Yuliya Gilshteyn initially faced hate crime and other charges after she spat at a Black activist during protests at the Connecticut state Capitol in January 2021. In the wake of the incident, Gilshteyn was ordered to enter a special probation program – a punishment the victim, Keren Prescott, labeled as “the epitome of white privilege”, Face2Face Africa previously reported.
“The justice system has failed me,” she told the court. In the wake of the incident, Gilshteyn faced a slew of charges including hate crime, third-degree attempt to commit assault, first-degree reckless endangerment and risk of injury to a child.
She was, however, made to enter a special probation program that allows the criminal records of first-time offenders to be wiped if they fulfill certain obligations. One of the conditions of Gilshteyn’s probation was to complete 100 hours of anti-hate instruction.
The spitting incident occurred when Prescott, a Black Lives Matter activist, got into an argument with Gilshteyn during a protest outside the Connecticut State Capitol on January 6. That was the same day pro-Trump supporters forced their way into the U.S. Capitol in their attempt to have the presidential election results overturned. There was also a surge in COVID-19 cases during that period.
Footage of the incident at the Connecticut State Capitol during the protests showed Gilshteyn, who was against the compulsory vaccination of children, spitting at Prescott. The Black activist said she was chanting “Black Lives Matter” as well as other slogans with a friend when Gilshteyn responded, telling her “all lives matter”, The Associated Press reported. This sparked an argument, and during the back and forth, Prescott said she told Gilshteyn to back away as the accused was not in a face mask despite the prevalence of COVID-19. Prescott said Gilshteyn proceeded to spit in her face and also hit her glasses and mask.
Though Gilshteyn’s attorney, Ioannis Kaloidis, said what his client did wasn’t right, he claimed her actions weren’t racially motivated. He also said Gilshteyn spat at the Black woman during an encounter in “a heated environment.”
Superior Court Judge Sheila Prats also said Gilshteyn had met the requirements to take the “accelerated rehabilitation” probation program despite her actions being “despicable.” Prescott, however, registered her displeasure over Friday’s decision and described the program as “one of the worst things that could happen to a victim of a hate crime.”
“The justice system is failing Black and brown people,” she told the judge. “This is being spit on once again.”