Yvette Felarca, leader of the Antifa group By Any Means Necessary, had her arraignment delayed today until next month. Her attorney Shanta Driver told Courthouse News that she and the prosecutors were close to reaching a plea deal:
The trio appeared in court for their scheduled arraignment hearing on a stormy day in downtown Sacramento on Wednesday, with approximately a dozen family and friends in attendance. Superior Court Judge Steven Howell accepted the parties’ request to postpone arraignment until March 6 to continue negotiations.
Following the short hearing, Driver told Courthouse News the defendants and the DA’s office are “relatively close” to reaching some sort of plea deal. She also told the small gathering of supporters that there is still a chance that the charges could be dismissed altogether before the arraignment hearing in wake of a recent decision in the case against the lone white supremacist implicated in the protest.
Last week, Judge Stacy Boulware Eurie declared a mistrial in the case against William Scott Planer, who was accused of striking someone with an object during the event. After several rounds of deliberations, the jury deadlocked 8-4 to convict Planer. He could be retried.
Driver believes the DA would be taking an unnecessary risk by continuing to pursue the Sacramento 3 in light of Planer’s mistrial.
“I don’t think they can get a unanimous decision,” Driver said. “To convict a teacher who got stabbed in the head, I don’t know.”
Felarca has been facing a felony charge of battery and a misdemeanor charge of rioting. In her case, there’s no doubt about what actually happened because the incident in question was caught on video (see below). But Felarca’s attorney has been making the novel argument that the video is not “authenticated” and might even be doctored though she hasn’t provided any evidence to support that claim. Her attorney has also asked the judge to dismiss charges against Felarca at least twice on the grounds that she is a victim of a “political witch hunt.” A judge refused to dismiss the case stating, “Simply nothing in these exhibits supports the defendants’ claims…that they were unjustly or unfairly culled out.”
Finally, her attorney has also argued (slightly more reasonably) that Felarca shouldn’t be facing a felony battery charge because she was physically incapable of doing “great bodily harm” to the person she was filmed punching. Berkleyside reported last month that the Deputy DA has argued Felarca did more than throw punches, she also delivered the victim to a mob of other Antifa members who beat him on the ground:
“There’s no showing that Mr. Walker was ever injured in a way that could rise to ‘great bodily injury,’” as alleged, she said. Felarca “looks like she’s about half his size.”
[Deputy DA Paris] Coleman said he agreed that Walker was probably not seriously injured, but said Felarca intended to hurt him.
“Ms. Felarca grabbed his backpack and dragged him back to the people who were waiting,” he said. “Did the initial punching constitute felony battery? I don’t think so, itself. And the pulling on the backpack? No. But pulling the backpack towards the crowd, where she knew people were waiting…”
Felarca’s Antifa comrades have been showing up to all her hearings to make their support known:
Both court dates, and previous hearings, drew a packed room of supporters for the teacher. In some cases, they rallied outside the courthouse, holding signs that criticized President Donald Trump and said, “Defend Yvette Felarca! Stop neo-Nazis! It’s now or never!” Throughout the hearings, court staff and the judge often admonished the chatty group, telling them to quiet down.
If Felarca is convicted, her future with Berkeley Unified will be uncertain. Information on the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing website indicates a felony assault conviction could result in revocation of a credential, but a spokesperson could not be reached for confirmation.
I suspect the felony charge will be dropped to a misdemeanor of some sort, partly because Felarca’s comrades are applying pressure and partly because, if she’s convicted of the felony count, she would almost certainly lose her job as a Middle School teacher. Why we want a violent extremist to continue teaching kids is beyond me but if there’s a plea deal then it almost certainly means lesser charges in exchange for ending this circus of delays and accusations against the police and prosecutors. Here’s one of the protests from last May:
Supporters of Berkeley teacher Yvette Felarca and co-defendants rallying in Sacramento before a hearing on their felony charges from a 2016 neo-Nazi demo & counter-protest pic.twitter.com/EnZ0TjSZu3
— Berkeleyside (@berkeleyside) May 4, 2018
And finally, for perhaps the 5th time, here is the video of Felarca attacking a man in the street and her goon squad taking him down and beating him before police stepped in. If the judge gives her a pass on this behavior he should expect to see more of the same from her and her comrades in the future.