Just in time for the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. day.
Nevada police arrested black state legislator Steven Brooks for threatening to do bodily harm to State Assembly Speaker Marilyn Kirkpatrick, a white female, because she did not appoint him chair of a committee.
When police apprehended Brooks, they found he had a gun in his car.
Brooks is a Democrat serving Nevada Assembly District 17 in northern Clark County. Kirkpatrick is a North Las Vegas Democrat who was recently elected speaker.
If it had been a white legislator who threatened his black colleague, would the police and media call this a racist “hate crime”?
The Las Vegas Review-Journal reports, Jan. 20, 2013, that Nevada State Assemblyman Steven Brooks was arrested Saturday night on a charge of threatening Nevada Assembly Speaker Marilyn Kirkpatrick.
State Sen. Kelvin Atkinson said he had informed Kirkpatrick of Brooks’ threat against her, and that Brooks had been telling people Kirkpatrick’s “first day as speaker would be her last.”
North Las Vegas police said Brooks, 40, was booked about 6 p.m. at the Las Vegas City Jail on a felony charge of intimidating a public officer by threat of physical violence.
Police said they responded to a home in North Las Vegas at about 3:45 p.m. Saturday in response to reported threats to an elected official, though authorities would not say who Brooks reportedly threatened.
Brooks was arrested without incident during a traffic stop near Carey Avenue and Mount Hood Street. A law enforcement source said a gun was found in Brooks’ car.
Lawmakers said they knew Brooks has been upset and felt sidelined by Kirkpatrick, who did not give him the chairmanship of the powerful Assembly Ways and Means Committee, although she did name him to the committee.
Instead, the chair job went to Assemblywoman Maggie Carlton.
One lawmaker said on condition of anonymity that Brooks seemed agitated during a recent Interim Finance Committee meeting that Carlton chaired. “He kept getting up and down and walking in and out of the meeting. He was acting a little strangely.”
The lawmaker said about three weeks ago, Brooks began approaching other Assembly members, soliciting help in ousting Kirkpatrick as leader of the lower house because he believed “she’s out to get me.” But Brooks didn’t get much support and “seemed to accept” that she would remain as leader, though he remained troubled by his situation. Kirkpatrick knew of Brooks’ efforts to remove her.
Kirkpatrick could not be reached for comment Sunday but other legislative leaders said they wanted to hear from Brooks before rushing to judgement.
Brooks is beginning his second term as an assemblyman. His first term, representing District 19 prior to reapportionment, was largely uneventful. Assigned to the Transportation, Judiciary and Health and Human Services committees, he seldom said anything in floor debates. Kirkpatrick, however, has gained a lot of popularity, including with Republicans, who often praised her for her fairness.
According to his biography on Votesmart.org, Brooks is a former mathematics teacher. At the time of his first election in 2010, he listed his occupation as “self-employed.” He is now a city of Las Vegas management analyst, where he was paid just under $33,000 in 2011, according to a city employee listing. Brooks’ position is appointed, meaning he is not in the Las Vegas City Employees Association and is employed at will.
In a statement, city spokesman David Riggleman said, “Yes, we are aware of Steve Brooks’ arrest. As is the city’s standard practice, we will treat this situation as a personnel matter, meaning the facts surrounding it will be thoroughly reviewed. Following that review, the city will take the appropriate action.”
Update (March 30, 2013):
On March 28, 2013, Brooks was expelled from the Nevada State Assembly, after which he led police on a 15-mile high-speed chase and was arrested. Brooks tried to choke and hit a police dog with a wrench. (See “Black Nevada state legislator expelled and arrested after hi-speed police chase“)