A San Bernardino County Superior Court judge on Friday, Jan. 26, said he would rule soon on a prosecutor’s request to keep a group’s leader and six of his followers held without bail as they face accusations that their advocacy for street vendors went beyond exercising their First Amendment right to protest and extended into assault and other crimes.
Judge John Wilkerson in Victorville said he could rule before the next hearing, which he scheduled for Feb. 9. Eight people were arrested on Dec. 14 and have pleaded not guilty to all charges.
The delay disappointed an overflow crowd of some 40 supporters who say 36-year-old Upland resident Edin Alex Enamorado fights for marginalized and oppressed people who have no voice. Several supporters interviewed before the hearing said they believed his tactics did not amount to a crime.
“The seven people who are incarcerated, they stood up for people’s rights,” said Adam Espinoza, 60, who said he came down from San Francisco for the hearing and wore a T-shirt that read “Justice for the 8.”
Charges against the eight include making criminal threats, assault with a deadly weapon, false imprisonment and conspiracy. One of the eight is not being held because he was accused of less serious crimes. The crimes allegedly happened in San Bernardino and Los Angeles counties.
Sheriff Shannon Dicus has said the accused “use racism to threaten and intimidate their victims, causing them to get on their knees to beg for forgiveness while still assaulting them.”
Friday, Deputy District Attorney John Richardson told the judge, “No condition of release can reasonably protect the public.”
Enamorado’s attorney, Nicholas Rosenberg, spoke to supporters for about 20 minutes on the courthouse steps after the hearing in what was part informational speech and part pep rally. As most of the crowd filmed him with their phones, Rosenberg led them in a chant of “Get Alex Out.”
Rosenberg promised that Enamorado would show up to court if he were released on bail.
“I believe my client does not pose a risk to any of the victims, my client does not pose a risk to the members of the general public, and I believe my client will not fail to appear, because it is in his interest to get justice,” Rosenberg said.
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