A total of 8 protesters were arrested for alleged vandalism during protest at historic courthouse in downtown Riverside on Saturday July 30, 2022. (source: twitter.com).

S.E. Williams

Riverside County Sheriff Chad Bianco loves to exploit right wing issues to garner media attention. So it came as no surprise that he would “open mouth and insert foot” at the first opportunity in relation to the highly controversial and political lightening rod issue of abortion in the wake of the recent U.S. Supreme Court decision to upend 50 years of precedent on this issue. 

He is so eager for national attention he was even willing to throw another local leader, Riverside City Councilmember Clarissa Cervantes to do so when he brashly claimed on  Facebook last week that she supported vandalism at the county courthouse during a Rise Up 4Abortion Rally at the historic site in downtown Riverside last Wednesday. 

He stated on Facebook, “When you damage, deface, or destroy property you are no longer a protester, you are nothing more than a common criminal. Shame on the Riverside city councilwoman for supporting the defacing of our courthouse. You are lucky we couldn’t arrest you.”   

“There have been a lot of comments and private messages about a councilwoman being present in support.  I apologize to Councilwoman Gaby Plascencia and Erin Edwards if my post caused you unnecessary attention. It was Clarissa Cervantes who was present. (Not even her Ward).”

Riverside County Sheriff Chad Bianco

However, according to a spokesperson for the Riverside Police Department Ryan Railsback, a police video shows that Cervantes was not even on the scene of the rally until after Riverside police arrived. 

Local leaders are publicly calling for an apology from Bianco but the media loving borderline political narcissist can’t seem to man up and find his voice. In the true tradition of his dear leader… the former guy…the idea of apologizing must be anathema to him. And to think, this guy was just re-elected to serve another four-year term. 

A missed opportunity to remove Bianco from office

Voter turnout was below average across the state in the June primary, including in both Riverside, San Bernardino counties. 

This most probably enabled sheriffs in both counties–Chad Bianco in Riverside and San Bernardino’s Shannon Dicus–to retain their positions as each received more than 51 percent of the vote among those who did cast ballots. 

The election certainly provided the expected advantage that incumbent officials seeking reelection almost almost always benefit from and when that is coupled with the added advantage of healthy campaign coffers and in the case of county sheriffs, the full throated support of police unions–incumbent sheriffs like Bianco and Dicus are nearly impossible to defeat especially when the election falls outside a presidential election year when voter turnout is usually at its peak. 

However, there are times when the behaviors of the incumbent are more than conducive to removal from office. Or at least, that was the misguided belief of those who worked against the re- election of Chad Bianco heading into the June primary.

For an elected official in a non partisan position, Bianco has made it abundantly clear he could care less about political decorum. In addition, his list of questionable and inappropriate political posturing was written about ad nauseum in the lead up to the June Primary. 

Whether he was hiring his daughter, promoting and giving salary increases to his brother, wearing his uniform to give speeches at Republican political events in violation of both state and federal law, refusing to upload statewide COVID-19 restrictions, espousing mis/disinformation regarding COVID-19 and its vaccines, or belonging to a right-wing extremist group that is currently facing charges for sedition against the U.S. government and clearly stating he has no regrets for his association with the group–the red flags were waving that he was not fit to hold the office of a non partisan sheriff–and yet, he was re-elected. 

In retrospect it appears the clarion calls about his disqualifying behaviors may have served to solidify his bonafides among his funders and supporters who showed up and voted for him in June.

Bianco has clearly shown Riverside residents who he is and the way he operates so it did not come as a surprise that this camera seeking, darling of the right wing media would exploit the abortion issue in the manner he did. Now that he was proven wrong in his allegations against Cervantes, based on his past behavior, I would be surprised if he apologizes. 

A true leader would have already issued a formal apology. Showing once again that Bianco is far from being a true leader and even further removed from the kind of individual who should be at the helm of the Sheriff’s Department of Riverside County, overseeing the fourth largest county in the State of California. 

Of course, this is just my opinion. I’m keeping it real.

S.E. Williams

Stephanie Williams is executive editor of the IE Voice and Black Voice News. A longtime champion for civil rights and social justice in all its forms, she is also an advocate for government transparency and committed to ferreting out and exposing government corruption. Over the years Stephanie has reported for other publications in the inland region and Los Angeles and received awards from the California News Publishers Association for her investigative reporting and Ethnic Media Services for her weekly column, Keeping it Real. She also served as a Health Journalism Fellow with the USC Annenberg Center for Health Journalism. Contact Stephanie with tips, comments. or concerns at myopinion@ievoice.com.