Bay Area mayor says he was punched in chest after ‘heated’ conversation with man
Antioch Mayor Lamar Thorpe said he was punched in the chest by a man during a confrontation Tuesday that had racial overtones.
Thorpe told The Times on Wednesday that the incident happened after he gave a speech at an event hosted by the Antioch Chamber of Commerce. Thorpe said he was getting ready to leave the State of Business luncheon at the Lone Tree Golf Course and Event Center when he was approached by a white man in his late 50s. Thorpe, who is Black, said he knew the man, who had attended City Council meetings in the past.
He said the man referenced a post on a conservative news blog that mentioned Thorpe not being present at a recent City Council meeting.
“I know the gentleman and he’s your typical MAGA, right-wing guy who’s just not happy,” Thorpe said. “He’s just an older white man who’s not happy that Antioch has a majority-Black City Council.”
After getting into a heated discussion, Thorpe said that he tried to walk away but that when he turned around, the man was still talking and had gotten too close to him.
“The next thing I know, he’s putting his hand into a fist, and he hits me in the chest,” Thorpe said. “He tries to do that a second time, and I said, ‘Don’t touch me. Don’t put your hands on me.’ ”
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Councilwoman Tamisha Torres-Walker got in between the two men while Dominique King, an Antioch school board candidate, escorted the man away, according to Thorpe, who added that he is feeling physically OK after the incident.
“I’m at a loss,” he said. “I just couldn’t believe he did that. After that moment, it was just being in a daze. Why was it even necessary for it to escalate like that?”
King said she walked out and saw Thorpe and the man having a “heated exchange,” but didn’t know what they were arguing about. She confirmed that she asked the man if he would walk away with her, which he did.
King said that she hadn’t witnessed the attack and that when she‘d arrived, it was “just verbal at that point.”
Thorpe said he filed a police report after the incident and that officers are still conducting an investigation.
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The Antioch Police Department didn’t immediately respond to a request for information Wednesday. Authorities have not publicly identified the man involved.
Thorpe said he and the man who hit him had disagreed on several issues in the past.
“He was a proponent of charter schools and was against us housing homeless people in a hotel,” Thorpe continued. “He’s been a strong opponent of some of my measures to help people.”
Thorpe said he had walked toward the man because he didn’t think he was dangerous, but has been “looking at the things they do to me compared to our last mayor, who was white, and these things would’ve never happened to him.”
Thorpe said he had been threatened by a man at a restaurant, who told him, “You need to be careful about what you do,” and had to text one of his neighbors for help. He also said that people have shown up at his house and set his fence on fire.
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The city has reckoned with racist incidents in its past by apologizing to early Chinese immigrants and their descendants after the Chinatown was burned down more than a century ago.
“We were one of the original sundown towns,” Thorpe said. “In the late ’80s and ’90s, Black people weren’t allowed to be in Antioch after dark. Some of these people grew up here and this is normal. We’re seeing people of color actually be in these spaces, have an opinion and those opinions are affecting public policy and that really bothers them.”
Thorpe has faced controversy in the past year, including a failed recall attempt last December. He was also cited by authorities in March for driving under the influence of alcohol and charged with two DUI-related misdemeanors.
Fellow council members have called for Thorpe’s resignation in recent weeks after an independent investigation substantiated allegations of sexual harassment made against Thorpe by two employees of the now-defunct Los Medanos Healthcare District, where Thorpe previously worked. Thorpe has denied all of the allegations and said the investigation didn’t include all possible witnesses.
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