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Joining ‘Justice 8’ Protest, California Councilwoman Calls Persecution of Edin Enamorado: “Typical of Our Corrupt Law Enforcement”

“The crazy part is that even murders have a bail set, but here there’s a no-bail hold,” said attorney Christian Contreras at the press conference. “This is deeply unconstitutional." The Justice Eight are due to spend Christmas in jail.

5:17 PM PST on December 18, 2023

Photo: Janette Villafana for L.A. TACO.

The attorney for Edin Alex Enamorado and the “Justice 8” held a press conference outside Victorville Superior Court to update supporters on the case after the activists had court earlier that morning.

A group of more than 30 people chanted “Free the Justice Eight!” as they demonstrated outside of Victorville Superior Court early Monday morning, demanding the release of eight street vending activists who were arrested last Thursday.

“What is going on in our community and around us is not okay," said Frankie, a supporter who showed up early in the morning. "All these false accusations and false charges are not okay so we’re out here to support the Justice Eight."

The eight activists, a group that includes street vending advocate Edin Alex Enamorado, were arrested last week as part of an operation called “Operation Accountability,” which was brought on by the San Bernardino Sheriff’s Department, Pomona P.D., Fontana P.D., Upland P.D., and Victorville P.D. following an incident that happened at a protest on September 24th in Victorville. 

The September incident involved a car that was used to antagonize protestors who were demonstrating against a deputy who had body-slammed an underage girl, according to Enamorado attorney Christian Contreras. The driver of the car is said to have attempted driving straight into the crowd in a threatening manner before the crowd turned on them to defend themselves. 

“Why wasn't that person prosecuted for attempted murder?" asked Contreras. "They tried to run protestors over."

Several people who were on the scene at the Victorville court today expressed their feelings that the investigation against these activists seems to be occurring solely in retaliation for their activism. In the past, many of these activists have openly spoken out against, and held to account, people who have publicly used racist slurs. Or like in the Victorville incident in September, attempted to hold law enforcement accountable for their use and abuse of force. 

“They want to silence us; they don’t want us to stand together and fight back,” said Leslie Espina, also known as Pink Claws on TikTok. Espina's husband is one of the eight people who were arrested. “All of these accusations against them are bullshit. My loved one is one of the Justice 8. When he was arrested, he had four charges today. We heard 14 more.”

Photo by Janette Villafana for L.A. TACO.
Photo by Janette Villafana for L.A. TACO.
Photo by Janette Villafana for L.A. TACO.
Photo by Janette Villafana for L.A. TACO.

Contreras confirmed that there were a lot more charges handed down at today’s court hearing than there were previously. For Enamorado, there were a total of 17 charges, ranging from being a felon in possession of a firearm to charges of false imprisonment, the purchase of tear gas, and more. 

Victorville Councilmember Blanca Gomez was also present at Monday’s demonstration. She stepped out of the court to exchange a few words with the crowd standing in support of Enamorado and the Justice Eight. Gomez recently filed a civil lawsuit against the San Bernardino Sheriff’s Department after her home was raided.

“This is typical of their corrupt law enforcement," she said at the court's steps. "I’ve been targeted in the past just like Edin. What Edin is going through is nothing abnormal in this county.”

Contreras and other family members who showed up for the court hearing said there was confusion about where the arrested eight people were being held. The court did not provide much help.

“When I got there, the judge had already started the hearing without me there, which is a constitutional violation,” said Contreras outside the court. “They (the Justice Eight) are very sad and concerned, and we fear they may not be able to get a fair and impartial trial in this county given that this case is high profile.”

Contreras hopes the case can be moved to Los Angeles to give the Justice Eight a fair chance at fighting the charges against them. Those who were present at the press conference pleaded with anyone watching online to support Enamorado and the other activists. All were insisting that the people arrested are good people who stand up for their community. 

“My husband is innocent,” said Jasmine Castro, wife of one of the Justice Eight. "They fight for our community. They do relentless work in our communities. My husband is a teacher; he has worked in our community for many years and has worked with special needs children. This is an injustice. This is not okay, we are going to fight until the end.”

Unfortunately for the Justice Eight and their families, it looks like they will be spending this Christmas in jail.

Their next court date is set for December 26th. On that day, there is supposed to be a bail review, but for now, Contreras hopes to file an emergency appeal requesting that bail be set immediately, rather than waiting till the 26th.

Contreras is also calling on The California Department of Justice and the Federal Department of Justice to investigate what he called “the corrupt investigation” launched against these activists. 

“The crazy part is that even murders have a bail set, but here there’s a no-bail hold,” said Contreras at the press conference. “This is deeply unconstitutional. It's a deep violation. We will fight these charges and stand up for the Justice Eight. [The police] are doing this to prevent First Amendment activities.”

Those wanting to donate to The Justice Eight can do so via Zelle here using Memo: Justice8. L.A. TACO has verified that these donations will go directly to the Justice Eight.

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