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Councilman questions colleague, ‘You should be on the side of black folks’

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Posted at 6:02 PM, May 22, 2013
and last updated 2013-05-22 18:02:13-04

Norfolk, Va. -“Sometimes, you should be on the side of black folks.”

That comment came from Norfolk City Councilman Paul Riddick, calling out his colleague Angelia Williams, during a vote to buy land for a new library in Broad Creek.

Several members of the Norfolk City Council wanted to postpone the decision.

“When did it come to council to talk about this?” asked Anthony Protogyrou.

“I would like to know about it. What we are doing, the whole bit,” said Theresa Whibley.

“It popped up on the agenda without any kind of briefing,” said Williams.

But Williams was the only one singled out by Riddick, upset that she wanted to push back the library vote.

“Sometimes you should be on the side of black folks. A few years ago, it was against the law for us to read,” said Riddick.

Williams fired back.

“I have been black all my life since 1972 when I was born, so to say I’m not on the side of black people is ridiculous,” said Williams. “I support the library. For the record, I want all the bells and whistles that Pretlow has, and then some, but I’m not going to just sit here and agree with something just because you throw out the race card. I’m not going to do it, and if anybody has a problem with that, then that’s your issue, not mine.”

When NewsChannel 3 asked Ms. Williams for comment, she would only say it was not council's finest hour.

Mr. Riddick refused our interview requests, saying it was "old news."

This was not the first time Riddick's comments have brought controversy.

Scapegoating Jews, calling people "cracker" in closed sessions, and at a meeting last May, he threatened Council member Thomas Smigiel.

Then, who could forget the time he was charged with assault for throwing a ham at a store clerk.

We called every single member of council, but no one wanted to speak about the most recent encounter—they all just say this library was never about race, and that in the end, the project was approved.