Body-Warn Camera footage of School Board Candidate Brian Donahue
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Disturbing Body-Worn Camera Footage of School Board Candidate Confrontation Provided by EPD

9 mins read
3

Body-worn camera footage provided by the Emeryville PD captured a disturbing confrontation by a school board candidate and known agitator in the city.

The video captured a recent incident where current school board candidate and outgoing councilmember Scott Donahue’s brother Brian Donahue “crashed” a private event leading to a service call and extraction by the Emeryville Police Department. The video was provided through a Public Records Act request.

On the evening of October 4th, school board candidates and supporters gathered at a private patio event at Honor Kitchen to kick off their campaign. The candidates had reserved a private space and the event was by invitation only. Donahue apparently intercepted the communication and decided to confront the party.

When it was clarified with him that the event was private and he was asked to leave, he got into a verbal confrontation with members of the party and Honor employees. Donahue was asked several times by organizers and employees to leave but refused in his familiar demonstrative and confrontational manner. The Emeryville police were then called by the restaurant to intervene.

Donahue, estimated to be 6′ 2″ and 275 lbs., is an imposing figure who uses his physical stature and aggressive mannerisms to intimate people. Many of these have been women, seniors and people of color.

“He’s well known for this,” noted one attendee in the video who was trying to mediate the situation. Donahue continues the awkward exchange for several minutes by goading and baiting the employees at the restaurant. Donahue eventually left on his own accord after clarifying that he would be arrested for trespassing if he did not.

The incident reportedly left many in attendance rattled.

Donahue, a fixture at council meeting for decades, has earned a reputation for verbal confrontation and intimidation.

City Council candidate Kalimah Priforce acknowledged the incident at the October 6th candidate forum hosted by the local chapter of the League of Women of Voters [12:52].

“I want to take this time to highlight an incident from two days ago at a private event held by three candidates for Emery School Board mostly women of color,” Priforce noted during his introduction. “Another candidate, white male, appeared and made many uncomfortable including a young man who I sat with when I arrived and who told me he was frightened by this person. I know what it’s like to be that young man.”

Donahue has been spotted “door knocking” throughout the city distributing a flyer with dubious information in his attempt to garner votes for Tuesday’s election.


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Donahue has a long track-record of disrupting meetings and spewing misinformation and angry vitriol.

A long history of intimidation tactics

The incident is just one of many in the past few years where Donahue has demonstrated confrontational behavior that many in the city are all too familiar with.

In 2014, Donahue confronted a property owner outside council chambers and followed him toward his car. An eye-witness at the time described the terrifying incident expressing concern that the elderly man was “shaking” and might suffer from a heart attack.

In 2015, he systematically harassed a group of small business owners in an attempt to pressure them to relent on an unpopular policy position.

In 2017, Donahue gained entry to the city-run daycare facility and confronted a parent who asked him to leave. He left after police were summoned but later returned “looking angry and banging on the door,” according to a documented report. The employee later noted she “feared for her safety.”

These are just a few of the many examples of his odd, confrontational behavior. Donahue’s M.O. is generally to elevate his voice and invade the personal space of anyone that defies him similar to that of a high school bully. He’ll generally scamper away as soon at the police appear.

While Donahue’s antics have yet to escalate into a physical confrontation or arrest, there’s concern it might be a “ticking time bomb” situation.

The EPD report and full transcription of the event are provided below.

– [Speaker 1] Wait, who’s the RP?

– [Speaker 2] No, no, no. Not that.

– [Speaker 3] He’s right there. He’s, basically it’s, It’s a private event and he’s, like not leaving. He’s intimidating the host and We’ve just asked him nicely. They asked him nicely and he’s like, “I’m not leaving, call the police.” Yeah, we’re having a private fundraiser. And he, yeah.

– [Speaker 1] Is this, is this Pedro over here?

– [Speaker 3] Yeah.

– [Speaker 4] He’s gonna tell you he was assaulted because someone touched his arm. When he was getting in the face of a much shorter woman, and we were trying protect her from him. He is coming to a private event that he’s not invited to on private property and would not leave until we got him on the other side of the line. So, it’s a man in the sunglasses who is deciding to film right now. So, I apologize. He’s well known for his…

– [Speaker 1] Yeah, I

– [Speaker 4] Recognize him. Okay.

