April 15, 2024

Wearing fear-inducing “black bloc,” antifa members Jeremy White and Brian Lightfoot Jr. traveled from Los Angeles spoiling for a combat in Pacific Seaside, prosecutors mentioned.

Third amended indictment of White and Lightfoot. (PDF)

Carrying outfits to keep away from being doxxed or injured, the defendants aimed to confront far-right Donald Trump followers and shield likeminded counterprotestors three days after the Capitol invasion, their legal professionals mentioned.

On Tuesday, a jury of 9 ladies and three males (and 4 alternate jurors) heard opening statements in a downtown Superior Courtroom felony case attracting nationwide consideration.

They’ll hear wildly contrasting accounts of the “Patriot Rally” starting close to Crystal Pier on Jan. 9, 2021.

Lightfoot and White are the final of 11 authentic defendants. 9 pleaded responsible, and one is sort of accomplished serving a jail sentence.

Brian Cortez Lightfoot Jr., 27, and Jeremy Jonathan White, 41, face fees that embrace conspiracy to commit a riot. Prosecutors allege the pair performed roles in a sequence of assaults on members of the pro-Trump crowd.

Deputy District Lawyer Makenzie Harvey advised jurors they’d not be judging the political stances of anybody concerned, however whether or not crimes have been dedicated “towards unprovoked victims.”

(In actual fact, Choose Daniel Goldstein dominated earlier — out of earshot of jurors — that the protection couldn’t point out “Proud Boys” and “Three Percenters” as being among the many rally-goers.)

However prosecutor Harvey started her 44-minute remarks by citing the liberty of speech and meeting — “one of the sacred proper assured to each citizen no matter opinion, politics or the ideology that speech is grounded in.”

Harvey then cited equal safety of the legislation.

“Additionally a constitutional assure [that] protects each sufferer from violence no matter their ideology, their politics, their opinions or beliefs,” she mentioned. “Put very merely, it is a case about these two defendants … who got here to San Diego with a lot of co-conspirators with the intention to close down the speech and the meeting of a patriot group for the straightforward incontrovertible fact that they didn’t agree with their beliefs.”

Harvey later mentioned jurors wouldn’t be requested their opinion of the Patriot group — “of these individuals who help former President Donald Trump. You’ll not be requested how you’re feeling concerning the ideology of antifa, as a result of having an ideology is just not against the law.”

She outlined 11 “separate acts of violence” allegedly perpetrated by Lightfoot, White and different antifa members, who the prosecutor mentioned converged on Pacific Seaside in tactical gear and armed with weapons comparable to baseball bats, pepper spray and tasers.

Harvey mentioned each Lightfoot and White pepper sprayed varied folks and both took half in or instigated incidents wherein folks have been bodily overwhelmed by antifa members.

White’s legal professional, Curtis Briggs, and Lightfoot’s lawyer, John Hamasaki, argued their shoppers sought to defend counterprotesters from pro-Trump members making an attempt to fire up violence.

Briggs, youthful brother of San Diego legal professional Cory Briggs, mentioned White’s attendance as a medic was a “good factor, not a nasty factor.” And famous how White gained a congressional award for his social justice activism (starting as a Bernie Sanders disciple).

However White additionally was depicted as a sufferer of “just about each violence potential” throughout his years of attending protests. (Briggs didn’t point out White’s plea of not responsible by motive of madness.)

Hamasaki, counsel for Lightfoot, warned the jury towards “guilt by affiliation” and described his consumer — hoping to change into a wildland firefighter — as having grown up as certainly one of eight kids of a single mom within the robust Crenshaw neighborhood — “however didn’t get entangled with gangs, medicine or avenue life.”

He mentioned Lightfoot wished to be a part of the “combat towards fascism.”

However prosecutors instantly objected when Hamasaki made a reference to the 17-year-old designer of a flyer for the Patriot March as a white supremacist and talked about Proud Boys and Three Percenters as being within the pro-Trump crowd.

Goldstein known as a break and excused the jury.

He advised the protection attorneys he’d dominated seven instances towards permitting point out of the extremist right-wing teams.

“I don’t need to have a trial that the Proud Boys have been concerned,” Goldstein mentioned.

Hamasaki advised the jury: “You people didn’t get a simple case. It’s a sophisticated case. It’s a messy case. … A few of the belongings you’ll see are ugly. I’m not asking you to love [Lightfoot], approve of him. A few of you’ll say: ‘Did it’s important to try this?’”

