Antioch mayor speaks out, says detractor punched him after speech

Antioch Mayor Lamar Thorpe said Wednesday that he was punched by a detractor with ties to a failed recall effort to boot him from office.

Thorpe sat down with KTVU to describe what he said was part of a concerted effort to discredit him. 

It happened in the parking lot of the Lone Tree Golf and Event Center in Antioch on Tuesday afternoon after he gave a speech at an Antioch Chamber of Commerce luncheon.

"I hear my name, ‘Hey Lamar, where have you been at? Where have you been at?’ " Thorpe said. "He's familiar to me, not necessarily a supporter, not necessarily someone who I agree with politically or ideologically."

In fact, Thorpe said the man was part of a failed effort to recall him and that he had been nursing a grudge since at least the Fourth of July. That’s when the mayor said he saw the man and asked him how the signature-gathering effort went. The man did not like that remark, the mayor said.

Fast-forward to Tuesday at the golf course, when the mayor said the man told him, "Well, you harassed me like this at the Fourth of July and now I've been waiting to get back at you."

He says the man kept getting louder and louder and then punched him in the chest. The mayor says he then blocked a second punch. 

"He hit me right here. I couldn't believe that he did that. And of course I'm getting louder, ‘Don’t punch me. Don't put your hands on me.' "

Antioch police were called. Officers took statements from both the mayor and the man, who denied punching Thorpe. Police told KTVU it was a "he said, he said" situation involving at most a misdemeanor and that their investigation would be forwarded for review by prosecutors. 

Thorpe has his share of detractors, who have criticized him for a number of issues, including a previous sex harassment settlement and a DUI arrest by the CHP

"I'm not responding to their nonsense because they're just hiding behind the fact that we're creating reforms, structural reforms in this city," Thorpe said.

Thorpe has spearheaded reform measures at the police department, where at least 11 officers are under investigation by the FBI and the Contra Costa County DA's office.

The mayor says his opponents are energized by blogs that he says clearly fuel racism.

"The reality is they hate that we keep enfranchising people that look like you and me. This is what this comes down to," the mayor said.

He says he will persevere even in the face of attacks. Back in May, someone set his fence on fire. He says he's been accosted at his home and out in public. 

"And damn it, I don't know what the only difference is here is that other than our predecessors were white and we're Black. That's not right."