Pro-Palestinian activist who threatened to murder Bakersfield City Council sobbed after staring down 18 felony counts

The murderous comments made by CRPE’s Riddhi Patel have been disavowed by other pro-Palestinian activists in Kern County. Now, she faces 18 felony counts and $1 million in bail.

The Bakersfield social justice activist who openly threatened to kill members of the Bakersfield City Council for failing to call for a cease-fire in the Israel-Hamas war made her first court appearance Friday.

Riddhi Patel, 28, became the subject of intense internet commentary as she stared down bail tagged at $1 million and 18 felony counts filed against her.


The backstory: Patel was one of a number of people who urged the council to support a cease-fire resolution, a recurring request at the Bakersfield City Council for months. 

  • Patel is an economic development coordinator with the Center on Race, Poverty and the Environment (CRPE), a is a national environmental justice organization that provides legal, organizing and technical assistance to poor communities.
  • Patel’s biography on the CRPE website states that she is a neuroscientist-turned-former Bernie Sanders presidential campaign volunteer and a Bakersfield native. 
  • She joined the CRPE in 2020 and, according to her biography, prioritizes highlighting the intersectionality that comes with the environmental justice movement to achieve collective liberation for all oppressed communities. The biography also states that Patel enjoys holding elected officials accountable in her spare time. 
  • The Bakersfield City Council approved a resolution to establish a policy for implementing physical security protocols at public buildings, something all major cities across California have already done. 
  • The resolution will allow Bakersfield to implement various measures such as adding metal detectors and security screenings to City Hall. 

The big picture: During the general public comment section of Wednesday’s meeting, Patel urged the council to adopt a cease-fire resolution, but had little hopes that they would actually do so. 

  • “I don’t have faith that you’ll do this,” Patel said. “You guys are all horrible human beings, and Jesus probably would’ve killed you himself.” 
  • “I hope one day somebody brings the guillotine and kills all of you motherf___ers,” Patel said as she finished her comments. 
  • Despite the guillotine threat, the meeting continued uninterrupted and the police did not move to apprehend her at that time. 
  • Later, when discussing the new security policies,  Patel spoke once again and complained about metal detectors and police presence at council meetings, saying the council is criminalizing people. 
  • “Regardless of whether you elect people into office, they’ll backstab you,” Patel said. “They’ll let you die. And for that reason – you guys want to criminalize us with metal detectors, we’ll see you at your house. We’ll murder you.” 
  • Following those comments officers took Patel into custody and booked her into the pre-trial facility. 
  • Patel was booked on two offenses: threatening with intent to terrorize and threatening state officials. 
  • Jail records show that her bail was set at $1 million. 

Court action: Patel sobbed openly in court as she faced arraignment before a Kern County Superior Court commissioner on Friday.

  • Through a public defender, Patel pleaded not guilty to 18 felony counts – five counts of threatening a public official and ten counts of making terrorist threats.
  • She was charged with eight counts of threatening public officials and ten counts of making terroristic threats.
  • A conviction on the ten counts of terroristic threats carries a maximum sentence of three years imprisonment. First-time conviction of threatening a public official carries a sentence of no more than one year imprisonment and a fine of up to $5,000.
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