Bridgeport City Council Demands Resignation of Pereira Following Email on Gaza Meeting

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BRIDGEPORT — City Council leadership called for the resignation of Councilwoman Maria Pereira on Thursday after she referred to residents as “Palestinian thugs” and the police chief as “Porter the Pig” in an email to other officials.

“Councilwoman Pereira’s comments not only lacked the empathy that is expected from public officials but also demonstrated a disregard for the lives of those who selflessly protect our community,” Council President Aidee Nieves, President Pro Tempore Ernest Newton, Majority Leader AmyMarie Vizzo-Paniccia and others wrote in a Thursday news release.

In her Wednesday email to Nieves and Deputy Chief Administrative Officer Thomas Gaudett, Pereira outlined her complaints with the conduct of those who attended a council meeting the night prior. 

At the Tuesday meeting, attendees filled the council chambers to support a proposed resolution which demanded a ceasefire in Gaza. The motion called upon President Joe Biden’s administration to provide sufficient humanitarian assistance, facilitate the release of Israeli hostages and Palestinian prisoners and help to create a two-state solution. 

One-by-one, attendees asked the council to vote in favor. Many applauded and cheered for members as they voiced their support for the resolution, and booed at Pereira, the sole member who spoke against it.

The majority of the members explained that, although the city does not have authority over the federal government, city officials should take a stand on the conflict and call for peace. But Pereira argued that the resolution had not been drafted publicly by elected officials as required. Rather, she said it was drafted and revised in secret by Gaudett, local attorney Harold Rosnick, Councilwoman Aikeem Boyd and others.

“We are the legislative branch. We are elected by the people of Bridgeport,” Pereira said. “And we have all these people in secret meetings where the public is not privy to what is being said drafting legislation for the council, and I don’t believe that’s lawful.”

Regardless, the council overwhelmingly approved the resolution, sparking Pereira’s Wednesday email.

In the message, which was obtained by CT Examiner on Thursday, Pereira demanded the names of all who attended alleged behind-the-scenes meetings, and claimed that she was taunted by meeting attendees for opposing the motion. 

Pereria alleged that one attendee was shouting her name during the proceedings, and referred to him as a potential terrorist.

“I was sitting in my seat taking photos of the final resolution and my tally sheet and texting in my group chat when a Palestinian young man, possibly a Hamas terrorist, repeatedly yelled out my name and was waving some propaganda poster at me. I just stuck up my middle finger at him,” Pereria wrote.

A live Facebook recording of the Tuesday meeting by Councilwoman Dasha Spell does not show the alleged interaction.

She further claimed that attendees were harassing Carmen Lopez, a retired judge who now serves on the Bridgeport Democratic Town Committee, after the meeting. While explaining the alleged harassment, Pereira again wrote derogatory comments about those in attendance.

“[W]e are going to set that Palestinian mob who was incapable of comporting themselves in an appropriate manner on their heels,” she said. “… They were nothing more than Palestinian thugs.”

Pereria also criticized city leaders, referring to absentee ballot misuse by Mayor Joe Ganim supporters, which triggered a new Democratic mayoral primary. She told Nieves and Gaudet that she would not stay silent, adding an insult to Police Chief Roderick Porter.

“The point is I don’t back down from anyone and I do mean anyone which includes Porter the Pig and his piglets,” she said.

In the Thursday letter from council leaders, they promised to introduce a resolution to censure Pereira and remove her from all committee assignments if she does not resign by the next council meeting, which is scheduled for Jan. 16.

Pereira did not respond to requests for comment from CT Examiner.