Prosecutors have charged approximately seven individuals, described as self-identified anti-fascists, regarding eight alleged assaults in January amid a Pacific Beach “Patriot March,” the San Diego Union-Tribune reported Monday.
The march event was organized by supporters of former President Donald Trump.
The Union-Tribune article continued:
Those arraigned Monday in San Diego Superior Court were among a group arrested Thursday in raids by police officers and sheriff’s deputies across Southern California. Prosecutors allege the defendants “are self-identified to be affiliated with Anti-fascists or Antifa,” according to a criminal complaint, and began organizing themselves — with one group originating in San Diego and the other in Los Angeles — a week before the pro-Trump rally.
— San Diego Union-Tribune (@sdut) December 7, 2021
It is thought to be one of the first cases to use conspiracy charges, in this instance conspiracy to commit riot, to focus on alleged members of Antifa, the article stated.
A criminal complaint said the defendants charged started the criminal conspiracy “by liking and sharing” a January 2 social media post.
The post reportedly called for a counterprotest on the pro-Trump event, “in essence agreeing to take part in the ‘direct action.’ Others agreed by showing up in Pacific Beach on January 9th, 2021 and participating in the violence” noted in the complaint, prosecutors asserted.
The individuals were accused of using pepper spray, small flag poles, sticks, and additional items to attack event participants on January 9 in the street and boardwalk located near Crystal Pier.
— Paul makarushka (@heyguyfox5) January 9, 2021
Aerial footage also showed police trying to break up the protest in Pacific Beach:
Many of the attacks noted in the complaint reportedly matched incidents that were filmed and posted online, such as a clip of a counterprotester pepper spraying a dog and the animal’s owner, the Union-Tribune report said.
“Video evidence analysis shows that overwhelmingly the violence in this incident was perpetrated by the Antifa affiliates and was not a mutual fray with both sides crossing out of lawful First Amendment expression into riot and violence,” District Attorney Summer Stephan’s office noted in press release.