Richmond Vice Mayor Jael Myrick regrets voting in favor of a City Council resolution banning space-based weapons last month, saying he did not initially understand the affect the vote would have on mentally ill people who believe such weapons are being used by the government to target them psychologically and physically.
In a letter posted Monday in Mayor Tom Butt’s e-forum, Myrick wrote, “It has become clear in the past two weeks that this resolution is being used by some to validate very dangerous conspiracy theories that may be having a real negative impact on the lives of people with serious mental illness and those around them.”
The resolution, which was pushed by members of the Richmond Progressive Alliance (RPA), also brought “unnecessary embarrassment to the city,” Myrick said. Since the vote, he said, the Richmond Police Department is being “inundated by calls from ‘targeted individuals’ around the world who now see Richmond as some type of sanctuary.”
In a statement, Police Chief Chris Magnus said the department doesn’t have the resources to field such a large number of calls.
The council passed the resolution supporting the Space Preservation Act and Space Preservation Treaty permanently banning “space-based weapons” on May 19. The resolution was brought forth by Councilmember Jovanka Beckles, who works as a mental health specialist for the county, and supported by fellow RPA members Eduardo Martinez and Gayle McLaughlin. Councilmember Nat Bates said he voted in favor “for the simple reason that we have voted on a lot of dumb ideas.”
Beckles had argued the resolution begins to address concerns of local residents who claim to be targeted by “remote transmission” from space-based weaponry. Along with Berkeley, Richmond is the only other city in the U.S. to support such an initiative.
In the two weeks since it passed, however, the resolution has received national attention for the wrong reasons. Not only was Richmond’s council ridiculed in the media and on talk shows, the resolution has been used by conspiracy theorists and their publications to validate fears among citizens who believe the government is attacking them from space, including through weaponry known as chemtrails.
Following the vote, one distressed mother wrote to Mayor Tom Butt saying her son has been using the articles published on the resolution to “support his theory that the reasons he hears voices is that he is being targeted.”
“I think he is misinterpreting that the Richmond police are now taking this seriously,” the mother said. “Can you please tell me whether this is true or not? I need to try to break through his delusion in order to get him to take appropriate medication, otherwise he will never be well enough to function again…part of delusional disorder or psychosis is that they can not see that they are delusional and have a problem.”
Mayor Butt, who did not support the resolution, says he had attempted to convince Beckles and Marilyn Langlois (the RPA member and city planning commissioner) that they were throwing “gasoline on a fire.”
Myrick said he initially supported the resolution as an anti-war initiative and noted the language of the resolution did not include such phrases as mind control, chemtrails or references to other conspiracy theories.
“The resolution did include one casual reference to ‘targeted individuals’ but the majority of the language was focused on the Space Preservation Act or the Space Preservation Treaty, which had been approved by the United Nations,” Myrick said.
He added, “The resolution we passed should not be read by anyone as a validation of any of these theories and certainly should not be seen as any direction to impact police policies as they relate to individuals with mental health issues.”
Here is Vice Mayor Jael Myrick’s letter on the matter in full:
On May 19th I voted for a resolution that at the time seemed a fairly harmless statement of opposition to federal policies that militarize space. In the weeks since it has become apparent that the passage of this resolution was a mistake and has had a tangible negative impact on the city.
At the time I supported the resolution for two reasons:
In general I try to find ways to support my colleagues on resolutions that they present if there is not a clear downside.
The issue of the militarization of space as embodied in policies like Strategic Missile Defense (“Star Wars”) and LGM Peacekeeper Missiles is a real issue and one I genuinely believe is bad for our nation to engage in. While this is not a local issue, the Council often passes resolutions on these types of federal policies including a recent resolution in opposition to the Trans Pacific Trade Partnership. I saw this as no different.