Melee at Newark City Council meeting caught on tape

Melee at Newark City Council meeting caught on tape

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NEWARK, N.J. (AP) — Four Newark City Council members say they will fight the appointment of a new member to the governing body.

Chaos erupted after Tuesday night's vote to select Shanique Davis Speight. Mayor Cory Booker made an unprecedented appearance at the council meeting and cast the deciding vote that put Speight on the council over John Sharpe James, the son of former city mayor Sharpe James.

Residents rushed the dais and police used pepper spray to restore order. Some residents chanted "Cory's gotta go!"

Tensions rose as police escorted Speight to take the oath of office. She was soon ushered out of the meeting room and sworn in by the city clerk.

During a news conference on Wednesday, four council members who backed James for the council spot said they will fight Speight's appointment in court. However, they do not have lawyers and acknowledged it might be difficult for them to obtain counsel.

"It was a slap in the face to every voter and every resident in the city of Newark," said councilman Ronald C. Rice.

The group of council members accused Booker of trying to divide the city and said he is out of touch with constituents. The group plans to hold protests next week.

In a statement issued Wednesday, Booker said the vote was legal and that he is prepared to take legal action to "protect the efficient operation of city government." Booker said it was "imperative" that a vote be taken immediately to fill the council vacancy.

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Information from: The (Newark, N.J.) Star-Ledger, http://www.nj.com/starledger

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