– [Speaker 5] Good time talking. Always a good time, always a pleasure.

– [Speaker 1] Hello, how you…

– [Speaker 2] Okay, Hold on Let me, lemme push. Okay. How are you? I’m here at this campaign event. I have a, I’m a parent with a child in the district, and this is a campaign event for Regina Chagolla, and Susan Donaldson, and Brynnda Collins. And they’re running as a slate for school board. I’m a parent with a child in the district, and I have questions for them, and they don’t want to… I’m a critic of the district as, just as I’m a critic of the uh, Emery uh, of the uh, the uh, police department, except for you personally, I’m not a critic of you personally. And so uh, a critic. And so they don’t, they’re, you know, they’re not they don’t like seeing me here. And so if you wanna,

– [Speaker 1] I don’t

– [Speaker 2] If you wanna trespass me

– [Speaker 1] No, no, no, no

– [Speaker 2] If you trespass me, that’s fine. I’ll leave. So the moment you say it, I’ll walk out here on my own.

– [Speaker 1] They were just telling me it’s a private event and…

– [Speaker 2] Yeah, the moment you trespass me

– [Speaker 1] They don’t want you here, apparently.

– [Speaker 2] The moment you trespassed me, I’ll leave without any objections. I’ll just leave. Just say you’re trespassed from this private property and I will leave.

– [Speaker 2] Say the words.

– [Speaker 1] Where is the employee?

– [Speaker 6] You want me to go find him?

– [Speaker 1] Where is, uh Pedro?

– [Speaker 2] Say the words, say the words.

– [Speaker 1] I’m going to get the employee.

– [Speaker 2] Okay.

– [Speaker 1] Give you that, and then I’ll stand by. How’s that?

– [Speaker 2] Sure.

– [Speaker 1] Okay. I’m gonna, Do you have any, any objections?

– [Speaker 2] I’m gonna, I just push pause when you when they come back and you trespass me, I’ll record. And then as soon as you say I’m gonna walk through there, there’s my bike right there. See it?

– [Speaker 1] Okay. And now I don’t have any problems with you walking through to get your bike.

– [Speaker 2] And meanwhile before I’m trespassed, I’m gonna take a couple of pictures. So excuse me, I’m gonna take pictures of this.

– [Speaker 1] How’s it going otherwise?

– [Speaker 2] How’s it going otherwise? Well, we have….

– [Speaker 2] Saying that they’re not, just so, you know these guys claim they’re not running as a slate. Does that look like a slate to you?

– [Speaker 1] Slate?

– [Speaker 2] A slate. A slate Meaning they’re running together for re-election.

– [Speaker 1] Oh.

– [Speaker 2] I’m running. And the reason why there’s a fundraising event just so you know… So the both of you guys know there a reason why there is a fundraising event here tonight. Guess why?

– [Speaker 6] School board reelections?

– [Speaker 2] Yeah. Why? But why would they run, Why do they need a fundraiser?

– [Speaker 6] Because it takes funds to…

– [Speaker 2] You’re looking at the reason! Because I ran against them. Yeah, I ran against them. I, I pulled papers. I, I’m running for school board.

– [Speaker 6] Oh.

– [Speaker 2] I’m the only person running for school board that has a child enrolled in the district right now. Yeah I know.

– [Speaker 6] But that does make a difference.

– [Speaker 2] Yeah. Well, no, they don’t think so. They, they think the opposite. If you have a, if you’re a parent with a child in the district, that makes to be like, no good for the school

– [Speaker 1] Hello! You’re the manager?

– [Speaker 7] Yeah I’m the manager

– [Speaker 1] Okay so,

– [Speaker 2] Hold on, hold on, let me, hold on. Hold on. Just hold on here. Hold on one second. Let me get it ready. Okay, I’m ready.

– [Speaker 7] I don’t want you record me.

– [Speaker 1] Let’s make it quick. So, this is private property and you’re holding a private event, correct?

– [Speaker 7] Yes.

