Last week I wrote about the so-called “Berkeley Five,” a group of Antifa members who were arrested over an alleged attack which took place at a pro-Trump rally last year. This week, a jury found all five of the men not guilty. From Berkeleyside:
The jury has found all five defendants not guilty of misdemeanor assault, and not guilty of assault causing great bodily injury, also a misdemeanor. About 30 supporters of the defendants were in the courtroom for the reading of the verdicts, which began at about 3:40 p.m. Some cried quietly as the clerk read the decisions for each person. After the reading, there was a brief round of applause before the judge released the jury…
Several jurors told Berkeleyside the group found itself in agreement relatively early on regarding the not guilty verdicts. But they wanted to make sure they worked through the process carefully. They deliberated for nearly a day. Ultimately, they said, they were not convinced a crime had occurred. There were other viable explanations for what took place, they said.
Antifa members were in the courtroom throughout the trial but the defense had filed a motion to keep any mention of “Antifa” at the trial itself:
From Wednesday through Friday, jurors and Judge Alison Tucher heard testimony from a parade of witnesses for the prosecution and defense. Dozens of supporters of the five defendants have been in court for the bulk of the trial. They have made their feelings known, with laughter and sighs of derision, hissing, applause and other outbursts. At one point, a member of the audience held up a political flier, facing the jury, urging the court to “drop the charges” against the activist group…
The defense team had filed a motion before the trial began to ask the judge to exclude “references to ‘black bloc,’ ‘anarchists,’ ‘antifa,’ or ‘people wearing masks’ and statements about violent actions taken by anti-Trump non-defendants on that day.… Such references have no probative value and cause substantial danger of undue prejudice, confusing the issues, and misleading the jury.”
There was no video of the alleged attack that led to the arrests so jurors were asked to judge between two competing stories, one told by the Antifa members and the other account told by a police officer and two firefighters who said they witnessed the attack.
Berkeley Police Sgt. Jesse Grant testified that he was sitting in an unmarked vehicle with Berkeley Fire Capt. David Sprague-Livingston at Milvia and Kittredge when he heard words exchanged between the seated Quillinan and a group of pedestrians. Grant saw Armstrong punch Quillinan in the head and Perry kick Quillinan in the leg, he said. Several others then “closed in” around Quillinan, as Grant saw “arms and legs flying.” Grant, the only police officer at the scene, jumped out of the car and called for back-up, then ordered the group to leave. Firefighters also yelled, to break up the fight, and the group “took off” south on Milvia. The defendants were arrested by other BPD officers a short distance down the street.
The Antifa members claimed Quillinan had swung a shield at them first and they were merely defending themselves:
Sawtelle, who had passed Quillinan, turned back around and saw him making “chopping motions” as he swung his shield, Sawtelle said. Armstrong said he “shot my arms up and got out of the way.” He said he “absolutely” tried to take away Quillinan’s shield, and was trying to hold onto it: “I didn’t want to get hit with that thing.”
Sawtelle said he tried to grab the shield, but failed, then a police officer — Sgt. Grant — shoved him from behind.
“He attacked us,” Sawtelle said he told Grant, of Quillinan.
“No, he didn’t,” he said Grant responded.
Yvette Felarca appeared on the stand and claimed Quillinan had pointed a stick at her earlier in the day. She was cross-examined by prosecutors who asked her to confirm that she has her own felony case pending.
So all 5 of these guys are now free and will now be considered heroes by their fellow anarchists. But I think Yvette Felarca is going to have a harder time of it because her attack was caught on video, making it less susceptible to re-interpretation. Felarca’s trial is set to begin next month.