Police were called to the NAACP mayoral forum Tuesday night after a sidewalk confrontation involving a Tom Knox campaign volunteer with a criminal past and the anti-Knox heckling partner of "Tommy the Loan Shark."
Tommy, an unidentified man in a shark costume, is part of a two-man team that shadows Knox to taunt him about his days in high-interest payday lending, which critics say victimizes the poor.
The shark's partner, Jim Nixon, said he was speaking through a bullhorn Tuesday, when Knox volunteer Michael Youngblood aggressively approached him and began spewing profane threats.
"He comes to me and says things like, 'You're in my neighborhood now, mother-f-----. I've messed up people tougher than you. I'll crack your skull. I'll shove that megaphone up your a--,' " Nixon said.
Nixon, who said he's a graduate student not affiliated with any campaign, spoke to a police officer who arrived after his exchange with Youngblood.
Police confirmed that a patrol car was sent after a 9-1-1 call and that a statement had been taken from Nixon.
Youngblood admitted having words with Nixon, but denied threatening anyone. He said Nixon had been blocking his path to the event and taunting him by name.
"He was at me, I wasn't at him," Youngblood said. "He gets up in my face with a bullhorn . . . Look, if I was going to do something, I wouldn't have talked about it. It would have been done."
Youngblood spent time in jail after being convicted of drug-dealing charges in the 1980s, and returned to prison in the '90s on fraud and extortion charges related to the construction of a city-funded homeless shelter.
A consultant to another mayoral candidate who spoke on condition of anonymity said he saw a heated verbal exchange as Youngblood and Knox were entering the forum.
The witness said he heard Youngblood say to Nixon, "If you say my name again I'm going to kick your f---ing ass." The witness said he and Knox went inside, and didn't know what Youngblood did after that.
NAACP President Jerry Mondesire said that when he arrived for the event he saw Youngblood move toward Nixon "in a very menacing, threatening maner," but couldn't make out what had been said between the two.
Participants in the forum were apparently unaware of the commotion outside, but Knox began and ended his remarks with an attempt at humor at the expense of Tommy the Loan Shark.
"Even though I have to leave early, I hope when it's over you'll all enjoy a nice fish fry," Knox said. "There's one outside."
Before leaving, Knox said, "And I hope you have that fish fry when you leave."
Knox campaign manager Josh Morrow said that Knox had been unaware of any of the sidewalk events and that the campaign hadn't been contacted by police. He described Youngblood as an unpaid adviser to the campaign and "a big teddy bear."
Nixon said Tommy the Loan Shark was unavailable for comment. *