Seven Enamorados Remain, For The Time Being, Locked Up As Their Trial Approaches

Seven of the eight Enamorados who were arrested in predawn raids by the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department on December 14 remain in custody, on a trajectory for a trial that is now unlikely to begin prior to the end of April. They remain jailed following today’s bail hearing, during which Judge John Wilkerson heard the appeals from the attorneys representing Edin Enamorado, 36; Wendy Luján, 40; David Chávez, 27; Fernando López, 44; Vanessa Carrasco, 40; Stephanie Amésquita, 33; and Edwin Peña, 26, that they should be allowed their freedom while they await and undergo trial on charges that they overstepped the bounds of both decency and the law in their advocating that the rights of Mexicanos and other Latinos, documented and undocumented, present in the United States struggling to stay afloat economically within the context of what they consider to be a biased and racist political, legal and social system dominated by the white establishment should be granted bail or a recognizance release before they go to trial. Deputy District Attorney John Richardson presented countervailing arguments that the seven should remain locked up to prevent them from visiting their particular brand of violence on further victims or dissuading the witnesses who will testify against them.
Ultimately, Judge Wilkerson took what the attorneys said under advisement, but he made no ruling to countermand the previous decisions by Judge Shannon Faherty, Judge Melissa Rodriguez and Judge Zahara Arredondo that the seven should remain jailed as their trial, which was previously set for March but is now on a trajectory to begin on the last day of April, approaches.
The Enamorados consist of Edin Enamorado and his followers. Eight of them find themselves facing trial for putting into practice the tactics Enamorado has formulated to effectuate what he insists is social justice in the face of a power imbalance that is victimizing on a daily basis the downtrodden in Southern California, in particular those unskilled immigrants who can fit into the region’s harsh social and economic reality in no other way than by seeking to eke out a living as sidewalk or street vendors.
It is the deeply held belief of Edin Enamorado and his eponymous group of followers that America, i.e., North America, was and therefore still is the land of the indigenous people of the Americas and that European colonizers usurped the land and resources that rightly belong to those indigenous tribes. Since the rich white descendants of those Europeans continue to engage in the domination of Latinos or La Raza through their capitalistic system and hoard the wealth and goods they are accumulating by continuing to exploit those who are less fortunate and not well-fixed financially, according to Enamorado, he and those with whom he networks and is in league are morally justified in taking back what was taken from them and protecting, by whatever means necessary, the Latino and immigrant population that is being assailed formally or informally, officially or unofficially by agents of the white-controlled government such as the police or municipal code enforcement officers or white bigoted bullies who insult, assault or interfere in any way with street vendors or sidewalk vendors.
For several years, the Enamorados had undertaken to represent and protect the street and sidewalk vendors by providing them with pepper spray, chemical mace or other personal defense weaponry and giving them their cell phone numbers so they could be reached instantaneously to respond singly or en masse to serve as a buffer between any police officers, code enforcement officers or other government officials seeking to enforce sidewalk or street vending regulations against them or ward off and “punish” any local business owners or citizens who harass, interfere with, assault  or otherwise seek to prevent the vendors from plying their trade. In doing this, Edin Enamorado maintains he and the group he leads are entirely justified in responding in kind by fighting fire with fire.
The form of street activism and politicking Edin Enamorado and by extension the other Enamorados engage in as a key element of their crusade for social justice consists of equal parts of a presumption of moral superiority, making accusations of racism, profanity, rapid fire questions and assertions without giving their interlocutors an opportunity to respond, immediately dismissing any response those targets manage to get in edgewise, browbeating, insults and threats. In such circumstances, the intent is not to achieve an exchange of information or views but rather to relentlessly intimidate, provoke and ultimately convince those they are confronting to back down. Intrinsic to the tactics Edin Enamorado devised for himself and his acolytes is to act in concert with a physically intimidating support network, the use of surprise, verbal domination and videography to capture indelible moving sound images of the individual being confronted, which in many, though not all, cases will result in an untoward or intemperate remark or reaction. Routinely, videos of these confrontations were uploaded onto social media platforms Edin Enamorado controls. Some of those depict an individual being confronted or in other cases bystanders to the protests the Enamorados engaged in growing impatient at being blocked or hemmed in or harangued and then reacting, whereupon the subject is ganged up upon and physically assaulted by those present.
