RIVIERA BEACH, Fla. - The former fire chief in the city of Riviera Beach is accusing a current city councilor of calling him a derogatory name. Not always do city council meetings become so intense, but recently, former Chief Richard Wester says Councilor Shelby Lowe started a war of words with just one word - the 'N' word.
"He walked towards me and he said 'It's (expletive) like you why we ain't got nothing today," said Wester, who was a city firefighter for 27 years and department chief until 1995. He says Lowe used the 'N' word toward him outside city hall after a meeting. "Ain't no doubt in my mind. I know that he knows what he said to me. Why he called me that I don't know."
Wester admits that he and Lowe do not always see eye to eye when in comes to spending taxpayer dollars, including the potential spending of $15 million for a new police and fire department building. Wester is opposed to the plan but Lowe has the power to consider the measure.
Wester said he has not talked to Lowe since the incident. Lowe has not commented publicly about the matter. Neither is Riviera Beach Thomas Masters, who was said to be in earshot of the interaction between Lowe and Wester.
"I grew up when people were lynching people and that was a derogatory term," said Wester.
Wester said he was so hurt that he was compelled to send an email to Lowe and to almost everyone else at city hall. He wrote, in part: 'I am putting you on notice. Please don't get up in my face again'.
NewsChannel 5 tried repeatedly to speak with both Mayor Masters and Councilor Lowe about the incident. Neither answered requests for comment. Wester, meanwhile, said he is considering hiring a lawyer.