By Crescenzo Vellucci
Vanguard Court Watch
SACRAMENTO – A long-awaited preliminary trial for three anti-fascists – all facing charges stemming from a riot at the State Capitol in June of 2016 that left at least five anti-fascists injured and hospitalized – was postponed Friday here in Sacramento Superior Court. The new court date is Oct. 12.
Meanwhile, the only self-described Nazi charged in the melee – William Planer of Sacramento – will be put on trial Sept. 11 after a brief hearing this week. Planer, the only Nazi sympathizer charged although all of those stabbed were anti-fascists, remains in Sacramento County Jail on $600,000 bail on assault and rioting charges. A pre-trial hearing is July 31.
The anti-fascists charged, including Michael Williams of Woodland, Porfirio Paz and Yvonne Felarca, lost a May hearing in which their lawyers asked the court to dismiss all charges. They are all free on bail. Their lawyers – Ronald Cruz, Linda Parisi and Mark Reichel – appeared on their behalf Friday.
The court did agree to $50,000 warrants for prosecution witnesses Nigel Walker and Duncan MacKenzie who failed to appear. However, the warrants will be held until the next court date and not enforced.
The prosecution has been bizarre – the California Highway Patrol and Sacramento County District Attorney’s Office didn’t file charges until nearly a year after the Capitol riot. The CHP took heat from lawmakers and observers for not making arrests the day of the protests and injuries, despite being part of a combined police force of more than 150 officers.
Legal observers said the CHP and Sacramento City Police just watched the chaos happen, and did nothing to stop the clash between the Traditionalist Worker Party/Golden State Skinheads and anti-fascists groups.
Months ago, a “people’s tribunal” found Sacramento District Attorney Anne Marie Schubert and the California Highway Patrol guilty of “collusion” with fascist elements to target anti-fascist activists.
The 30-member People’s Tribunal determined, after hearing evidence – which was largely the motion to dismiss, that the DA and CHP were guilty of “collusion with Nazi’s,” and engaging in a “witchhunt” targeting anti-racist protestors. The Tribunal urged the DA to drop all charges against the anti-fascists.
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, which we are convinced would not have happened had it not been for the failure to indict the fascists who attacked us in Sacramento…but now, we have the goods on them (the CHP, as the arresting agency, and the district attorney),” she said.
The dismissal motion claimed the three defendants’ rights are being violated,” charging that “evidence and analysis of the witchhunt targeting anti-fascist and anti-racist protesters Felarca, Paz, and Williams.
“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,” the motion asserted.
Lawyers who crafted the motion are not shy in 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 to 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 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 Nazi’s 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 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.