'You want to go? Let's go!' Antioch mayor shouts during meeting on police racist texting scandal

A racist texting scandal embroiling the Antioch Police Department prompted outrage at Tuesday’s City Council meeting from Mayor Lamar Thorpe, who shouted at a speaker during public comment. 

"You want to go outside? Let’s go!" Thorpe told the speaker, who was defending the police department and accusing the mayor of misconduct. "I am sick and tired of being attacked by these people in this community apologizing for the racism that is going on in this community."

The mayor on Wednesday defended the outburst, saying his comments were part of an effort to attack the racism he said is rife throughout the city and its police force.

It came after revelations about a racist texting scandal involving 24 members of the city’s police department. 

"It’s very, very disturbing, very disappointing, very angering," Thorpe said in an interview with KTVU. "It’s not just the police department who provides cover for people like this who are on these text messages. There are residents in this community who will put up a fight to protect the culture that exists in that department."

The city’s police force has been under investigation by the FBI for months related to various possible crimes. But new text messages revealed this week show at least two dozen officers involved in a text chain, espousing racist views, admitting to targeting minorities, and discussing attacking the mayor himself. 

The East Bay Times broke the story on the latest details in the texts, which were in a report in possession of the district attorney and the public defender. A spokesman for the district attorney’s office said they plan to make the report available soon.

"There were racist comments made to superiors, to sergeants, to people in the internal affairs with no repercussions for people saying things," said Nate Gartrell, a reporter for the East Bay Times who obtained a copy of the report. 

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The texting scandal could have a major impact beyond the discipline of the officers involved. 

"The text messages are despicable. They’re abhorrent," said Contra Costa County Chief Public Defender Ellen McDonnell.

She said the scandal could affect thousands of cases involving the officers, some who admitted to falsifying reports and targeting minorities.

"There are admissions of pursuing and brutalizing and targeting Black and brown members of the community in Antioch, and it’s clear that this is deeply entrenched in the culture there," she said.