Felarca redux: justice at last?

Yvette Felarca in her element

We first reported on Yvette Felarca on April 17. She’s a leader of By Any Means Necessary (BAMN), a gang of Trotskyite thugs – and associates of the Revolutionary Communist Party – who keep themselves busy by rallying, rioting, brawling, making noise, setting fires, breaking stuff, and, on occasion, engaging in activities that both the FBI and Defense Department have labeled acts of terrorism. She’s also a teacher at the Martin Luther King, Jr., Middle School in the Berkeley Unified School District (BUSD) in Berkeley, California.

What’s a radical without a bullhorn?

In June 2016, when white supremacists held a rally outside the California State Capitol in Sacramento, Felarca took part in a mass counter-protest that sent ten people to the hospital with stab wounds and led to over 200 arrests. According to media reports, Felarca herself “shoved a man to the ground,” punched a man in the stomach, and yelled “Get the fuck off our streets.” She was arrested, and outraged parents of kids at her school called for her dismissal, but of course the school kept her on, with a BUSD spokesman explaining, “We don’t have any authority or business to judge what an employee does in her off time.”

Milo Yiannopoulos: genocidal lynch-mob racist?

So Felarca kept her Berkeley job. If anyone hoped she had learned a lesson from the parental complaints, that hope was dashed in February of last year when she and other BAMN members rioted and rampaged in Berkeley itself. Their goal was to shut down a planned speech by conservative Milo Yiannopoulos, whom they accused of trying “to shut up and put in our places women or Muslims or minorities” and “trying to assert their power, threaten us, intimidate us, rape us, kill us.”

In reality, Yiannopoulos is just a man with opinions who goes around giving speeches. He does not commit acts of violence. So far as we know, he has never threatened anyone or raised his hand against anyone, let alone tried to rape or kill. Felarca and her crew are the ones who act like savages. And that’s what they did in Berkeley that day – they destroyed property, threw stuff at cops, and, in fact, ultimately forced the cancellation of Yiannopoulos’s speech.

Jesse Arreguín, mayor of Berkeley and BAMN member

But Felarca still kept her job.

For anyone who knows Berkeley, the refusal of local officials to fire this dangerous Communist firebrand was not really all that surprising. As it turned out, indeed, the mayor of Berkeley himself, Jesse Arreguín, is a member of BAMN and a friend of Felarca’s.

Shortly after her big day in Berkeley, Felarca appeared on Tucker Carlson’s Fox News program. On the show, she charged Yiannopoulos, a gay man (who, as it happens, is now married to a black man), with telling “racist, misogynistic, and homophobic lies,” with organizing “a movement of genocide,” and with stirring up a “lynch mob mentality.”

Felarca herself routinely commits actual violence, but here she was raising the spectre of lynching and genocide in her attacks on a man whose only weapon is his voice. In an apparent call for the suspension of the First Amendment, she insisted that Yiannapoulos needed to be “shut down.”

More on Thursday.

Catching up with Yvette Felarca, fascist “anti-fascist”

Yvette Felarca

In April, we spent most of a week here discussing Yvette Felarca, a leader of “The Coalition to Defend Affirmative Action, Integration & Immigrant Rights, and Fight for Equality By Any Means Necessary,” known, for short, as “By Any Means Necessary,” and, for shorter, as BAMN. It’s a California group, founded in 1995, that has spent the last two decades holding protests, bringing lawsuits, and committing acts of violence – or, to use a word that both the FBI and the Defense Department have used to describe its activities, terrorism.

Felarca, who is also a middle-school humanities teacher in Berkeley, has participated fully in BAMN’s storm-trooper-type brutality – beating, rock-throwing, setting fires, breaking store windows, and so on – which she excuses as a legitimate means of defending America against the words of Nazis and fascists.

In June of last year, she was arrested at a demonstration in Sacramento; at her arraignment, which didn’t take place until August of this year, she was charged with “felony assault by means of force likely to inflict great bodily injury and two misdemeanor counts of inciting and participating in a riot.” (Reportedly, she had punched a man in the abdomen and told him to “get the fuck out of our streets.”)

This past February, Felarca was in the center of the action when vioent BAMN members managed to keep journalist Milo Yiannopoulos from speaking at UC Berkeley. Appearing on Fox News afterwards, Felarca charged Yiannopoulos with leading “a movement of genocide.”

Felarca experienced no professional blowback for her arrest in Sacramento or for her participation in the violence in Berkeley. At the latter event, the Berkeley police stood down. The mayor of Berkeley, asked for a comment, echoed Felarca’s absurd claim that Yiannopoulos was a white supremacist. Despite calls for Felarca’s firing, the Berkeley Unified School District (BUSD) kept her on. So things stood when we last looked in on Yvette.

