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Hartford State's Attorney Will Oversee Alleged Hate Crime Spitting Incident

Keren Prescott stands outside Hartford Superior Court Wednesday. A group of supporters gathered with her at the first court appearance of Yuliya Gilshteyn, a woman who charged with a hate crime for spitting on Prescott.
Ali Oshinskie
/
Connecticut Public Radio
Keren Prescott stands outside Hartford Superior Court Wednesday. A group of supporters gathered with her at the first court appearance of Yuliya Gilshteyn, a woman who was charged with a hate crime for spitting on Prescott.

A court hearing was held this week in the case against a white woman charged with a hate crime for spitting on a Black woman during a Jan. 6 protest at the state Capitol. Now Hartford State’s Attorney Sharmese Walcott is taking on the case. 

Yuliya Gilshteyn is accused of spitting on Keren Prescott at the January protest. People had gathered outside the Capitol to voice their opinions on various topics on the first day of the legislative session. Gilshteyn was there with groups opposing mandatory vaccination programs. Prescott is the founder of Power Up Manchester, which works to amplify voices in marginalized communities. 

Gilshteyn was initially charged with one felony and three misdemeanors. In March, the charges were upgraded to include a felony hate crime.

Ken Krayeske, Prescott’s lawyer, thinks the change means the state is taking the case very seriously. “When you add new charges after an incident like this, you’re saying, ‘Yes, what happened was grave,’ Krayeske said.  “It appears the prosecution is now alleging that racial animus was part and parcel of the action that occurred.”

“Believe Black women,” Prescott added. She said she feels the upgraded charges validate what she first said in January: that Connecticut Capitol Police didn’t take the crime seriously enough. “Believe us when we tell you -- when I told the officers a crime was committed, she spit in my face. Believe us.”  

Prescott went to the Capitol that day to ask the governor to declare racism a public health crisis. The state Senate on Tuesday passed such a bill, which now moves to the House.  

Counsel for the defense and state in the spitting incident meet again in June.

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