Counterprotesers face San Diego police at Mission and Hornblend in Pacific Beach near end of dueling demonstrations.
Counterprotesers face San Diego police at Mission and Hornblend in Pacific Beach near end of dueling demonstrations on Jan 9, 2021 in PB. Photo by Chris Stone

One of 11 alleged members of an anti-fascist group suspected of attacks during a 2021 march in Pacific Beach was sentenced Thursday to nearly five years in state prison.

The Jan. 9, 2021 clash at a “Patriot March” by supporters of then-President Donald Trump, a demonstration that was ultimately declared an unlawful assembly by San Diego police, spawned multiple indictments.

Nikki Hubbard, 38, a transgender woman 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 her actions in PB.

Hubbard is the sole defendant among the group to plead guilty and be sentenced. Her penalty includes four years for the charges from the protest and a consecutive eight-month sentence in an unrelated case.

The remaining defendants currently are 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 PB “dressed in black clothing and armed with weapons and protective gear.”

Police and prosecutors allege two groups from San Diego and Los Angeles gathered at the event and attacked people perceived to be members of the “Patriot March” group.

Specific accusations against the defendants include throwing a wooden lawn chair at a woman and striking her, hitting a victim with a baseball bat, hitting another person 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 alleges that the objective of the conspiracy was to incite and participate in a riot.

Video footage spread online around the time of the riot captured acts of violence also committed by members of the pro-Trump crowd and there were reports that at least five Patriot March attendees were at the Jan. 6 U.S. Capitol breach three days before the incident in PB.

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 protest “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, who has spent the past year in a men’s jail, is not subsequently placed in a men’s prison.

City News Service