While Enamorado and his associates were active in many places throughout Southern California over the last several years, they were based in Los Angeles County, where the lion’s share of their operations took place.
By earlier this year, Edin Enamorado and Luján, who is described variously as Enamorado’s girlfriend, fiancé, wife or partner, had changed their previous Los Angeles County residence to Upland. Paralleling the change in their physical location was a partial refocusing of their activism eastward, particularly into San Bernardino County. On their agenda were protests aimed at an Upland Police Department sergeant and those they perceived as his defenders, a San Bernardino County sheriff’s deputy, city officials in Upland, San Bernardino and Fontana, a woman living in Apple Valley and the residents of neighborhoods in Upland and Rancho Cucamonga they deemed as “racist.”
The Enamorados conducted protests seeking to prevent county and municipal officials from interfering with street vendors in San Bernardino. A series of protests throughout the year were aimed at inducing the Upland Police Department to fire a sergeant on its force, who in 2013 had been involved in the nonfatal shooting of a Hispanic 18-year-old, after the sergeant’s daughter, a student at San Diego State University, in February 2023 was captured on a video engaging in what Enamorado said was harassment of a street vendor outside San Diego State University’s Viejas Arena. The Enamorados thereafter targeted the Rancho Cucamonga home of the Upland police sergeant and those Upland residents who had made public statements in favor of or defense of the sergeant, as well as the 92-year-old father of one of those Upland residents, who had no connection to the events in question but found himself surrounded by jeering Enamorados, who pursued him to the Upland home of another of his sons when he sought to leave. Those protests involved characterizations of those living in the Rancho Cucamonga and Upland neighborhoods as “racists.” In September, some 30 to 40 Enamorados sojourned to Victorville to stage a demonstration in the vicinity of the sheriff’s station there to express outrage over a San Bernardino County sheriff’s deputy who had manhandled a 16-year-old student at Victor Valley High School while members of the department were trying to break up a fight between her and another student after a Friday night football game. In October and again in November, the Enamorados inundated Fontana City Hall in an effort to prevent the city council there from passing an ordinance regulating sidewalk/street vending. Those protests included threats of physical violence against residents and businesspeople supporting the ordinance, along with disruptions that resulted in the exclusion of the general public from the meetings. In the immediate aftermath of the October meeting, Edin Enamorado led a group of Enamorados to an impromptu late-night demonstration outside the home of the Fontana mayor, an incident which was punctuated by his arrest and that of his “bodyguard.” In December, Edin Enamorado and a handful of his compadres swarmed an Apple Valley residential area to picket the home of an Apple Valley woman they accused of making “racist” comments to a woman speaking Spanish to her child while on a trip to Disneyland.
While he had been based out of Los Angeles County, Edin Enamorado in the early 2020s had presumed upon the laissez-faire attitude of Los Angeles District Attorney George Gascón, who had tolerated the aggressive advocacy for the immigrant community Enamorado and his followers had engaged in, even when it crossed the line into physicality and assaultive behavior. San Bernardino County proved far less tolerant, however.
The boldness with which the Enamorados acted was remarkable, insofar as many of them had criminal records, as was the case with Edin Enamorado, a convicted felon. The extent of his criminal record is not now publicly available, as he successfully petitioned to have his record sealed, although it is known that one of his convictions was for grand theft. Because of his status as a felon, Enamorado was prohibited from possessing a chemical agent such as pepper spray or a firearm, acts which could result in further felony convictions. Nevertheless, he was routinely in possession of both.
Authorities in San Bernardino County first took notice of the Enamorados presence in their midst when they launched protests in Upland and Rancho Cucamonga relating to the Upland police sergeant, including showing up en masse at Upland City council meetings and then engaging in demonstrations in residential neighborhoods. At one point, the Upland Police Department had amassed a squad of officers, who monitored, using magnifying video cameras and parabolic listening devices, the picketing of a residence in Upland not too distant from the home of San Bernardino District Attorney Jason Anderson and his family. Likewise, the Enamorados came to the attention of the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department when they rallied on a residential street in Rancho Cucamonga near the home of the Upland police sergeant. The sheriff’s department provides contract law enforcement service to the City of Rancho Cucamonga, serving as that community’s police department.
