribune reported that its reporters and editors documented some acts of violence at the scene from both the pro-Trump rallygoers and the counterprotesters. 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 from the group spit on the barefoot man. Moments later, as the shoeless man was trying to break up a fight between two women, the spitting man sucker punched the barefoot man, dropping 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.

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

Ten of the defendants pleaded not guilty during a Tuesday arraignment, according to the District Attorney’s Office. The last defendant is expected to be arraigned later this month.

All but one of the 11 defendants were already out of custody on bail prior to Tuesday’s hearing, according to Kerry Armstrong, one of the defense attorneys in the case. Armstrong said the judge released those defendants 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 munition canister at the counterprotesters and anti-fascists attacking people, including pepper-spraying an apparent bystander walking 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, who is referred to as an “uncharged coconspirator,” and refers to “other unidentified coconspirators.”

Attorneys for some of the defendants were critical of the new indictments. Attorney Kerry Armstrong told the U-T his client Martinez was at the protest but it was “tough to see who did what” in the hundreds of hours of video footage that prosecutors have turned over. Attorney Dod Ghassemkhani, representing Ogden, said he hasn’t seen “any evidence that points to my client being there.”

The attorney criticized prosecutors for “going after these individuals harder than they went after the January 6th insurrectionists.” Another attorney, Pedro Bernal,  defending Akridgejacobs, said,

“This event occurred only three days after violent extremists tried to overthrow our government in Washington, D.C., and where several people were killed.”

Bernal also poignantly added, it “should give us all some pause” that the anti-fascist counter-protestors “are facing longer sentences than the people who tried to overthrow our government.” And, “law enforcement in San Diego has uniquely focused on our clients … who 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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