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Police texting scandal: Antioch special city council meeting gets emotional and fiery

Antioch special city council meeting gets emotional and fiery
Antioch special city council meeting gets emotional and fiery 03:11

ANTIOCH -- The Antioch special city council meeting Monday evening was emotional and fiery at times with demands voiced loudly to disband the community's troubled police department.

Among those who spoke was Antioch resident Patricia Granados.

"Close down the Antioch police department," she told the council. "Close down all the offices, and give them back to the people and put services in there."

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Mayor Lamar Thorpe issued warnings to people who shouted or spoke out of turn, and some were asked to leave.

Granados, who is also an army veteran, also took part in a protest before the meeting, a day after more racist, homophobic and hateful text messages among Antioch police officers came to light, as part of an FBI investigation into other possible crimes. 

The scandal involving racist text messages sent by members of the Antioch Police Department was widening Tuesday, with word that nearly half of the city's police officers are now suspended for their alleged roles.  After Tuesday's development, 45 of the department's 99 sworn officers are involved. Of those,16 of them are in leadership roles.

Granados said hearing other people share traumatic stories involving Antioch police, reminded her of her first encounter. 

"It brought me back to being a young, brown, 12 year old," she said. "I was going through a trail, it was afterschool, we were headed to a basketball game. And the police came up and pointed his gun at me, pretty close...looking back that's kind of scary." 

She said the officer asked her about the fight she had nothing to do with, and didn't witness. 

As far as the newly released racist and hateful text messages - 

"It's just embarrassing and disgusting how emboldened and fearless of reprimand," she said. 

The council voted unanimously in favor of three types of audits for the police department, including its internal affairs process and hiring practices. 

"They need to rethink what policing in Antioch will look like," Granados said. "We do need police, we do need services, but because of the mistrust and after what I heard today, I just keep hearing about more and more stories, because they're still families and victims that have not come forward because they are afraid." 

Chief Contra Costa County public defender Ellen McDonnell said the problem is pervasive. 

"We need immediate and full disclosure and transparency. These individuals that have spoken tonight are victims of police brutality," McDonnell told the council. "They are victims of crimes at the hands of your police department."

Many community members expressed support for the current police chief, who was hired only about a year ago. 

"There are changes happening because the people that voted, wanted accountability, we have it in an administration that's doing it now. Now we need to hold them accountable to it and ensure that we see this through," said Granados. 

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