But Anti-Fascists Arrested after Capitol Clash Must Wait to Argue Innocence
By Crescenzo Vellucci
A highly-anticipated court hearing to dismiss all charges against three anti-fascist protestors arrested after a clash with purported “fascists” at the State Capitol on June 26, 2016, has been postponed here in Sacramento Superior Court.
But a “people’s tribunal” has already found Sacramento District Attorney Anne Marie Schubert and the California Highway Patrol guilty of “collusion” with fascist elements to target anti-fascist activists.
The hearing late Friday to hear the motion to dismiss by defendants Mike Williams of Woodland, Yvette Felarca of Berkeley and Porfirio Paz of Southern California – all arrested on felonies stemming from a Capitol counter-protest of a Capitol rally by the Traditional Workers Party – was continued until April 20, with a preliminary trial May 18.
“The court today may not be willing to rule on the motion, but that motion is compelling proof that in a popularity contest between anti-fascists and fascists, the CHP and DA chose the fascists as clear winners,” said Mark Reichel, a pro bono attorney brought in by the National Lawyers Guild/Sacramento Chapter to represent Paz.
When the judge asked why there nearly 100 people in court, another NLG attorney, Linda Parisi, who represents Williams, volunteered to the court: “they are here to support the constitutional principles and free speech rights of the defendants.”
Despite the delay Friday, the CHP and DA Schubert were found “guilty” in a 30-member People’s Tribunal earlier. After hearing evidence – largely the motion to dismiss – the DA and CHP were deemed guilty of “collusion with Nazis,” and engaging in a “witchhunt” targeting anti-racist protestors. The Tribunal urged the DA to drop all charges against the anti-fascists.
Woodland’s Mike Williams, one of the three defendants, told about 100 court supporters, “This is our country. We need to stop these white supremacists.”
Felarca insisted that if it had not been for Sacramento’s fascist experience, where nearly 200 visible CHP and Sacramento Police Department officers – on the ground, Capitol roof, on bikes and horses – apparently failed to respond to the armed fascist protestors, “Charlottesville and the death of a young woman would not have happened just weeks after anti-fascists were arrested in Sacramento.
“Our arrests here emboldened fascists to do what they did in Charlottesville…but now, we have the goods on them (the CHP, as the arresting agency, and the district attorney),” she said.
Felarca’s lawyers presented evidence that they claim proves the “three defendants’ rights are being violated,” charging “evidence and analysis of the witch-hunt targeting anti-fascist and anti-racist protesters Felarca, Paz, and Williams.”
Their evidence is in a 103-page packet presented to the People’s Tribunal, including the motion to dismiss filed with the court.
“If the prosecution of Felarca, Paz, and Williams proceeds, then Donald Trump will have already achieved one of his central aims: the substitution of authoritarianism for constitutional due process rights and democratic norms…A policy of naked state discrimination and persecution of racial minorities and left-wing political activists would be a fact and reality. The rule of law would be replaced by tyranny,” said the motion.
Lawyers who crafted the motion were not shy, indicting the Sacramento DA and CHP.
“The California Highway Patrol and Sacramento District Attorney covered-up for and colluded with the fascists and are carrying out a political witch-hunt against Felarca and other anti-fascist protesters, in violation of their right to freedom of speech and association and their right to equal protection under the law (1st and 14th Amendments). The criminal charges brought against Felarca, Paz, and Williams are a political witch-hunt and constitute discrimination based on political viewpoint and race in violation of the First and Fourteenth Amendments,” the motion states.
At the Tribunal, Felarca, acting as, in effect, the lead prosecutor, explained that “the victims (she and the other defendants) are the ones facing charges, not the fascists,” who she suggested are being protected possibly because they are “informants or agents or assets to law enforcement.”
Felarca – who sustained a concussion and received 24 stitches after she was attacked – cited sections of the CHP evidence against her that recounted how the CHP promised to protect the Traditional Workers Party member who obtained the permit for the fateful Capitol rally. CHP officers on an audio recording said they would “redact” his name from those filing public records requests to protect him.
The permit holder, in fact, is caught on video and/or photographs making stabbing motions with a knife on Capitol grounds. Park rules are very strict – prohibiting sticks on signs, drumsticks, and even carrying a sign without a permit. Despite photographic evidence, only one TWP activist was arrested. And it was not the knife wielder.
