update deskU.S. News

Anti-Israel protester, who said she’d kill city council, charged with 16 felonies

“You guys want to criminalize us with metal detectors. We’ll see you at your house. We’ll murder you,” Riddhi Patel, 28, told the City Council in Bakersfield, Calif.

Riddhi Patel speaks during a Bakersfield, Calif. city council meeting on April 10, 2024, during which she was escorted out after she said she would murder council members. Source: YouTube/City of Bakersfield, Calif.
Riddhi Patel speaks during a Bakersfield, Calif. city council meeting on April 10, 2024, during which she was escorted out after she said she would murder council members. Source: YouTube/City of Bakersfield, Calif.

Police in Bakersfield, Calif., charged an anti-Israel protester with 16 felonies after she threatened to murder the mayor and city council members at a council meeting on Wednesday.

Riddhi Patel, 28, spoke twice to call for a ceasefire in Gaza and in opposition to a proposal to install metal detectors and other security measures in the central California city.

“I’m here to speak in support of the city council introducing a ceasefire resolution,” she said. “I don’t have faith that you’ll do this. You’re all horrible human beings, and Jesus would have probably killed you himself.” 

Patel claimed that while council members “parade” the legacy of India’s nonviolent independence leader Mahatma Gandhi, she believes in violence during the ongoing Hindu holiday of Chaitra Navratri.

“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 a guillotine and kills all of you,” she said, using an expletive.

Local media reported that anti-Israel protesters have been speaking at city council meetings in Bakersfield for weeks, but the conclusion of Patel’s second set of remarks crossed the line into an apparent criminal threat.

“You guys want to criminalize us with metal detectors. We’ll see you at your house. We’ll murder you,” she said.

Bakersfield Mayor Karen Goh, a Republican, initially called for the next speaker but then said that Patel had made a threat and that police officers would respond.

“Ms. Patel, that was a threat, what you said at the end, and so the officers are going to escort you out and take care of that,” Goh said.

Patel faces 16 felony counts of threatening and threatening with intent to terrorize, one for each of the seven city council members and the mayor, The Bakersfield Californian reported.

She is being held in jail in lieu of $2 million bail and is due to be arraigned in court on Friday. As of Thursday, the Kern County district attorney had yet to charge her, the daily newspaper reported.

The United Liberation Front, an anti-Israel group that proposed the ceasefire motion that Patel supported, denounced her in a statement on Instagram on Wednesday.

“United Liberation Front unequivocally condemns any statements that threaten public officials,” it stated. “The comments in question made tonight by a speaker run counter to our values and do not represent United Liberation Front.”

While other anti-Israel protesters at the city council meeting did not threaten council members, they appeared to believe that the purpose of local government was to acknowledge residents’ views about foreign affairs rather than to fix infrastructure.

“I don’t think one time in the past five sessions I’ve been here that all of you have collectively looked at me at the same time, but yet you respond to people when they talk about trees and stop lights,” said Gabby, who did not provide a surname. “You won’t respond to any of us who have friends, family members who are in Palestine.”

Despite the disruption from Patel, council members were soon able to resume and spent most of the rest of the meeting discussing parking and zoning requirements. On Thursday, they passed the metal detectors and security measures.

You have read 3 articles this month.
Register to receive full access to JNS.

Just before you scroll on...

Israel is at war.

JNS is combating the stream of misinformation on Israel with real, honest and factual reporting. In order to deliver this in-depth, unbiased coverage of Israel and the Jewish world, we rely on readers like you.

The support you provide allows our journalists to deliver the truth, free from bias and hidden agendas. Can we count on your support?

Every contribution, big or small, helps JNS.org remain a trusted source of news you can rely on.

Become a part of our mission by donating today
Topics
Comments
Thank you. You are a loyal JNS Reader.
You have read more than 10 articles this month.
Please register for full access to continue reading and post comments.
Never miss a thing
Get the best stories faster with JNS breaking news updates