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Tensions escalate in Pahokee after mayor talks about threats of violence

Mayor claims 3 commissioners violated law by holding special meeting to fire city attorney, interim city manager
Posted at 11:28 PM, Aug 16, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-17 09:03:36-04

PAHOKEE, Fla. — A Town Hall meeting was interrupted Monday night in Pahokee after the mayor said threats of violence were made.

Inside the Eddie Lee Rhodes Gymnasium in Pahokee, Mayor Keith Babb made the announcement.

"I'm gonna have to dismiss this proceeding," Babb told the crowd. "There was some threats received that there was going to be some shooting of this building and the people in it."

Many people left early, as a precaution, as Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office deputies stood in the parking lot.

Earlier in the night, the town hall echoed the tension felt recently across the city after a number of chaotic commission meetings.

James White, a longtime resident of Pahokee, put a paper bag over his head while talking at the podium, saying he's embarrassed to have voted for almost every sitting commissioner.

"What I have seen has been unprofessional and so dishonest," White said.

The mayor said three commissioners violated rules and laws after holding a special meeting last week to officially fire the city attorney and the interim city manager.

"The public didn't receive notice, there was no recording of the meeting and there was no clerk there," Babb said.

But last week, Vice Mayor Regina Bohlen said the meeting was legal and the commissioners followed the city charter.

"I've never been interfered with so much in my whole career," Rodney Lucas, the former interim city manager, said.

Lucas and Bernadette Norris Weeks, the former city attorney who was voted out last week, attended Monday's meeting. The mayor told WPTV everyone was invited, but the three commissioners who cast those votes -- Regina Bohlen, Sara Perez and Juan Gonzalez -- were visibly absent.

"A lot of things they want to do they probably can if they do it decently and in order by the law and ordinance, which they're not following," Babb said.

The mayor wants to extend a state of emergency in Pahokee for another seven days due to the continued unrest in the city.

Another commission meeting is set for next week.

WPTV contacted the sheriff's office to learn more about any possible threats to the city.