During Antioch Council meeting public comments critical of racist police texts, Mayor Thorpe erupts at resident critical of him

During Public Comments Mayor Thorpe stood up, pointed and yelled at resident Sal Sbranti who made critical remarks of the mayor and Mayor Pro Tem Tamisha Torres-Walker. Video screenshots.

Mayor challenges him to “go outside”, quickly apologizes

By Allen D. Payton

During Public Comments, which the mayor shortened, at the beginning of Tuesday night’s Antioch City Council meeting, several residents spoke of their disdain over the revelation of racist texts by 17 Antioch Police officers earlier in the day. After one resident spoke and was critical of Mayor Lamar Thorpe and Mayor Pro Tem Tamisha Torres-Walker, Thorpe erupted, stood up, pointed and yelled at the resident as the man was leaving the Council Chambers. (Watch from 2:20:00 mark of council meeting video)

Two speakers from Reimagine Antioch called for a review of cases which the officers dealt with and for an audit of the department.

“We need to do like the surgeons do and cut out that cancer,” one man said.

Another speaker, business owner Jim Lanter, who said he’s lived in Antioch since 1963, also offered his support for Chief Ford.

“Let’s get an audit of your text messages,” a defiant resident Sal Sbranti said during comments directed at Thorpe.

“Get it. Let’s get it,” the mayor shot back.

“I would like to see the police cam video when officers went to Councilmember Tamisha’s home,” Sbranti continued referring to the October 2021 incident. “I’d like to see that.”

“It takes seven to eight years to affect cultural change not one or two,” he then said, and that it began under the previous two police chiefs.

“That is a dog whistle racism, right there, an example of what’s absolutely wrong with this city,” Thorpe yelled at Sbranti, asking him, “You want to go outside, right now? Let’s go.”

“I’m sick and tired of being attacked by these people in this community apologizing for the racism going on in this community,” the mayor said standing up, yelling and pointing at Sbranti. “You’re the problem. You’re the problem.”

Councilmembers Mike Barbanica, Monica Wilson and Mayor Pro Tem Tamisha Torres-Walker called for a recess of the meeting and tried to calm down the mayor who pounded his gavel and left the dais. The meeting was briefly suspended.

Councilmembers Mike Barbanica, Monica Wilson and Mayor Pro Tem Tamisha Torres-Walker called for a recess of the meeting and tried to calm down the mayor who had left the dais. The meeting was briefly suspended.

A few minutes later, Thorpe returned to the dais and said, “Alright. Thank you. I ask everyone for patience, including myself. I apologize for my outburst. That was not right. I shouldn’t have done that. For those of you who know it’s been a rough few weeks for me (referring to the passing of his father). But after reading some of the texts, today…it was personal to me. All I heard was n—-er, n—-er, n—-er. That should be personal to you, too. People have a right to say what they want and I have a right not to listen.”

“The citizens of Antioch are not all here, tonight. There are some who are afraid and feel intimidated and we wonder why,” resident Velma Wilson said. “I’m here in full support of Chief Ford.”

Following her comments, a woman yelled out to which Thorpe said, “I’m going to start warning people.”

“Everyone makes mistakes, everyone does. I’ve made mistakes,” resident Shagoofa Khan said. “I started protesting the police department not because I hate police. I’m glad this investigation is outing those bad apples.”

“It’s about integrity. You’re all held to a higher level,” said Edgar Martinez

Council Members Offer Their Thoughts on Racist Police Texts

During what is usually the section of the meeting for council committee reports and the mayor’s comments each of the members shared their thoughts about the revelation of the racist and other offensive texts by some of the City’s police officers.

