Two #Freeway9 Heroes Take the Stand—Unapologetically Indicting the Trump/Pence Regime and the Political Persecution They Face



On June 25, the second to last day of the trial of two of the #Freeway9 defendants, the two defendants took the stand. They explained how they saw the danger of fascism posed by the Trump/Pence regime and why they had been motivated to protest on the 101 Freeway, actions for which they now face potentially three years in prison. The crimes of the Trump/Pence regime that motivated them—terror and cruelty against immigrants, the dismantling of governing norms, threats of war, destruction of the environment, attacks on the rights of women and LGBTQ people, and open white supremacy—have only grown more intense since their protests.

They were also able to expose what had thus far been suppressed throughout the trial: the politicized nature of how their case has been prosecuted. They testified about how a police informant had been sent in to spy on their meetings, how the Anti-Terrorism Division of the LAPD had decided to get involved in a mere traffic violation, how they had been grossly overcharged, and more. Much of their testimony was stricken from the record, but it was important that it was heard for the first time in court.

The prosecution argued to the jury that it was an open-and-shut case and should be easy to see the need to convict. In response, the first of the two lawyers for the defense made their closing argument. They said there was nothing easy about convicting these defendants, exposing again how they had been overcharged and taking apart the prosecution’s case that simple driving infractions should make someone a criminal. They also argued that even with what they see as the best legal system, this is a moment of peril in which the normal checks and balances are not working. Congress is doing nothing to stop Trump. The courts have spent more time defending the right of religious bigots to refuse to bake cakes for gay couples than stopping Trump from committing treason. Trump ought to be in jail, but nothing is being done. He addressed the jury directly saying that they are the last line of defense, perhaps even the only defense or check that still works.

There have been more people in the courtroom the last few days, including from the media. La Opinión and Channel 54 has run some important coverage. A radio host has noted how significant it is that the defendants were able to force the prosecution to reveal some of the extent of political spying by the police, something that is not normally done. An LA Times reporter has been sitting in and noted informally the contrast between how these defendants are being prosecuted compared to those who took over the freeways after Trump was elected.

A bunch of supporters of the #Freeway9 attempted to wear mylar blankets into court (the metal “blankets” which are all that is being provided to so many of the migrant children and others being held inhumanely in Trump’s concentration camps). The bailiffs prevented most people from doing this, but three were able to go into the courtroom and wear these mylar blankets during the closing arguments. Others have been wearing shirts into the courthouse every day with questions like, “Would you have convicted Rosa Parks?” and “Would you have convicted the people who hid Anne Frank?”

There was a poignant exchange when the prosecutor challenged one of the defendants why they hadn’t done like the Women’s March, including by focusing on voting. The defendant spoke simply and sharply that the Democrats have done nothing to remove Trump and that while the Women’s March was an inspiring day, Donald Trump is still in office and people went home. Several on the jury seemed to nod in response.

Some of the statements of support for the defendants are indicating a perhaps growing recognition that waiting until 2020 is too late and that Trump might not leave even if voted out. Meanwhile, the emergency caused by this regime intensifies by the day, with Trump threatening to obliterate Iran, masses of children being tortured in U.S. concentration camps with growing numbers dying, and more.

Today, the other defense attorney will make their closing argument, the prosecution will respond, and the jury will begin their deliberations.


Read statements of support for the LA9.

Supporters have been wearing shirts into the courthouse every day with questions like, “Would you have convicted Rosa Parks?” and “Would you have convicted the people who hid Anne Frank?”



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