SACRAMENTO (KPIX 5) — A Berkeley teacher says assault charges against her should be dropped.
She was in court today for her role in a riot that broke out at the state capitol.
Yvette Felarca was caught on video punching a neo-Nazi demonstrator. But she says, standing up to fascism should not be a crime.
Outside the courtroom, a small crowd rallied in support of the Berkeley schoolteacher.
“What do we want? Drop the charges. When do we want it? Now,” they chanted.
The charges stem from a June 2016 fight at the state capitol.
Felarca’s group, By Any Means Necessary, was protesting against a white nationalist group.
A video shows Felarca repeatedly punching a man.
The man had both hands up, walking to a line of police officers for help.
Felarca and others dragged the man down and kicked him.
Prosecutors charged Felarca with one count of felony assault and two misdemeanor counts of inciting and participating in a riot.
Felarca is facing three charges and said, “These charges against me are false. They should be dropped.”
She gave a short statement, but did not answer any questions.
Felarca said, “Standing up against fascism and the rise of Nazism and fascism in this country is not a crime. We have the right to defend ourselves.”
Her attorney blames police for not stepping in earlier to keep the peace.
Felarca’s attorney Shanta Driver said, “I think anyone has the right to self-defense. I think what’s shown in that video is partial and incomplete.”
But some people who have seen the video say that’s nonsense.
Keith Campbell with Common Sense Conservative Media Group said, “Crazy…travesty of justice if they drop the charges.”
Felarca is scheduled to teach at her Berkeley Middle School at the end of the month.
The school legally cannot fire her unless she is convicted of a felony.