Yesterday, on the date their trial was set to begin, BAMN leader Yvette Felarca and two of her Antifa comrades pleaded “no contest” to a misdemeanor charge which will be wiped from their records in 18 months if they complete the required community service:
Nearly three and one-half years after a protest that led to three anti-fascist demonstrators charged with multiple felony counts, including riot and assault with a deadly weapon, the Sacramento County District Attorney office made them an offer they couldn’t refuse.
In short, the DA office threw in the proverbial towel.
On the day of their trial, Mike Williams of Woodland, Yvette Felarca of the Bay Area and Porfirio Paz of Long Beach pleaded no-contest Thursday to minor misdemeanor charges of “unlawful assembly” – and that charge will be completely dismissed in 18 months or less if they simply do community work with a local non-profit group. They also can’t attend any “protest” at the State Capitol for up to 18 months…
Felarca told about 40 supporters outside the courthouse that “we have to keep building this (anti-fascist) movement. If we all work, we can fight, and we can win.”
Felarca is right to declare victory after this result. She was caught on video assaulting someone, offered a laughable conspiracy defense and still got off with community service and a charge that won’t even be on her record for long:
“This is a victory,” said Felarca, a King Middle School teacher and controversial activist with By Any Means Necessary, in a phone interview Thursday afternoon. “Of course I’m relieved, it’s just been a long process and a struggle. I’m really so happy for all three of us. To me it’s a real affirmation of standing by your convictions.”
Thursday’s decision could conclude a case brought in the aftermath of a white-supremacist rally on the steps of the State Capitol in June 2016, which saw protests, stabbings and brawls. The Sacramento D.A. charged Felarca with felony assault, with lawyers showing a video in court seemingly depicting her hitting and yelling at an alleged neo-Nazi that day. Her case was one of the handful a few years ago that turned “Nazi punching” into a meme.
Notice Berkleyside is reporting she “seemingly” hit the neo-Nazi as if there’s some doubt. Felarca’s attorneys claimed that the video of the assault wasn’t reliable, though they couldn’t say why. They also claimed the entire prosecution was a politically motivated “witch hunt” based on Felarca’s opposition to President Trump.
Felarca’s attorneys had another strategy in this case aside from the “witch hunt” defense. They repeatedly sought delays, filing multiple requests for dismissal and later claiming conflicts and illnesses to keep the case from going to trial. One attorney was even overheard admitting that they would be “buried in the courtroom” if the case went to trial. Here’s how I summarized it back in September:
Throughout 2018 she tried to have the charges against her dismissed on the grounds that her prosecution was part of a “political witch hunt.” The first attempt to get a dismissal failed in May. Felarca’s attorneys filed a second request for dismissal which claimed the video showing Felarca punching a member of the Traditional Workers Party might be doctored.
A judge was supposed to rule on the 2nd request for dismissal on December 6th. While a reporter for Berkleyside was standing outside the courtroom he overheard attorneys for Felarca and the two other Antifa members discussing plans to file a 3rd request for dismissal and admitting they would get “buried” in a trial:
Speaking amongst themselves outside the courtroom, the defense attorneys indicated they would file a new dismissal motion that argues the case violates due process because it is politically motivated. If they instead continued on the same path to a trial, “Our bodies will get buried in that courtroom, if you ask me,” said attorney Linda Parisi to some of her colleagues and clients. This reporter, who has previously identified herself to several of the lawyers and defendants, was sitting nearby during the discussion. Other observers were also gathered in the hallway.
The Dec. 6 hearing was continued until Dec. 18th at which point one of Felarca’s lawyers, Shanta Driver, came down with the flu. The hearing was continued until late January. In February, Felarca’s attorneys asked for another delay, this time claiming they were close to a plea deal with prosecutors, but that deal never materialized.
In April, a judge finally set a trial date for July 15, 2019. That date was delayed until September because the attorneys involved claimed scheduling conflicts. Now it’s being delayed again for the same reason, though the attorneys are supposed to meet today to discuss when their schedules might finally clear up. How does 2022 look?
By any means necessary, I guess. Clearly the strategy was successful. That’s a shame because letting the leader of a violent political group get away with political violence only ensures there will be more to come. The prosecutors should have stuck with it and let Felarca’s attorneys make their absurd “witch hunt” defense at trial. If nothing else it would have been entertaining.
Here, for the 10th and hopefully last time, is the completely legitimate video of Felarca throwing punches: