SANTA ANA (CNS) - A 48-year-old Newport Beach man faces misdemeanor charges of brandishing a gun during a Black Lives Matter protest in Newport Beach in June.
Travis Patrick White was charged Thursday with brandishing a firearm in public and possession of a loaded firearm in a public place. He could face up to two years in jail.
White is scheduled to be arraigned Oct. 20 in the Harbor Justice Center in Newport Beach.
He yelled at Black Lives Matter protesters at a June 4 demonstration, exchanging words with an activist who confronted him about alleged slurs he was making, according to the Orange County District Attorney's Office. White pulled a loaded gun from his backpack, cocked and pointed it toward the sky, prosecutors alleged.
“It is scary that someone who disagrees with your right to express yourself freely during a peaceful protest would elevate that to the level of lethal force,'' said Orange County District Attorney Todd Spitzer. “That should cause all of us alarm.''
Spitzer added, “This individual brought a gun to a peaceful protest. He was looking for a confrontation, and when confronted with opinions that he disagrees with, he pulled out his gun. That is not the America we want, and those actions will not be tolerated. The freedom of speech and the right to peacefully protest are rights afforded to all Americans, and the Orange County District Attorney's Office will always protect the public's right to be heard.''
White's attorney, Mark Fredrick, said his client was acting in self-defense, and videos that surfaced on social media at the time will prove his case.
“Anybody who watched that video knows that at the time Mr. White pulled a firearm from his backpack his life was in danger,'' Fredrick said. “It is a self-defense case.''
White was being “chased'' by protesters he exchanged words with, Fredrick said.
“He was about to be badly beaten by these people,'' Fredrick said.
One of White's pursuers did a television news interview claiming he intended to attack White, Fredrick said.
“Mr. White never pointed the firearm at anybody,'' Fredrick said. “He pulled it out of his backpack and pointed it straight in the air. No matter what he said they don't have a legal right to chase him down.''