‘Textbook Viewpoint Discrimination’ – Judge Dismisses Charges Against Right-Wing Activists

In a groundbreaking ruling, a California judge has dismissed charges against two right-wing activists, citing “selective prosecution.”

Judge Cormac J. Carney of the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California expressed concern over the federal government’s apparent bias in prosecuting right-wing agitators while ignoring similar or worse conduct by left-wing groups at the same event. The two indicted men, Robert Rundo and Robert Boman, were part of the far-right group ‘Rise Against Movement’ (RAM) and had attended a pro-Trump rally in Berkeley in April 2017.

Judge Carney’s ruling, delivered on February 21, pointed out that left-wing groups such as Antifa and ‘By Any Means Necessary’ (BAMN), who also attended the rally with an intention to disrupt it, were not charged despite engaging in violence. “No individuals associated with the left, who engaged in anti-far-right speech and violently suppressed the protected speech of Trump supporters, were charged with a federal crime for their part in starting riots at political events. That is textbook viewpoint discrimination,” the judge stated.

Despite the judge’s dismissal of the charges against Rundo and Boman, the Ninth Circuit had Rundo arrested the next day, February 22, following an emergency motion to appeal filed by prosecutors. The appeals court ruled that Rundo should remain in custody pending the resolution of the appellant’s motion to stay release pending appeal.

Judge Carney further elaborated on his concerns, questioning why the government hadn’t pursued cases against Antifa or BAMN members given their violent conduct at pro-Trump events. He noted that the defendants had successfully established selective prosecution, as the government had failed to prosecute similarly situated individuals. At the same rallies that led to the defendants’ prosecution, Antifa and other far-left groups had engaged in organized violence to stifle protected speech, yet none were charged under the Anti-Riot Act.

In fact, out of the 20 people arrested at the April 2017 Berkeley rally, only members of RAM were charged under the Anti-Riot Act. No charges were brought against any members of Antifa or BAMN. Judge Carney deemed this a clear case of viewpoint discrimination, stating, “The government cannot prosecute RAM members such as Defendants while ignoring the violence of members of Antifa and related far-left groups because RAM engaged in what the government and many believe is more offensive speech.”

Rundo and Boman had argued that they were attempting to protect a black man wearing a red hat who was being attacked by more than 10 Antifa agitators. The judge’s order included photographs of Antifa members engaging in violence at the same protest for which the defendants were charged. Reports from local police cited instances of left-wing protesters initiating fights at the pro-Trump rally.

Despite the dismissal of charges based on selective prosecution, an emergency appeal was immediately filed by prosecutors to the Ninth Circuit, leading to Rundo’s arrest and detention without bail. The appeals court expressed concerns that Rundo might attempt to flee through the southern border if not detained. As of February 23, lower courts have been prohibited from releasing Rundo while the government’s appeal is in process.