A local resident was removed from Tuesday’s Vallejo City Council meeting after he made homophobic remarks.
The incident began when Ryan Messano questioned why Brenda Crawford, who is an African-American and openly gay, was being nominated as the city’s new representative to the Senior Coalition of Solano County.
Messano began his remarks by explaining that if the late Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. was in the room, he would not have approved of Crawford’s appointment.
“We now have a nest of homosexuals infesting our city right now — who have absolutely no business getting involved in our politics,” Messano said as he looked at the audience in attendance.
“None!” he added.
After Messano repeated his previous comments, Vallejo Mayor Bob Sampayan interrupted.
“Mr. Messano, I’m going to stop you,” Sampayan said.
Messano refused to stop talking.
“You’re going to stand down,” Messano shouted to Sampayan. “I have free speech in America and you’re not taking it from me.”
Sampayan called for a recess to the meeting, while also asking Vallejo police in attendance to remove Messano from the chambers.
The microphone to the public comment podium was turned off as three members of Vallejo police, including the chief of police, attempted to escort Messano from the building.
“I’m not going anywhere!” Messano shouted, his voice being picked up by the chamber’s other microphones.
“You communists in this room are going to face the music,” Messano added before those microphones were turned off as well.
At the request of Sampayan, the council left the dais until Messano was escorted out.
Messano eventually left the room after a brief standoff with police.
“His comments were disparaging, disturbing, and inciting anger and disruptive to the entire proceedings,” Sampayan said in an interview during a council recess later in the evening.
Sampayan said the City Attorney’s Office, along with Vallejo Police Department, are exploring taking out a temporary restraining order against Messano.
Reached by phone Wednesday, Messano said the mayor was acting in a hypocritical manner for removing him but not the pro-cannabis speakers who, according to Messano, verbally attacked the City Attorney during council hearings on marijuana.
Messano said he isn’t a bigot but “attacks on the family need to be confronted.”
“I’m not advocating harming anyone,” he added.
When told about the move by the city regarding a possible temporary restraining order, Messano said he is looking into filing a lawsuit against the city for denying his First Amendment rights to free speech.
Richard Porter, executive director of the Global Center for Success (GCS), confirmed to the Times-Herald on Wednesday that Messano is no longer a board member for the nonprofit, which assists homeless in the area.
“His views/viewpoints are his and they do not reflect the views of GCS,” Porter said about Messano, who left the board three months ago.
In February, Messano got into a verbal spat with Sampayan regarding whether the mayor or anyone in attendance had read biographies about the nation’s Founding Fathers.