A handful of hecklers in Richmond, California has been aiming “bigoted vitriol” at the city’s first openly gay elected leader, Vice Mayor Jovanka Beckles, according to the Contra Costa Times.
However, some residents believe the media’s amplification of the situation is rather disproportionate.
“I don’t think that Richmond has more of a ways to go than anywhere else in California” with regard to their acceptance of the homosexual population, resident and former mayoral candidate Mike Parker told the Times. “Most people in Richmond are horrified by that kind of stuff,” he added.
Richmond’s City Council is known for its almost comedic and “reality show”-like antics, as San Francisco State political science Professor Robert Smith, a longtime observer of Richmond’s political scene, described it to the San Francisco Chronicle.
The Times‘ Robert Rogers has also written about the self-described “circuslike” shenanigans of the Richmond City Council by council members themselves, who say the gatherings befit a group of “pandering fools and [are] a laughing stock.”
Beckles, who is vying for re-election, has been ridiculed since being elected to office as a councilwoman four years ago. The same hecklers have also reportedly aimed attacks at police chief Chris Magnus, who is also openly gay.
However, Beckles’ critics have noted that as much as the Vice Mayor is a victim, she is also an aggressor of sorts, and something of a a polarizing figure, reports the Contra Costa Times.
In July of this year, Beckles reportedly “sent her critics an email laced with the n-word and “cracker,” a derogatory term for white people, according to the Times.
That was followed by a verbal fight between Beckles and her critics in which she yelled, “You’re bunch of bullies. You’re a bunch of women abusers.” She then reportedly spoke directly to Reverend Kenneth Davis, who seemed to be recording the exchange, suggesting that “kids are dying” because of people such as Rev. Davis who are “bad examples.”
Raw cell phone video footage from KTVU News can be seen by clicking here.
Others, such as Councilman Tom Butt, have suggested that Beckles is entitled to an occasional snap. “They love to taunt her because she’s openly lesbian,” Buzz said.
Yet Councilman Corey Boozé has suggested that she instigates the trouble that is brought her way.
“She’s got a short fuse,” said Boozé to the Chronicle in August. “Some people don’t care for her lifestyle. I don’t care for it myself, but she takes that in a homophobic way. I’m not homophobic — my ex-wife is a lesbian.”