Protester accused of violence at San Diego Trump rally gets prison
One of 11 alleged members of an anti-fascist group indicted for allegedly attacking demonstrators during a march held in Pacific Beach last year by supporters of then-President Donald Trump was sentenced Thursday to nearly five years in state prison.
Nikki Hubbard, 38, referred to in court documents as Erich Yach, pleaded guilty to charges of conspiracy, assault and unlawful use of a tear gas weapon stemming from the Jan. 9, 2021, clash at a “Patriot March,” which was ultimately declared an unlawful assembly by San Diego police.
Hubbard is the sole defendant among the group to plead guilty and be sentenced. Thursday’s sentence included four years for the charges related to the protest and a consecutive eight-month sentence in an unrelated case.
The remaining defendants are currently set to go to trial next March.
According to a grand jury indictment returned earlier this year, the defendants responded to social media posts calling for “counterprotesting” about one week prior to Jan. 9, then showed up in Pacific Beach “dressed in black clothing and armed with weapons and protective gear.”
Police and prosecutors allege two counterprotest groups from San Diego and Los Angeles gathered at the event and attacked people perceived to be members of the “Patriot March” group. Some specific acts of which the defendants are accused include throwing a wooden lawn chair at a woman and striking her, hitting someone with a baseball bat, hitting someone with a flagpole, and attacking people with tear gas and a stun gun.
The indictment alleges the defendants “are all affiliated with Antifa” and used “force, fear and violence to further their interests and suppress the interests of others.” It continues, The objective of this conspiracy was to incite and participate in a riot.
Video footage spread online around the time of the riot captured violence also committed by members of the pro-Trump crowd and the Appeal reported that at least five Patriot March attendees were at the Jan. 6 U.S. Capitol breach that occurred three days before the Pacific Beach incident.
The DA’s Office said in a statement issued last year that “video evidence analysis shows that overwhelmingly the violence in this incident was perpetrated by the Antifa affiliates and was not a mutual fray with both sides crossing out of lawful First Amendment expression into riot and violence.”
After the sentencing hearing, Deputy District Attorney Makenzie Harvey said, “We charged what we thought happened based on the violence we could see on video and the grand jurors indicted based on what they heard and what they saw.”
Hubbard’s husband, GG Hubbard, told reporters after the hearing that his wife was at the pro-Trump event “to protect the community” against members of groups like the far-right Proud Boys.
“Are you just going to stand by while you know violence is about to happen or are you going to do something about it?” said GG Hubbard, who said his wife defended a child, among others at the event.
Hubbard says his wife is not violent and didn’t hurt anyone on Jan. 9, but pleaded guilty to avoid a potential life sentence, though prosecutors say the maximum possible prison term was 12 years and eight months. GG Hubbard said his next steps are to ensure his wife, a transgender woman who has spent the past year in a men’s jail, is not subsequently placed in a men’s prison.