TOLEDO, OH (WTOL) - Toledo police arrested a city councilman after an encounter with a Toledo activist on Thursday night.
The incident happened at a forum, followed by a talent show, for Toledo candidates at Georgjz419 on Adams Street, a Toledo City Paper event. In a Facebook post, Julian Mack, a local activist, said Councilman Larry Sykes called him a "boy, then assaulted me, and grabbed me by the neck."
Mack, a member of a local Black Lives Matter group, said he called police, who later arrested Sykes.
Police released the following 911 call from Mack:
In the call, Mack claims he was trying to talk to Sykes during their encounter.
"I tried to talk him, and he grabbed me by my throat," Mack told the dispatcher. "And you know, so I tapped him on his shoulder and he grabbed me by my throat."
Mack also claimed to have video evidence of the confrontation.
Towards the end of the call, Mack recounted what happened a second time after the dispatcher asked him whether he needed medical attention.
"I don't need medical. I'm not an old guy. I'm a young guy and he assaulted me because I had to ask him a question," Mack said. "And he called me a boy and I said, 'Why did you call me a boy?' So he grabbed me by my neck."
Mack says he struggled with whether he should even call the police.
"I was disrespected. I was assaulted and at that point, what else do you do?" said Mack. "But I am a man, I'm not a boy. I have pride and I don't believe that you should disrespect me like that. And I won't allow myself to be bullied."
Mack says if he could do anything different he would have approached Sykes from the front rather than try to get his attention from behind.
He still thinks Sykes was in the wrong however, especially since Sykes is a community leader.
"Let's remember who is the city councilman, and who is the constituent in this particular situation," said Mack. "Community leaders as well as elected officials have to have difficult conversations with people all the time, whether it be with the media or with people who disagree with them. That's part of what you accept when you become a leader."
Mack says he would rather not file charges against Sykes but would like for the situation to be a teachable moment to show that constituents and leaders can come together, even when they disagree.
Sykes was booked in the Lucas County Jail and charged with assault.
His next court date is October 23 at 9 a.m. Sykes is currently out of jail on bond.
Toledo police chief George Kral praised the responding officers for their professionalism during their arrest of Sykes.
"I would be naive to say, 'No because he is a public figure,'" Chief Kral said. "But as we do our job, we do our job whether it's a public official or someone who works at Jeep or someone who works at 7-Eleven."
Sykes his up for reelection in less than three weeks.
Mayoral candidate Wade Kapszukiewicz responded to Sykes' arrest, saying:
The Lucas County Democratic Party released this statement on Sykes:
Mayor Paula Hicks-Hudson declined to comment on the situation, calling a "police matter."