In first, Antifa members face charges from prosecutors in San Diego

by WorldTribune Staff, April 18, 2024

Two So Cal Antifa members are currently on trial in San Diego for attacking supporters of Donald Trump in January 2021.

Jeremy Jonathan White, 41, and Brian Cortez Lightfoot Jr., 27, both of Los Angeles, are the first Antifa members in the U.S. to go on trial for “serious felony accusations,” Andy Ngo reported for The Post Millennial on April 18.

Nine co-defendant comrades have been convicted in plea deals, including Luis Francisco Mora, 32, who took a last-minute plea deal at the start of the San Diego trial.

So Cal Antifa members Brian Cortez Lightfoot Jr., top left, and Jeremy Jonathan White, second top left, are on trial for attacking Trump supporters in January 2021.

Prosecutors detailed how, on Jan. 9, 2021, roving mobs of black-clad So Cal Antifa members attacked supporters of Trump and other people walking on the boardwalk at Pacific Beach in San Diego County. A dog and his walker were among those maced.

The first witness called in the trial, an undercover San Diego Police detective, said he saw 40 to 50 people dressed all in black.

“They are actually identifying themselves as Antifa for the first time here, with their flags,” he said. His testimony is backed by photography and video of the riot showing the Antifa side waving flags and symbols of their movement in addition to brandishing and later using weapons. One of Antifa’s signs read, “ASHLI BABBITT DESERVED IT.” Babbitt was the unarmed woman who was shot dead inside the U.S. Capitol building during the Jan. 6, 2021 protest.

In the San Diego Antifa case, eleven people, about half from Los Angeles County, were indicted in 2022 by a secret grand jury on a total of 29 felonies, including conspiracy to riot, assault and other violent crimes. Prosecutors alleged the defendants engaged in a coordinated conspiracy to riot.

Lightfoot, the alleged “ringleader” of the attack, is accused of 16 felonies including conspiracy to riot, nine unlawful uses of tear gas charges, and six felony assaults on six different victims.

White is facing two felony counts, felony conspiracy to riot, and felony assault of a man on a bicycle who was documenting the Antifa rioters with his cell phone. White, who is 6 feet 3 inches tall, stands out in the riot video because of his height and his distinctive black armored riot costume with a gas mask and helmet. His defense attorney Curtis Briggs argued that White was a “medic” at the event.

“Since riots began against Trump and his supporters in 2017, Antifa and other far-left groups have popularized delegated roles to their members that include so-called ‘medics.’ These protesters are instructed to provide first aid if their comrades are injured in the course of a riot. The self-identified medics often engage in rioting and violent behavior themselves,” Ngo wrote.

Honor their memory: The ‘shot heard round the world’

Prosecutors said one of the victims in the case who was beaten by Antifa rioters was a minor student. Attorney Briggs showed the jurors a still photo of the boy and other youths and claimed those teens “blocked” the much larger Antifa group from marching on the beach boardwalk. “Many people will say they are fascists, the people wearing MAGA hats….the persons that Antifa faces off with,” Briggs said.

Lightfoot’s attorney defended his client’s use of bear mace on the group of teens: “When you see the bigger picture, it is not just three kids getting pepper sprayed. You will understand that Brian using pepper spray was reasonable under the circumstances.”

At one point when jurors were excused for a break, Ngo noted that Judge Daniel Goldstein admonished the defense attorneys for persisting in their efforts to politicize the trial by making claims about right-wing groups and particular individuals to justify the actions of their clients. The judge had repeatedly rejected efforts to bring those claims in as evidence, during pre-trial motions.

“I made the ruling seven times,” the judge said.

San Diego Police captain Matt Novak testified that people in the pro-Trump group were law-abiding, but people in the larger crowd in black were committing unlawful acts. He said that day was the most violent protest he experienced in his law enforcement career.

“Defense attorneys, left-wing media and Antifa supporters have tried to cast doubt on the legitimacy of the current prosecution by highlighting that no right-wing people are defendants in this riot case,” Ngo noted.

“I had no legal means to declare unlawful assembly against the other [right-wing] side because they were not being unlawful,” Novak testified. “It was the violence of that group [Antifa] that came, that brought the violence.” He asserted that the locals who attended the “Patriot March” were nonviolent and that the responding “counter-protestors” came from elsewhere, including Los Angeles, to bring violence to the suburban beach community.

Most of the nine co-defendants who already took plea deals still await sentencing, in which they expect to be sentenced to prison. Two were already sentenced to five years in prison each; their sentences were enhanced by prior outstanding felony charges in unrelated crimes.

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