Defense attorney Michelle Burrows, who argued on behalf of alleged Antifa defendants John Colin Hacker and Elizabeth Renee Richter, made the comments to the jurors on Tuesday after the jury had informed Judge Sinaplasai that they were afraid of being doxxed, and had reported that people were allegedly trying to find out their identities.
Burrows' comments sent a shockwave across the nation which resulted in speculation about whether or not Ngo was given a fair trial, and if her comments would constitute grounds for a mistrial.
The following are excerpts from the full transcript of defense attorney Michelle Burrows' closing statement, in which Burrows declared "I am Antifa," said she will remember the jurors' faces, and claimed resitance has never been peaceful.
"There is a villain here in this case. And I don't think it's Antifa," Burrows said. "This case is not about Antifa. Antifa stands for antifascist. It is for folks who believe that fascism, that dictatorships, that the oppression of people is wrong."
"Antifascists started with the fight against true good and true evil. And now Antifa is now being painted as that horrible scourge, that monster that is going to destroy democracy as we know it. That's a little extreme, isn't it?" Burrows questioned.
"I'm going to get a T-shirt when this trial is over that says: 'I am Antifa.' Because I believe that the conflict between all of these people, all of these beliefs is what makes our country great. It makes democracy better," Burrows claimed to the jury. "We are a country founded on differences. We are a country that promotes speech from the very beginning. And resistance in this country has never been peaceful."
The defense attorney told the jury that Antifa militants had so strongly disagreed with senior editor of Post Millennial Andy Ngo that they were "willing to beat him."
"Any of you who are students of the Revolutionary War and leading up to the Civil War with the abolitionists know that violence permeated all of those. Does that mean that we're a violent people? Or does it mean when things get so bad, when conflict becomes inevitable, that we resort to our baser selves. Because that's what we saw happen to Mr. Ngo. We saw people who so strongly disagreed with this gentleman, that they were willing to beat him," Burrows claimed. "Not just beat him, but chase him through downtown Portland, tackle him, hit him."
Ms. Burrows then attacked Ngo's credibility and falsely claimed that the world renowned journalist spreads "little bits of misinformation" which has created a "rage machine that has generated so much revenue for Mr. Ngo."
"Mr. Ngo's conduct is not pristine here," Burrows said. "Nobody on the jury has a complete pristine presentation. All of the heroes we see now in the movies or in great books have flaws. They have vanity. They have weaknesses. And we all do. Everybody does. But what do you do with those weaknesses?" Burrows questioned. "Mr. Ngo has the right to pursue these events as he sees them. And he does. But does he do it for a higher cause?"
"I'm not a big fan of what he advocates. I'm not a big fan of what Mr. Ngo writes about. But it is his right to believe it, to hold those truths. He does not have the right, then, to do things that cause harm to other people," Burrows said. "And neither do those black-clad invisible cowards had the right to do what they did to Mr. Ngo."
Ms. Burrows told the jury that Ngo needs to take responsibility for his reporting since social media is not regulated by the federal government. The attorney explained that Ngo's reporting on Antifa has resulted in both the defendants and defense witnesses receiving "abuse" and "death threats."
"This is not a First Amendment case, folks. The First Amendment only protects us as against the government. It doesn't protect us in our private interaction was each other. So while Mr. Ngo has the First Amendment right to say and do what he wants on Twitter, there are no restrictions that the government has been willing to place on people on social media," Burrows explained.
While speaking on her retirement and explaining to the jury that this is her last trial, Burrows said in conclusion, "I have tried a lot of cases. I have been with a lot of jurors. And I'm going to remember every one of your faces when you leave here."
On Tuesday, the jury found defendants Hacker and Richter "not liable" on the allegations levied against them in Ngo's complaint, which had accused the defendants of assault, battery, and intentional infliction of emotional distress over multiple incidents that began in 2019, in which Ngo had been physically beaten by alleged members of Rose City Antifa in Portland, Oregon.
Defendants Hacker and Richter, otherwise known as Rose City Antifa's alleged "doxxers," were accused of doxxing Andy Ngo to black bloc Antifa militants which resulted in the journalist being physically beaten on May 28, 2021, before he had escaped to a nearby hotel to seek refuge.
The jury trial was held at the Multnomah County Courthouse in Portland, Oregon.
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