NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — In the autumn of his public life, 74-year-old Paul Riddick returned to the tranquility of River Edge Road in Norfolk’s Poplar Halls Community. 31 years ago, at the community lake, he announced plans to seek a seat on the Norfolk City Council under the new court-ordered Ward system. It was an exclusive interview with Regina Mobley who, at that time, had about five years under her belt as a television news reporter.
“We had [Father]Joe Greene and we had [Rev.] John Foster[on City Council] and so this would give us an opportunity to get a third Black on the City Council,” said Riddick.
Riddick’s shake-up to politics as usual was seismic.
The funeral director, over the decades, never hesitated to take aim at what he calls an unfair shadow government that has neglected the needs of residents.
“Our support for citizens in Norfolk has really decreased; I’m actually embarrassed about how we have started neglecting our community. Riddick says the hit-and-run incident outside Booker T. Washington High School earlier this year is but one example of how the city has failed to provide adequate safety features outside a school.
Over the years Riddick has alleged preferential treatment for whites on the west side and in 2020 he lashed out at Asian business owners who were poised to receive pandemic relief.
“They do well in business; they don’t do anything to support the Black communities around them,” said Riddick.
But nothing eclipses a 1997 incident at a Ham Shop where Riddick was charged with assault for throwing a package of ham slices at a clerk.
Regina Mobley: You were later arrested and convicted?
Paul Riddick: Arrested and convicted; I don’t regret a bit of it.
After January 1, John Paige takes the helm in Ward 4. Riddick has this warning for the man he endorsed.
“I see a racially insensitive administration and if we don’t get a handle on it then we are going right back to where we were in ’72, ’68. We have to stop going along to get along,” said Riddick.