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Street Vending Activist Edin Enamorado and Five Others Denied Bail Once Again

Supporters and families of The Justice 8 returned to the Victorville Superior Court this week equipped with t-shirts and posters that read “Free Them All” and “Activists Are Not Criminals, Give Them Bail.”

8:54 AM PST on December 29, 2023

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

Edin Alex Enamorado’s attorney Nicholas Rosenberg addresses the crowd of supporters on Tuesday December 26, outside the Victorville Superior Court.

Wednesday morning marked day three of court hearings for the eight street vending activists arrested by The San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department as part of their “Operation Accountability,” which happened exactly two weeks ago today and continues to draw protests in defense of the activists.

According to a press conference held by the sheriff’s department on the day of the arrest, the activists are looking at multiple charges, including assault with a deadly weapon and allegedly engaging in violent crimes at demonstrations that occurred this past September. 

The activists, who were denied bail and have spent the holidays in jail, include well-known street vendor advocates and community members Edin Alex Enamorado, Wendy Lujan, Gullit Acevedo, Stephanie Amesquita, Fernando Lopez, Edwin Peña, and Vanessa Carrasco.

Out of the eight activists, only seven had court on Wednesday. The only one absent was Lujan, who is currently being quarantined due to a COVID-19 infection. Her court hearing will resume on January 2nd. 

Supporters and families of The Justice 8 returned to the Victorville Superior Court this week equipped with t-shirts and posters that read “Free Them All” and “Activists Are Not Criminals, Give Them Bail.” Many packed the courthouse on Tuesday and returned Thursday with the hopes of hearing about a possible bail set for the activists.

At the hearing, attorneys for the seven individuals presented multiple character letters written in favor of each by community members who have witnessed their work beyond mere social media posts. Some of those character letters were written by lawyers and educators, while each activist was individually presented and either approved or denied bail. 

Along with the defendant’s character letters, letters from the alleged victims John Doe #1 and John Doe #2, and the wife of the latter, were also presented to the judge, asking for no bail to be granted to any of the defendants. The letters from the alleged victims said they would fear for their safety and would feel in danger if any of the defendants were given bail. 

It was said that one of the victims had gone “into hiding” due to fear that the group would appear again. 

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

The District Attorney, Jason Wilkinson, presented details pertaining to two incidents involving the group, one on September 3rd and the other on September 24th.

These included allegations about each individual, accusing one of the activists of allegedly yelling racial slurs while intimidating one of the alleged victims, along with pepper spraying, verbally, and physically assaulting them.

Wilkinson also accused the group of allegedly utilizing violence and force, prohibiting law enforcement from doing their job, and attempting to “shut down departments” at some of their demonstrations. 

When it came to the case of Enamorado, Amesquita, Lopez, Peña, Chavez, and Carrasco, the court concluded that they were still considered a "danger" to the community and the victims, therefore their bail was denied once again. Their next court date and preliminary hearing are set for January 3rd, in which a pre-trial memo will review potential requirements to be set if bail is established for any of them.

The only activist who was granted bail was Gullit “Jaguar” Acevedo, whose bail was set to $40,000. He is set to be out with requirements applied. The requirements for his release include no contact with any of the victims or other defendants, wearing an ankle bracelet, no social media posting, and probation. 

Acevedo’s attorney, Dan E. Chambers, said that over 50 character letters were written in support of Acevedo, all detailing the work he has been able to do as an educator as a middle school history teacher. 

“Within 15 minutes of meeting him, I knew what a quality person he was,” said Chambers outside the court. “Once I met him and started talking to others about him it became abundantly clear who he is.”

Photo by: Janette Villafana for L.A. TACO. The family of Acevedo outside the courthouse after hearing the news that their family member would be granted bail.
Photo by: Janette Villafana for L.A. TACO. The back of Acevedo's letter jacket from High School was worn by his father who has been advocating for his release and good character.
Photo by: Janette Villafana for L.A. TACO. Supporters Luvinder Kaur and Hafsa Bintsulayman spoke in support of Gullit "Jaguar" Acevedo one of the activists that are part of the Justice 8.

Acevedo is set to appear back in court on January 3, along with the other activists. His wife and family attended the hearing. His father was wearing his son’s letter jacket from high school that showcased all his achievements from a young age. Both the families and supporters were happy to hear about the bail being approved. 

“We feel relieved and humbled by everybody’s love and support during these last two weeks, they have been very hard on our family,” Jasmine Castro, Acevedo's wife, said. “So I just want to say thank you so much for the support, for the letters, for the advocacy online, and of course for the monetary donations.”

As for Enamorado, his attorney Nicholas Rosenberg addressed the public and said he plans on disputing 15 of the charges that the activist is currently facing. 

“I raised the issue before the court that counts 1-15 all relate to an incident from Sept. 3rd and all of that was in the city of Pomona,” said Rosenberg. “I reserve the right to challenge why those counts are even here in San Bernardino County at the Victorville Courthouse, so most of this is Pomona disguised as San Bernardino County.”

For now, all eight activists are preparing for their next court date on January 3rd at the Victorville Courthouse.

In the meantime, the families feel bittersweet about how the day went, seeing as not all were able to get bail approved. But they are still asking the public for help with donations for legal fees and continuing to ask for character letters for each individual.

To donate or learn about what a character letter looks like and where to send it click here.

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