Thorpe’s remarks at MLK Day breakfast spark response by Oakley Councilman not wanting to provide Antioch with police support

Antioch Mayor Lamar Thorpe. File photo. Oakley Councilman George Fuller. Source: Facebook

“Mayor Thorpe was indicating he had placed the yoke of oppression on Antioch’s police officers and implemented what seemed an era of tyranny towards Antioch officers…Mayor Thorpe’s outlandish statements are politically motivated, and I believe he would use an Oakley officer as a pawn to advance his political agenda.” – Councilman George Fuller

Antioch Police Officers respond to Fuller’s remarks, take swipe at Thorpe

“The mayor’s constant attacks against our officers have always been unhelpful” – APD Sgt. & APOA President Rick Hoffman

NAACP President says “nothing inappropriate” about Thorpe’s comments; Antioch resident “embarrassed” by them

By Allen D. Payton

At the end of the Oakley City Council meeting Tuesday night, Jan. 24, 2023, Councilman George Fuller took a swipe at Antioch Mayor Lamar Thorpe not wanting to have Oakley Police Officers provide support to Antioch Police because of something Thorpe said at the recent MLK Day Breakfast hosted by the NAACP East County Branch. (See 1:50 mark of video)

Fuller spoke about the Antioch City Council and said, “Now, we stay on our side and I’m very happy. But there’s one thing that I’m very, very concerned about, and that is we have a mutual aid agreement with Antioch for our officers to go to the city to assist officers in that location to make arrests, put their lives on the line, and perhaps become involved in a…and I want to discuss what we can do to protect our officers. Because the way it was going was that if something happens over there, Mayor Thorpe is going to be very happy to say ‘well, our officers misbehaved’…and I don’t want to see their careers go up.”

“Our officers are trained. Whatever he says, our officers are trained,” Fuller continued. “I do not want my officers going over there and suddenly finding themselves in trouble.”

Fuller Explains His Concerns About Thorpe’s Remarks

Asked what Thorpe had said at the breakfast that caused his concern, Fuller responded in an email writing, “Before going any further, I need to say that I find the East Contra Costa NAACP a viable organization that has worked extensively, and still does, to create homogeneous communities in East Contra Costa County that are diverse and inclusive. I am completing my membership request to become a member of the association.

I did attend the Martin Luther King, Jr’s prayer breakfast, sponsored by the East Contra Costa NAACP. I received an invite from Odessa LeFrancois, installed as president of the group during the meal. I am grateful that Ms. LeFrancois extended the invitation.

I represented the proclamation that the City Council of Oakley extended honoring the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. I did so at the behest of Ms. LeFrancois. The proclamation was the first to honor Dr. King by the City of Oakley City Council. The reception of the proclamation of those attending the breakfast was commendatory.

Mayor Thorpe followed my presentation. Mayor Thorpe’s first words were, ‘Some cities just give proclamations; in Antioch, we do something about it.’ The statement intended to insult Oakley’s proclamation. It was evident in Mayor Thorpe’s mind that the Oakley City Council gives a token acknowledgment of Dr. King’s legacy but fails to address systemic racism in Oakley. Yes, Mayor Thorpe’s rhetoric and hostile discourse are not valid.

Mayor Thorpe said he has solved racism in Antioch by ‘reining in the police’. Mayor Thorpe stated, ‘we have banned certain control holds that the police can use. We deny the police the use of military-grade equipment. We have created a police oversight commission.’ Mayor Thorpe was indicating he had placed the yoke of oppression on Antioch’s police officers and implemented what seemed an era of tyranny towards Antioch officers. Mayor Thorpe said that his efforts have resulted in a fifty percent decrease in murders in Antioch. Antioch residents did not suffer injustices from the police because of his actions.

Mayor Thorpe continued that there were three Black council members on the Antioch City Council. Consequently, Mayor Thorpe could implement his agenda, which favored Black lives in Antioch. Also, those who attempted to recall him from the council would experience consequences for trying to do so. In short, Mayor Thorpe marginalized Antioch Police Officers as a violent, out-of-control, racist organization, and he was protecting Antioch from the police.

Initially, Mayor Thorpe experienced polite applause for his statements. At the end of his lengthy monologue, he received no applause.

My immediate concern was the well-being of Oakley Police Officers. Oakley officers respond to mutual aid requests from the Antioch Police Officers when the Antioch officers confront an emergency that strains their safety resources. Mayor Thorpe’s statements indicate that he would have no qualms demonizing an Oakley officer for responding to a situation where lives were at risk. The threat to the officer, and the officer’s family, would be catastrophic. Mayor Thorpe’s outlandish statements are politically motivated, and I believe he would use an Oakley officer as a pawn to advance his political agenda.

I believe it is incumbent on the Oakley City Council to determine the threat to Oakley officers and take precautionary measures to protect them as they respond to mutual aid requests in Antioch. I am grateful that the Oakley City Council agreed (except perhaps one member who has publicly commented on my statements) to discuss the issue and reconcile any dangers to Oakley officers.