The threats of physical violence made toward attendees at the council meetings in Fontana when the city council passed an ordinance regulating street and sidewalk vendors in October and a follow-up action in November setting an impound fee on merchandise and the vending carts, bivouacs and tables seized when those vendors were cited elicited the attention of both the Fontana police department and the county prosecutor’s office. Edin Enamorado himself drew specific attention to himself when he was arrested for loitering outside the Fontana Mayor’s house late in the evening on the night of the October meeting and for disrupting the council proceedings in November after they had been adjourned to a postponed session the following morning. The City of Fontana filed for a restraining order against Edin Enamorado prohibiting him from approaching any closer than fifty feet to the Fontana mayor in October, which was initially rejected by the court, but which is now being reconsidered. Edin Enamorado was arrested in Apple Valley on December 10 during a confrontational episode with the woman alleged to have been critical of a mother speaking Spanish to her child in a restroom at Disneyland.
It was the Enamorados’ actions on September 24 in Victorville, while the group was engaged in a Sunday afternoon protest in the area around the sheriff’s station in which they were demanding that the deputy who had roughly intervened in the fight between two teenage girls in the aftermath of the previous Friday night football game between Victor Valley and Big Bear high Schools be identified, fired and prosecuted that ultimately triggered the arrests and prosecutions of eight of the Enamorados – Enamorado, Luján, Chávez, López, Carrasco, Amésquita and Peña – as well as Gullit Eder “Jaguar” Acevedo, 30.
While the Enamorados and some 30 or 40 other local protesters who joined with them milled about the sheriff’s Victorville station on Amargosa Road and the stretch of Amargosa Road to the intersection of Palmdale Road and Amargosa Road and down a span of well-traveled Palmdale Road with placards and signs, Enamorado used his trademark bullhorn to exhort the crowd and chastise passing motorists for their complacency in the face of a sheriff’s department riddled with racists who engaged in or otherwise tolerated the brutality toward and abuse of citizens. With the demonstration ongoing, a couple had come to the car wash located on the block of Palmdale Road just west of Amargosa Road. After getting their Hyundai cleaned, they attempted, with the wife at the wheel and the husband in the front passenger seat, to take their leave from the car wash parking lot. With the constant traffic on Palmdale Road and the steady stream of protestors passing in front of the Hyundai on the sidewalk and in the gutter of Palmdale Road, the car and the couple found themselves unable to get out of the parking lot. At one point, the woman put the car in reverse and attempted to exit from the premises by taking a back alley at the rear of the car wash down to McArt Road, which parallels Amargosa to the west and offers access to Palmdale Road via a signalized intersection. The exit onto McArt Road from the alleyway, however, was obstructed, such that the only viable exit from the car wash operation was the driveway out onto Palmdale Road at which the Hyundai carrying the husband and wife had already been prevented from traversing. The driver again drove toward the sidewalk along Palmdale Road and again found herself unable to proceed through the line of protesters moving both east and west. After roughly two minutes, she began to sound her horn in an effort get the pedestrians in front of the car to part long enough and widely enough to allow her to pull the Hyundai out onto Palmdale Avenue. This, however, had no appreciable effect on the protesters, who, indeed, seemed to be antagonized by the sounding of the horn and instead of moving along, loitered on the sidewalk in front of the car. Shortly thereafter, the husband opened the door on his side of the car and exited. As he did so, the car door came into contact with two of the protesters. Almost immediately, he was set upon by several people in the crowd, including Luján, Chávez, Acevedo, Peña and Carrasco.  Enamorado, making use of his bullhorn, accused the man of hitting a woman, doing so in rather derogatory terms, including referring to him as a “bitch.” The man was punched, pepper sprayed, punched some more and kicked, knocked to the ground, pepper sprayed again and once more knocked to the ground. With Enamorado audible over the megaphone saying repeatedly, “That’s what he gets,” the man, somewhat dazed and disoriented, stumbled about semi-blindedly, at which point his wife once more backed up and again, without her husband in the vehicle, sought to find some alternate means of leaving the grounds of the car wash operation. When that again failed, she drove once more back toward the exit. In the meantime, her husband had moved forward to stand on the sidewalk, struggling to use his shirt to wipe the pepper spray out of his eyes. When he discerned that his wife had returned, he moved toward the Hyundai, which was again prevented from exiting by the mass of protesters on the sidewalk in front of it. As he neared the vehicle, he had contact with Luján. This provoked Enamorado, who later claimed that the man had pawed Luján’s breast. Enamorado, who had been simultaneously using his cellphone to livestream the protest to one of his social media accounts while directing the protest by speaking into the bullhorn in his other hand, set the megaphone aside and while continuing to videostream what was in front of him with the cellphone in his right hand, punched the man with his left fist.
