San Diego judge throws book at violent Antifa associates, sentences 8 more to time behind bars, bringing total to 12

News & Politics

A judge in Southern California just sentenced eight members of Antifa to prison or jail time, bringing perhaps the first successful prosecution of an Antifa-related conspiracy case to a just close.

The case stems from a violent uprising that occurred on January 9, 2021, less than two weeks before Joe Biden was sworn into office. That day, a group of Trump supporters planned to host a rally in Pacific Beach, California, and dozens of black-clad Antifa members arrived as well to oppose them.

‘Antifa could have assembled and protested and stood across the street and called them white supremacists, but you cannot use force to suppress others’ freedom of speech.’

The event quickly got out of hand after the Antifa thugs reportedly sprayed the Trump supporters and other innocent bystanders with bear mace, pepper spray, and other chemicals. The Antifa associates also engaged in other forms of violence including punching, kicking, and striking people with a skateboard, according to dedicated Antifa reporter and Post Millennial senior editor Andy Ngo.

In all, 12 Antifa associates were indicted, most of whom pled guilty. Two others — Brian Lightfoot, 27, and Jeremy White, 41 — however, decided to take their case to the jury and were subsequently convicted.

On Friday, San Diego Superior Court Judge Daniel Goldstein sentenced eight of those defendants, including Lightfoot and White. Four others had previously been sentenced.

The following are the Antifa defendants convicted in connection with the Pacific Beach riot:

  • Alexander Akridge-Jacobs, 33, pled guilty to felony conspiracy to riot and felony assault. He was sentenced to nine months in county jail with some time suspended. He is expected to be released in November.
  • Jonah Bigel pled guilty in 2021 to assault with a deadly weapon. He was given a prison sentence that was then immediately suspended, indicating he may have cooperated in the investigation. He did not appear in court during trial or sentencing, Ngo reported.
  • Jesse Cannon, 34, pled guilty to felony conspiracy to riot and two counts of felony assault. He also pled guilty to felony assault in connection with an unrelated case. Per his plea agreement, a third case against him was dismissed. He was sentenced to five years in prison and will be eligible for parole in December.
  • Joseph Gaskins, 23, pled guilty to felony assault likely to cause great bodily injury as well as assault with a deadly weapon in connection with an attack on a police officer during a BLM riot in 2020. He was sentenced to one year in county jail plus two years of probation. He is expected to be released in December.
  • Brian Lightfoot, 27, convicted of felony conspiracy to riot and five counts of unlawful use of tear gas. The jury either acquitted him of or deadlocked on 10 assault charges. Because he took the stand and expressed remorse for his actions and an interest in turning his life around by becoming a firefighter, Judge Goldstein sentenced him to two years at a “fire camp” prison for qualified California inmates to learn firefighting skills.
  • Christian Martinez, 25, pled guilty to felony conspiracy to riot and felony assault. He was sentenced to six months in county jail plus probation. He is expected to be released in September.
  • Luis Mora, 32, pled guilty to felony conspiracy to riot and felony assault. He was sentenced to two years and eight months in a state prison. He will be eligible for parole in August 2025.
  • Samuel “Ruchelle” Ogden, a 26-year-old man who identifies as a woman, pled guilty to felony conspiracy to riot and felony assault. He was sentenced to one year in county jail and two years probation.
  • Bryan Rivera, 22, pled guilty to felony conspiracy to riot and felony assault. He was sentenced to 180 days in county jail.
  • Faraz Talab, 29, pled guilty to felony conspiracy to riot and felony assault. He was sentenced to one year in jail and two years probation. He is scheduled to be released in December.
  • Jeremy White, 41, was convicted of felony conspiracy to riot. The jury acquitted him on an assault charge, but at sentencing, Judge Goldstein claimed he would have found White guilty since he considered White the “ringleader” of the group. During the riot, White also posed as a “medic” though he has no medical training and was unrepentant about his “anti-fascist” activism at sentencing. “Fascism is here, mask off with a gun and a badge, criminalizing anti-fascists to clear the playing field of any opposition,” he wrote in a statement in which he also compared himself to Nelson Mandela and violent anti-slavery crusader John Brown. White was sentenced to two years in state prison.
  • Erich “Nikki” Yach, 40, pled guilty to felony conspiracy to riot, felony assault, and felony unlawful use of tear gas. He has a prior conviction of felony domestic abuse and admitted he was out on bail on the day of the Pacific Beach riot. He was sentenced to four years and eight months in prison. He identifies as a woman and has repeatedly requested housing in a female facility, but those requests have not yet been accommodated, perhaps because of his history of violence against women. He is eligible for parole in October.
During the hearing on Friday, Judge Goldstein was emphatic about the “existence” of Antifa and the threat the group poses to society. “I don’t believe it’s as structured as a criminal cartel,” Goldstein said. “I think it pops up fairly fast. … But it does appear they have funding, and they have an ability to make contact and morph into other things very quickly, in many different jurisdictions.”

Goldstein also took aim at the fascistic tactics the group employs to deny others their civil rights. “I have no doubt the Trump supporters were offensive to the defendants that day, but that is the nature of freedom of speech,” Goldstein explained. “Antifa could have assembled and protested and stood across the street and called them white supremacists, but you cannot use force to suppress others’ freedom of speech.”

With all 12 Antifa-affiliated defendants, including Bigel, whose sentence was suspended, receiving a prison or jail sentence of some kind, San Diego County District Attorney Summer Stephan declared victory.

“From the start this prosecution has been about holding individuals accountable for conspiring to bring violence to our community, something we won’t tolerate,” she said. “This was a complex case with all 11 defendants convicted. Our prosecution team worked tirelessly with law enforcement on this case to ensure our community remains safe, and that the rule of law is followed.”

A press release from Stephan’s office also indicated these conspiracy convictions might be a first for Antifa in America. “It’s believed that this is the first criminal case in the nation where crimes committed by members of Antifa were brought to justice and held accountable,” the press release said.
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