“I sat on the phone today with a member of the press and had 21 pages of text read to me,” Barbanica said. “I’m not going to pretend to know how people coming up here and I can hear the hurt in their voice. I’ve been assured by the city attorney, the city manager and chief…I have faith in Chief Ford that investigations will go forward…and hold those people accountable. For me to speak out will only hamper an investigation. Let’s give Chief Ford and his staff the benefit of the doubt that they will

District 3 Councilwoman Lori Ogorchock spoke next saying, “I want to thank all those who have come forward and shared their stories. I haven’t read the news articles. I too have heard the hurt in your voice. I don’t understand the pain this has caused individuals. I have not lived in your shoes. I have been assured there will be an audit. I believe in the police chief, and he will take the necessary actions against whomever.”

Wilson then said, “I want to thank everyone who came tonight. It takes a lot of courage…to speak out, to speak your truth. I know this has been building up for several years. We as a council, I know we’re going to try to do what is right. I only got through half that article and I was disgusted. We see all of you and hear all of you.”

Torres-Walker spoke next saying, “I’m not even sure if I can stay through this meeting. What I will say is, my youngest son had his first encounter at the age of 13, a negative encounter, with law enforcement. He grew up taking pictures with Richmond Police Officers. He wanted to grow up to be a police officer until that day.”

“When I was called by the reporter…I wasn’t sure I wanted to hear the texts,” she continued. “It’s trauma porn and no person of color should have to hear it. But I said, ‘go ahead’. She said, ‘you’re not going to be surprised’. I heard n—–er, hood rat, n—–er b—ch…threats of assaulting the mayor. Confessions about the harm.”

A woman in the audience started screaming.

“It was very disturbing. People were coming to this council, before Mike, before I was elected and they were ignored,” the mayor pro tem continued. “It led to the death of Angelo Quinto, to the death of others.”

“You can be a Black person and be anti-Black. Especially if you’re in a culture that teaches you to hate yourself,” she stated, referring to the death of

“I know people have come here tonight to give their support to Chief Ford. He was dealt a bad hand by previous chiefs before him, Chief Cantando, Chief Brooks and he’s a Black man. Chief Ford chooses to stay in Antioch because it will be a choice,” Torres-Walker concluded.

Thorpe then offered his thoughts saying, “I’m just very upset, today. Not just for myself but for our community. The unique thing about being mayor…you take on everybody’s pain…and I own that. This is particularly painful for me. “We’ve sat in a lot of closed session” mentioning Wilson and Ogorchock. “We’ve constantly swept things under the rug even though we knew things were wrong. Two of us chose to say something in 2020 when called for police reform.”

“People make racist commentary,” Thorpe stated. “It’s dog-whistle racism. We’ve gone through a stupid recall because of the culture at the police department.”

“The scariest time of my life was when I was summoned to the DA’s office as I didn’t know why,” he continued. “Then to find out about the investigation of our officers.”

“When you hear these text messages…and it’s not about, ‘oh, oops, I made a racist comment’. This was in their hearts,” Thorpe stated. “We’re now talking about 24 (officers). This is what it is and we’re going to deal with it. We’re going to make some changes. Some of those changes are going to make people uncomfortable but I don’t give a damn.”

“I’m trusting my 13-year-old daughter in your hands. I’m trusting the officers to show up and do the right thing.”

“This isn’t about bashing people who show up and do the right thing,” Thorpe continued. “This is certainly something that is just not good. This is by no way…unlike the last mayor, I’m not going to run from my responsibility. We’re going to need all of your support.”

Thorpe then concluded his remarks thanking those who reached out with support following the passing of his father.

He then asked for everyone to pause and reflect for a few minutes, a moment of silence.

When reached for comment, Sbranti shared what happened after Thorpe left the dais.

“I said to him, ‘if you want to come on, come on,’” Sbranti said. “I was called a bunch of names by those who had spoken before. They were calling me a racist. I told them I’m not a racist, I just don’t like Lamar as our mayor. I think he’s a punk.”

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2 Comments to “During Antioch Council meeting public comments critical of racist police texts, Mayor Thorpe erupts at resident critical of him”

  1. […] resident who sparked the outburst from the mayor was identified by the Antioch Herald as Sal […]

  2. […] resident who sparked the outburst from the mayor was identified by the Antioch Herald as Sal […]

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