Several deputies, who had been monitoring what was going on from a distance, at that point had gotten into their vehicles and drove to a spot on Palmdale Road near the car wash entrance/exit, essentially double-parking in the right lane of Palmdale Road. The wife put the Hyundai in park and emerged from the car, immediately approaching one of the deputies, conferring with him. Thereafter, one of deputies shepherded her husband away from the crowd to put him into protective custody inside one of the sheriff’s vehicles. In rapid fashion, one of the deputies approached the group of protesters near the Hyundai and a physical altercation between him and Luján ensued, in which she was wrestled down onto the pavement and ultimately taken into custody. Nearly simultaneously, a shoving match between a deputy and Chávez broke out, which resulted in Chávez being arrested.
Luján was booked on charges/grounds/suspicion of assault with a caustic chemical, obstructing a peace officer, battery and unlawful assembly. Chávez’s jailing was effectuated on suspicion of assault with a caustic chemical and unlawful assembly.
Enamorado narrowly avoided arrest as a result of the raucous protest and melee on September 24, which did not conclude before two others were also arrested, those being David Victor Alba, 30, of Victorville, who was arrested on suspicion of obstructing a peace officer, battery and unlawful assembly; and Wayne Freeman, 36, of Moreno Valley, who was arrested on suspicion of obstructing a peace officer and unlawful assembly.
During her booking,  Luján provided her jailers with a Pomona address rather than her actual residence in Upland, which sheriff’s department’s investigators, as a result of their subsequent investigation, now believe was an effort to protect Edin Enamorado, with whom she cohabits, from being connected to what had occurred that day.
The events of September 24, most notably including the assault upon the passenger in the Hyundai, were captured by multiple videographers, including Enamorado and others using hand-held cellphones, as well as at least one using a camera on a tripod.
Edin Enamorado uploaded an extended video of the protest, including the assault of the couple in the Hyundai, to a social media account on TikTok he controls under heading “Edin Enamorado is going live.” The video was presented to the public within a context in which it was suggested that what had occurred was a demonstration of the noble efforts of the Enamorados to stand up to racism. The posting did not dwell on the consideration that the passenger of the Hyundai who was assaulted is Hispanic.
The sheriff’s department investigation that ensued in short order brought Edin Enamorado into focus, helped along in part by his utterances to the media and other public forums in the immediate aftermath of the Luján, Chávez, Alba and Freeman arrests when he assigned blame for what had occurred to the driver of the Hyundai, who, he said, “tried to run over protesters” and her passenger, who, Enamorado asserted “hit a woman” and then sexually assaulted Luján, who, Enamorado indignantly insisted, had merely “defended herself.”
When investigators observed the video of the assault, which offered a visual and verbal contrast to what Enamorado claimed to have occurred, they began to explore the activities of the Enamorados and their leader in multiple other venues, which were likewise documented in posted videos.
Of note is that relatively shortly after the Victorville protest, one of the Enamorados who was present and had participated in the assault on the Hyundai passenger, Guillet Acevedo, contacted Enamorado, telling him he thought he should take down the video of the September 24 protest, given that law enforcement might be monitoring the websites and social media accounts he controlled in the aftermath of the arrests of Chávez, Luján, Alba and Freeman. Shortly thereafter, Chávez, who was facing possible charges at that point over his arrest on September 24, texted Enamorado, “Hey bro, could you take down the video. It’s incriminating me.”
Enamorado responded by making several passes at editing the video, cutting out the passages which depicted the gross violence against someone who was, in essence, a bystander, and altering the video and its context to emphasize the righteousness of the protest against the physical abuse of high school student injured by a deputy in the aftermath of the September 22 Friday night football game and the aggressive reaction of the deputies who responded to the protesters’ confrontation with the Hyundai driver and passenger at the car wash.
Acevedo’s and Chávez’s requests and Enamorado’s reaction came too late. Sheriff’s Department investigators had already begun monitoring the Enamorados’ social media postings and communications, had ascertained Enamorado was their leader, were giving him especially close scrutiny and had begun to secure copies of the videos and other materials that were being uploaded to various websites and social media accounts. Those materials would form the partial basis of warrants the investigators would obtain, which led to further discoveries.
