Six people arrested during heated immigration protests in July that put the city of Murrieta in the national spotlight have been charged with obstructing officers who were responding to the unruly crowds.
There to protest the overflow transfer of Central American immigrant detainees from Texas to the city’s Border Patrol station, the number of demonstrators started out small, but quickly surged as images of the crowd turning back buses were broadcast nationally.
The blockade forced authorities to instead take the detainees, many of them mothers with babies and toddlers, to other facilities, including in San Ysidro, for processing.
Pro-immigration protesters Jacqueline Sanchez, 26, Pouyan Bokaei, 33, and Salvador Chavez, 24, of Los Angeles; Jessica Rey, 25, of Menifee; and Janet Mathieson, 22, of Claremont, each pleaded not guilty to one misdemeanor count of obstructing an officer and one felony lynching, defined under California law as taking a person from the lawful custody of an officer by means of riot.
Mathieson, who was in court Wednesday with Rey and Sanchez, was also charged with misdemeanor battery on an officer.
Police say they tried to arrest Mathieson for obstructing an officer and Bokaei interfered. Mathieson then jumped on an officer’s back and the other three defendants followed suit in an attempt to break her and Bokaei free.
The day of the incident, police said they had asked the five pro-immigration defendants to leave but they instead went to the other side of the street and continued antagonizing other protesters.
In addition, anti-immigration protester Larry Spencer, 56, of Hemet was charged with obstructing an officer outside the Border Patrol station.
Authorities said he was arrested for refusing to move out of an area where officers were setting up operations and encouraging other people to join him.
Spencer was in court on Tuesday but has not entered a plea.
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