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California

White nationalist sentenced to 4 years in prison for California Capitol melee

William Scott Planer, Danny Brace
William Scott Planer, left, listens on Jan. 26, 2018, as his attorney Danny Brace addresses the court.
(Rich Pedroncelli / Associated Press)

A white supremacist charged in a 2016 melee at the California state Capitol that injured at least 14 people was sentenced Wednesday to four years in prison.

William Scott Planer, 36, pleaded no contest in April to assault likely to produce great bodily injury. Sacramento County prosecutors say he knocked a defenseless person unconscious with a pole during a fight between members of the white-nationalist Traditionalist Worker Party and anti-fascist counterprotesters. He was the only member of the white supremacist group charged.

A social media video shows a counterprotester trying to rise to her feet from the Capitol lawn after losing a fistfight with another member of the Traditionalist Worker Party. Planer runs up behind her and hits her in the head with a pole, using a full baseball bat-like swing. She fell unconscious before three other counterprotesters dragged her away.

Planer previously was convicted of a Placer County robbery in 2001 and was arrested in 2017 on suspicion of pasting stickers reading “Fight Terror, Nuke Israel” on the front door of a Colorado Springs, Colo., Jewish center.

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Three counterprotesters are facing trial this fall on charges from the same confrontation.

At least 14 participants were stabbed or had cuts and bruises, with two surviving critical stabbings. Police also recovered a loaded gun after about 20 white nationalists were confronted by at least 200 counterprotesters.

Independent observers and participants alike criticized police for not moving more quickly to separate the groups.

The Traditionalist Worker Party had a permit to rally at the Capitol, and a California Highway Patrol investigator previously testified that police knew for weeks that a group called By Any Means Necessary and other counterprotesters calling themselves anarchists, anti-fascists, socialists or communists planned to disrupt the gathering, likely using violence.

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More than 100 law enforcement officers were caught off guard when the two groups began battling earlier than they had anticipated.

Prominent Bay Area anti-fascist leader Yvonne Felarca is among the three counterprotesters facing charges, including assault and inciting and participating in a riot. Her attorney previously said she was among those stabbed during the confrontation.


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