As investigators delved into the circumstance, they became aware of further incidents involving the Enamorados and, most particularly, Edin Enamorado. The San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department began trading notes with police agencies in Los Angeles, Pomona, Upland, Fontana, Riverside, Santa Ana, Long Beach, San Diego, Santa Barbara, Woodland Hills, Huntington Park, San Bernardino and Moorpark regarding their dealings with him.
A department investigator working undercover in the guise of a social activist gained access to several Enamorados, obtaining crucial information in that way. At least two Enamorados who had been arrested by the department or other agencies proved vulnerable to compromise by means of deals that could be cut with them in exchange for cooperation to include providing inside information known only to the Enamorados themselves.
At some point, Edin Enamorado took stock of how the extended video of the protests in Victorville on September 24, including the assault on the couple in the Hyundai, represented evidence of criminal activity by both him and his associates, and he removed it from his social media platform. That, investigators and prosecutors believe, is a demonstration of what they term “consciousness of guilt” on Enamorado’s part. Despite his scrubbing of the video, investigators had already secured a reprint.
A set of incidents that took place in Pomona, a full three weeks before the September 24 protest in Victorville turned violent, in particular caught the investigators’ attention. On that day, September 3, in the midst of the Labor Day Weekend, Edin Enamorado was in hot pursuit of an individual he felt was worthy of the Enamorados’ patented treatment of bigots. A few days previously, some sidewalk vendors who worked the area around El Super, a market in Pomona at the northwest corner of Indian Hill and Holt boulevards, had been confronted by a security guard at the market in a way the vendors and Enamorado found especially disrespectful. Part of that confrontation had been captured on video, which included one of the vendors and the security guard exchanging threats of violence. Enamorado had put out a call to his network of supporters to identify and locate the security guard. On the morning of September 3, Enamorado and one of his associates had gone to the Pomona Police Department headquarters to inquire why the police department had not arrested nor otherwise taken action against the security guard, as, Enamorado opined, the security guard had assaulted or violated the rights of at least one of the vendors. Thereafter, Enamorado had called for an intensification of the search for the offending security guard and returned to his home in Upland, whereupon, either en route home or after arriving there he was informed that the security guard was in Pomona at El Super. While at his residence in Upland, Enamorado had phone contact with Luján and other Enamorados, putting out an immediate alert that the security guard had been located, instructing his followers to travel at once to El Super in Pomona, where an operation targeting the security guard was to take place. Ultimately, a contingent of Enamorados converged on El Super, where they confronted the security guard, pepper sprayed him and chased him into El Super, where both the store’s security camera and videos recorded by some of the Enamorados depicted the security guard on the floor, blinded and incapacitated by pepper spray, being assaulted by the group of Enamorados, at which point he managed to get to his feet, where he was punched and kicked some more.
The Pomona Police responded to that incident, and Luján was taken into custody. The Enamorados regrouped and, en masse, sojourned to the Pomona Police Station to protest Luján’s arrest and obtain her release. Before Luján was liberated, a Pomona resident came to the Pomona Police Station, intending to file a police report pertaining to an unrelated matter. Upon reaching the station, the resident found the entrance to the police lobby surrounded by the protesting Enamorados. When he finally was able to get to the door, it was locked, and he was thwarted in his effort to file the police report he had come to the Pomona Civic Center to make. His interpretation of what he had encountered was that the protesters had created a situation in which the police department had locked the public out of the station. In actuality, the station had been closed because of the Labor Day holiday. The resident had words with several of the Enamorados in which he, in essence, blamed them for his inability to file the police report. He returned to his vehicle, where he retrieved an unlidded Gatorade bottle and flung it toward the Enamorados. That was interpreted by at least some of the Enamorados as both a hostile and disrespectful act, partially out of the mistaken belief that the bottle contained urine. One of the Enamorados followed the resident, who lived less than a mile from the Pomona Civic Center, in which the police headquarters is located. Following communication with Edin Enamorado, a decision was made for about ten of the approximately 20 Enamorados staging the protest at the police station to divert to the home of the resident who had failed in his effort to file the police report.
Like many, indeed most, of the Enamorados’ actions, what ensued was caught on video.
