Two activists arrested in 2016 Sacramento riot ask for support from community to get felony assault charges dropped
On April 12, anti-fascist activist and organizer Yvette Felarca hosted a “Drop the Charges” event at the Student Community Center. Felarca’s goal was to gather community support for her campaign to get assault charges against her and two other anti-fascist protesters dropped in Sacramento court. The charges were issued after an incident in June 2016 at the California State Capitol where an estimated 300 anti-fascist protesters and 30 members of white nationalist groups Traditional Workers Party and the Golden State Skinheads clashed, leaving 10 injured.
The LGBTQIA Resource Center’s community coordinator and a fourth-year chemical engineering major MK Chan opened the event by welcoming attendees to the Student Community Center and explaining the purpose of the event, which was to go over Felarca’s motion to dismiss in an attempt to garner support for her hearing on April 20.
Felarca, a member of the Coalition to Defend Affirmative Action, Integration & Immigrant Rights and Fight for Equality By Any Means Necessary, thanked the approximately 20 people in attendance and had each person introduce themselves. Attendees included fellow protesters from the Davis and Sacramento areas as well as a few students and members of BAMN. She said that she hoped to persuade everyone in attendance to come to the hearing on April 20 and recruit them for BAMN.
Michael Williams, one of the other anti-fascist activists charged for felony assault in this case, was also in attendance. He and Felarca said that the case is important because their liberty is at stake, as conviction could see the protesters facing “real time.” They also mentioned the current political polarization in the country and how they feel it is important for people to make stand up against injustice.
“It is not a hyperbole to say that we are probably in the middle of a parallel of Germany in the 1930s with the rise of Hitler,” Felarca said. “We can draw lessons from the mistakes of those who did not stop those atrocities. We’re in that position [to change things] and we [BAMN] are willing to take on that responsibility.”
Felarca had attendees read the motion for the dismissal of the charges. She alleged that there is evidence of the Sacramento police and the District Attorney colluding with TWP, GSS and other “Nazi” groups that pitted them against the anti-fascist organizers. While discussing the evidence, Felarca told attendees to notice that many of the police reports were written long after the June riot and often by police officials who were not in attendance at the riot itself.
They also provided evidence that showed members of TWP and GSS holding knives in their hands that Felarca and her attorney believe were used to stab her and the nine other people injured in the riot.
“You don’t bring knives to something like this without intention to do something,” Felarca said.
Felarca drew attendees’ attention to various parts of the discovery that suggested collusion between the police department and the white nationalist groups, including a transcript of a phone call between a member of the Sacramento Police Department and a member of TWP, in which the officer said “We’re pretty much going after [BAMN leaders].”
Felarca told attendees it was very important for people to show up to the courthouse. She said that attendance has grown with each hearing, and a mobilization of public support “makes [the judge] nervous.”
Sacramento artist and activist Jim Prigoff said that it’s important to pack a diverse group of people into the courtroom because the judge needs to realize the importance of the case, echoing Felarca’s earlier statement about the times seeming like early Nazi Germany.
“This affects us all,” Prigoff said.
“We’ve got proof now that supremacist society governs how people are treated in the courts,” Williams said. “We need to get these people out of office.”
Felarca and Williams also talked about an increasing prevalence of white nationalism on the UC Davis campus. Felarca mentioned Richard Spencer, founder of the alt-right movement, who was interviewed by KDVS in February.
“To give air time and a platform to that person, that Nazi, just gives him a chance to try and recruit,” Felarca said.
She also said that whether or not the interview successfully recruited anyone, giving airtime to someone with “dangerous” views only serves to normalize white supremacist ideas.
Felarca and Williams said they were proud of UC Davis for shutting down the Milo Yiannopoulos event last January. Felarca also mentioned Jeremy Donohue, creator of the alt-right Youtube Channel “Weekly Narrative,” who she believes either lives in or works in Davis.
“Take [the white supremacists’] picture, document what they’ve done and organize a campaign,” Felarca said. “We can drive them underground.”
One of the anti-fascist protesters at the Sacramento riot, Steve Gerome-Wyatt, criticized UC President Janet Napolitano and the UC Davis administration for past actions toward student protesters. He accused the administration of intimidating students who participated in the most recent Mrak Hall sit-in, encouraging them to “fall in line” and threatening them with academic probation.
“The administration of this campus is now under the auspices of […] Napolitano who […] has come from the Department of Homeland Security, as one of their directors,” Gerome-Wyatt said. “To me it’s not surprising in the least that in the last two or three days that the student protesters at UC Davis — any student protesters — have been put on notice that ‘You step on a line, you’re going to suffer for it, so fall in line. We’re going to have sanctions against you. You want to protest at Mrak Hall? […] You’re not going to do that no more, ‘cause we’re going to go after you. We’re going to put you on student probation, if you screw up on that, you can be expelled.’”
Written by: Taylor LaPoint — firstname.lastname@example.org