Home Antioch Editorial: Media Wants a Thorpe v. McNell Story That Just Isn’t There

Editorial: Media Wants a Thorpe v. McNell Story That Just Isn’t There

By Mike Burkholder

by ECT

Yet again, the City of Antioch makes national news for all the wrong reasons thanks to its mayor, Lamar Thorpe.

Rather than talking about the many positive things occurring, policy changes, improvements with the youth, the country gets a birds eye view into the chaos residents see daily from the shenanigans of the mayor and other members of the city council.

Seriously folks, what will Thorpe be involved in next?  Recently he had a DUI arrest, a sexual harassment settlement, now we have a verbal altercation in a parking lot of a golf course that may or may not have been physical involving the mayor and Antioch resident Tom McNell.

Basically, a trio of bad behavior involving Thorpe from drinking and driving, to groping women to an exaggerated fight in a golf course parking lot.

Now let me be clear, I am not dismissing assault as no one should ever put their hands on an elected official, threaten them, or get in ones personal space. Let alone, put ones hands on another human, but it always takes two to tango in an altercation.

Simply broken down, this is a case of two men who got into a heated argument, maybe some pushing occurred, and that was it. National news? Absolutely not.  But that is how media works.

Every publication wants the clicks and story–the heck with the truth.

My hunch early on was this was staged by Thorpe once the two men were separated. It then became exaggerated when Antioch Public Information Officer Rolando Bonilla got involved  all while this would come back to bite the Antioch Chamber of Commerce in the butt somehow by having the mayor in attendance and the altercation occurring after their event–after-all, after the mayor’s sexual harassment settlement, the chamber wasn’t even going to have him in attendance. The city of Oakley and its mayor was smart to pull out of the event as it wanted no part in Thorpe.

Thorpe might want to claim assault, but its looking more and more like only a verbal altercation.

At some point, do Antioch Police look at this as filing a false police report? It has to be asked, but that would be too hard to prove plus I doubt the District Attorney would file charges.

Assault?  The District Attorney would probably laugh those charges away towards dismissal.

Bottom line, nothing is going to happen and this is a giant waste of police resources after more information has come out as both men are at fault and both men look extremely foolish.

Here is a recap of what we know:

Antioch Mayor Lamar Thorpe released the following statement shortly after the incident Tuesday afternoon:

“I can confirm that the reports of my being punched at an event today are true. After giving a speech at a luncheon hosted by the Antioch Chamber of Commerce, I was aggressively approached by an older white male in his late 50’s. When it became clear that he was seeking a confrontation, I asked him to leave. As I attempted to walk away, the man punched me in the chest and was attempting to punch me a second time, but was not able to land his blow, as bystanders intervened to help me. Although shaken up, I am doing well. Violence has absolutely no place in the public discourse and will never be tolerated. My hope is that this individual is arrested and prosecuted. I would like to thank the bystanders who intervened for putting their own safety at risk to help me. I will never forget their kindness and support. I will be at tonight’s regularly scheduled meeting of the Antioch City Council”

Witnesses Dispute Mayors Claim

In speaking with several witnesses, they dispute the mayors claims that he was punched and described it as a “heated verbal exchange” and potentially a “hard push”. Another witness said no pushes occurred.

McNell Shares His Version

In speaking with McNell directly hours after the incident, he denied any punches were thrown and figured it was a heated argument and they both would move on. At the time, McNell did not want to be identified, so I respected his wishes.

McNell admitted to heckling the mayor, which he admitted he shouldn’t have done, by asking where he had been hiding—a reference to him missing multiple meetings after his sexual harassment settlement was announced by Contra Costa County.

McNell says it was Thorpe who approached him and get “inches from my face” and that is when he put his hand up in an open palm against the mayors chest to stop him from coming into his “personal space”. He again stated no punches were ever thrown.

