Gallery: Rally for activist Carlos Montes at LA court
LOS ANGELES - Protesters gathered outside the Clara Shortridge Foltz Criminal Justice Center Tuesday to rally in support of Carlos Montes, a longtime Chicano activist who was set to begin the first day of his criminal trial.
Judge Patricia Schnegg postponed Montes' trial until June 20.
Montes, 64, faces up to five years for charges stemming from a raid in May 2011 of his home by FBI and L.A. Sheriff's SWAT team. He faces one count of possession of a firearm by a felon, one count possession of ammunition and two counts of perjury for lying
Montes says, however, that the charges stem from his outspoken criticism of the U.S. government and its foreign wars.
"I am being targeted because of my 42 years of activism in L.A. and my solidarity work," said Montes, who co-founded Chicano youth organization the Brown Berets in the 1960s and L.A. Latinos Against War in 2006.
Montes' lawyer Jorge Gonzalez said Tuesday that two of Montes' original four perjury charges have recently been dropped, though the District Attorney's Office could not immediately confirm that information.
He said he and district attorney prosecutor postponed the trial because a key witness is out of the country. He said he hopes new evidence from that witness will prompt Cooley to drop the charges against Montes without having to go to trial.
"(Not going to trial) is a very real possibility," Gonzalez said. "And it's seldom that the D.A.'s Office will just say we are searching for the truth and whatever it is we stand by it
"It's not only him but its representing many activists that are asking for peace ... in this world," she said. "Today is to keep our legal right to protest."