Antioch heroine Bianca Palomera presented with Key to the City for defending special needs boy

Bianca Palomera is presented with a Key to the City by Antioch Mayor Lamar Thorpe and councilmembers (L-R) Monica Wilson, Tamisha Torres-Walker, Lori Ogorchock and then-Mayor Pro Tem Mike Barbanica, as well as Antioch School Board Vice President Antonio Hernandez (rear left). Photos by Allen D. Payton

Attacked by patron of fast food restaurant where she worked resulting in blinding her right eye

By Allen D. Payton

Bianca Palomera is presented with a bouquet of flowers by then-Mayor Pro Tem Mike Barbanica.

During a special ceremony Tuesday night, December 13, 2022, Antioch Mayor Lamar Thorpe and councilmembers presented resident Bianca Palomera with a Key to the City, “In recognition of a courageous, selfless and extraordinary act of heroism”. The 19-year-old employee of The Habit Burger in Antioch was punched in the face multiple times after protecting an individual with an intellectual disability from being bullied by another patron. Palomera lost her right eye because of the incident and the suspect was arrested last week on charges of mayhem and aggravated assault. (See related article)

During the ceremony MC’d by Assistant City Manager Rosanna Bayon Moore, Robyn “RBYN” Jackson sang the National Anthem followed by a poem by Jose Cordon who was chosen by Thorpe to be the city’s Poet Laureate. That was followed by welcome remarks by Antioch School Board Vice President Antonio Hernandez.

Palomera was then thanked and presented with certificates of recognition by Be Exceptional, State Senator Steve Glazer and Assemblyman Tim Grayson, Supervisor Federal Glover and We Get it Foundation, which serves neurodivergent individuals and their families. Elizabeth Soleyman LaVasse, CEO and Chair was joined by others from the organization and said, “My team and I stand before you today to commend Bianca in her heroic and selfless efforts to defend a vulnerable, neurodivergent youth. Those efforts impacted the community and I speak for us all when I say that there should be more Biancas in this world.”

Palomera is presented with the Hero of the Year Award for 2022 by representatives of We Get It Foundation.

They then presented Palomera with their Hero of the Year Award for 2022.

Antioch Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Daniel Sohn and Chair Ana Walker presented Palomera with flowers and a certificate of recognition. Sohn announced the Chamber Board approved giving $500 to help with her medical bills and the Chamber Foundation agreed to match that as a donation to the charity of Palomera’s choice.

Antioch Chamber of Commerce Chair Ana Walker and Executive Director Daniel Sohn presented Palomera with flowers and a certificate of recognition.

Several Antioch business owners then presented Palomera with a bouquet and a gift card to Macy’s.

Antioch business owners presented, Bianca with a bouquet and gift card.

During his remarks Thorpe explained the issuing of keys to a city is from the days of medieval walled cities and that this was only the second Key to the City he’s presented as mayor. About the young heroine Thorpe said, “Miss Palomera is the light that shined valiantly.”

He was then joined by his fellow council members to present Palomera with the Key to the City mounted on a plaque which reads, “In Recognition of a Courageous, Selfless and Extraordinary Act of Heroism”. Then-Mayor Pro Tem Mike Barbanica presented her with a bouquet of flowers.

Robyn “RBYN” Jackson sings the National Anthem as the Antioch Police Color Guard look on. Antioch Poet Laureate Jose Cordon speaks his poem as Assistant City Manager Rosana Bayon Moore, the event’s MC, listens. Palomera is presented with a certificate by Assemblyman Grayson’s Field Rep. Theresa Anderson.

An at times emotional Palomera was then given the opportunity to speak to those in attendance thanking them and all those “who have reached out” supported her since the incident. She was given two long rounds of applause. Thorpe then recognized her parents and family who were in attendance for the ceremony.

Antioch Police Sgt. Matt Koch (left) and Detective John Cox with Palomera and Mayor Thorpe.

The mayor also thanked and presented certificates of recognition to Antioch Police Sgt. Matt Koch, Detective John Cox and Lt. John Fortner, who was out of town, for their efforts identifying the suspect and solving the crime.

“Antioch has a very high clearance rate for homicides and other violent crimes,” Thorpe pointed out.

A crowd, including city staff leaders, gathered in the City Hall breezeway to witness the Key to the City ceremony.

the attachments to this post:

Key to City crowd in City Hall breezeway

Singer Robyn Jackson APD Color Guard Poet Jose Cordon Bianca & Theresa Anderson

Business owners, Bianca & bouquet

Bianca & We Get It Foundation Hero of the Year award

APD officers Bianca & Mayor Thorpe

Chamber & Bianca Palomera

Bianca bouquet from Barbanica

Bianca Palomera Key to City plaque

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