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San Diego man with no criminal record faces life in prison for flashing gang signs on Facebook

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Aaron Harvey (YouTube)

A San Diego man with no criminal record is facing a possible life term in prison for flashing gang signs in some Facebook photos.

Aaron Harvey and 14 other men, including the rapper Tiny Doo, were charged under an obscure California law accusing them of conspiring with gang members who shot nine people in 2013 and early 2014.

Harvey and the rapper, whose real name is Brandon Duncan, are not directly tied to the shootings, but prosecutors are employing a 2000 conspiracy law that allows prosecution of gang members if they benefit from crimes by other gang members.

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Prosecutors say Duncan’s music sales were boosted by the shootings, but Harvey’s alleged gains are not easily quantified.

“They’re saying I benefited because my stature, my respect, went up,” Harvey said. “I didn’t even know I had any stature. I don’t understand how someone can benefit from something they don’t even know exists.”

Superior Court Judge David McGill recently dismissed charges against some of the defendants in the case, finding that prosecutors failed to prove the men willfully benefited from the shootings.

Attorneys for Harvey and Duncan will ask the judge to dismiss their charges in a hearing set for March 16, and about 75 people rallied Friday before a court hearing the case at San Diego County Courthouse.

“If the district attorney wins this case, and I am convicted of crimes I didn’t commit or have any knowledge of, not only will my life change forever, but so may the lives of every young person who had been wrongly documented as a member of a gang,” Harvey said.

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Harvey was entered into the state’s CALGANG database at some point during one of the 50 times he says he was stopped by police, although he’s never been convicted of a crime.

Much of the evidence tying Harvey to the Lincoln Park gang came from social media, such as Facebook posts showing him making hand gestures associated with the gang or photos of him alongside other gang members from his neighborhood.

“It’s not a guessing game — they’ve made it as obvious as they possibly could,” said Dana Greisen, head of the district attorney’s gang prosecution unit. “The social media stuff is in our face, in their rivals’ faces in no uncertain terms.”

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Legal experts say the Section 182.5 conspiracy law, which carries a possible life prison term, is constitutional – but it’s “unbelievably tough.”

“This is as draconian a conspiracy law as you’ll see anywhere in the United States,” said Robert Weisberg, a professor at Stanford Law School.

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Harvey, who moved to Las Vegas in 2013 and worked as a club promoter while studying to become a Realtor, is set to stand trial April 20 if his charges aren’t dismissed.

“This is not the American justice system,” said his lawyer, Edward Kinsey. “We attach personal liability to things. You’re not guilty by mere association or mere membership — it’s just wrong. If they can get away with this, I fear for our future as free citizens.”

Watch Harvey discuss his interactions with police in this video posted online by Nadin Abbott, editor of Reporting San Diego:

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Rosh Hashanah services interrupted by death of the first Jewish woman on the Supreme Court

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The death of the first Jewish woman on the U.S. Supreme Court interrupted Rosh Hashanah services on Friday evening.

"On Friday, Jewish people around the country celebrating Rosh Hashanah were stunned to learn that Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, a prominent member of their own tribe, had died," the HuffPost reported. "People received alerts, Zoom messages and announcements from their rabbis about Ginsburg Friday night."

While many people were saddened by the passing of the iconic jurist, Twitter user Leora Horwitz noted a silver lining.

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2020 Election

‘Big mistake’: Trump’s favorite pollster tells Fox News why Republicans shouldn’t push nomination before the election

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Fox News on Friday examined why it would be a "big mistake" for Republicans to attempt to force through a nominee to replace Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg on the Supreme Court.

Following Ginsburg's death, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) vowed that Trump's nominee would receive a vote, but did not specify whether it would occur before the election or during the "lame duck" session of Congress that occurs before the 2020 election victors are sworn in.

But conservative pollster Scott Rasmussen warned Republicans it would be a bad idea during an appearance with Fox News personality Laura Ingraham.

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LISTEN: Mourners sing ‘Amazing Grace’ outside the Supreme Court to celebrate Ruth Bader Ginsburg

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Heartwarming videos were shared on social media on Friday night showing the spontaneous gathering at the Supreme Court following the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

The large crowd, with many people wearing masks, sang the hymn "Amazing Grace."

Here are some of the videos of the scene:

A moving moments as dozens join in to sing “Amazing Grace” on the steps of the Supreme Court. pic.twitter.com/NGZyZi4YR4

— Mike Balsamo (@MikeBalsamo1) September 19, 2020

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