A 32-year-old leftist activist is accused of punching an 80-year-old woman in the chest while she was rallying for President Donald Trump in Swampscott, Massachusetts, on Saturday.
But while Ernst Jean-Jacques, Jr., was charged with assault and battery on a person 60 years or older, the alleged victim admitted she was angry at the suspect for "gyrating in front of me" and tossed water on him in response, the Daily Item reported.
What are the details?
In video recorded at the event, Jean-Jacques Jr. — founder of the Freedom Fighters Coalition of 2020 — is seen across a barrier from the Trump supporters dancing to "It's Raining Men," which the Trump supporters had playing in the background.
At one point Jean-Jacques gives the finger to the Trump supporters:
Image source: YouTube screenshot, redacted
The alleged victim — Swampscott resident Linda Greenberg, the Daily Item said — was seen making her way through the crowd and approaching Jean-Jacques Jr. at another barrier.
Left to right, circled: Ernst Jean-Jacques, Jr., Linda GreenbergImage source: YouTube screenshot
Video appears to show Greenberg toss water on Jean-Jacques, after which he looks around and then appears to punch Greenberg.
Video shows Jean-Jacques' elbow cocked slightly, but his forward motion is obscured by others in the video, so it's not clear if he made contact with Greenberg. But the horrified reaction of others in the clip seems to reveal Greenberg sustained some pain.
Multiple police officers described Jean-Jacques as "punching" Greenberg after they witnessed "water propel from where Greenberg was standing," the paper said.
Image source: YouTube screenshot
Jean-Jacques left the scene after the apparent punch, but the Daily Item said police caught up with him and took him away in handcuffs.
But in the paper's follow-up story about Jean-Jacques' Monday arraignment, defense attorney Murat Erkan said Greenberg admitted to tossing water on Jean-Jacques in a police interview.
"I was drinking my water, and he was gyrating in front of me, and I was getting mad, and I did get water on him," Greenberg said in the interview, the Daily Item reported. "I don't want to lie."
The paper added that a bystander asked Greenberg if she agreed her conduct made her the aggressor, to which Greenberg replied, "Oh, why don't you f*** off ... You are not America, you are not America."
Swampscott MAGA-chusetts Freedom Rally! youtu.be
The Daily Item said Jean-Jacques was released on $550 bail bond and that Greenberg refused medical assistance.
Prosecutor Danielle Doherty-Wirwicz at the arraignment asked that Jean-Jacques be declared a dangerous person, be banished from Swampscott, and be prohibited from contact with elderly persons, the paper said. But Judge Matthew Nestor — who described the case as "disturbing" — denied the prosecutor's requests, the Daily Item added.
The defense also argued, based on the video and additional still images, that Jean-Jacques was "attempting to disarm Greenberg of the bottle" and that he used an "open hand" rather than a fist, the paper said.
More from the Daily Item:
Erkan also brought up images of 1960s Birmingham, Ala., when police sprayed water on peaceful black Civil Rights protesters, and implied that Greenberg's splashing water on Jean-Jacques dehumanized him in that same manner.
Judge Nestor disagreed with the analogy.
Erkan indicated that he was speaking with authorities and expected to request that Greenberg be charged with a hate crime.
The defense also said Jean-Jacques has no record of prior convictions and works at a senior center caring for adults with intellectual disabilities, the paper said, adding that a pretrial hearing is set for February 24, 2021.
Jean-Jacques noted on his Facebook page that the Boston Red Sox honored him in August as part of the team's "Hats Off to Heroes" ceremony that usually honors members of the military.
The letter to Jean-Jacques read: "This year, with everything that has been going on in the country, we got permission from the presenting sponsor John Hancock to expand the breadth of the program ... So far this year we have recognized front-line health workers, other essential workers, military, a [woman] who spent her life fighting for civil rights and social justice. On Aug. 28 we are going to recognize an activist and pillar of their community, and I would absolutely love it if we could highlight you, for all that you do for [the] city and in the fight against social injustice."