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Indian American Protestor Arrested for Threatening to Kill Bakersfield City Officials for Not Backing Gaza Ceasefire

Indian American Protestor Arrested for Threatening to Kill Bakersfield City Officials for Not Backing Gaza Ceasefire

  • Riddhi Patel, 28, was charged for 16 felony counts, including eight counts of intent to terrorize and eight counts of threatening California city officials.

An Indian American protestor was arrested and charged with making threats at a Bakersfield City Council meeting in California this week. Riddhi Patel repeatedly threatened to murder council members and Republican Mayor Karen Goh for not backing a ceasefire resolution against Israel. 

The 28-year-old, who identifies as non-binary, addressed the April 10 council meeting twice. Patel first spoke out about the council not passing a resolution condemning Israel’s actions in its war against Hamas, NBC affiliate KGET News reported. Patel chided the council calling them “horrible human beings” and claimed the council does not care about oppression anywhere in the world, including Bakersfield, the report aid. “Jesus probably would’ve killed you himself,” they continued.

Patel lashed out at the council for the security measures in place saying the measures were put in place as retaliation against protesters. “You guys want to criminalize us with metal detectors, we’ll see you at your house, we’ll murder you,” Patel said.

When Patel addressed the council a second time, she expressed “outrage over the presence of metal detectors at the meeting,” KGET said. “In the last five years I’ve attended city council meetings there’s never been metal detectors, there’s never been more cops,” Patel said. “The only reason you’re doing it is because people actually don’t care if you guys don’t like them and they’re actually resisting so you’re trying to criminalize them.” 

Patel then threatened a violent uprising if council members chose to oppress the constituents. “I remind you that these holidays that we practice, that other people in the global south practice, believe in violent revolution against their oppressors and I hope one day somebody brings the guillotine and kills all of you motherf ———.”

Mayor Karen Goh then rebuked Patel, saying “that was a threat, what you said at the end, so officers are going to escort you out and take care of that.” Patel was escorted out of the meeting by police officers, and charged for 16 felony counts, including eight counts of intent to terrorize and eight counts of threatening state officials, according to Kern County Sheriff’s office. Patel is due back in court on April 16, 24, and 25, according to Bakersfield Now. 

Patel works as the Economic Development Coordinator at the Center on Race, Poverty & the Environment (CRPE), according to her Twitter profile. It is a national environmental justice organization providing legal, organizing, and technical assistance to grassroots groups in low-income communities and communities of color. There is no statement from CRPE on Patel. 

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Born and raised in Bakersfield, Patel attended Stockdale High School, and then got a Bachelor of Science degree in Neuroscience from Saint Louis University in 2017, according to their profile on the CRPE website. After returning to Bakersfield in 2019, Patel began volunteering for the Bernie 2020 campaign. After the campaign ended, “Patel quickly found a home in the Sunrise Movement, co-founding the local Sunrise Movement hub in Kern County with other local organizers,” the profile said. 

Patel joined the CRPE in September of 2020. “She prioritizes highlighting the intersectionality that comes with the environmental justice movement to achieve collective liberation for all oppressed communities,” the profile said. In their spare time, they enjoy holding elected officials accountable, watching endless amounts of movies, television series and sports, and enjoying time outdoors with her family and friends.

Meanwhile, anti-Israel protesters who were there with Patel at the April 10 council meeting told KGET that they “tried to distance themselves from the young woman after she was arrested. “The comments of Riddhi Patel were shocking,” Jenny Huh told the network. Patel “in no way represent those of us who continue to come to city council to demand a ceasefire and an end to the genocide [in Gaza]. I ask that this does not distract anyone from our mission to end the genocide. Ceasefire now.”

The Pro-Palestinian activism group United Liberation Front also condemned the behavior in a statement. “United Liberation Front unequivocally condemns any statements that threaten public officials,” a statement read. “The comments in question made tonight by a speaker run counter to our values and do not represent United Liberation Front.”

(Top photo, Bakersfield City Council Facebook)

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