Some Observations on the Declared Mistrial of the Freeway 9 Defendants

This Fight Is Not Over!
The Stakes Are Great for All Those Who Hate This Regime, and Who Wish for a Better World



From a reader:

The trial in Los Angeles of two of the Freeway 9, arrested for protesting the fascist Trump/Pence regime and calling for massive nonviolent sustained mobilization to drive out this regime, just ended in a mistrial. A mistrial, in this instance, is a “hung jury”1 that could not agree on any of the charges.

This was an important victory, bringing forward determination of some on the jury to refuse to convict these people of any crime. At the same time, this fight is not over. During the trial there was a great deal of contention over the rights of these defendants to bring out WHY they were doing these actions, with threats of jail time hanging over their heads. The prosecutors have declared their intent to retry these defendants, with a hearing scheduled for Monday, July 1, to determine if and when such a retrial will happen.

This should concern all people of conscience—and has great stakes.

In particular, I want to highlight three things the prosecution has raised, and if they prevail, are part of hammering-in even more repression, in line with the consolidation of a fascist regime. The lines are clear: between the people who stand against what the system is doing and the representatives of the system.

For those fighting for a better world, including through revolution, we have to learn how to not allow revolutionaries and other fighters against the system to be encircled and taken away from the people, but instead how to turn such efforts into defeats for the enforcers of the system. Even from the standpoint of liberal democracy, the three things that are deeply troubling are:

1. “Gagging” the “WHY”—Prosecution’s Attempt to Strip the Case of the Actual Political Content and Purpose

To defend against these charges, we needed to call out what is actually being done today to immigrants and children at the border, dangers of war, dire threats to the planet’s viability through climate change, taking away women’s right to abortion, and racist demonization of whole peoples—all of this being carried out by the Trump/Pence fascist regime in power. In that context, at issue is whether it is right and necessary to step outside of normal channels, including potentially stopping traffic, to wake up society when there are such dangers, and if that is a crime.

It is not!! Especially in such circumstances, these protesters should be heralded as heroes, not be subject to jail.

The prosecutors tried every way they could to prevent the real purpose of these actions from being brought into the trial, insisting that there was nothing political in bringing these people to trial and that only “blocking of traffic on the freeway” could come into evidence or be discussed in the court proceedings.

As a chilling sign, they are insisting on their right to enforce this going forward.

2. Targeting of Legitimate Protest—Prosecution’s Attempt to Cover Up Their Targeted Repression

All of the charges against these protesters—and related cases of protests at UCLA—were brought as a package at the same time, months after the actions took place. One must ask: Why?

The charges were fashioned by the notorious Anti-Terrorism Division (ATD)/Major Crimes Division of the LAPD, who took over investigation after the September 2017 freeway protest. They sent a confidential informant (CI) into meetings of the Los Angeles chapter of Refuse Fascism, secretly taping conversations and proceedings. This was learned when two of the leaders of this chapter of Refuse Fascism, who were charged with conspiracy in connection with the freeway protest, demanded to know the identity of this informant. When a judge ordered that the LAPD turn this information over, the prosecution dropped the charges rather than reveal this information.

But then the prosecutors have been determined to prevent any mention of this CI being brought into the trials of the remaining defendants. In a legal brief filed in this trial, they baldly stated that the fact that there was a CI placed in Refuse Fascism meetings has no value to the case, and that “the only use for this fact is to swell the emotions of the jury against LAPD and garner sympathy for the defendants.”

Really!! The fact that operatives of the political police of the LAPD, and the agency that this informant was acting for, were involved in bringing charges of conspiracy and major charges against people in Refuse Fascism would be of no value in this case? Why would they be so intent on preventing these facts from seeing the light of day?

When the truth of the real nature of these charges came out anyway—in material distributed to the public and in the testimony of one of the defendants—the prosecutors began threatening in legal briefs and oral arguments that they would take further action against the defendant Antonio for stating these facts.

This was targeted repression, harking back to the days of COINTELPRO2—and the prosecutors wanted this silenced and censored, now and going forward.

