A near riot at a Newark city meeting last night was quelled, barely, after Mayor Cory Booker attempted a controversial political maneuver to the frustration of many residents.
The near riot at the Newark meeting was due to a “political maneuver” on the part of Booker to block the appointment of John Sharpe James, a former mayor’s son, to fill the vacant council seat of Rep. Donald Payne.
No one can accuse the good citizens of Newark of lack of political concern or involvement, as evidenced by the near-riot at the nighttime meeting. Booker, who is perceived on the national stage as being somewhat a champion of egalitarian values, made what was described as an “unprecedented personal appearance” to cast a vote and move Shanique Davis Speight into the seat the rioters wanted for John Sharpe James — who has also been a vocal opponent of Booker.
Councilman Darrin Sharif blasted Booker after the near-riot for his alleged hypocrisy, saying:
“This truly was an out-of-body experience … The mayor, who goes all around the country to talk about democracy … literally in the back of the room, hiding in the shadows.”
Angry meeting attendees were reportedly sprayed with pepper spray to stave off the near-riot at the Newark meeting, though NJ.com describes a hairy scene before the crowd was dispersed:
“But when Speight was escorted by police to be sworn in, a group of residents, led by SEIU Local 617 President Rahaman Muhammad, stormed the dais and appeared to lunge toward Speight and her grade-school-age son.”
Muhammad was charged, per the site, with “assaulting Marasco and Speight, resisting arrest and inciting a riot.” The use of pepper spray during the near-riot at the Newark meeting by a city police officer will be reviewed in the aftermath of the political fracas.