Here’s what’s new this week: A Sacramento County Superior Court Judge declined to drop felony charges against a leader of the so-called “Antifa.” The individual—47-year-old Yvette Felarca–was involved in a riot between approximately 300 Antifa types and 30 Alt-Right types in Sacramento in 2016. At that event, she was caught on video punching out one of the attendees. Unlike others in positions of authority, the Sacramento District Attorney wasn’t willing to ignore it.
Felarca was the subject of a fawning blurb in Newsweek back in September. This was during the period the media thought Antifa activists were the good guys, here to save us from the fascist right. By now, I think they’ve figured out the Antifa is at least as fascist as anything on the right—or at least I hope they have. But it shouldn’t have taken them (or anybody else) so long. Felarca is a member of the Coalition to Defend Affirmative Action, Integration & Immigrant Rights and Fight for Equality by Any Means Necessary (a Detroit/Oakland-based organization that calls itself “BAMN”). Alas, I’ve been dealing with BAMN for more than 20 years now. During the campaigns for California’s Proposition 209 in 1996, the Michigan Civil Rights Initiative in 2006 and the Arizona Civil Rights Initiative in 2010, this violent offshoot of the Revolutionary Workers League was always there, often engaged in violent and disruptive activity. We just had to work around them. Mercifully I’ve never been in physical proximity to any of them, but my colleagues in these campaigns haven’t always been so lucky.
Just one among dozens of examples of BAMN’s willingness to use “any means necessary” was its attempt to intimidate the Michigan Board of Canvassers into refusing to certify the Michigan Civil Rights Initiative for the ballot. BAMN brought in busloads of mostly-teenaged protesters who shouted down officials, chanted “They say Jim Crow, we say hell no,” jumped on chairs, and stomped their feet, flipping over a table in the process. As the director of elections of the Michigan Secretary of State put it, “Never before have I see such absolutely, incredible and unprofessional behaviors from lawyers urging this disruption.” BAMN’s co-chair and attorney saw things differently: “Our tactics win. That’s the bottom line.” (They didn’t win in that case. The Michigan Civil Rights Initiative was certified and passed by Michigan voters. BAMN even took the initiative to the Supreme Court, where in the final round, BAMN lost.)
I find some comfort in the fact that the same few people from BAMN turn up in so many places. Perhaps there really aren’t that many utter nut cases out there.