[Pnews] Police worked with violent pro-Trump activist to prosecute leftwing group

Prisoner News ppnews at freedomarchives.org
Fri Jun 15 12:28:08 EDT 2018


https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2018/jun/15/police-pro-trump-berkeley-leftwing-activists-court-case?CMP=Share_iOSApp_Other 



  Police worked with violent pro-Trump activist to prosecute leftwing group

Sam Levin - June 15, 2018
------------------------------------------------------------------------

A pro-Trump demonstrator who admitted hitting protesters at a far-right 
rally received help and support from California police, who worked with 
him to prosecute leftwing activists, records show.

Documents and testimony in a trial surrounding a rightwing demonstration 
in Berkeley reveal that police and prosecutors pursued charges on behalf 
of Daniel Quillinan, a conservative activist who has posted fascist 
memes and came to the event with Kyle Chapman, now a celebrated figure 
amongst the “alt-right”. The authorities consistently treated Quillinan 
as a victim even though he was visibly armed with a knife, a wooden 
“shield” and a “flagpole” – and had told law enforcement that he “hit 
someone in the head”, according to court files.

The resulting criminal trial against five anti-fascist protesters – who 
are accused of assaulting Quillinan during a roughly 15-second 
altercation – is, according to activists, the latest example of US law 
enforcement aggressively targeting leftwing demonstrators and favoring 
members of the far-right after violent clashes. In another California 
case, police have worked directly with neo-Nazis 
<https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/feb/09/california-police-white-supremacists-counter-protest> 
to go after counter-protesters, including a black activist stabbed at a 
white supremacist rally 
<https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/may/25/neo-nazi-rally-california-stabbing-police-target-black-activist>.

“This makes a pretty clear statement of choosing sides,” Dustin 
Sawtelle, one of the anti-fascist defendants, said in an interview this 
week before the trial began. “We figured maybe they were trying to use 
charges as a scare tactic ... It feels like they have to prosecute 
somebody.”

At the trial in a crowded Oakland courtroom, defense attorneys argued 
that local police were tolerant of the pro-Trump violence on 4 March 
last year, that Quillinan was an armed aggressor and fascist 
provocateur, and that prosecutors lacked basic evidence about the 
alleged assault. The prosecutor, along with several police witnesses, 
argued that the men were observed attacking Quillinan with punches and 
kicks during a short confrontation outside of the rally.

The event, billed as a “March for Trump” and “free speech” event, 
attracted interest from members of the alt-right and was linked 
<http://sfist.com/2017/02/12/alt-right_march_planned_in_berkeley.php> to 
the Proud Boys 
<https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/aug/17/charlottesville-alt-right-neo-nazis-white-nationalists>, 
a far-right pro-Trump group of self-proclaimed “western chauvinists” 
that has been classified 
<https://www.splcenter.org/fighting-hate/extremist-files/group/proud-boys> 
by watchdogs as a hate organization. Quillinan arrived at the rally 
wearing a red Trump hat, and a shirt referencing the Chilean dictator 
General Pinochet and a far-right meme 
<https://www.thedailybeast.com/reddit-bans-forum-inciting-physical-removal-of-democrats-from-society> 
with the words “physical removal”, which he said in court referred to 
the removal of “communists and Democrats”.

Quillinan testified that he was “conservative” and pro-Trump, but said 
he was not “alt-right” nor a white nationalist and alleged that his 
shirt and online posts referencing fascism were “jokes”. The audience of 
anti-fascists supporting the defendants, who some have called the 
“Berkeley 5 
<http://www.bamn.com/fighting-racism/drop-the-charges-against-the-berkeley-anti-fascist-5>”, 
groaned loudly when the prosecutor described the rally as a “free 
speech” event.

Police video showed that when Quillinan arrived, an officer noted he had 
a knife, but said he could “keep it”, despite a local ordinance 
restricting the carrying of “dangerous weapons”, said the defense 
attorney, Shanta Driver.

Quillinan said in court that he brought the knife as a “deterrent” and 
the wooden board he carried like a shield was a “poster”. On cross 
examination, he admitted he might have hit someone with the board “by 
accident” and also said he had used his pole to try to break up fights 
and struck two people.

Law enforcement is aware of Quillinan’s use of the pole as a weapon. 
Prosecutor James Logan wrote that Quillinan admitted “he swung his 
flagpole” and at one point struck a man in the head. Quillinan said he 
offered to give the man money after he realized he was conservative.

When the alleged attack by the five defendants occurred, Quillinan was 
receiving medical aid for a head injury. Quillinan and Jesse Grant, a 
police officer who was nearby, testified that the anti-fascists were 
walking by when one kicked Quillinan and then others started punching 
and kicking. The defense, however, said Quillinan tripped one of the men 
and then hit him with his shield. Both sides said the interaction was brief.

Sergeant Grant testified that he couldn’t specify the exact actions of 
several of the defendants, saying it was a “scrum” and “arms and legs 
were flying”. A fire captain present during the incident testified that 
he couldn’t recognize or identify the defendants seated in the courtroom.

Quillinan had also originally said one of his attackers had “red hair”, 
which does not match any of the defendants. Asked about this discrepancy 
in court, he said: “I may have misremembered.”

In an interview with Quillinan the day of the incident, Grant raised the 
idea of charges, according to a recording, saying: “The people who 
attacked you – do you want them to go to jail?”

“Very much so,” Quillinan replied.

Jeff Armstrong, another defendant, told the Guardian that he showed up 
to the march to help protect people from rightwing violence: “We went to 
do medical aid for people and also to defend people who can’t defend 
themselves.”

Police and prosecutors declined to comment. Quillinan, who was ordered 
not to speak about the case while the trial is ongoing, could not be 
reached.

It’s unclear if any rightwing demonstrators faced assault charges for 
the 4 March fight. Chapman, the rightwing activist, was charged 
<https://www.eastbayexpress.com/SevenDays/archives/2017/08/17/kyle-based-stickman-chapman-charged-with-possession-of-leaded-stick-by-alameda-district-attorney> 
with possession of a leaded stick in a case that is still pending*. *

Even if the five anti-fascist protesters are acquitted, the case that 
has dragged on for more than a year has already impacted their lives, 
said Sawtelle, a 41-year-old tattoo artist and martial arts teacher. He 
said his personal information was posted online, leading to threats, and 
that he lost a job as a result of the charges. He said he has also been 
forced to be more cautious about his activism and participation in protests.

“I think that’s part of the tactic – to get people away from these 
things,” he said, adding: “I don’t plan on quieting down.”


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