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Most of 'Justice 8' street vendor activists plead guilty to assault charges

San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department

Six defendants arrested by the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department for alleged violent acts at protests last year have pleaded guilty to assault charges.

The defendants — David Chavez, Stephanie Amesquita, Vanessa Carrasco, Fernando Lopez, Wendy Lujan, and Edwin Peña — appeared in court last Friday and accepted plea deals, resulting in their conviction on a single felony assault charge.

Amesquita, Carrasco, and Lujan were released last week, while the other three defendants are scheduled to be released in December after sentencing.

One defendant, Gullit Acevedo, was released in January under certain conditions. Most of the charges against him were dropped, except for one misdemeanor assault charge.

Edin Enamorado, the alleged ringleader of the group, remains in custody and hasn’t accepted a deal. His attorney, Nicholas Rosenberg, did not respond to requests for comment.

The group, dubbed by the public as the Justice 8, gained attention after attending several public meetings to advocate on behalf of street vendors. They were arrested on December 14 of last year for allegedly assaulting, harassing and intimidating three different people during protests.

San Bernardino County Sheriff Shannon Dicus said the day of the arrests that the group, "violated the law extending beyond the first amendment into violence."

Damon Alimouri, who represents Carrasco, says the plea deal is a small win for his client and the others, but he believes Enamorado is the main target.

"I think the entire essence of this was just to go after him. And all these other folks were corralled into it," Alimouri said.

A spokesperson for the San Bernardino County District Attorney’s office said they could not comment on any negotiations involving Enamorado.