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6 street vendors’ lawyers plead guilty to assault – San Bernardino Sun

Nicholas Rosenberg, attorney for defendant Edin Alex Enamorado, speaks to his supporters after a Victorville judge ruled that Enamorado and six other defendants must remain incarcerated without bail on Feb. 9, 2024. “I refer to my client as a young Cesar Chavez,” Rosenberg said recently. (Brian Rokos, The Press-Enterprise/SCNG)

Now it's “Justice 2”.

Six of the eight defendants accused of various offenses related to their aggressive tactics in defending street vendors and confronting others pleaded guilty to one count each in Victorville Superior Court on Friday, June 7.

The other two members of the so-called Justice 8 – their leader, Edin Alex Enamorado of Upland, and the only one of the group not being held on bail, Gullit Eder Acevedo of San Bernardino – were not part of the agreements reached with the San Bernardino County District Attorney's Office.

The Acevedo case is still in the pretrial stage, and as for Enamorado, who has vowed to reject any deal that would result in prison time, “We have not yet come to a consensus,” Assistant District Attorney Jason Wilkinson said after Friday's hearing.

Enamorado, 36, was not in court.

“We are still negotiating a settlement,” his lawyer Nicholas Rosenberg said in a text message.

The other six pleaded guilty to various charges of assault with a deadly weapon.

Wendy Lujan of Upland, Enamorado's fiancée, Vanessa Carrasco of Ontario and Stephanie Amesquita of San Bernardino will be sentenced to 353 days in prison on Dec. 12. They will receive credit for 353 days of time already served on that date, according to the terms of the plea agreement announced by Superior Court Judge John M. Wilkerson.

They were due to be released on bail on Friday.

David Chavez of Riverside, Edwin Pena of Los Angeles and Fernando Lopez of Los Angeles were sentenced to two years in prison with one year credit for time already served. They remained in custody Friday.

Enamorado and the others face charges in San Bernardino County for assault, kidnapping, conspiracy and, in Enamorado's case, illegal possession of a firearm.

The public prosecutor accuses the activists of crossing the line between commitment to the marginalized and disadvantaged and intimidation and physical harm.

Enamorado is best known for his defense of street vendors, some of whom have been victims of robberies, racist tirades and, in his view, overly restrictive city regulations and thus excessive punishments.

Supporters say he is a champion of the voiceless, a community activist who stands up to power through free speech. Those who attended the hearings say they wish someone like Enamorado had been there when they believed they were being unfairly targeted by police or experienced problems like domestic violence.

Supporters claim he is a political prisoner, but a judge said he and his co-defendants posed such a threat to others that they should remain incarcerated without bail.

Rosenberg, Enamorado's lawyer, had previously stated that his client was fighting for his freedom and would not accept a settlement that included a prison sentence.

“My motto in this case is 'confrontation is not criminal,'” Rosenberg said. “I think he's an activist at heart. I describe my client as a young Cesar Chavez. … Yes, we have two fist fights (with Enamorado). Was that provoked? Was it self-defense? That's for the jury to decide.”

Others claim that Enamorado has trampled on the line between protected speech and criminal behavior.

District Attorney Jason Anderson, who prosecuted the case, called it “a run-of-the-mill case of violence. It has nothing to do with the First Amendment.”

Anderson cited an attack on a security guard at a Pomona convenience store who had ordered a street vendor who had set up shop on private property to leave. A group that included Enamorado tracked down the security guard and attacked him, Anderson said.

And a man who tried to enter the Pomona police station to file a report and blamed the Enamorado group protesting there for not being able to get in was also attacked, Anderson said.

“He was dragged out of his car and had to duck and say he was sorry, and yet he was still attacked,” Anderson said.

That encounter was captured on video and posted on Enamorado's YouTube channel. Enamorado has hundreds of thousands of followers on social media. Sheriff Shannon Dicus said Justice 8 is all about “clickbait for money.”