A Berkeley teacher and activist who was arrested with two others in last June's bloody clash between neo-Nazis and anti-fascist counter-demonstrators at the state Capitol faced a Sacramento judge for the first time on assault charges in the case.
Yvette Felarca, arraigned on suspicion of assault, stood alongside fellow defendants Michael Williams and Porfirio Paz, all freed on bail, in a jailhouse courtroom filled with their supporters.
The three will return on Oct. 4 to Sacramento Superior Court. Following the brief hearing, Felarca’s attorney, Shanta Driver, criticized Felarca's charges as “baseless” and “an attack against those who stand up against fascism and racism.”
Outside Sacramento County Main Jail, more than 20 chanting and drumming demonstrators protested the proceedings, shouting “Fighting racism is not a crime” and “We won’t stand for Nazi violence.”
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Inside, security was visibly heightened, with Sacramento County sheriff's deputies flanking the corridors and overseeing visiting Sacramento Superior Court Judge Gregory Haas’ courtroom.
The June 2016 rally of members of the Traditionalist Worker Party in the shadow of the state Capitol soon devolved into violence when members clashed with Antifa, or anti-fascist demonstrators. Ten people were injured, with at least five stabbed in the violent confrontation.
William Planer, a member of the Traditionalist Worker Party, was arrested in July in Colorado for his role in the riot and is awaiting a California court appearance.
Attorneys for Felarca, Williams and Paz say they were acting in self-defense and have criticized both the response of California Highway Patrol to the rioting and local authorities, who took a year to bring charges against the three despite an abundance of video and photos of the violent event. The Sacramento County District Attorney’s Office said Highway Patrol investigators spent months reviewing video footage, interviewing witnesses and attempting to identify those involved.