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Justice 8 Supporters Feel Defeat At Latest Ruling. Enamorado Reported to Be Bleeding While Jailed

Enamorado's attorney alleges, "He is not getting the treatment he deserves for what is a valid medical reason.” Nonetheless, the supporters for The Justice 8 are bracing themselves to keep fighting.

1:58 PM PST on February 20, 2024

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

    Last week marked two months since street vending activist Edin Alex Enamorado and seven others were arrested by the San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department on charges that included false imprisonment, conspiracy, assault, and kidnapping. 

    At the last court hearing, held on February 9, Judge John Wilkerson, who had taken two weeks to give his ruling, refused to hear the motion for bail, concluding that no significant change of circumstances would cause him to grant bail.

    Like previous judges before him, he also believes that nothing could guarantee that the defendants would continue to appear in court or that the public would be safe if they were let out on bail. 

    Attorneys for the defendants argued that having some of the lesser charges dropped (as they were when two felony charges were dismissed weeks ago) was sufficient enough for a change of circumstances, but the judge felt otherwise, ultimately denying the possibility of any type of bail for all of the defendants during their trial. 

    “This means Alex and everyone else is still subject to a no-bail hold,” clarified Nicholas Rosenberg, Enamorado’s attorney, outside the courthouse. “Which means there is no way for them to get out.” 

    Photo by Janette Villafana for L.A. TACO.

    That Friday marked the activists' last attempt at acquiring bail. The judge's ruling means the defendants will remain in custody throughout the trial, a decision that didn't surprise those present. 

    The moment family and supporters entered the courtroom, it became clear to them that the judge's decision was leaning towards "no bail." The large presence of law enforcement present in the courtroom made it fairly plain. Supporters counted a total of 10 sheriffs, the biggest number that has been seen in the court so far. 

    Once the judge gave his ruling, a sense of defeat could be felt in the crowd. 

    Many who were present have been long-time supporters of Enamorado and The Justice 8, and more than a handful have been appearing at the court hearings religiously. Unlike at the last bail hearing, where emotions were understandably high and supporters verbally expressed how they felt about the no-bail decision, there was a brief silence. 

    Many exiting the courtroom shook their heads and asked each other, “Can you believe that?” as they made their way outside, where they re-grouped to break down what happened in the courtroom. 

    Damon Alimouri, attorney for defendant Vanessa Carrasco, was among those not surprised to hear the judge's refusal to grant bail.

    “I’m angry at the decision but at the same time, I totally expected it, not because of the conduct of my client or the conduct of any of the defendants in this case,” he said, standing outside of the courtroom. “This speaks volumes about the essence of the system that’s pitted against these individuals who have stood up for the rights of street vendors."

    “We will put up a fight against these unjust charges, against this draconian display of authority in power,” he continued.

    Alamouri also said he, along with the rest of the attorneys on the case, filed a request via e-mail to the prosecutors, requesting that they provide all communications between Fontana mayor Aquanetta Warren, the sheriff's department, and the Pomona police department, as well as the district attorney's office concerning this investigation and this case. 

    “Why?" Alamouri asked. "Because they referred to the protest outside [Warren's] home at the preliminary hearing. That makes her a witness.”

    He was referring to protests by Enamorado and other activists outside Warren's home, where they protested a crackdown on unpermitted street vendors. 

    Enamorado and several street vendors filed a federal lawsuit against the city of Fontana one week before his arrest. The lawsuit claims that the city “engaged in discriminatory practices,” which resulted in the harassment of Fontana's street vendor communities. 

    According to Alamouri, the prosecutors have 15 days to respond to their request.

    As for Enamorado, who was last punished for "breaking the rules" for allegedly conducting a three-way call to speak to his spouse, Wendy Lujan, is now out of the disciplinary confinement known as "the hole."

    After news of Enamorado and Lujan's sentence to the hole broke, the Sheriff's department told KVCR News that the defendants were not in the hole or solitary confinement but in "disciplinary housing.” 

    Regardless, Rosenberg said Enamorado was still confined to a 4-foot-by-8-foot cell alone, “whatever they want to call it.” And instead of spending the required time of 23 hours indoors, with one hour outside, he had spent 36 hours in “the hole” or disciplinary housing at one point without having outside access. Also, although his punishment was a 10-day order, Enamorado claims he was in there for 12 days. 

    Photo by Janette Villafana for L.A. TACO.Supporters of the Justice 8 and community organizers stand outside the courthouse on January 26 holding up their signs. The t-shirts are currently being sold to raise funds for all 8 of the activists.
    Photo by: Janette Villafana for L.A. TACO.

    Those wondering how the activists are doing in jail grew concerned when Rosenberg said that Enamorado, who is currently detained at the High Desert Detention Center, was having medical issues.

    “Alex has been having bleeding; he’s been requesting the gastrointestinal specialist for basic remedial treatment because he’s bleeding,” said Rosenberg while addressing the crowd. “He is not getting the treatment he deserves for what is a valid medical reason.”

    Rosenberg told L.A. TACO that the internal bleeding Enamorado is having could be related to a medical procedure he underwent before being arrested. But without a proper examination, Enamorado can’t be sure.

    L.A. TACO did reach out to the San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department for comment on Enamorado’s medical condition, to which they responded by email:

    “Mr. Enamorado has been evaluated by medical personnel and is being closely monitored for any reported medical condition(s)... If specialty care is required, it will be provided to him.”

    Outside the Victorville Courthouse, Luz Chavez, wife of David Chavez, also known as "Riverside Accountability," waited by the steps as the attorneys gathered to speak. Like many of the supporters, Luz felt partially defeated but said she was ready to "continue to fight for justice." 

    “Of course, I had that hope, but it was expected," she told L.A. TACO with tears in her eyes. "I kinda already set my mind to it because of the corruption around this case. We don’t have time on our side right now, but we just need to push through and stay positive.”

    She explained that she and Chavez, who has been in custody since December, had plans to spend as much quality time together before she left for the Air Force next month.

    When asked how Chavez was doing, Luz admitted that he has had moments of frustration but that he is doing well mentally and spiritually. The same has been said about the rest of the Justice 8. Most understandably, miss home, but as their attorneys have previously put it, they are far from giving up.

    Now, the attorneys, families, supporters, and prosecutors are preparing for the pre-trial, set for Friday, March 1st.

    According to Rosenberg, if Enamorado is found guilty of the charges against him, he could be looking at more than 15 years behind bars.

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