Jul 11, 2014
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Richmond Vice Mayor Jovanka Beckles’ verbal assault on two public members in council chambers earlier this month was covered by KTVU (Ch. 2) Thursday, as the news station obtained cell phone footage of her cursing during the tirade.

We’ve already reported about Beckles’ drama-filled night, which some residents called a distraction from the city’s budget deficit deliberations, the most pressing matter at the July 1 meeting. Some residents are now calling for Beckles’ resignation.

Beckles claims she was under attack when she called two local reverends ignorant in a public forum and added they are “bullies” and “women abusers.” The spat reportedly stemmed from a vote on an agenda item that Beckles did not agree with, although bad blood between the vice mayor and the reverends have boiled for years. At one point, Beckles shouted at the reverends to “get the F— out of my face,” claiming she felt cornered and threatened during the dispute.

Witnesses to the incident say Beckles was the aggressor.

“Using profane language and cursing, that’s very inappropriate,” witness Pamela Bilbo, of Richmond, told KTVU.

Reverend Kenneth Davis, one of the men she clashed with, added, “She’s vice-mayor and this is something that’s intolerable.”

KTVU also pointed out, as we did, that Beckles’ tirade “ironically came the same night Beckles had proposed an ordinance stating that people disrupting City Council meetings should be banned for six months from attending.”

Beckles’ proposal particularly targets a few residents, namely the reverends, who have hurled anti-gay slurs at her.

Opponents of the vice mayor’s proposal have argued that a ban would give elected leaders undue power to oust their detractors from the governmental process. In a June 26 letter to City Council, City Attorney Bruce Goodmiller said the ban is most likely unconstitutional.

Residents have argued that Beckles signed up to be a politician and thus should rise above personal attacks from citizens and focus her attention on serving the city.

The city attorney’s letter addressed that argument.

“While also acknowledging that ‘it is asking much of City Council members, who have given themselves to public service, to tolerate profanities and personal attacks,’ courts have held ‘that is what is required by the First Amendment,’ Goodmiller said.


About the Author

Mike Aldax is the editor of the Richmond Standard. He has 13 years of journalism experience, most recently as a reporter for the San Francisco Examiner. He previously held roles as reporter and editor at Bay City News, Napa Valley Register, Garden Island Newspaper in Kaua’i, and the Queens Courier in New York City.