(ANTIMEDIA) Sacramento, CA — Three anti-racist activists are accusing California police and prosecutors of a “cover-up and collusion” with white supremacists during their investigation of a rally that turned violent back in 2016, the Guardian reported Friday.
The activists, who attended the Sacramento rally to counter-protest the message of the Traditionalist Workers Party (TWP), the neo-Nazi group that organized the original event, were arrested and charged with felonies for their participation.
But the activists fired back this week, presenting documents to the judge they say provide evidence that the California Highway Patrol (CHP) worked hand-in-hand with the neo-Nazis in an effort to identify the counter-protesters.
Further, the defendants allege, the records reveal that investigators actually showed sympathy toward the white supremacists and worked to try to protect the identity of the TWP member who obtained the permit for the event.
“It is shocking and really angering to see the level of collusion and the amount to which the police covered up for the Nazis,” Yvette Felarca, a teacher and one of the anti-fascist organizers, told the Guardian.
Felarca says during the clash that day in Sacramento she was stabbed in the arm and bludgeoned in the head, a wound that required more than 20 stitches. She says it took her weeks to fully recover.
“The people who were victimized by the Nazis were then victimized by the police and the district attorneys,” she stated.
Shanta Driver, one of Felarca’s attorneys, told the Guardian that the documents presented before the judge show a “textbook case of a political witch-hunt and selective prosecution.”
In one instance, the records reveal that in a phone call, CHP investigator Donovan Ayres warned Doug McCormack — the TWP member who obtained the rally permit — that the cops may have to release his name due to a public records request.
“I’m gonna suggest that we hold that or redact your name or something until this gets resolved,” Ayres told McCormack, adding that he wasn’t sure who had requested records of the permit. “If I did, I would tell you,” Ayres said.
Additionally, Ayres’ write-up about an African American activist — one who was stabbed in the chest, abdomen, and hand during the rally — raised alarms in the minds of the defendants and their attorneys.
Records show the man was treated more like a suspect than a victim, with Ayres recommending he be charged with 11 offenses, including unlawful assembly, conspiracy, assault, and wearing a mask to evade police.
To support his recommendation, Ayres provided Facebook photos of the man holding up his fist. Ayres claimed the man’s “Black Power salute” and his “support for anti-racist activism” demonstrated his “intent and motivation to violate the civil rights” of the neo-Nazis.
Documents also show that cops worked with TWP member Derik Punneo while trying to identify the anti-fascist activists. Audio recordings reveal that investigators brought photos to Punneo in jail after he was arrested on unrelated charges.
“We’re pretty much going after them,” officers told Punneo, assuring him that “we’re looking at you as a victim.”
Neither Punneo nor McCormack, as well as several other TWP-affiliated individuals who were involved with the rally, have been charged with any crimes.
In a response filed Thursday, prosecutors in the case state “every assertion” in the defendants’ motion to dismiss is “inaccurate or fabricated” and further accused the activists’ lawyers of using the filing to “make a political statement.”
As for the white supremacists themselves, prosecutors stated that “no one is beneath the protection of the law, no matter how repugnant his or her rhetoric or misguided his or her ideals.”
Since you’re here…
…We have a small favor to ask. Fewer and fewer people are seeing Anti-Media articles as social media sites crack down on us, and advertising revenues across the board are quickly declining. However, unlike many news organizations, we haven’t put up a paywall because we value open and accessible journalism over profit — but at this point, we’re barely even breaking even. Hopefully, you can see why we need to ask for your help. Anti-Media’s independent journalism and analysis takes substantial time, resources, and effort to produce, but we do it because we believe in our message and hope you do, too.
If everyone who reads our reporting and finds value in it helps fund it, our future can be much more secure. For as little as $1 and a minute of your time, you can support Anti-Media. Thank you. Click here to support us