An activist who became popular for viral videos where he confronts people attacking or harassing marginalized groups has been arrested on suspicion of assault after the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department said an investigation revealed he and other people used violent tactics at several organized protests.

Edin Alex Enamorado, 36, was taken into custody Thursday, along with seven other people, after deputies served multiple warrants in a months-long investigation that started with a “brutal” assault at a protest in Victorville on Sept. 24, according to the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department. Soon, police agencies from Pomona, Upland and Fontana joined the investigation after similar assaults were reported within their jurisdiction, authorities said.

Enamorado, an Upland resident, is an activist who frequently produces viral social media videos where he highlights racism in communities or attacks on street vendors. At times, he provides security services to victims of these attacks or gathers large crowds of protesters to show up at the attackers’ homes to confront them. 

Enamorado has been active in Long Beach. He’s helped street vendors get certified food carts and rallied locals for demonstrations. In August, he gathered a large crowd outside a woman’s house in the 1600 block of Chestnut Avenue after he said a video showed her harassing a vendor. In the video, the crowd yells and shines lights at the woman’s house. She later apologized.

In a news conference Thursday, San Bernardino Sheriff Shannon Dicus said these types of videos are a dishonest representation of the threatening and violent behavior he attributed to Enamorado and seven other activists who were arrested as part of the operation.

“This group manipulates videos and photos on social media in an attempt to make them look like they’re protectors of underrepresented people,” Dicus said during a news conference Thursday. “However, they use racism to threaten and intimidate their victims, causing them to get on their knees to beg for forgiveness while still assaulting him.”

The sheriff’s department identified the other arrestees as Wendy Lujan, 40, of Upland; David Chavez, 28, of Riverside; Stephanie Amesquita, 33, of San Bernardino; Gullit Eder Acevedo, 30, of San Bernardino; Edwin Peña, 26, of Los Angeles; Fernando Lopez, 44, of Los Angeles; and Vanessa Carrasco, 40, of Ontario.

Additionally, authorities said they found evidence during the arrests to corroborate the allegations against Enamorado, though they did not say what that evidence was to “protect the integrity of the investigation at this time.”

An attorney representing all eight defendants was not immediately available for comment Friday. He previously called the allegations against Enamorado and the rest of the group “baseless.” In an interview with the Los Angeles Times, he said the arrests were retaliation for the group’s work as activists. 

Enamorado has previously described his work to the Long Beach Post as a form of spreading awareness and letting people in marginalized communities know they’re not alone. It’s also a way of letting others know harassment or racism in these communities is not acceptable, he said.

It’s unclear what charges the group will face, though authorities said assault with a deadly weapon, possession of a firearm by a felon, conspiracy, and false imprisonment were among the alleged crimes. Each activist remains jailed without bail until their arraignment Monday, according to the Los Angeles Times.