SACRAMENTO, Calif. (KTXL) — The city of Sacramento is being sued by a man who was the target of a workplace restraining order filed by city officials.
Skylar Henry was recently hired by City Councilwoman Katie Valenzuela. He and his boss say he posed no threat to the city council or staff members despite comments he made on a podcast.
Henry made statements on the progressive Voices: River City podcast, criticizing U.S. Senator Kyrsten Sinema’s vote against increasing the federal minimum wage, saying, “You should be terrified for the rest of your life. You should never be able to leave your house if that is how you’re going to use your position to govern.”
He went on to say, “the same thing sort of applies with the mayor and the city manager of this city.”
The comments came after a demonstration at City Manager Howard Chan’s home as well as Mayor Darrell Steinberg’s house, which was damaged by protestors.
Workers at city hall and family members of the city manager also expressed fear of violence, according to the petition for a restraining order.
Eight members of the city council approved the filing of a restraining order that would have kept Henry from city hall.
But a judge didn’t take long to deny it.
“Absolutely in no way was I trying to incite or create or embrace violence of any kind,” Henry said at a news conference Friday.
Instead, Henry said he was espousing the views of progressive organizations that officials must be held accountable for decisions that hurt the poor, homeless and victims of police violence.
Valezuela, for her part, says she is under extra scrutiny because she was the anti-establishment candidate on the city council.
“I take it personally because a big part of the case they brought against Skylar were his political beliefs, which I share, but there was no evidence that he had made a direct statement or had a pattern of action that substantiated the cause,” she said.
A counter suit has been filed by Henry for damages against the city for denying his right to work based on political beliefs.
Henry says he will continue to represent Valenzuela’s constituents.
“My number one priority coming into this job is to work as hard as I need to work on mending fences with folks who disagree with me,” he said. “That includes council members. That includes the mayor.”
Despite the denial of the restraining order, City Attorney Susana Alcala Wood says workers at city hall should not be “made to share the workspace with someone who has advocated terror tactics as a means to resolve political differences.”
“We do not accept the attempted re-invention of his violent rhetoric as a peaceful call for responsible government,” she said.
The city has responded to the lawsuit by saying the city as an employer has a legal obligation to ensure that all of its employees are safe in the workplace and will continue efforts to honor that duty.
While the legal action against the city continues, Henry will be allowed to enter city hall to do his job.