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Chaos erupts during meeting at Newark City Hall

November 21, 2012 1:47:39 PM PST
From any perspective, it was pandemonium at the City Council meeting in Newark City Hall Tuesday night.

It was total chaos inside the Newark City Council Chambers. The crowd angry about a rare legislative move made by Mayor Cory Booker.

Police moved in, and hit several people with doses of pepper spray including former mayor Sharp James.

"It was horrible and men women and children were put in danger cause you don't know their health condition. If you have a respiratory condition you could die," he said.

The council has been debating how to fill the seat vacated by Donald Payne JR.

James's son wanted the seat, as did Shanique Speight who is backed by Mayor Booker.

It looked like the council would be deadlocked at 4-4, So in a surprising move Mayor Booker came to the meeting cast the deciding vote for Speight.

The result was nasty.

Pushing, shoving and screaming.

"There is this schizophrenia that this mayor has. When he's outside the city he talks about these wonderful things but then he has his henchmen reign terror on these people and this process," said Newark Councilman Darrin Sharif. For his part, James says his son was robbed of due process because he and Booker have an ugly history. Mayor Booker wouldn't talk on camera today but released a statement that reads in part, "Under State law, the Mayor has the authority to vote for a Council candidate. Certain Council members' attempts to cause an insufficient vote, by their voluntary absence or departure from the dais, invoked the Mayor's voting power.

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