ANDY NGO REPORTS: Antifa member pleads not guilty by ‘reason of insanity’ at start of San Diego Antifa felony conspiracy trial

An Antifa member is claiming he’s not guilty because of insanity at the start of a felony conspiracy trial in San Diego County.

Andy Ngo and Eva Knott San Diego CA
This is part of a series reporting on the So Cal Antifa cell.

Sparks flew at the start of an Antifa violent felony conspiracy trial in San Diego on Monday involving three Antifa riot suspects as one claimed he was insane while a second co-defendant took a last-minute plea deal.

Jeremy Jonathan White, 41, surprised the court and prosecutors by entering a plea of “not guilty by reason of insanity.” San Diego County Prosecutor Makenzie Harvey protested that the plea was “not timely” and complained that she had communicated with Curtis Briggs, White’s leftist pro-bono attorney, just days ago and he made no mention of this change of plea. The prosecutor suggested this move was “gamesmanship” in an attempt to further delay the jury trial for a case stemming from a violent Antifa riot more than three years ago. 


On Jan. 9, 2021, roving mobs of black-clad So Cal Antifa members attacked supporters of Donald Trump and people walking on the boardwalk at Pacific Beach in San Diego County. Eleven people, about half from Los Angeles, were indicted in 2022 by a secret grand jury on a total of 29 felonies, including conspiracy to riot, assault and other violent crimes. Prosecutors alleged the defendants engaged in a coordinated plan to assault people with weapons. 

Before this week's pre-trial hearing, eight co-defendants had already been convicted through plea deals. San Diego County District Attorney Summer Stephan has been targeted by far-left extremists for using felony conspiracy charges in the prosecution. The George Soros-backed candidate who lost in her DA campaign against Stephan in 2018 accuses the San Diego DA, without evidence, of being “alt-right”—an accusation repeated by the convicts, defendants and their attorneys in this trial.

Eight So Cal Antifa members have been convicted so far through plea deals

DA Stephan’s prosecution is the first time Antifa rioters had been charged with a conspiracy in the U.S. Since then, the Attorney General in Georgia charged 61 Antifa-linked extremists with domestic terrorism, money laundering and other crimes for their alleged role in the “Stop Cop City” terrorist attacks.

Not guilty by reason of insanity?

In reaction to Jeremy Jonathan White’s insanity claim, Judge Daniel B. Goldstein noted that a plea of “not guilty by reason of insanity” is normally expected at arraignment, which would have been years ago when he first appeared in court. But the judge commented on the difficulty of denying an insanity plea and noted that it can be entered even as late as during trial if there is “good cause.”

The prosecutor insisted there is no "good cause" to delay the trial and that there is significant video evidence of White committing crimes during the Antifa riot.

Jeremy Jonathan White came to the attack in riot gear and was carrying bear mace

The judge offered a compromise: White’s guilt would be determined in the first jury trial, and if he is found guilty, there would be a second trial with a new jury to determine his sanity. Goldstein then spoke directly to the defendant and told him that if the jury found him not guilty by reason of insanity, he could be kept against his will in a mental hospital for “the rest of your life.”

White’s attorney suggested that his client’s new insanity plea might be withdrawn at a later date, depending on what a mental health expert determines. White also submitted a report to the court written by a psychologist hired by him who defended his use going to the attack with riot gear and a weapon (bear spray). 

Dr. Martin Williams wrote: “In my professional opinion, the ‘suit of armor,’ Mr. White’s carrying bear spray, as well as Mr. White’s role of protecting others as a medic was a manifestation of Mr. White’s PTSD.” The psychologist said that any imprisonment would be “life-threatening” due to White’s history of domestic abuse and depression.

Jeremy White has a long history of far-left militant activism in southern California; White was identified in evidence as one of the Antifa members at the San Diego riot in all-black riot gear (right)

The prosecution’s suggestion that the insanity claim is an attempt to play the court may be backed by a prior failed last-ditch effort by White’s attorney to get the case thrown out of San Diego County. Curtis Briggs, of Oakland, filed a motion in October 2023 to move the case to the California Attorney General’s office, where he hoped the Democrat prosecutor would dismiss the entire case. Judge Goldstein rejected the motion for lack of merit.

Though claiming to be insane, White is engaging in a media blitz with left-wing outlets, including It’s Going Down. IGD is a propaganda site for Antifa extremists. In 2020, the site published a claim of responsibility for an attempted train derailment in Washington state that led to federal terrorism convictions. It also published posts telling readers to commit violent crimes and acts of vandalism. IGD was banned on Twitter, now X, for violent extremism.