When the Enamorados caught up with the Pomona resident, he was seated in his car. There, they threatened him, with someone telling him that “I will beat you every day if you don’t get out of the car.” Enamorado challenged him to fight. When the man did get out of the vehicle, Enamorado ordered, “Get on your fucking knees, and apologize, bitch.”
The man knelt before his tormentors, holding his hands together as if praying. “Please… Please,” he pleaded. “I’m sorry.”
Seemingly satisfied with the man’s show of contrition, the gathered Enamorados scornfully allowed him to return to his feet, having reduced him into a pathetic and groveling wretch.
A statement by Carrasco as the man turned to return to his car, punctuating the humiliation, prosecutors now maintain, establishes that the Enamorados had put the man in mortal danger. “We let you live, homey!” she uttered. One of the Enamorados threw something at him. As the man was about to drive away, another Enamorado sprayed him with what may or may not have been pepper spray or might merely have been water.
The investigators collated all of the information and handed it over to prosecutors, who then assembled criminal cases against Enamorado, Luján, Chávez, López, Carrasco, Acevedo, Amésquita and Peña and obtained from the court arrest warrants that were served between 3:20 a.m. and 4:46 a.m. on December 14 in Bell, Upland, Riverside, Ontario, San Bernardino and Los Angeles.
All eight were held without bail and remained jailed through Christmas, when Judge Faherty refused to release them on their own recognizance or set bail, acceding to the prosecution’s assertions that they represented a danger to the public that could not be mitigated by any conditions that might be imposed on them.
After Judge Melissa Rodriguez was provided with evidence including technical information, statements and documentation to establish Acevedo had not been in Pomona on September 3 as was alleged by the prosecution, he was granted bail on December 26. The seven-day pre-preliminary hearing and preliminary hearing process was held for all eight defendants while the other seven remained incarcerated during the last week of 2023 and first two weeks of 2024, with District Attorney Jason Wilkinson and Deputy District Attorney John Richardson eliciting direct testimony and redirect testimony from Pomona Police Detective Travis Johnson, Pomona Police Officer Edgar Rodriguez, Pomona Police Officer Juan Ruiz, San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Deputy Mark Valencia, San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Deputy Jonathan Ortega, prosecution witness Blake Foyle, San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Detective Alejandro Duran and San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Detective Eric Rebollar. Those witnesses were subject to cross examination by attorney Nicolas Rosenberg, representing Enamorado; Christian Contreras, representing Luján; Edwin Salguero, representing Chávez; Arsany Said, representing Peña; Dan Eugene Chambers, representing Acevedo; Damon Alimouri, representing Carrasco; Erick Hammett, representing López; and Mauro Quintero, representing Amesquita.
The criminal case revolved around the assaults sustained by the security guard who worked at El Super who was pepper sprayed and beaten inside the market, identified in court and court papers as John Doe 1; the Pomona resident forced to his knees outside his car, referred to as John Doe 2, and the husband/passenger in the Hyundai on September 24 in Victorville who was given the moniker of John Doe 3.
As it would turn out, the preliminary hearing demonstrated that both the prosecution and the defense had engaged in crucial mistakes of overstatement that came back to haunt them.
Prosecutors had gotten out in front of themselves by asserting that Acevedo, who was easily identified in several of the videos taken of the incident in Victorville on September 24 in a physical altercation with John Doe 3, had taken part in both of the assaults of John Doe 1 and John Doe 2 in Pomona on September 3 and that he had made liberal use of pepper spray that was in his possession, at least in the cases involving John Doe 1 and John Doe 3. Chambers, however, was able to produce clear and convincing, indeed unassailable and incontrovertible, evidence that on September 3 his client was in Orange County, Santa Ana to be exact. Moreover, Chambers showed the prosecution had no evidence whatsoever to place Acevedo in Pomona on that date. Going further, Chambers established that Acevedo did not buy, did not own, did not possess and did not use pepper spray or chemical mace or, as the prosecution termed it, tear gas. Consequently, he was able to get three of the four charges originally filed against Acevedo at his arraignment – felony conspiracy to engage in gang activity, felony unlawful use of tear gas, and felony false imprisonment – thrown out entirely. In a further coup, Chambers was able to convince Judge Arredondo that the physical confrontation between Acevedo and John Doe 3 amounted to no more than a “scuffle,” such that the fourth charge of assault by means likely to produce great bodily injury was reduced to misdemeanor assault. With the only remaining charge against Acevedo reduced to a misdemeanor, Judge Arredondo assented to having him stand trial separately from the other defendants before Judge Enrique Guerrero.