However he appealed for an eventual verdict of not responsible on all counts based mostly on the proof and the legislation.

“Not everyone was on the market with good intentions,” Hamasaki mentioned. “The concept they have been on the market simply in search of a peaceable Patriot March — I believe the proof will present that isn’t right. A few of these folks out right here have been in search of hassle, have been in search of battle, and have been in search of a combat.”

The protection performed movies recorded by one of many prosecution’s listed victims, a person who live-streamed his interactions with a bunch of individuals on the protest.

The person was punched and pepper sprayed by a bunch of individuals, however protection attorneys say earlier than that occurred, the person declared on his stream, “That is going to be good content material,” that he was “going into fight mode” and that a few of the antifa crowd members “are going to lose some enamel.”

He additionally vowed to “crush their esophaguses.”

After a number of insults and yelling, a brawl ensues. One particular person swung a skateboard on the man, who later says, “I purposely did that to set off him” in regard to the insults he directed on the crowd.

One other group of people that have been allegedly pepper sprayed by Lightfoot and overwhelmed by others have been armed with a knife and a Glock handgun that turned out to be a reproduction, the protection legal professional mentioned.

Such horrifying weapons “set the tone for the day” and clashes that adopted, Briggs mentioned.

White is accused of declaring a person to antifa members, who then chased the person down and attacked him.

Briggs mentioned that moments earlier than, a member of the pro-Trump crowd threw a green-smoke grenade towards a big crowd. The legal professional mentioned White was not pointing on the man who was overwhelmed, however relatively towards an empty alleyway to indicate protesters that nobody else was there to probably assault them.

“Please ask your self when the prosecutors put their witnesses on in case you’re getting the entire story,” Briggs advised the jury. “Please pay shut consideration as to whether the folks on the stand have bias, whether or not they’re actually victims or not, and strategy the prosecution’s case with wholesome skepticism.”

The trial is anticipated to final at the very least 4 weeks. Each Lightfoot and White are anticipated to testify in two or three weeks.

However first comes the prosecution case, which started Tuesday with San Diego police Detective Michael Wagner.

Wagner, of the felony intelligence unit, mentioned he was wearing long-sleeve T-shirt whereas taking footage and video of the Pacific Seaside violence.

He mentioned he noticed 40-50 counterprotestors “all kitted out” — the most important such group he’d ever seen — with just a few carrying black-and-red antifa flags.

He mentioned the Patriot group was “nonconfrontational, not creating any issues.” And he narrated a lot of video clips not involving the defendants.

Upon cross-examination, Wagner conceded he didn’t witness a number of key clashes in particular person — and didn’t take measurements of the alley incident essential to White’s guilt or innocence.

Wagner mentioned measurements are taken just for murder or visitors circumstances. He additionally mentioned: “I’ve watched a lot video, it’s all blurring collectively.”

However when prosecutor Harvey had an opportunity for redirect examination, Wagner harassed how traumatic that day was: “We’re human. We have now a soul,” and this explicit protest was “so violent, it’s ingrained in my mind.”

Briggs beforehand sought to have the San Diego County District Lawyer’s Workplace disqualified from prosecuting the case and changed with the California Lawyer Basic’s Workplace.

He argued that San Diego County District Lawyer Summer season Stephan’s workplace confirmed bias by prosecuting solely anti-fascists and never those that attended the occasion in help of Trump.

Briggs mentioned Stephan’s workplace has a historical past of declining to prosecute members of far-right organizations who commit violence. His movement was finally denied by Goldstein.

Among the many two dozen folks in Courtroom 1901’s gallery was Tasha Williamson, the social justice crusader who as soon as ran for mayor of San Diego.

Throughout a day break, she advised Instances of San Diego her curiosity within the case.

“As a result of I imagine that the DA’s workplace is making an attempt to forestall folks from protesting. Yeah, my curiosity is that the DA opened her opening assertion with lies — and that they tainted this jury. And that’s not OK.”

The District Lawyer’s Workplace has mentioned in prior public statements that “video proof evaluation exhibits that overwhelmingly the violence on this incident was perpetrated by the antifa associates and was not a mutual fray with either side crossing out of lawful First Modification expression into riot and violence.”

Metropolis Information Service contributed to this report.