A petition started three weeks ago by Berkeley resident Robert Jacobsen to fire a Berkeley Unified School District teacher who possibly took violent action during a white nationalist rally has since received more than 500 signatures.
If the petition receives 1,000 signatures, a letter will be sent to Donald Evans, BUSD superintendent, and Beatriz Leyva-Cutler, president of BUSD, asking to terminate Martin Luther King Jr. Middle School teacher Yvette Felarca’s employment. Jacobsen, who is a graduate of MLK Jr. Middle School, argued in the petition that Felarca is unfit to be a teacher in light of her actions.
Felarca organized and was part of a counterprotest to a white nationalist rally in Sacramento and supposedly appeared on video punching a man. Felarca is a humanities teacher and UC Berkeley graduate as well as a national organizer for the activist group By Any Means Necessary, or BAMN, which supported the counter-protest.
“Someone who does not believe in free speech should not teach kids about their constitutional rights,” Jacobsen said in the petition.
Jacobsen added that as part of BAMN, Felarca has been involved in numerous violent situations and that these repeated actions should be further ground to consider firing her. BAMN describes itself as a “coalition to defend affirmative action, integration and immigrant rights and fight for equality by any means necessary” and has been involved in numerous campus demonstrations such as efforts to indict Omar Pedroza and support Alexander Coward’s employment.
Various Berkeley community members also commented on the petition, stating that Felarca has “violated the public trust” and that teachers should not be violent. Sara Sloan, a parent of a Martin Luther King Jr. Middle School student, commented on the petition that she is concerned about the meaning of Felarca’s actions and would like to see Felarca put on probation at the very least.
“I don’t care if they’re fascists, as Americans they have a right to free speech,” Jacobsen said, referencing the white nationalist rally. “Assaulting people for their political views is undemocratic, un-American, and unacceptable.”