At that point, Antioch City Councilwoman Tamisha Torres-Walker and Antioch School Board Candidate Dominique King separated the mayor and the man in an attempt to defuse the situation–the man said they both attempted to play peacemaker.

Tamisha Torres-Walker Says Mayor Aggressively Shoved

During Tuesdays Antioch City Council Meeting, Councilwoman Tamisha Torres-Walker said the mayor was pushed but punches landed as she addressed the public at the end of the meeting.

“My shoulder hurts right now because today I had to step in between the Mayor of Antioch Lamar Thorpe, the man, and another gentlemen that intentionally showed up to a meeting, a public meeting, to accost him and shove him aggressively in the chest and attempt to punch him” stated Torres-Walker. “As the struggle ensued, three women, three women had to jump in the middle and break it up and deescalate.”

She continued stating the man was stating quotes from the comment sections of Antioch Herald or EastCountyToday while being aggressive.

“As the mayor said I am done, this conversation is over, it was clear that it was not over. This guy was ready to get physical and even when we broke it up, three women, struggling to break up this altercation, this guy would not stop and continue to aggressively pursue the Mayor of Antioch, the man, Lamar Thorpe. “Whether we agree with anybody’s behavior or what they have done, nobody deserves to be physically assaulted by anybody. And the fact that three women had to stand in the middle to break it up because everybody is so reckless on their comments and their opinions and cant foreshadow that harm can actually happen to an individual in this city as a result is disgusting.”

Antioch Police Confirm  Investigation Still Ongoing

Contrary to several media reports that say the Antioch Police Department has sent this case to the District Attorney’s Office. That is false, the investigation is still underway and they still have not interviewed all the witnesses. No arrests have been made.

Media Clickbait

Yes, lets go through this shall we? Yes we shall!!!

Congratulations KRON4, you broke an unverified story on behalf of your buddy Antioch PIO Rolando Bonilla and look completely clown-like in the process.

You guys also quoted Bonilla as claiming an “arrest appears to be imminent”. Says who? Bonilla or the Antioch Police Department?  Who gave him permission to speak on an investigation as the Antioch Police Department has their own spokesperson.

Furthermore, who punches someone in the chest? if the mayor attempted to leave, how could he punch him in the chest still? It doesn’t make sense.

Only hours after this report was published, Councilwoman Tamisha Torres-Walker said during the council meeting no punches were thrown. McNell also stated no punches were thrown.

Had they waited, they could have received Torres-Walkers statement and not look so foolish.

What Antioch City Council and the City Manager should be looking at now is who gave Bonilla permission to speak about such charges “being imminent” now that more information is released.

False — this did not happen during the chamber of commerce luncheon, it happened after the event in the parking lot of the Lone Tree Golf Course and Event Center.

False — Antioch Mayor Lamar Thorpe and city public information officer Rolando Bonilla knew who McNell is and was the whole time. I believe they intentionally mislead TV media to better exaggerate the story in an effort to build sympathy for Thorpe who is battling a variety of issues from DUI to sexual harassment.

Antioch hit the AP News again, for the wrong reasons, but furthermore it was an incomplete story and as already stated, it makes it out as if an unidentified man approached the mayor, punched him and fled–all thanks to the released statement of Thorpe and Bonilla.

For Thorpe to claim this was one sided, as you will see below, is embarrassing and irresponsible.

In this KTVU interview with Henry Lee, for the first time Thorpe admits to responding to McNell’s comment with a snide remark of his own.

Lets all think about this, you heckle someone, they heckle back and neither of you like what occurs–those are fighting words so let me paraphrase:

  • McNell — where have you been hiding? referring to sexual harassment.
  • Thorpe — how is the recall signature gathering? — referring to failed recall attempt.

What does one think is going to happen? People get into each others faces.

At this point, the only two adults in the parking lot are Tamisha Torres-Walker and Antioch School Board candidate Dominique King, along with a third unidentifief female who broke up the altercation.

