The middle school teacher who was filmed repeatedly punching a neo-Nazi demonstrator at a 2016 protest claims standing up to fascists shouldn’t be against the law. “Standing up against fascism and the rise of Nazism and fascism in this country is not a crime,” Yvette Felarca told San Francisco’s KPIX outside court last week. “We have the right to defend ourselves.”
Felarca teached humanities at Martin Luther King Jr. Middle School in Berkeley, California. She is also a member of the activist group By Any Means Necessary (BAMN), which describes itself on its website as “a mass, democratic, integrated, national organization dedicated to building a new mass civil rights movement to defend affirmative action, integration, and the other gains of the civil rights movement of the 1960s and to advance the struggle for equality in American society by any means necessary.”
In June of 2016, Felarca travelled with BAMN to Sacramento to protest a march by the Traditionalist Workers party (TWP), whom the Southern Poverty Law Center characterizes as a white nationalist group. There she was filmed confronting a taller man carrying a sign before punching him several times. The Guardian reported at the time that the march and country protest resulted in ten people being taken to hospitals with injuries, including two with critical stab wounds.
The Daily News reports Felarca was arrested following an eight-month investigation, and charged with one count of felony assault and two misdemeanor counts of inciting and participating in a riot. At her arraignment on August 10, she said: “These charges against me are false. They should be dropped.”
Felarca’s attorney Shanta Driver says police should have stepped in sooner to prevent the confrontation, and said that “anyone has the right to self-defense.” She also claims what’s shown in that video is partial and incomplete. Felarca is due back at school to begin teaching at the end of the month. Her next scheduled court date is Oct. 4.