A white woman accused of spitting on a Black activist during protests at the Connecticut state Capitol earlier this year was granted special probation on Wednesday (July 21) and may even have the hate crime charge she faces dismissed.
According to the Hartford Courant, 45-year-old Yuliya Gilshteyn was granted accelerated rehabilitation, a special probation program for first-time offenders, and ordered to complete 100 hours of anti-hate curriculum over the next two years. If she successfully completes the program, a felony hate crime of intimidation due to bias charge will be dismissed.
Gilshteyn was captured on video shouting “all lives matter” and spitting on activist and Power Up Manchester founder Keren Prescott during a January 6 protest at the New England state’s Capitol grounds.
Gilshteyn was initially arrested and charged by Capitol police with breach of peace, but after Hartford State’s Attorney Sharmese Walcott reviewed the case she upgraded the charges to include a hate crime and additional offenses. According to court records, those include third-degree attempt to commit assault, first-degree reckless endangerment and risk of injury to a child.
During a Wednesday morning hearing, Gilshteyn apologized to Prescott, claiming her attack was “completely out of character,” however the new ruling infuriated Prescott.
“This is the epitome of white privilege,” Prescott said while wiping away tears outside the courtroom, according to the Current. “When she attacked me and the police didn’t believe me, that was white privilege. When the police held me back and she was led away, that was white privilege … The fact she was in here today and didn’t even get a slap on the wrist, that is white privilege.”
Joined by two dozen racial justice activists in the courtroom, Prescott added: “What is she going to learn walking away from this unscathed? What the judge did today was egregious and dangerous and it sets the tone for the next time.”
Hartford Superior Court Judge Sheila M. Prats said she did not want to make a ruling that would send any political message. The judge also noted the severity of the incident itself after Prescott’s emotional testimony, but said it’s not enough to preclude Gilshteyn from participating in the rehabilitation program.
“It is serious. It is serious to you, it’s serious to this moment we’re in,” Prats said. “It’s despicable … I don’t believe [Gilshteyn] 100 percent, because if all life mattered, she wouldn’t do that to you.”
State attorney Walcott told Prats she could not in good conscience agree to support their application for the program.
“It is the most foul thing I have ever seen,” Walcott said of the incident. “It was absolutely disgusting … it was unprovoked, it was uncalled for. I just cannot as I sit here right now say this defendant has shown over the past six months that she is committed to reeducating herself.”