Victorville councilwoman, masked man arrested during chaotic meeting

1 week ago 15

Pandemonium erupted at this week’s Victorville City Council meeting when sheriff’s deputies arrested Councilwoman Blanca Gomez after she tried to prevent them from removing a masked man from the building who was recording the meeting on his cellphone.

The ruckus occurred nearly five hours into Tuesday’s meeting, which was abruptly halted after Gomez stood up from behind the dais and walked over to two deputies trying to remove the man, who was wearing what appeared to be a black scarf over his face and a gray fedora. He was identified as Robert Daniel Rodriguez.

In this screen grab from video of the July 20, 2021 Victorville City Council meeting, Councilwoman Blanca Gomez gestures as she leaves the dais as sheriff’s deputies confront Robert Daniel Rodriguez (bottom right of screen, in gray fedora)), who was recording the meeting with his cellphone. (Via YouTube)

In the recorded video of the meeting, Rodriguez, seated in the third row, is seen holding papers over his face and holding up his cellphone recording the council. Mayor Debra Jones asked City Manager Andre de Bortnowsky if Rodriguez had a right to record others. De Bortnowsky said Rodriguez appeared to be disturbing the meeting and she could ask him to be removed.

“The gentleman in the mask will cease at this moment or I’m going to ask you to leave,” Jones said. Then Gomez cut in and said she was having Rodriguez record the meeting. “I have him recording! Don’t worry about it!” Gomez stated, appearing to flag Rodriguez with her hand. “I got it on my camera. Don’t worry about it.”

Man ordered removed

Jones asked the deputies to look at Rodriguez’s phone to see if he had been recording the meeting, then instructed them to remove Rodriguez from the meeting.

When the two deputies confronted Rodriguez, Gomez stood up from her behind the dais and walked away. She could be heard shouting in the background, off camera. Mayor Jones recessed the meeting for five minutes. The video then cut out and did not show the encounter between Gomez and the deputies.

“Council Member Gomez left the dais and interfered with the deputies’ efforts to escort Rodriguez from City Hall. Within minutes, the deputies were forced to restrain and arrest both Council Member Gomez and Rodriguez as an altercation occurred led by Gomez,” according to a statement released by the city on Wednesday.

Gomez did not immediately respond to an email Wednesday seeking comment, nor did Jones nor any other council member.

Gomez released from custody

Gomez, 42, was arrested on suspicion resisting/obstructing a peace officer. She was cited and released from custody. Rodriguez, 34, was arrested on suspicion of resisting/obstructing a peace officer and obstructing the business of a public agency. He was booked into the High Desert Detention Center in Adelanto for violating the terms of his post-release community supervision following a previous incarceration, according to the city.

“The actions of Mr. Rodriguez and Council Member Gomez prevented us from conducting our Council Meeting last night,” according to the statement released by the city. “What’s worse is that Council Member Gomez lost self-control displaying eradic (sic) and volatile behavior that caused us all to fear for the safety of our Council Members, staff and community members in attendance.”

The case will ultimately be submitted to the San Bernardino County District Attorney’s Office for review, a sheriff’s spokeswoman said.

Outspoken figure

Gomez, who claims to be a staunch advocate for the Latino community, was elected to the City Council in 2016 and reelected last year. She is known for challenging her colleagues from behind the dais and recording sheriff’s deputies she believes are abusing their power against citizens, then posting them to her social media accounts.

In March, the Victorville Daily Press reported that a state administrative law judge ruled Gomez falsely claimed she was eligible for unemployment benefits in 2020, which led to her receiving almost $5,000 despite continuing to receive her monthly stipend from the city.

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