Two Suspects found Guilty of Conspiracy in San Diego’s Landmark Antifa Trial

Two Suspects found Guilty of Conspiracy in San Diego's Landmark Antifa Trial

San Diego, CA: On Friday, a jury in San Diego found two anti-fascists guilty of planning to riot. This case set the tone for civil action against the political movement.

During a protest in a beach neighborhood after the turbulent 2020 election, the two defendants were facing a wide range of charges, including rioting and attack. On January 9, 2021, members of the Proud Boys and other Trump fans had gathered at that protest and fought with anti-fascists.

But that was only true for the anti-fascists. The prosecutors tried to persuade the jury that the attackers were not just random individuals, but that they had planned together under the Antifa name, basically acting like a criminal gang.

Brian Lightfoot and Jeremy White were both found guilty of planning to cause trouble at the protest.

But the result was not unanimous because many other charges did not lead to conviction. The jurors thought about Lightfoot’s most serious assault charges for more than a week but couldn’t decide. They found him not guilty of one assault and White innocent of the one assault he was accused of committing.

For each defendant, the verdicts meant that Lightfoot might get a lighter term, but White, who said he was “heartbroken,” might go to prison.

The lawyers for both defendants said the verdicts were a big blow to the anti-fascist movement and to protesters in general. This comes at a time when there are new protests on college campuses across the country against the war in Gaza.

Proud Boys, Trump fans, and members of the extreme right in San Diego marched around Pacific Beach on January 9, 2021, shouting slogans and asking anti-fascists to join them. Some of these people had been violent at local protests in the past.

A group of about twelve anti-fascists, many of whom were dressed head to toe in black, met some of the protesters. Around 2:30 in the afternoon, the anti-fascists attacked the protesters, attacking some with pepper spray and hitting others. Other times, the rioters attacked people on the left and people who were just watching.

After a year, the San Diego district attorney charged 11 people, all of whom were antifascists.

Most people think of Antifa as an idea without a leader, not a group. This case got extra attention because it was clearly about Antifa. Right-wing talk show hosts and conspiracy theorists like Alex Jones and Tucker Carlson, as well as conservative leaders all the way up to Trump, have said for a long time that Antifa is not just a social movement but also a well-organized, secret army.

Investigators said the original defendants planned to start a riot and came to San Diego to fight with fans of former President Donald Trump, just three days after the Capitol uprising.

When the defense asked Stephan’s office what they were trying to do, they put in a motion to have her removed from the case. In the past, the chief prosecutor, a Republican who quit the party to run for the neutral DA job, has backed Antifa conspiracy theories.

Nine of the original 11 suspects made deals with prosecutors that got them some longer prison terms. Two of them, Lightfoot and White, who live in Los Angeles, chose to defend their cases in front of a jury. Lawyers for civil rights said to USA TODAY that they took on the cases because they could have an effect on the anti-fascist movement as a whole.

Charges against Lightfoot were more serious than those against the other suspect. They said he attacked people who supported Trump with pepper spray and other weapons that could seriously hurt them.

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