City Councilmembers Tuesday night refused to publicly discuss last week’s assault involving Councilmember Corky Booze, saying they would leave the matter to law enforcement.
Booze was involved in a fight with a member of the Richmond Progressive Alliance last week, and the RPA, the NAACP and members of the public gave statements in public comment condemning political violence.
”The NAACP rises in opposition of any violence used by any person or organizations as a tool to silence conflicting opinions,” the NAACP said in its statement. ”The NAACP will remain steadfast in its committment in protecting the rights of all citizens whether on the dais or city council chambers.”
Councilmember Nat Bates tried to place the assault case on the agenda for discussion, saying an attack on an elected public official in the city was a serious matter that required urgent attention from council.
”An unfortunate situation occurred last Thursday in which a councilman was attacked,” Bates said at the beginning of the meeting. ”I would take the same position if the victim of this attack was myself or the mayor. We would like to hear from the police chief. We still have about four or five candidates who are potential victims of similar attacks.”
While Bates, Booze and vice mayor Jim Rogers voted in favor of the motion, four councilmembers voted to prevent the public discussion, saying such discussion would interfere with the investigations.
”We cannot make a judgement before the investigation is complete,” McLaughlin said. ”We do know that law enforcement is involved in this and we do not intervene.”
Two members of the public, candidate Mark Wassberg and the Reverend Kenneth Davis were ejected from the chambers for refusing to observe house rules during public comments on the assault. Wassberg denounced the RPA and launched a spirited campaign for himself and Bates in violation of council rules of procedure, which prohibit election-related speech inside City Hall. McLaughlin asked that police escort Wassberg from the chamber.
”This is America, I have a right to speak,” Wassberg yelled, flailing as officers escorted him out of the chambers. ”I forgot to take my meds.”
Davis continued to speak after his assigned time had lapsed, accusing the RPA members of victimizing Booze.
In a statement read by RPA steering committee member Tarnell Abbott, the alliance confirmed that RPA member David Moore, who worked with Booze on his last campagin for City Council, had been involved in a physical altercation with the councilmember. The RPA statement said that Booze struck Moore in the face.
”While Mr. Moore pursues his legal options, this incident should not divert any of us from the real issues in Richmond, which are living-wage jobs, improving the city, and protecting Richmond residents,” Abbott said, reading from the statement.