Indian American Palestine supporter held for threatening Mayor and Council Members

If convicted on all charges, Riddhi Patel faces a maximum sentence of 54 years in prison

Patel made the threats at the Apr. 10 Bakersfield City Council meeting / Screengrab from the official Youtube video

Bakersfield, California — An Indian American supporter of Palestine, who was arrested for threatening to murder Bakersfield, California Mayor Goh and local city council members, made her first appearance in court Apr. 12 and pleaded not guilty to 16 charges.

Riddhi Patel, 28, is being held at the Lerdo pre-trial facility in Kern County here on bail of US$2 million. She has been charged with eight felony counts of threatening public officials and 10 felony counts of “threatening with intent to terrorize.” Patel was brought to the courtroom in handcuffs and cried through her arraignment, even as she defiantly pleaded not guilty.

Each charge carries a maximum prison sentence of three years. If convicted on all charges, Patel faces the possibility of 54 years in prison.

Patel made the threats at the Apr. 10 Bakersfield City Council meeting, in which members were debating whether to support a resolution demanding an immediate cease fire in Gaza. The ongoing Israel-Hamas war has thus far claimed the lives of 33,091 Palestinians and 1,410 Israelis, according to reports from the Associated Press.

The City Council also recently erected metal detectors at the entrance to its building and has increased its security protocols. “I’ve been attending city council meetings for five years. There have never been metal detectors and there have never been cops,” declared Patel during the public comment portion of the meeting. “The only reason you’re doing this is that people are resisting, and so you want to criminalize them.”

Speaking about the proposed cease fire resolution, Patel said to the city council: “I don’t have faith that you will pass it. You are all horrible human beings. I hope someday somebody brings a guillotine and kills all you m****r f*****s.”

“We’ll see you at your house. We will murder you,” said Patel as she left the speaker’s podium. As she took her seat, Mayor Goh called to her, saying: “Miss Patel, that was a direct threat. Police will take care of it.”

Officers escorted Patel out of City Hall. She was booked and jailed shortly after. Her next court appearance is Apr. 16, according to her booking record.

Patel is an economic development coordinator at The Center on Race, Poverty & the Environment, a national environmental justice organization. She is affiliated with the United Liberation Front, which called on the Bakersfield City Council to demand a cease fire in Gaza.

In a statement issued on the night of her arrest, the ULF denounced  Patel’s actions. “United Liberation Front unequivocally condemns any statements that threaten public officials. The comments in question made tonight by a speaker run counter to our values and do not represent United Liberation Front,” wrote the organization. “It does not represent those of us in the community who continue to show up and exercise our civic duty by engaging directly with our elected representatives.”

The ULF noted that 100 cities in the US have passed resolutions calling for a cease fire in Gaza.

Patel’s arrest comes amid heightened tensions in the US regarding the Israel-Hamas war, especially on the nation’s university campuses. On Apr. 9, UC Berkeley law professor Catherine Fisk allegedly attacked law student Malak Afaneh, a Palestinian Muslim.

The incident occurred at Fisk’s home, during a celebration for graduate students: the professor grabbed the student’s arm to prevent her from showing a video.

Afaneh said in a statement that she was attacked by Fisk because: “I am a Muslim woman who dares to wear a hijab and a keffiyeh and speak in my native tongue of Arabic.”

Fisk is the wife of UC Berkeley Law Dean Erwin Chemerinsky.








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