Felarca being taken into custody on September 26

Here’s an update. On September 26, members of “Patriot Prayer” – a conservative Christian group based in Portland, Oregon – held a small, peaceful rally at the corner of Telegraph Avenue and Bancroft Way in Berkeley. The speakers were “quickly…drowned out by protesters” from BAMN and another group, Refuse Fascism. (The latter is a campaign run by the Revolutionary Communist Party; BAMN itself is an RCF spinoff.) The “Patriot Prayer” contingent then marched down Telegraph Avenue to People’s Park, only to be trailed by the leftists; arriving at People’s Park, the conservatives began holding speeches, in response to which the BAMN and Refuse Fascism members heckled them. And worse.

By the end of the day, Felarca – who at the time was out on bail – was in cuffs, arrested on suspicion of rioting, obstruction, and battery. Along with two fellow BAMN members, both male, she was held at Santa Rita Jail. Her bail was set at $20,000. (The bail for her BAMN colleagues, who had apparently wreaked less havoc, was set at $10,000 for one and $5,000 for the other.) That evening, a spokesman for the school district replied to a query about Felarca by saying that it was “monitoring developments” and that, “[s]hould an occasion arise for the District to take action, we will respond in an appropriate manner, in keeping with federal law, the California Education Code and the BUSD collective bargaining agreement with our teachers.”

In other words, when a Berkeley schoolteacher is arrested at multiple public events for committing acts of violence, that, in itself, isn’t enough reason for school authorities to “take action.” One wonders what BUSD’s response would’ve been if Felarca had been on the other side.

Felarca will be arraigned on November 8. In the meantime, presumably, she’s still spending her weekdays in front of a Berkeley classroom. One can only imagine what she is cramming into her pupils’ heads in the guise of “humanities.”

 

BAMN: the “anti-fascist” fascists

A BAMN protest

The organization’s full name is a mouthful: “The Coalition to Defend Affirmative Action, Integration & Immigrant Rights, and Fight for Equality By Any Means Necessary.” It’s generally referred to “By Any Means Necessary” or by the acronym BAMN. Founded in California in 1995, reportedly as a “front group for an obscure Detroit-based Trotskyist political party called the Revolutionary Workers League,” it’s spent most of the years since then participating in protests and litigation in defense of affirmative action. At times it has gone beyond mere protesting to physical violence and vandalism, disrupting government meetings.

Outside the Sacramento State Capitol after the BAMN action

During the last couple of years, however, nationwide awareness of BAMN has soared – largely owing to the increasing scale and aggressiveness of its activities. In December 2014, in collaboration with Black Lives Matter, it blocked traffic on Interstate 80 in the Bay Area – a mass action that led to the arrest of 210 people. At a June 2016 outside the California State Capitol in  Sacramento, brutal BAMN members sent ten people to the hospital with stab wounds. Both the FBI and the Defense Department have described BAMN as being involved in terrorism.

The Berkeley riot

On February 1 of this year, BAMN made what were probably its biggest headlines yet when it organized an out-and-out riot at UC Berkeley that succeeded in closing down a scheduled speech by conservative journalist Milo Yiannopoulos. During that rampage, the university and city police stood down while about 150 BAMN thugs dressed in black behaved brutally, destroyed college, city, and private property both on campus and off, and threw “rocks and incendiary devices” at cops.

Yvette Felarca

One of BAMN’s more high-profile leaders is Yvette Felarca, a teacher at Berkeley’s Martin Luther King, Jr., Middle School. At the above-mentioned Sacramento rally, Felarca was reported by the San Jose Mercury-News to have “shoved a man to the ground and instigated a brawl.” Also, a video showwed her at the Sacramento rally, punching a man in the stomach and yelling “Get the fuck off our streets.” When the news of her conduct spread, thousands of outraged Berkeley parents signed a petition demanding her dismissal. In response to the complaints, the Berkeley Unified School District (BUSD) put her on paid leave and launched an “investigation” – one of those things that academic administrators do to make it look as if they’re doing something.

Six weeks later she was back on the job. BUSD spokesman Mark Coplan served up one of the most jaw-dropping excuses of all time. “It’s one thing if it was during a school day, but she is on vacation,” Coplan said. “We don’t have any authority or business to judge what an employee does in her off time.”

And so on February 1 there she was in Berkeley, orchestrating yet another BAMN riot.

More tomorrow.