Early in the process, before each of the defendants obtained his or her own attorney, they were all initially represented by Contreras, whose specialty and forte is civil rights and social causes, although he does tout himself as a criminal defense attorney. Contreras, while representing all eight and even after having been reduced to representing Luján, continued to characterize the case as one in which the defendants were being criminally charged for having engaged in unpopular dissent, primarily against empowered and powerful political figures, such as elected officials, public officials, code enforcement officers and the like who were enacting, enforcing or upholding regulations and laws targeting immigrants or sidewalk/street vendors with which they had a constitutional right to disagree or dissent from as well as protesting against the action or behavior of law enforcement officers who had used what they considered to be excessive force, an activity that is another form of constitutionally protected dissent. To a degree, the attorneys who took on the representation of Enamorado, Chávez, López, Carrasco, Amésquita and Peña continued to echo that assertion, even in the face of evidence being presented during the preliminary hearing that the action those defendants engaged in, while perhaps being originally motivated by conviction in principle and containing elements of an effort to make a constitutionally protected expression of belief or philosophy, had devolved into physical action and assaultive behavior not toward empowered politicians or public officials but individuals who were essentially common citizens with no greater authority than what they possessed – John Doe 1, John Doe 2 and John Doe 3. Both individually and collectively, the defense for the seven who are still facing felony charges did not get on track in controverting, contesting or disproving the basic facts of the assaults or displays of violence against the three victims in any way that proved meaningful to Judge Arredondo, whose pre-bench legal career consisted of her having served not as a prosecutor but rather as a defense attorney. Legal pundits consider the inability of the legal teams for the seven defendants now yet facing felony charges to seriously undercut the case as presented by the prosecution in the preliminary hearing stage of the case – particularly given that Judge Arredondo is philosophically and by professional orientation more disposed than a former prosecutor to be sympathetic to arguments brought forth by the defense – to be an inauspicious harbinger of what lies ahead for Enamorado, Luján, Chávez, López, Carrasco, Amésquita and Peña.
A crucial element in the case was that of jurisdiction or venue. Two thirds of the case being presented against Enamorado, Luján, Chávez, López, Carrasco, Amésquita and Peña consists of the events that occurred in Pomona on September 3. Pomona lies in Los Angeles County, a separate jurisdiction from San Bernardino County. Crimes occurring in Pomona under normal circumstances would be subject to adjudication in a venue within the County of Los Angeles. The prosecution pressed the theory that the phone calls Edin Enamorado made to the other Enamorados after he learned of John Doe 1’s presence at El Super in Pomona on September 3, in which he encouraged them to meet up with him in Pomona, where the planned encounter with John Doe 1 and the unplanned encounter with John Doe 2 occurred, constituted acts in furtherance of a conspiracy. Enamorado made those phone calls while he was in Upland, which lies within San Bernardino County, Sheriff’s Detective Alejandro Duran testified. In this way, the prosecutors emphasized, those calls provided an important part of the framework for the case, thus making San Bernardino County Superior Court a proper venue in which to hear the charges relating to what occurred in Pomona that day. Judge Arredondo indulged the prosecutors in making that argument, and the defense failed to make a spirited or convincing refutation, such that the case is now headed to trial in San Bernardino County, where it is to be prosecuted by an unyielding team of deputy district attorneys working for a district attorney, Jason Anderson, understood by virtually everyone to be far less progressive in his attitude than Los Angeles District Attorney George Gascón. What is more, the case is to be tried in Victorville, where the jury pool is far more likely to be loaded with citizens unwilling to show compassion for individuals who cross a perceived legal line in carrying out a personal crusade to effectuate social justice than in other areas of San Bernardino County such as San Bernardino or Rancho Cucamonga or most any place in Los Angeles County, such as the Pomona Courthouse, the El Monte Courthouse, the Alhambra Courthouse, the East Los Angeles Courthouse, the Norwalk Courthouse, the Spring Street Courthouse, the Compton Courthouse, the Inglewood Courthouse or the Clara Shortridge Foltz Criminal Justice Center.
