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'We'll murder you': Indian-origin, anti-Israel woman arrested for threatening to kill councillors

Riddhi Patel, 28, cited Mahatma Gandhi and Chaitra Navratri in her threat-laden speech, saying these festivals believe in "violent revolution" that she implied would be used against the "oppressors". She threatened to "murder" councillors for increased security presence for anti-Israel protesters.

Edited By: Aveek Banerjee @AveekABanerjee California Published on: April 13, 2024 14:58 IST
US, Indian origin woman arrested, threats, Israel, Bakersfield
Image Source : X Riddhi Patel, the anti-Israel protester who threatened to 'kill' Bakersfield City Council members.

Bakersfield: An Indian-American pro-Palestinian protester was arrested after she threatened to 'murder' a mayor and city council members during a hearing in California's Bakersfield. The woman has been identified as Riddhi Patel, 28, who is facing more than a dozen accusations of threatening with intent to terrorise and threatening public officials.

In her shocking comments during the hearing in Bakersfield, Patel slammed the council members for not backing a ceasefire resolution against Israel in Gaza and said that "Jesus probably would have killed you himself". She also explicitly said, "We'll murder you" while voicing her opposition against the tight security measures outside government buildings due to anti-Israel protests.

What did Riddhi Patel say?

According to 23ABC news, Patel was arrested for her comments and is facing 18 charges, 10 of them threatening with intensive terrorising, eight of which threatened a public official. She appeared in court on Friday for a felony arraignment and pleaded not guilty to the charges. Patel's bail was set for $1 million and she is due back in court on April 24 for the next hearing.

Patel, while slamming the council for its position on the Israel-Hamas war, said, "You guys are all horrible human beings and Jesus probably would have killed you himself... You guys don't care about anything happening in Palestine or any other country where oppression occurs, because you don't care about the oppression happening here."

She also cited Mahatma Gandhi and Chaitra Navratri in her speech, saying these festivals believe in "violent revolution" that she implied would be used against the "oppressors". The clearly agitated Patel remarked that those elected to the Bakersfield city council office would "backstab you" and "leave you to die".

"You guys, those who votes to win in Bakersfield, parade Gandhi around and a Hindu holiday called Chaitra Navratri that starts off this week. I remind you that these holidays that we practice, that other countries in the Global South practice, believe in violent revolution against their oppressors. And I hope one day someone brings the guillotine and kills all you m*********," she added.

She also threatened to kill the Bakersfield council members for using metal detectors against anti-Israel protesters. "The only reason you’re doing it is because people actually don’t care if you guys don’t like them and they’re actually resisting so you want to criminalise them...You guys want to criminalise us with metal detectors. We’ll see you at your house, we’ll murder you," Patel said.

Reactions to Patel's threatening rant

After Patel was done with her speech and walked away, Bakersfield Mayor Karen Goh gestured to the police officers to take her away. "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 after the rant.

Hindu-American Foundation, a Washington-based non-profit organisation, condemned the threats made by Patel during her speech. "We are outraged that this person invokes Gandhi & Chaitra Navaratri while threatening to murder @Bakersfield_Cal leaders. The escalation of antisemitic rhetoric from anti-Israel demonstrations into terroristic threats is a horrific reality that we condemn. It must stop now," it said on X.

Bakersfield Councilman and Vice Mayor Andrae Gonzales also reacted to the threats, calling them “completely inappropriate, unproductive and is deeply concerning" and said that nobody on the city council will be intimidated to action by such remarks.

The United Liberation Front, a pro-Palestinian group that has been advocating for a ceasefire in Gaza, said that they “condemn any statements that threaten public officials” following the incident at Wednesday Night’s city council meeting, and advised attendees at the council meeting to not disrupt the proceedings and that after comments, they would leave the meeting room.

Who is Riddhi Patel?

Riddhi S Patel is the Economic Development Coordinator of the Center on Race, Poverty and the Environment, according to the organisation's website. According to the information, she was born and raised in Bakersfield and has a Bachelor of Science in Neuroscience from Saint Louis University in 2017.

"She prioritises highlighting the intersectionality that comes with the environmental justice movement to achieve collective liberation for all oppressed communities. In her spare time, she enjoys holding elected officials accountable," reads her bio, which also mentions that she participated in US Senator Bernie Sanders' presidential campaign in 2020.

ALSO READ | 'Don't': Biden warns Iran as world on edge over expected attack on Israel

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