2 Accused of Assault at Demonstration Plead Not Guilty : Violence: The Simi Valley men were protesting the appearance of white supremacist Richard Barrett.


Two Simi Valley men pleaded not guilty Tuesday to assault charges stemming from a demonstration Saturday against an appearance by white supremacist Richard Barrett in Simi Valley.

The men, along with two juveniles, were arrested in a crowd of more than 300 protesters outside the East County Courthouse, where the Rodney G. King beating trial was held.

Barrett, a Mississippi lawyer who leads the Nationalist Movement, spoke in support of the Los Angeles police officers found not guilty in the King case. One supporter joined him in a fenced courtyard area, separated from the demonstrators.

More than 200 deputies and Simi Valley police officers were assigned to protect Barrett and maintain order at the courthouse.

Simi Valley police said Joseph Woodrow Jordan, 20, was arrested for throwing a rock that missed Barrett but landed near a deputy.

Freddrick Damien Thomas, 18, was arrested after he threw a bottle at a police officer and jabbed a sharp stick into the flank of a deputy's horse, police said. In addition to felony assault, Thomas was charged with willfully harming a horse used for law enforcement, a misdemeanor.

Two 17-year-old Simi Valley boys also were arrested at the demonstration for striking sheriff's horses. Their names were withheld because of their ages.

Deputy Dist. Atty. Greg Totten, who supervises felony cases, said all of the offenses were serious.

In Thomas' case, "the bottle was thrown from fairly close range and struck the officer in the back," he said.

Regarding Jordan's case, Totten said: "My understanding is that a number of rocks were thrown by this individual. A rock thrown in a crowd could result in an injury to somebody."

The prosecutor said striking a police horse in a crowd is also dangerous because it could cause the animal to bolt or kick a bystander.

At the adults' arraignment in Ventura Municipal Court, Deputy Public Defender Neil B. Quinn urged that the men be released on their own recognizance. Quinn said that Jordan had no criminal record and that Thomas did not pose a threat to the community.

But Judge Art Gutierrez ordered both men to remain in Ventura County Jail in lieu of $5,000 bail each. The men must appear at preliminary hearings this month.

The juvenile cases were being reviewed by the district attorney's office on Tuesday.

Several parents whose sons were arrested at the protest spoke Monday night at the Simi Valley City Council meeting. They alleged that the arrests were not justified and that officers used excessive force during the demonstration.

"Something's got to be done," said the mother of one of the juveniles, who was bitten by a police dog during his arrest. "You have to have an investigation."

Council members said they believed that the officers acted properly, but they promised to review police activities at the protest.

Police Chief Lindsey P. Miller said all of the arrests were videotaped.

"I felt that, based on the circumstances, the officers' conduct was appropriate," he said Tuesday. "They used no more force than was necessary to accomplish their purpose."

Times staff writer Gary Gorman contributed to this story.

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