Rosenberg, Contreras, Salguero, Quintero, Hammett, Alimouri and Said collectively and individually made two inroads each on behalf of Enamorado, Luján, Chávez, Amesquita, López, Carrasco and Peña with regard to the prosecution’s cases against their clients. The first of these consisted of a demonstration that the prosecution had not succeeded in proving that the Enamorados had damaged John Doe 1’s vehicle, resulting in the erasure of one PC594(B)(1)- felony vandalism involving $400 or more worth of property charge against each of them. The second involved convincing Arredondo that the district attorney’s office had made an insufficient showing that tear gas, bear spray, pepper spray, mace or any chemical agent had been employed against John Doe 2, thus negating the one of the Penal Code [PC] 22810(G)(1) – felony unlawful use of tear gas charges lodged against each of the seven.
Despite those victories, Enamorado, Luján, Chávez, Amesquita, López, Carrasco and Peña are yet being conveyed toward a grinding by the relentlessly churning wheels of justice.
Enamorado still must answer on charges of PC182(A)(1)-felony conspiracy to commit a crime; two charges of PC422(A) – felony threats to engage in criminal action likely to result in death or great bodily injury; three counts of PC236 – felony false imprisonment; PC207(A) – felony kidnapping; three counts of PC245(a)(4) – felony assault by means of force likely to produce great bodily injury; two counts of PC22810(G)(1) – felony unlawful use of tear gas; one count of PC22810(A) – misdemeanor possession of tear gas by a convicted felon; and one count of PC29800(A)(1) – felony possession of a firearm by a convicted felon.
Luján is to go to trial on charges of PC182(A)(1)-felony conspiracy to commit a crime; two counts of PC422(A) – felony threats to engage in criminal action likely to result in death or great bodily injury; three counts of PC236 – felony false imprisonment; a count of PC207(A) – felony kidnapping; three counts of PC245(a)(4) – felony assault by means of force likely to produce great bodily injury; and two counts of PC22810(G)(1) – felony unlawful use of tear gas.
Chávez must face a jury of his peers over charges of PC182(A)(1) – felony conspiracy to commit a crime; two counts of PC422(A) – felony threats to engage in criminal action likely to result in death or great bodily injury; three counts of PC236 – felony false imprisonment; one count of PC207(A) – felony kidnapping; three counts of PC245(a)(4) – felony assault by means of force likely to produce great bodily injury; and two counts of PC22810(G)(1) – felony unlawful use of tear gas.
Amesquita must overcome allegations that she engaged in a violation of PC182(A)(1)-felony conspiracy to commit a crime;  a count of PC422(A) – felony threats to engage in criminal action likely to result in death or great bodily injury; two counts of PC245(a)(4) – felony assault by means of force likely to produce great bodily injury; two counts of PC236 – felony false imprisonment; and one count of PC22810(G)(1) – felony unlawful use of tear gas if she is to clear her name.
López, who already has a felony record, will likely go back to prison if he cannot vindicate himself on charges of violating PC182(A)(1)-felony conspiracy to commit a crime; two counts of PC422(A) – felony threats to engage in criminal action likely to result in death or great bodily injury; two counts of PC236 – felony false imprisonment; a single count of PC207(A) – felony kidnapping; two counts of PC245(a)(4) – felony assault by means of force likely to produce great bodily injury; one count of PC22810(G)(1) – felony unlawful use of tear gas; and one count of PC22810(A)- misdemeanor possession of tear gas by a convicted felon.
Carrasco’s existence will be fraught with difficulty from here on out unless she can convincing refute the allegations against her that she engaged in PC182(A)(1)-felony conspiracy to commit a crime; two counts of PC422(A)- felony threats to engage in criminal action likely to result in death or great bodily injury; three counts of PC236 – felony false imprisonment; one count of PC207(A) – felony kidnapping; three counts of PC245(a)(4) – felony assault by means of force likely to produce great bodily injury; and two counts of PC22810(G)(1) – felony unlawful use of tear gas.
Peña will be consigned to a lifetime of disapprobation if he fails to invalidate the accusations that he violated PC182(A)(1)-felony conspiracy to commit a crime; twice violated PC422(A)- felony threats of engaging in criminal action likely to result in death or great bodily injury; thrice violated PC236 – felony false imprisonment; once involved himself in PC207(A) – felony kidnapping; three times engaged in PC245(a)(4) – felony assault by means of force likely to produce great bodily injury; and twice made felony unlawful use of tear gas, violations of PC22810(G)(1).

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