California Protest: Activist Arrested
A group of eight activists, including notorious street vendor advocate Edin Alex Enamorado, were arraigned in a Victorville courtroom on Monday, facing several felony charges as part of a multi-agency investigation dubbed “Operation Accountability.”
The charges stemmed from a months-long investigation by the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Office that began after an assault at a protest in Victorville on Sept. 24. The investigation soon spread to other cities in the Inland Empire, with the group being accused of further violent acts at protests in San Bernardino and Los Angeles counties.
All eight individuals pleaded not guilty to the charges and will remain in custody without bail until their next court appearance on Dec. 26.
According to Sgt. Tony Romero of the Victorville sheriff’s station, the investigation revealed that the group, led by Enamorado, had been coordinating and carrying out violent acts under the guise of activism.
“This investigation began in late September when we investigated a brutal assault that occurred at a protest in the city of Victorville,” Romero said. “The investigation quickly became a multiagency operation when we discovered our group of suspects were responsible for violent acts during other protests in both San Bernardino and Los Angeles counties.”
Enamorado, who has a large following on social media, is known for his advocacy for street vendors and for posting videos condemning what he sees as attacks on minority groups, particularly street vendors. However, according to law enforcement, this advocacy was a front for their criminal activity.
An activist who has been leading rallies in Santa Barbara has been jailed on multiple felony charges in San Bernardino County. Edin Alex Enamorado is accused of violent acts and weapons charges. His attorney says the charges are baseless. https://t.co/6jTTrW20p7 pic.twitter.com/W4NmsX1QpO
— John Palminteri (@JohnPalminteri) December 15, 2023
“This group manipulates videos and photos on social media in an attempt to make themselves look like protectors of underrepresented people,” said San Bernardino County Sheriff Shannon Dicus at a press conference last week. “However, they use racism to threaten and intimidate their victims, causing them to get on their knees to beg for forgiveness while still assaulting them.”
Dicus stressed that the actions of the group were not protected by the First Amendment and that their behavior was illegal.
“They’re not about seeking justice for the human condition, but rather they’re seeking clickbait for cash,” he said.
Outside the courthouse, Enamorado’s attorney, Christian Contreras, spoke to reporters, accusing law enforcement of “criminalizing First Amendment activity” and arguing that the arrests were an attempt to silence protesters and critics.
Meanwhile, on social media, supporters of the activists, whom they called the “Justice Eight,” called for their release and claimed the arrests were part of a larger effort to suppress the voices of activists.
As the case unfolds, the community will continue to closely watch the developments and see how this controversial case plays out in court.