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Short Take: True Threat Or FAFO?

Put aside whether a resolution by the Bakersfield City Council is consequential or performative crap. It’s obviously the latter, as it serves no meaningful purpose other than to reflect its acquiescence to the demands of the woke. But to 28-year-old Riddhi Patel, it mattered no matter how silly it may be. It mattered a lot.

This anti-Israel protestor rants about how the security at the meeting is unnecessary and just meant to intimidate right before she threatens to murder the Bakersfield City Council members in their homes.

She is now facing 16 felony charges. pic.twitter.com/4ZzXJ7lWVq

— AG (@AGHamilton29) April 12, 2024

Who is Patel? According to Eugene Volokh, she is or was an economic development coordinator with the Center on Race, Poverty and the Environment (CRPE).

[H]ere’s her biography blurb from the CRPE site:

Riddhi joined the Center on Race, Poverty & the Environment in September of 2020. She was born and raised in Bakersfield, CA and attended Stockdale High School. She then went on to achieve a Bachelor of Science in Neuroscience from Saint Louis University in 2017. After returning to Bakersfield in 2019, she began volunteering for the Bernie 2020 campaign where she found organizing. After the campaign ended, she quickly found a home in the Sunrise Movement, co-founding the local Sunrise Movement hub in Kern County with other local organizers.

Through her advocacy for common sense statewide setbacks to protect frontline communities across the state, she found CRPE in the fall of 2020. She prioritizes 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, watching endless amounts of movies, television series and sports, and enjoying time outdoors with her family and friends.

This time, however, she didn’t enjoy “holding elected officials accountable” as much as she otherwise might have.

Riddhi Patel crying in court after being charged with 16 felony counts over threatening to murder city councillors in Bakersfield unless they voted to endorse a ceasefire in Gaza.

pic.twitter.com/tkX7hKzgE2

— John Aziz (@aziz0nomics) April 13, 2024

Was her threat to murder city councillors serious? Was this a true threat? While it can’t be said with certainty that it wasn’t, it seems far more likely that Patel’s threats reflect the disinhibition of the unduly passionate from engaging in extreme hyperbole with the sense of impunity, that one can say and threaten anything without any concern of recourse. It’s not that she actually meant to do harm to anyone, but that she could say so, use threats to get her way and make her point, and then walk away.

Perhaps she thought this would make her a hero of the cause. Perhaps to some it does, as many zealots similarly believe that they can and should say anything to achieve their ends because their ends must be achieved by any means necessary, threats included.

The members of the Bakersfield City Council didn’t sign up to be told by anyone, even Riddhi Patel, who identifies as non-binary, that “We’ll see you at your house,” they added. “We’ll murder you.” Even if was a completely empty threat, it’s not part of the gig of city councillors, or any other government official.

The reality of what she did struck home as she stood before the court in a jail jumpsuit, arraigned on 18 felony counts, and held in lieu of $2 million bail. Of course she cried. Many would, even those who truly believed that they were the good guys on the right side of history doing what they believed necessary by any means necessary.

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