At least the LA Times got this right when they say Mayor says he was punched, not he was punched. Thorpe also admitted he knew the man, which he previous left out to local bay area media when he first said he was punched–of course he paints McNell in negative light.

“I know the gentleman and he’s your typical MAGA, right-wing guy who’s just not happy,” Thorpe said. “He’s just an older white man who’s not happy that Antioch has a majority-Black City Council.”

Thorpe does leave out the fact he said some heated words back at McNell… but hey, someone has to control the narrative by stating now McNell has a fist and hits him in the chest.

At this point, Thorpe collaborates what McNell told me Tuesday night which was Tamisha Torres-Walker took Thorpe one way and Dominique King took McNell another way to separate them.  King also confirmed she walked with McNell to deescalate the situation–King also admitted to the LA Times she did not witness the rumored attack.

Pay attention to this line from NBC Bay Area: “A source close to the case told NBC Bay Area’s Damian Trujillo Wednesday night that Thomas McNell is the man who allegedly assaulted Thorpe.”

Give me a break, given the fact myself and the editor of the Antioch Herald had already spoken to McNell two days earlier and putting out the more accurate version, which included Torres-Walkers version, Thorpe and Bonilla had no choice but to release the name but did so in a way where they did not say it.

Bottom Line

Nothing is going to happen because there is not enough evidence one way or another. Unless there is video somewhere, good luck proving this as to anything other than a Thorpe vs. McNell account of what occurred.

I get why media would be all over this story and pushing every angle, heck I would be too, but it was out less than 40-minutes after it was reported to the Antioch Police Department and before any investigation occurred–Thorpe wanted to win in the court of public opinion. This was strategically worded and released in an effort to deflect away from the mayors involvement in the incident to paint someone else as the aggressor.

The reality is both men are at fault. Both should be ashamed of themselves. But thus far, McNell is the only one who admitted his error in opening his mouth towards Thorpe.

Thorpe, not acting like a leader at all, has tripled down against taking any responsibility and placing blame solely on McNell while painting McNell’s character in negative light.

And lets give a kudos to Tamisha Torres-Walker and Dominique King for being smart enough in acting like the only adults in the parking lot by separating the two men.

Imagine the national headlines had a true fight broke out and an assault did happen. Imagine Thorpe, a navy man, being beat up by an old man.

Thanks goodness for Walker and King, they spared Antioch the true embarrassment in this situation.

But seriously, can we all stop feeding into Thorpe’s lies and misleading the public. And main stream media, can you all just be better,

Mike Burkholder

Mike Burkholder
Publisher of ECT
[email protected]


You may also like


John Q Public Oct 27, 2022 - 3:13 pm

The first thing Thorpe tries to do is play the victim. When that didn’t work he goes for the race card.

What was TWT trying to say in her statement? It seems misinterpreted or incoherent. The Mayor, the man Lamar Thorpe. What does that mean? Her shoulder is hurt. Sounds like a disability claim for the City

MR. B Oct 27, 2022 - 7:43 pm

Looks like Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey are headquartered right here in Antioch!

Bill Moon Oct 28, 2022 - 5:21 am

Mike, please do more of these types of articles. I laughed my ass off at it because its so sad but true with the media. You should do this on more stories, not just Antioch. You are right, thank you Tamisha Torres-Walker for saving Antioch from an even worse headline of the mayor getting in a fight!

Burt Oct 28, 2022 - 7:20 pm

I have never trusted anything that Lamar Thorpe has said since I learned that he had been the executive director of the Los Medonos Community Healthcare District. Contra Costa LAFCo was able to turn that district over to the County Health Department after they found that the District administrators were personally taking an unusually high percentage of the funds for their own benefits.

people Oct 28, 2022 - 9:22 pm

why are the people of antioch putting up with this clown .The people of antioch need to ban together
and go to the mayor s office and tell he can walk and resign or we are throwing him out and hes fired

Comments are closed.