Judge denies request to drop felony charges against Berkeley teacher, activist Yvette Felarca

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Daniel Kim/File

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Sacramento County Superior Court Judge Michael Savage moved forward the felony case against activist and Berkeley Unified School District middle school teacher Yvette Felarca and two other activists, denying requests from Felarca’s lawyer to drop the charges.

Charges against Felarca include a felony charge of assault with force likely to produce great bodily injury and two misdemeanor charges of rioting and inciting a riot. These charges originated from protests against a 2016 neo-Nazi rally, which was organized by members of two white supremacist groups, the Traditionalist Worker Party, or TWP, and the Golden State Skinheads, or GSS.

Felarca, also a member of By Any Means Necessary, or BAMN, a anti-fascist group, said the charges were discriminatory.

“These charges should be dropped,” Felarca said. “They’re completely false and politically motivated.”

The assault charge was filed after a video surfaced of Felarca punching Nigel Walker, a member of the TWP. Many others also claimed injury, and Felarca herself came away with stab wounds that resulted in 24 stitches in her head and arm, according to the dismissal motion.

“I think the judge’s decision was politically motivated; I don’t think it was valid,” said Shanta Driver, Felarca’s lawyer. “I think that this decision is regarded by all as being really outrageous.”

Felarca’s lawyers argued that the California Highway Patrol, or CHP — which granted the TWP permits to hold a rally and Sacramento County District Attorney’s office “covered-up for and colluded with the fascists” and that the charges amount to a “witch-hunt” against Felarca, according to the motion to dismiss.

“In the aftermath, the California Highway Patrol and Sacramento District Attorney have done nothing to prosecute the fascists who attempted to murder people in Sacramento,” the motion to dismiss read.

The motion to dismiss said the agencies participated in a “cover-up” by “interrogating and harassing” the counterprotesters while they were still in the hospital. The police did not attempt to pursue charges against the neo-Nazis, the motion said, despite evidence that they were armed with knives.

The prosecutor argued that there was no basis to dismiss these charges, saying that the fact that others had not been charged with crimes did not exempt Felarca from prosecution.

“Even if the extraordinary allegations of bias and collusion posited by the defense in their motion to dismiss were true, and they are not, they would have no bearing on the guilt or innocence of the defendants currently before the court,” read the DA’s opposition to the motion.

Savage’s office declined to comment, as the case is still active and will continue with a preliminary hearing May 18.

“We completely disagree with the judge’s decision,” Felarca said. “We’re committed to continuing to fight this out.”

Contact Madeleine Gregory at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @mgregory_dc.