PATERSON, N.J. (PIX11) — Emotions were already running high over rampant gun violence during Tuesday night’s City Council meeting in Paterson, New Jersey, when First Ward Councilman Michael Jackson lost his composure.
Jackson was visibly upset over what he considered to be rival Councilman Luis Velez’s disrespectful side chatter.
Jackson was heard saying, “Yo, could you shut him up before I go over there and shut him up myself?”
Moments later, Jackson was out of his seat, hovering over Velez. Jackson then shoved away the arm of an intervening police officer before he was eventually calmed down.
The council meeting abruptly adjourned for the night.
“I was talking to my colleague next to me. I think he should be prosecuted. I think I should not be living in this fear,” said Velez.
Jackson said he was distraught after learning he’s related to one of the city’s recent gunshot victims, but added: “Was it in poor taste for me to walk over there and say something to him? Absolutely. I may have shoved the officer possibly too hard. I totally defend my actions.”
The police officer pressed charges late Thursday.
Jackson, who is already the focus of a state criminal investigation for alleged voter fraud, now faces charges of harassment for shoving the officer, disorderly conduct, and disrupting Tuesday’s public meeting.
Jackson is a fierce critic of Paterson Mayor Andre Sayegh, who is calling on him to resign.
“It reflects poorly. It’s abhorrent. We do not need elected officials to act that way,” said Sayegh.
All three of Jackson’s criminal charges are misdemeanors, which will not be heard at Paterson Municipal Court due to a conflict of interest.
The Passaic County chief judge will decide which municipality will serve as the alternate venue.
In the meantime, it’s unclear what precautions, if any, are being taken in advance of next Tuesday’s scheduled council meeting, which both Jackson and Velez are expected to attend.