Antioch Library to reopen despite 'repeated dangerous incidents,' reversing closure, officials say

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Sunday, February 18, 2024
Antioch Library to reopen, reverses closure decision: officials
The Antioch library will now reopen on Tuesday after the county decided to close it on Saturday.

ANTIOCH, Calif. (KGO) -- The Antioch library will now reopen on Tuesday after the county decided to close it, starting Saturday. The county said the closure was linked to "repeated dangerous incidents."

The list of reasons were documented in an email sent to the city. ABC7 News was able to get a copy of the email. Some of the concerns include a couple openly having sex in the library hallway and bathroom, police apprehending a wanted suspect using a computer in the teen section, drug use in the library vicinity, car break-ins and patrons verbally assaulting staff.

The county library originally had said it "has made this difficult decision after repeated dangerous incidents in the last few months that have threatened the safety and security of patrons and staff," according to a Facebook post.

"Beginning Saturday, February 17, 2024, the Antioch Library will be closed until further notice," the post said.

The library sent a long list of detailed incidents to the city, including hate messages and drug use inside the building, as well as the discovery of blood and bullet casings on the property.

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The library apologized for the lack of notice on the closure, "but the safety of our patrons and staff is a top priority...These will take some time to complete, and we do not have an estimated date for reopening."

"They were just out at city council meeting, getting awards. We haven't heard about any of this," said Tachina Garrett, an Antioch resident and community activist with ACCE.

Garrett says she uses the library often and never had any issues there.

The library is located just a few blocks from a middle school and high school. She says it is an important place for students to come after school.

"They had all types of programs for the kids. The book fair and sales for the community," Garrett said. "They have computers for those people who don't have Wi-Fi at home. They even have laptops that the children can check out."

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Then Saturday evening, Antioch Mayor Lamar Hernandez-Thorpe announced that the library will reopen on Tuesday.

Contra Costa County said that after consultation with the County Administrators Office and County Counsel, the Library was able to negotiate an emergency contract to provide a private armed security guard and patrol car to monitor the parking lot and library property. The Library already has a private security officer inside the branch during all library open hours.

"The Library will also be working with Contra Costa Public Works to repair and reinforce the security fence and to upgrade the security camera system," said County Librarian Alison McKee in a statement. "The Library will be in close contact with the City of Antioch about how they can best support the safety of library patrons, staff and the surrounding neighborhood."

Garret said she is "ecstatic" to learn the news. She says the library is located in a lower-income neighborhood that is already struggling with limited resources.

"The board of supervisors (meetings). Everybody is going to start needing to show up to some of these meetings, make phone calls. Because this community is losing everything. We recently lost Target, Joann. We are supposed to be losing the Pittsburg-Antioch Amtrak station. And now, the library?" Garrett said.

Mayor Hernandez-Thorpe sent a letter to the county administrator writing, in part: "According to our city administration, no one in the City of Antioch, including the police chief, was informed of any safety concerns by Contra Costa County regarding the library."

The letter states the city would have been more than willing to help as needed.

Garret added that the reopening of the library is also important because it is election season.

"It is right before the elections. So where is District 1 supposed to go and vote at?" Garrett said. "There is a world of knowledge in that place, and it can't stay closed."

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