3. Censoring Expression and Speech—Prosecution’s Attempt to Repress Political Speech at the Trial

Supporters of Refuse Fascism who came to court were bold and creative in expressing their opinions about the injustice of this case and in support of what these people did, determined to make known the importance of the message of the actions on the freeway, and why they should be upheld, not punished. There were T-shirts that asked things like “would you convict Rosa Parks?” and other messages that attracted the attention of everyone in that courthouse about what was going down in this trial. This also found its way into the local media. They made clear that it was crucial to oppose the injustice going down in that courtroom, but also that people need to stand up against the injustices going on in society right now.

This sent the prosecuting attorneys into a frenzy of repeatedly calling on the judge to limit the free expression of those on trial, their attorneys, and their supporters. When the jury first reported that they were unable to reach unanimous agreement on any of the charges on either of the defendants, the prosecutors went so far as to demand that the judge intervene in the jury deliberations to ask if any of the jurors had been unduly influenced in their judgments! (See “Outrageous Motion to Silence Defendants and Supporters in Freeway9 Case” at This would actually have amounted to the judge participating in jury tampering at the behest of the prosecution. The judge recognized this and refused to act on their demand.

Prosecutors demanded that defendants and others should not be allowed to talk about what compelled them to step onto the public highway to sound the alarm. They insisted the defense should not be allowed to bring out the horrible crimes against humanity that this regime is responsible for, including right now what is happening at the U.S.-Mexico border.

Despite the fact that they claim the charges have nothing to do with politics, the prosecutors challenged the defendants, “Why didn’t you carry out protest the way people did in the Women’s March?” To which they answered that protests like the Women’s March were a very good thing, but then people went home and the fascists are still in power—and more is needed! All this shows is that the prosecution wants protest within constraints and bounds they deem legitimate.

The Stakes—and the Need for All People of Conscience to Rally to the Support of the Defendants

It is clear the government in this case was freaked out that their unjust prosecution was hitting some obstacles, that their attempt to punish and jail these heroes of the people was not proceeding smoothly. It also reveals that these liberal Democrats at the helm of the City Attorney’s office headed up by Michael Feuer are hell-bent on establishing new rules that govern what kind of protest is legitimate, and what can be brought in defense of political protest. They are also disallowing the political issues that are motivating people to engage in civil disobedience from being heard and from being part of their defense against political persecution, clamping down on lawyers who insist on making these facts known, and preventing the public from freely expressing their opinions on these matters at the scene of these trials.

What they have tried to get away with in this trial is an indication of a very negative direction, and the restrictions that were argued for in this case cannot be allowed to stand. The fight that these defendants and their lawyers waged, exposing that there was no crime committed, and that the motivation for these charges was political, is important and should be learned from. It goes against “conventional wisdom” that there is no freedom that can be seized in a situation that on the surface might look like the cards are stacked against you.

At this moment, NOW: It is crucial that demands be made to drop the charges against these two defendants, that there be NO NEW trial, and that charges also be dropped against all the other defendants whose cases are coming up soon.

The precedent, otherwise, is nothing but chilling and a furthering of fascist repression, even if carried out and implemented by a liberal California DA!


1. A “hung jury” is a jury that is deadlocked and cannot agree on a verdict after extended deliberations.  [back]

2. From 1956-1971, the FBI operated a covert, illegal program that targeted the system’s political opponents in the U.S. The program, COINTELPRO (for COunter INTELligence PROgram), was used to infiltrate, harass, disrupt, smear, and murder or destroy individuals and organizations. COINTELPRO initially targeted the Black civil rights and liberation movements. It also targeted student activists and the anti-Vietnam War movement, known as the New Left. COINTELPRO operatives worked with the local police and “red squads” to target individuals to be arrested. Dirty tricks were used to try to foment disputes between and split up political organizations. The FBI coordinated raids with the local police, and worked in conjunction with local police to attack demonstrations where nonviolent protesters were brutally beaten and murdered.  [back]


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?”



Get a free email subscription to

Volunteers Needed... for and Revolution

Send us your comments.