Felony assault charges dropped against professor in Berkeley attack
A former Diablo Valley College professor who had been charged with several felony assault charges after he hit and seriously injured a demonstrator at a free speech protest in Berkeley last year will not see the inside of a jail after the most serious charges against him were dropped.
California convicted former Diablo Valley College ethics professor Eric Clanton of misdemeanor simple battery, but dropped three felony assault charges, according to the Alameda Superior Court database.
Clanton allegedly smacked an individual on the head with a bike lock in Berkeley, California, on April 15, 2017. Users on the social media site 4chan matched the former professor's clothing, backpack straps and facial structure to that of the assailant. Police arrested Clanton on May 24, 2017.
Clanton originally faced up to 11 years in prison. He was supposed to have a preliminary hearing Wednesday, but instead entered into a plea deal, reported Berkeleyside. Clanton submitted a "no contest" plea for misdemeanor battery and, in exchange, had three felony assault charges, a felony for inflicting serious bodily injury, and a misdemeanor mask-wearing charge dismissed.
Berkeley police reported that the former professor had hit at least seven people in the head with a bike lock. He allegedly hit one victim in the back and neck, another on a helmet, severing a piece of it off, and another across the head, creating a wound that needed five staples to mend.
Well, it is Berkeley, after all. Apparently, the powers that be want to encourage Berkeleyites to bash in the heads of their political opponents rather than, you know, reason with them.
Prosecutors reduce charges in exchange for plea deals that clear their calendars all the time, so this isn't unusual. But the professor has been connected to Antifa by police, a fact that should have led to his incarceration.
Police wrote that they had found evidence last year during a search of Clanton's home in San Leandro linking him to "Anti-Fascists and Anarchy political groups," according to court papers. He was not home when police arrived, so officers moved to a second address in West Oakland where they said they found flags, patches and pamphlets "associating Clanton" with antifa and anarchist groups. Investigators arrested Clanton there.
Detectives said they "recovered U-locks, sunglasses, a glove, jeans, and facial coverings" consistent with items worn during the April 15 assaults, according to court documents. And a camera found at the San Leandro home contained "selfies" taken by Clanton, police said, "with him wearing black clothing and facial coverings" consistent with April 15.
For Antifa, the message has been received: it's open season on political opponents.