In a separate interview on the Pod Damn America leftist podcast, White repeatedly slammed DA Summer Stephan, accusing her of being a “right-wing Trump-supporting anti-antifa person.” He claimed: “So a Nazi went to the DA and demanded a case be built—and that’s where all this came from…They’re charging us with conspiracy, but I think the real conspiracy is the DA’s case with these white supremacists — going after just leftists.”

White is also the beneficiary of a GoFundMe campaign which claims he is a “human rights activist” in need of financial support. GoFundMe’s policies state that one is not allowed to fundraise for the legal defense of violent criminal suspects. As of Tuesday evening, White’s campaign raised over $3,000. GoFundMe has been reached for comment. 

Update: GoFundMe told The Post Millennial the campaign violated its policies and had been removed. In response, Antifa accounts blame this reporting and opened up a fundraiser campaign on GiveButter, a similar crowdfunding site and accused the prosecutor, without evidence, of having "cozy connections with white supremacist groups." 

A GoFundMe campaign for Jeremy White misleads donors about his trial and circumvents the platform’s ban on fundraising for violent criminal suspects 

Ninth Antifa defendant pleads guilty at start of trial

Though White’s counsel took up most of the pre-trial motions, there remain two other co-defendants on trial. Luis Francisco Mora, 32, took a last-minute plea deal and admitted to the charge of conspiracy to commit a crime and assault by means likely to produce great bodily injury.

Violent Los Angeles Antifa member Luis Francisco Mora pleaded guilty to felony conspiracy and assault on March 18. Photo: Eva Knott

Mora, of Los Angeles, is expected to be sentenced to two years and eight months in California state prison on June 12. In pleading guilty, Mora admitted being part of the Antifa conspiracy to riot, and that he came to San Diego with his co-conspirators from Los Angeles to participate in violence.

Mora further admitted he was armed with a tear gas weapon and that he was part of a mob attack on victim “E.H.,” and that he attempted to punch victim “J.C.,” who identified himself previously to TPM as a photojournalist. Mora admitted being part of the group that attacked a middle-aged woman, identified as “M.A.”, who was beaten and maced to the ground.

A middle-aged woman was beaten to the ground by Luis F. Mora and his Antifa comrades in January 2021 at Pacific Beach, San Diego

The third and final Antifa defendant on trial is Brian Cortez Lightfoot Jr. The 27-year-old continues to plead not-guilty to 16 felonies, the most charges of any remaining defendant. Prosecutors have alleged that Lightfoot was one of the ring leaders during the two-hours-long violence on the beach boardwalk that afternoon three years ago. Last year, his San Francisco pro-bono far-left attorney, John Hamasaki, tried and failed to get TPM’s reporter Eva Knott banned from photographing and reporting on this case. The judge denied his motion.

So Cal Antifa member Brian Cortez Lightfoot Jr. is on trial for 16 violent felonies; Investigators identified him as the masked man in black on the far-left of the screenshot. Courtroom photo by Eva Knott

Eight other Antifa co-defendants have already been convicted: Alexander Akridge-Jacobs, 33, Jesse Merel Cannon, 33, Joseph Austin Gaskins, 23, Christian Martinez, 25, Samuel Howard Ogden, 26, Bryan Rivera, 22, Faraz Martin Talab, 29, and Erich Yach, 40. (Gaskins was the only one who did not admit being part of the Antifa conspiracy to riot.)

One defendant, violent trans activist Erich “Nikki” Yach was taken into custody and held because he had multiple active felony cases when he committed new crimes during the Antifa riot. Yach was the first to be convicted in September 2022, and he was sentenced to nearly five years in state prison. He is eligible for early release as soon as this April 1.

Convicted violent trans So Cal Antifa member Erich ‘Nikki’ Yach is eligible for early release in April 2024. Courtroom photo by Eva Knott

Violent So Cal Antifa member Jesse Merel Cannon is serving five years in prison for felony convictions spanning multiple cases


Last month, co-defendant Jesse Merel Cannon was sentenced to two years for the 2021 Antifa riot case, plus three more years for a separate violent felony assault case that was included in his plea deal. While out on bail on separate violent charges, Cannon assaulted a woman and a child at the Antifa riot on January 2021, leading to the sentencing enhancement.

Pre-trial motions are ongoing and jury selection is expected to begin on March 25.

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