Support surfaces for Riddhi Patel amidst allegations

April 23, 2024 /

The People’s Budget Bakersfield has released an official statement supporting Riddhi Patel, who was arrested and accused of 18 felony counts after they made threatening remarks towards the city council members on April 10. The incident has since made nationwide news. The statement was released on April 20th. 

Read the People’s Budget Official Statement down below:

Riddhi Satishkumar Patel (they/them)  is one of the most genuine, kind and beautiful humans we have had the pleasure of calling our friend and comrade. They are a cherished member of our community, and it breaks our heart to see the media falsely portray them while the court of public opinion locks them up and throws away the key. Everyone claims to support non-violence until you say something that upsets them, then it becomes ok to threaten their loved ones and disappear them into the prison system. That is what is currently happening, and sadly they got it all wrong. Riddhi is not an unhinged threat to society, they are a loyal friend, a good person and a devout believer in freedom and liberation for all. They are funny, compassionate and have always stood up for anyone facing injustice and oppression. They have dedicated the last few years of their life to embodying the values of love, truth, justice and community. They love us deeply and we love them right back. 

As organizers in Bakersfield we have experienced first hand the alienation, public shaming and criminalization that comes along with holding elected officials and the police accountable for their violent treatment of Bakersfield residents. Over the last four years our coalition, People’s Budget Bakersfield, has been harassed publicly and privately by elected officials and the Bakersfield Police Department in an attempt to get a volatile reaction so they can be justified in arresting us. We have been called names by elected officials and laws have been instituted to punish us for speaking up at city council meetings. We’ve been unjustly pulled over by the police, and even had the police come to our homes without cause, and none of us have ever caused them the least bit of harm. It’s been made clear that the City seeks to ruin our lives by painting us (and anyone who is brave enough to stand up to them) as unhinged disruptors when all we want is a healthier city with equitable treatment for all residents. 

We are not at this moment by mistake, but by design. When you stand up in Bakersfield you will be punished. What we are currently witnessing is a modern day public execution, and no one is stopping it because it has evolved into a lynch mob that feels vindicated in their anger. Our coalition has received violent threats by anonymous people daily since the city council meeting. As a result,  we have had to delete our social media and make our pages private. Our children have even been harassed and asked questions at school. But make no mistake none of these people care about the betterment of Bakersfield residents, they only care about controlling and keeping you in line. As we reflect on what this means for us as organizers in our city we think of the quote from Malcolm X, “The media is the most powerful entity on earth. They have the power to make the innocent guilty and to make the guilty innocent, and that’s power. Because they control the minds of the masses.”

As the powers-that-be continue to paint our beloved friend as a horrible person, we urge you to pay attention to the way power is being weaponized across political party lines, and ask yourselves “why?”.  Through their actions the City is sending all of us a very clear message. 

But instead of giving into the fear, we invite you to open your heart, and think about how you would feel if this was you, your family member, friend or loved one who was being dragged across multiple media platforms nationally. We ask that you take a step back and question what the end result will mean for everyone in town who seeks to organize our community in the face of oppression. 

Right now the narrative is that Riddhi is a person who is harmful to our community, but that is not at all who we have come to know and love. The Riddhi we know is someone who loves their family, their community and the city of Bakersfield and that’s why they organize. They are thoughtful, empathetic and supportive. They want to do their part to make our city better.

Over the last week several community members have reached out to us asking how they could support Riddhi without showing their identity because the public has attacked anyone who has spoken out in support. It is a shame that community members feel scared to tell the truth and lift up our friend, but we understand because no one wants to feel unsafe in their own city.  As we navigate this space of City led bullying we reflect on what brought us here. It all started with a refusal to be quiet. A refusal to watch in silence while the city of Bakersfield mistreats its citizens. We will continue to use our voice and support community members who want to do the same. 

We stand in solidarity with Riddhi unapologetically. Our bond is forged in love, ancestral wisdom, truth and freedom. It is unbreakable,  there is no division here, they are our family and we support them unequivocally.

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Haley Duval

Haley is a reporter for Kern Sol News since December of 2023. She was born and raised in East Bakersfield and went to Foothill High School. Haley has AA in Journalism from Bakersfield College. When Haley is not reporting, she enjoys writing poetry, reading, traveling and spending time with friends and family. She can be reach at haley@southkernsol.org.