Second Mistrial Declared In #FREEWAY9 Trial—but STILL Facing Years in Jail for Sounding the Alarm on the Trump/Pence Fascist Regime
This Persecution Must Be Stopped!



A second mistrial has been declared in an outrageous case involving Alex and Chantelle, two of the #Freeway 9 who are activists from Refuse Fascism and the Revolution Club. These heroes have been prosecuted for over two years for blocking the 101 Freeway in Los Angeles twice in 2017 with a 50-foot banner that said “Trump/Pence Regime Must Go!” The #Freeway9 were acting to sound the alarm against a rapidly advancing fascism and shake society out of its complacency. For this, they are facing up to three years in jail! Now after TWO mistrials and repeated harassment from the LAPD and City Attorney Mike Feuer, this persecution must be stopped and the remaining charges against the #Freeway9 dropped!

The first mistrial was declared in June 2019 when the jury told the judge it was hopelessly deadlocked. Despite 9 of the 12 jurors voting in favor of acquittal, the Democratic Party politician and City Attorney Mike Feuer immediately moved to retry the case. In this second trial, the prosecutor and judge refused to declare a mistrial due to the coronavirus—making the jury deliberate amidst a global pandemic. After a day of deliberation, the jury could not come to unanimous agreement that what the #Freeway9 did was a crime and declared they were deadlocked. It was clear that some of the jurors understood that protesting fascism is not a crime, and they righteously refused to convict. This then compelled the judge to declare a mistrial.

A POLITICAL Persecution

Feuer has relentlessly persecuted these activists—while also working to cover up the political nature of these cases. The prosecution was successful in banning any mention of the spy that was sent by the LAPD’s Anti-Terrorism Division to secretly record Refuse Fascism meetings at a church for four weeks straight. This included attempts at entrapment, where the spy openly called for violence, acting as an agent provocateur. Members of Refuse Fascism made clear they have repeatedly called for mass, nonviolent protest.

The prosecution also tried to gag the defendants by filing motions demanding a ban on the defendants using the words “Donald Trump,” “fascism,” “social injustice,” and “ripping babies from parents’ arms.” They tried to limit defendants’ testimony so they could not say WHY they protested on the freeway, including any mention of “national politics.” They tried to prevent supporters from wearing T-shirts or holding banners outside the courtroom in solidarity with the defendants. The judge denied this attack on the First Amendment and the defendants’ right to defend themselves in court. But this shows how far the prosecution tried to go to suppress the political nature of these charges.

Despite Attempts at Censorship, the Political Necessity for the Protest Was Heard in Court

Despite all the attempts to censor the political nature of this protest, the message of the defendants—Alex and Chantelle—came through when they testified that the crimes of this regime compelled them to act outside the bounds of normal, and ineffectual, protest-as-usual. On the stand, they talked about why they were responding to a call from for mass, sustained, nonviolent protest that continues until the Trump/Pence fascist regime is driven from power. They talked about why they were sounding the alarm against this fascist regime in the face of widespread normalization of the crimes this regime has been carrying out.

The defense lawyers also made a compelling case for why what the #Freeway9 did was righteous and why they should be found not guilty of all charges. Both defense attorneys became emotional in talking about how passionately Chantelle and Alex feel about humanity. The lawyers commended their clients for their bravery in stepping out with the demand “the Trump/Pence Regime Must Go!” One attorney said his client was “braver than I am.” He said, “I don’t have the courage that she has. I have excused myself [from acting] because I didn’t vote for this government. My client stood up in the name of humanity.” He went on to say that these defendants put themselves on the line because it is a state of emergency that has been emerging in this country because of this president. The actions they took were to break the “business-as-usual monotony as this was happening.”

Speaking from his perspective, he quoted Benjamin Franklin in his challenge to the jury: “Those who would give up essential liberty, to purchase a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.” He talked about how the system of checks and balances has been weakened during Trump’s presidency as the Congress didn’t stop the president, and the Supreme Court is now rubber stamping the president’s actions; how they as jurors are the last line of defense for justice. He brought up how Martin Luther King, Cesar Chavez and Rosa Parks had all been arrested many times, yet Donald Trump has never been arrested.

Instead of immediately dropping the charges, a date was set to discuss the potential of a THIRD trial for Chantelle and Alex. Meanwhile, three other defendants are awaiting trial. Despite the coronavirus crisis, at this point, they are being forced to go into court for a pretrial hearing this Friday, March 20.

In response to this, Chantelle and Alex said: “The Trump/Pence fascist regime is guilty of crimes and crimes against humanity. Caging children, threatening nuclear war, banning abortion and unleashing white supremacist terror is a nightmare for humanity and must be stopped. They spent weeks lying about this deadly pandemic and spreading anti-science that could cost the lives of many, many thousands. But LA City Attorney Mike Feuer is criminalizing the people working to stop and remove the Trump/Pence regime through mass political protest; by his actions he’s collaborating with fascism. Why won’t the LA City Attorney drop these charges? Why are the nonviolent actions Refuse Fascism did almost three years ago still a pressing matter? Because the LA city officials are more worried about preventing protest that steps out of the bounds of protest-as-usual than they are about the consolidation of a fascist America. They are more concerned about maintaining order than they are the fight for justice. The normal channels have proven unable to stop fascism. Trump has come out of a sham impeachment trial stronger than ever, making what the #Freeway9 did even more prescient. For this, we should be celebrated, not hounded, harassed, surveilled and criminalized!”

This political persecution must STOP. DROP THE CHARGES against the #Freeway9!

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