– [Speaker 1] All right. You want him to leave the property?

– [Speaker 7] Please.

– [Speaker 1] Okay. So to respect him, we want you to leave.

– [Speaker 2] If I don’t leave, what happens?

– [Speaker 1] You could be arrested for trespassing…

– [Speaker 2] It’ll be criminal trespassing if I don’t leave?

– [Speaker 1] If you, yeah, if you don’t leave when asked.

– [Speaker 2] Have I been asked?

– [Speaker 1] If you refuse to leave.

– [Speaker 2] Have I been asked?

– [Speaker 1] I just asked you leave.

– [Speaker 2] Okay. And if I say no, you will arrest me.

– [Officers Radio] He’s trying to bait it.

– [Speaker 1] You can be, yes.

– [Speaker 2] What did, what did that guy just say on that? He’s trying. I heard it. My, my, my cell phone heard it too. Okay, so I’m being arrest. I’m being threatened with arrest. If I don’t leave, I’m being criminally trespassed. How long do I have to be gone for?

– [Speaker 1] You need to leave, and they’re I’m sure they’re gonna ask you not to return.

– [Speaker 2] For how long? Ever? For the course of my life?

– [Speaker 1] No, for the remainder of this event.

– [Speaker 2] Is that true, for the remainder of the event I have to leave?

– [Speaker 7] You have to leave today man.

– [Speaker 2] Can I come back tomorrow?

– [Speaker 7] I don’t know, I’ll have to figure it out.

– [Speaker 2] Okay, so I’m not welcome to eat here dinner anymore. No more dinners here. Can I go to gravity in Mill Valley or no? I’m not welcome there either?

– Mr. Donahue, I’ve already called the watch commander to finishing it explaining it to you since you’re having, trying to bait us into saying your trespassing.

– [Speaker 2] No, no no, no baiting. No, I’m just, I’m just observing your behavior. No, you call it baiting, I call it observing.

– So your observance is that, you want us to tell you your trespassing, and we’re trying to tell you that this is a private event.

– [Speaker 2] Okay, so I have to leave or else, I’ll be arrested, correct?

– No, we don’t want arrest you.

– [Speaker 2] Yeah but I will be, I will be arrested if I don’t leave right now.

– If they want pursue the issue. It could lead to an arrest. I’m saying it could.

– [Speaker 2] No, I don’t want, I don’t wanna break the law. I don’t wanna break the law. What do I need to do, to not break the law?

– Well, they’re asking to leave, so if you keep it civil, that.

– [Speaker 2] But what do I need to do to not break the law?

– Well if you leave the premises, that would be really appreciated.

– [Speaker 2] Leave the premises or else I’m breaking the law. I have to leave the premises or I’m breaking the law. Okay. Sounds like prep school board members. Okay. I’m leaving the premises. I’ve been told I have to leave. Or else Brandis will have to arrest me. Thank You very much. I’d appreciate if you could follow me out. There’s my bike right there.

– [Speaker 7] Thank you.

– [Speaker 1] Thank you. That’s a lot.

– [Speaker 2] Okay. I’ve left the premises.

– [Speaker 1] Thank you Mr Donahue. I appreciate your cooperation.

– [Speaker 2] No, I don’t. I’m not a law breaker. You guys, need to know this. I’m not a law breaker.

– We never said you were a law breaker.

– [Speaker 1] I know it’s a private event, on private property.

– [Speaker 2] See, this is public property. I can stand there and I can’t break the law but I can stand here. Just so you know, I won’t. But, I’m gonna leave in a couple minutes.

– [Speaker 1] Okay. Like you said, like you say, you can stay on the sidewalk. We just don’t want you to… All right, take care.

– [Speaker 2] I got what I wanted. I got what I came here for.

– [Speaker 1] Have a good night.

Rob Arias

is a third generation Californian and East Bay native who lived in Emeryville from 2003 to 2021. Rob founded The E'ville Eye in 2011 after being robbed at gunpoint and lamenting the lack of local news coverage. Rob's "day job" is as a creative professional.

3 Comments

    • He’s a long time resident of Emeryville. He’s been doing this sh*t for years, and maybe finally getting his due.

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