HARTFORD, Conn. (WTNH) — It has been two months since News 8 cameras caught a white woman spitting on a Black woman at the capitol. She has been charged and tomorrow appears in court.
News 8 spoke exclusively with Keren Prescott, the woman who was spat on, about the incident.
To set the scene, it was opening day at the Capitol when lawmakers were returning to session and there were hundreds of different groups protesting from the people against vaccines to Black Lives Matter to Keren Prescott’s group Power Up CT.
“It was not until we started saying Black Lives Matter that is when she started to antagonize us, and say things like, ‘Black lives don’t matter’…. I am asking her to back up. I am looking at the officer because there’s an officer literally right in front of me,” Prescott said. “This is not small. For many people, this is like the worst form, I would rather be punched… I didn’t even realize until I looked at the video that I had the spit on my glasses. I still had spit on my mask. And it wasn’t until probably an hour later that it finally registered. What if she has COVID? My grandmother would have been 101-years-old this year if she had not died of COVID last May.”
It was opening day of the session, and there were hundreds of protesters. Court documents indicate police were able to track down 44-year-old Yuliya Gilshteyn and that she admitted to spitting on Keren Prescott.
“Once they took her inside, we stood out here and chanted and we said we are not leaving until you arrest her. So after some time they came out and said they arrested her, and they sent me a copy, and when I saw it was a breach of peace I immediately started reaching out to my supporters.”
The Chief States Attorneys Office has upgraded the charges to include third-degree assault and risk of injury to a minor. And Prescott says she should be prosecuted to the full extent of the law.
“So when you think about racism, it is a learned behavior. There was a baby strapped to her, and so whatever it is that she believes, or feels about Black women and Black people and Black children, she is potentially going to pass that down.”
Prescott has started an organization called Power Up CT where they are trying to educate and change racist behavior one neighborhood at a time.
“If one person by one person can somehow be educated; if I don’t believe that then what is this for. If I don’t believe that, then why am I going to get up every day and continue to fight if I don’t believe that? How do I look my children in the face and tell them to have hope? I have to believe that!”
We did reach out to the suspect in this case. She did not return our phone call. Court documents say she felt provoked. But investigators say it did not appear that she was provoked. She appeared in court on Wednesday.
“When you add new charges after an incident like this, you are saying what happened was grave,” Ken Krayeske, Attorney.
The chief state’s attorney’s office has upgraded the charges from breach of peace to include attempted third-degree assault and risk of injury to a minor as well as deprivation of rights, a hate crime, and reckless endangerment.