The Oakley Police Department offers extensive training on professional responses to critical safety issues and contains them with the least amount of force necessary to control the situation. The City of Oakley takes a course of providing adequate funding for the police department to be able to deliver professional police services properly. Oakley officers are aware of systemic racism, even in Oakley, and how to respond to such demagoguery ensures the well-being of all members of the Oakley inclusive community.

An example of Oakley’s professionalism occurred the night of January 15, 2023, the night before the NAACP breakfast; officers responded to a man with a gun in Oakley. Upon arrival, the suspect pointed a gun at the officer. The officer retreated, and the Oakley officers contained the area and called for a mental health team to respond to the location. The mental health team responded by convincing the suspect to surrender their weapon. The officers afforded the health services the suspect so urgently required. That is an example of the ‘true grit professional police services’ Oakley officers deliver. I will not allow those services to be ‘trashed’ by Mayor Thorpe.

I do not want to see an Oakley officer end their career by saving the life of an Antioch officer or Antioch resident and suffer a catastrophic tyrannical political outburst from the Mayor of Antioch, Lamar Thorpe.

I previously mentioned that Mayor Thorpe delivered similar statements at the Contra Costa Mayors Association in Hercules on January 5, 2023.

Hopefully, the above answers your request.

With best regards,

George Fuller, MPA, MA”


Antioch Police Officers Respond to Fuller, Take Swipes at Thorpe

In a message to the media on Thursday afternoon, also posted later on the Antioch Police Officers Association Facebook page, President and APD Sergeant Rick Hoffman wrote, “Earlier today, the APOA was solicited for comment regarding an Oakley City Council member requesting that the Oakley Police Department stop sending officers into Antioch after hearing remarks from Mayor Thorpe at an NAACP breakfast. As we said earlier, the idea of neighboring police agencies not assisting each other is deeply troubling. We recognize that crime has no borders and the best way to combat crime and keep the citizens of our cities safe is by everyone, police officer and citizen alike, to work together. APD has always and will continue to work with our neighboring agencies in times of need. We will always answer the call when they ask, and we hope they will do the same.

What we, as a POA, want to further highlight is the unnecessary and disparaging remarks that Mayor Thorpe makes on a routine basis towards the officers of APD. Mayor Thorpe claims that he has outlawed certain control holds and has mandated that our officers act in a certain manner. Not only is the claim that he has outlawed control holds inaccurate at best, but the further claim that his alleged efforts have led to a reduction in Antioch’s murder rate is a slap in the face to the hard work of the men and women of APD. Facing an unprecedented staffing shortage, our officers work diligently to solve these crimes amidst one of the most tumultuous times ever faced by our department. The mayor’s constant attacks against our officers have always been unhelpful but we wish to highlight that his comments are now also dangerous and putting officer’s lives at risk. For his comments to cause other cities to entertain the idea of no longer assisting our department is alarming and we call on the mayor to exercise caution and restraint when speaking about our officers.

We would also like to recognize that we have always had, and plan on continuing, a great working relationship with our neighboring agencies. Specifically, we appreciate the ongoing support we receive from the Oakley, Pittsburg, and Brentwood Police Departments.”


NAACP President Responds

“I don’t know what they’re talking about,” Odessa LeFrancois, Antioch resident and recently elected President of the NAACP East County Branch said when reached for comment regarding Thorpe’s remarks. “As far as what I know, Lamar didn’t say anything inappropriate at the breakfast.”

Antioch Resident and Breakfast Attendee “Embarrassed” by Thorpe’s Remarks

Antioch resident Velma Wilson, who also attended the breakfast, disagreed with LeFrancois and confirmed Fuller’s views on Thorpe’s remarks.

“The Oakley Councilmember presented a proclamation of being more active with organizations like the NAACP and spreading the message of Dr. King. The councilman had a service animal with him,” she said. “Thorpe wasn’t on the program. It was toward the end of the meeting. But then he went on this rant about Black people and that although we are in Pittsburg our city is the most of diverse.”

Wilson continued saying Thorpe said, “‘We aren’t just typing up a resolution to sound pretty we’re actually putting into action our work. I’m proud of the work of the three Black council members and we’re not going to stop.’”

“He also said, ‘I know we have a recall proponent in here,’” she said referring to her.

“‘In East County we are the city holding our police officers accountable and we are the council, and I reiterate, a majority Black council that made sure we had body cameras on each of our officers.’” Wilson recalled of Thorpe’s remarks.

“MLK, yes, he fought for civil rights, but for all,” Wilson stated.

“A lot of people were checking out and getting up. He went more on a racial thing,” she continued about Thorpe’s remarks.

“Even (Pittsburg Mayor) Shanelle (Scales-Preston) was ‘how do you say, you’re in Pittsburg, you’re at MLK Junior High on MLK Day, and you say Antioch is the best’?” Wilson stated. “I was embarrassed as an Antioch resident.”“Lamar thought he had an audience that would cheer and clap for that crazy speech. He may have had three people clap for him,” she added.

Thorpe Does Not Respond

The mayor of Antioch was asked via email Wednesday if he had any comment on his remarks at the breakfast, responses to Fuller’s comments and the APOA’s statement and about the mutual aid between the two police departments. But Thorpe did not respond.

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Lamar Thorpe & George Fuller

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