For the record, I agree with Beckles that Booze and a handful of hecklers in the audience routinely harass her for personal issues that have nothing to do with legitimate Richmond politics and disrupt meetings constantly. I share her frustration, and Richmond residents should also.
Richmond councilwoman calls police to quell argument with residents
By Robert Rogers
Contra Costa Times
Posted: 07/02/2014 01:27:28 PM PDT| Updated: 43 min. ago
RICHMOND -- After a typically contentious public meeting Tuesday, a councilwoman made a midnight call to the police chief requesting officers to restore order and "protect" her from a couple of residents she said were harassing her at the behest of one of her colleagues.
Councilwoman Jovanka Beckles, 50, said she was "verbally jumped" by two members of the public and that Councilman Corky Boozé interfered with a security officer who attempted to come to her aid.
"I was cornered," Beckles said in a telephone interview Wednesday. "I felt like what these kids feel like on the playground, jumped and surrounded by bullies yelling awful things."
Richmond council members Corky Booze, left, and Jovanka Beckles in happier times, on Jan. 11, 2011. (Dean Coppola/Staff Archives)
Police Chief Chris Magnus said three officers responded to the call and escorted Beckles to her car in the early morning hours.
"There was no evidence of criminal conduct, so there was no report," Magnus said, adding that various combatants wanted "reports filed against each other."
The fracas occurred after a testy meeting over the city's budget, which lasted until about 11:40 p.m. Beckles had an item on the agenda calling for residents who disrupt meetings to be banned for six months, but the item was not heard.
After the meeting, which ended with Beckles denouncing Councilman Jim Rogers over a vote she disagreed with, she walked into an adjacent meeting room to chat with a television reporter, Beckles said.
Minutes later, she became embroiled in an argument with the Rev. Wesley Ellis and the Rev. Kenneth Davis. She said Boozé intervened when she asked a private security guard to call police.
"Boozé is a 300-pound councilman, and he was in the (female security guard's) face stopping her," Beckles said. "I was in tears, so I yelled to call the police."
Melvin Willis, a community organizer and Beckles supporter, called police first. Soon after, she called Magnus directly.
Davis said Beckles was the aggressor.
"Beckles was hysterical last night," Davis said. "She came and interrupted our conversation to talk crazy to me, so I let her know what I thought about her legislative performance."
Boozé laughed off Beckles' complaints and disputed her version of events and estimation of his girth.
"She cussed at Davis and Ellis and tried to get them arrested," Boozé said. "I said for what -- they were just in a public place. And I'm still in the 200s (pounds)!"
Animus between Beckles and Boozé, 70, has raged since both were elected in 2010. Beckles requested her seat next to Boozé on the dais be moved and has accused him of harassing her for years.
Both are fighting for re-election this year. Beckles is the first openly gay female council member in the city's history and has been the target of anti-gay comments during council meetings in the past.
"The situation has been escalating for years," Beckles said. "People don't even want to come to the meetings because it's so toxic and hostile."
Tensions simmered throughout Tuesday's meeting, and an email Beckles sent to a critic during the meeting circulated on social media and email.
At about 2 a.m., Beckles took to Facebook to air her frustrations.
"I admit, I lost my temper after being practically assaulted by their mob mentality," she wrote. "They are hateful, miserable, hostile people. It saddens me deeply."
Contact Robert Rogers at 510-262-2726. Follow him at Twitter.com/sfbaynewsrogers.
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