A judge had already declared the case void, but the city prosecutor insists on bringing a group of young people to trial.

More than two years have passed since Miguel Antonio joined a group of protesters to briefly block Highway 101 in downtown Los Angeles — twice — in opposition to the Trump administration's "fascist regime."

As a result, the young man was implicated in a criminal charge for vehicular obstruction, crossing the highway and for not obeying a police officer.

Antonio and his fellow protester Chantelle Hershberger joined seven other protesters, all members of the Refusefascism.org group in September and November 2017 to unexpectedly block vehicular traffic on Highway 101, in downtown Los Angeles.

With them they carried banners, one said "Begins on November 4", in reference to a demonstration that they wanted to carry out on the same day of the elections and the other said "The Trump / Pence regime must leave!"

After several hearings, the case was declared void in July 2019 but before the protester could hold, a lawyer from the city attorney Mike Feuer’s office requested that the case be reopened.

On February 13, they again appeared at the stipulated hearing where testimonies were heard from police officers who were present at the blockades in 2017. Subsequently, the defendants were ordered to return this February 20 for a decision by the judge.

The lawyers of the defendants filed the Murguía motion, which states that the defendant may be entitled to a dismissal of criminal charges if there is a violation of the right to equal protection of the law.

This is in response to accusations that a spy was sent by the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) to monitor and record the meetings of the anti-Trump group Refusefascism.org

There were also accusations that group members traveled to the bay area to participate in a protest at UC Berkeley that turned violent.

"Everything is a lie," Antonio said. "We are saying that this is a selective persecution."

Members of RefuseFascism.org during a previous protest. (Aurelia Ventura / La Opinion)
Members of RefuseFascism.org during a previous protest. (Aurelia Ventura / La Opinion)

After the media discovered this act, LAPD spokeswoman Norma Eisenman said LAPD chief Michel Moore ordered a review from start to finish "to determine if strict department requirements were followed for the use of confidential information."

At that time, the city attorney’s office declined to comment. Since then the legality of the monitoring and recording of the internal and private meetings of the Refuse Fascism LA group has been questioned.

The lawyers of the defendants try to find out if these were to investigate the anti-Trump and anti-fascism ideology or a political persecution by the LAPD and the city prosecutor.

Wasting resources

Antonio said he feels disappointed as the city of Los Angeles is spending significant resources, which could be used in other situations, instead of insisting on prosecuting them for a case that had already been declared void.

"The LAPD has a history of infiltrating political groups, more now that they are doing so under the Trump administration," Antonio said. “(The prosecutor) Feuer is more worried about jailing us, while Trump is doing worse. He broke all the rules and was exonerated from his trial. ”

The young man said that this is one reason why they don't trust the Democrats either, since Feuer, although he identifies himself as a Democrat, "is collaborating with fascism (Trump administration)."

For now they just have to wait to see what will happen this February 20 when they appear in court again to see if the judge approves or not the Murguía motion.

"If the judge denies the motion we will have to prepare again for the hearings," said the young man.

The Opinion tried to contact the prosecutor's office Feuer for any comments, but there has been no response so far.


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