Melee Breaks Out at Newark City Council Meeting

Newark City Hall Tuesday night was the scene of council members walking off in protest, a crowd of angry residents rushing the podium and police using pepper spray on residents and a union leader.

Tensions had been simmering over who would fill the vacant council seat left by Donald Payne Junior, the former Newark City Council President who was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives earlier this month.

One camp wanted to see John Sharpe James, the son of former Mayor Sharpe James take the open seat.

But according to The Star Ledger, chaos erupted after Mayor Cory Booker showed up in a carefully orchestrated move to cast the deciding vote along with his council allies to appoint his choice for the open seat, Shanique Davis Speight.

The mayor was kept behind the scenes before his vote โ€” with a plan to emerge in the event of a tie or if there was no quorum โ€” and his appearance triggered the chaos.

Speight had to be sworn in later in a council chamber.