The CHP had photographs of fascists with weapons, “but those fascists were not arrested. Many cops are either fascist sympathizers or fascists themselves,” said Felarca, an elementary school teacher.
The Tribunal noted that two Black men stabbed and hospitalized for up to two weeks were nearly arrested themselves, even though they were not the aggressors. One was a photographer. The CHP noted the two had given a “clenched fist salute,” and suggested they must be radicals because of it, said Felarca.
“This is classic red-baiting. These are not police reports but political dossiers,” claimed defense lawyers, who explained, “It was and is widely known that (white power groups) came to the Capitol grounds on June 26, 2016 armed with knives and stabbed at least seven anti-fascist demonstrators, all but one black, Latina/o and Asian anti-fascists.”
“The police and DA’s policy of allowing Nazis to get away with attempted murder in Sacramento and pursuing charges against the anti-racists who stood up to them set the stage for the lynch-mobs and murder in Charlottesville a year later. The blood of Heather Heyer is on the hands of the California Highway Patrol, the Sacramento Police, and DA Schubert,” according to the motion to dismiss.
“The CHP and the DA’s cover-up and collusion with the fascists in Sacramento sent a message to (Traditionalist Workers Party) TWP leader Matthew Heimbach, the main organizer of the Sacramento demonstration as well as a central organizer and participant in the August 11-12, 2017 ‘Unite the Right’ rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, that he and his racist thugs could commit murder in broad daylight and get away with it.
“(By) allowing the fascists to get away with their attack at the State Capitol in 2016, (it) set off a chain of events that began with the near-murders in Sacramento and ended with the murder of Heather Heyer in Charlottesville,” according to the motion to dismiss.
The filed motion suggests there is no real evidence against Felarca – a claim repeatedly made by Reichel and Parisi of the National Lawyers Guild – and that discovery presented consists primarily of video, pictures and documents “apparently copied from neo-fascist and alt-right Facebook pages and blogs, reports of decades-old political activities of Felarca in defense of women’s rights, reports on her union organizing, her lawsuit against Berkeley Unified School District (BUSD), and her activity in filing a union grievance as a site representative at Martin Luther King Middle School—documents that all point to the political targeting of Felarca.
“In the aftermath, the California Highway Patrol (CHP) and Sacramento District Attorney (DA) have done nothing to prosecute the fascists who attempted to murder people in Sacramento. The cover-up began immediately, with police interrogating and harassing injured counter protesters in their hospital beds while doing nothing to pursue charges against the Nazis who had stabbed them. The police released unsubstantiated public statements blaming anti-fascist protesters within twenty-four hours,” according to the motion to dismiss.
In a statement released this week, supporters said:
“On June 26, 2016 white supremacist supporters of Donald Trump came to the state capitol in Sacramento armed with knives, homemade spears, and clubs. These fascist scum were affiliated with the violent Nazi organizations Traditionalist Workers Party and Golden State Skinheads. They stabbed and attempted to murder unarmed black, Latina/o, Asian, Arab, and white anti-racist and anti-fascist counter-protesters.
“The 133 police who were present on the ground stood by and did nothing protect the counter-protesters or to stop the Nazi assault. At least 7 anti-racists were hospitalized for stab wounds, head injuries, and fractured bones, with some requiring invasive surgery as a result of the Nazi attack. But instead of arresting the racists, the police and District Attorney Anne Marie Schubert have scapegoated 3 anti-racist and anti-fascists fighters with fabricated felony and misdemeanor charges: Yvette Felarca, Mike Williams, and Porfirio Paz.”
Supporters said defendants have “ample evidence of the police collusion with the Nazis,” insisting that “police have the names and pictures of every white nationalist with their knife out on the capital grounds on the day of the protest yet arrested none of them. Despite a mountain of paperwork, they submit as evidence against the anti-racist defendants, they included not a single police reports or police video footage written or filmed on the day.”
Defendants’ supporters lay part of the blame on Pres. Trump and his reported “racist rhetoric” that has, according to some, empowered and enabled racist elements, saying: “Trump is capable of creating a tyrannical authoritarian regime. Every day brings a new example of Trump’s assault on democracy: arresting and terrorizing immigrants and Muslims, empowering police to target and brutalize black and Latina/o communities, encouraging the rape and sexual assault of women and active discrimination against LGBT people, and obstructing justice…the groups that call themselves Nazi, KKK, neo-Confederates are the equivalent to the fascists who followed Mussolini in Italy and Hitler in Germany.”