Drama over an alleged gun in meeting is latest controversy for embattled Broward town

A Broward town commissioner accused the mayor of bringing a gun to a public meeting on Wednesday night. She didn’t have one, but it’s just one instance in a laundry list of constant disruptions in a town marred by controversy.

Almost two hours into a meeting, Pembroke Park Commissioner Geoffrey Jacobs announced that he called the Broward Sheriff’s Office. He remained tight-lipped about why.

After a brief break, town officials returned to the dias, where they discussed the allegations. Jacobs had accused Mayor Ashira Mohammed of having a weapon. Mohammed allowed Pembroke Park Police Chief Ra Shana Dabney-Donovan to search her — and her purse — on the floor of the town hall while cameras were rolling.

Pembroke Park Mayor Ashira Mohammed
Pembroke Park Mayor Ashira Mohammed

“I will pour the contents [of the purse] out because this is just a bit excessive,” she said during the meeting. “It’s upsetting to have the police called on you, to [have someone] say you’re doing something when you’re not.”

After searching Mohammed and not finding a gun, Dabney-Donovan apologized for the interruption.

“...As a police officer, when I hear certain alert words, I have to come and disrupt the meeting,” she said Wednesday at a lectern.

The accusation is just a glimpse into an ongoing feud between Jacobs and other town officials. Jacobs, who was formerly the mayor of Pembroke Park, referred the Miami Herald to his attorney Michael Pizzi for comment. Pizzi hasn’t responded as of Thursday afternoon.

Mohammed slammed the claim that she had a gun on her as “outlandish” during a phone call with the Miami Herald on Thursday. Jacobs, she said, attacks everything she — and other officials — propose.

The mayor, who has a Muslim name, said she didn’t believe the accusation was motivated by rising Islamophobia related to the Israel-Gaza war. A Broward man was arrested this week following an attack on a U.S. Postal Service worker who was wearing a hijab.

“He does this to everyone,” she told the Herald. “He does this to everyone, especially to women and minorities.”

Pembroke Park Commissioner Geoffrey Jacobs
Pembroke Park Commissioner Geoffrey Jacobs

In August, a report commissioned by the town and compiled by attorney Tonja Haddad found that Jacobs created a “hostile,” “volatile” and “toxic” work environment, according to Local 10. The 17-page report included information from interviews with 13 witnesses, video evidence, messages and social media posts that “revealed a consistent narrative.”

The report, according to Local 10, accuses Jacobs of:

Calling the town’s former human resources director, who is Jewish, a Nazi;

Sending the town’s former attorney, who is openly gay, a “homophobic” and “misogynistic” TikTok, and calling her a “f---ing c---;”

Referring to two commissioners as the “two idiots” and “overpaid, non-working a--holes.”

“If everything they said was true, it’s not illegal to be an a--hole,” Jacobs said in August.

Not Pembroke Park’s first scandal

Pembroke Park has been no stranger to scandal.

In 2020, Mohammed was accused of blurring the lines between official town business and her personal endeavors. A Broward Office of the Inspector General report found that the mayor was using town employees to do work for her law firm and a campaign staffer to post from the town’s Facebook page.

That same year Mohammed was in the nexus of a separate investigation into the mysterious disappearance of a fired parks supervisor’s cellphone. The Broward Sheriff’s Office reviewed surveillance footage that shows Mohammed, her assistant, and the parks supervisor at town hall on the night of Memorial Day, one day before the phone — which was being requested in a lawsuit that alleged the supervisor sent sexually harassing text messages to one of his employees — was reported missing.

This report will be updated as more information becomes available