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After receiving vulgar phone calls and death threat, Palo Alto council member is speaking out

Original post made on Aug 18, 2021

City Council member Lydia Kou was the target of sexual harassment and a death threat, and now she's speaking out to prevent future cases.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Wednesday, August 18, 2021, 9:58 AM

Comments (23)

Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Aug 18, 2021 at 10:49 am

Online Name is a registered user.

A $795 fine and no required anger management courses? What a ridiculously lenient slap on the wrist. Why a misdemeanor charge when it's a felony to threaten public officials.

Poor baby that he couldn't work while doing community service!

What nonsensical and evasive comments from the DA's office and the PA police. Even when one documents the threats, the criminals only get a slap on the wrist. I know people who've had more police visits, legal fees and required months of anger management for slapping the trunks of cars who've cut them off than Breya got for REPEATEDLY threatening an Asian female public official!

Must be nice for Breya to have such well-connected parents. Shame on our "leaders" who seem to be clueless about the increased crimes against Asians!

Posted by Anneke
a resident of Professorville
on Aug 18, 2021 at 11:02 am

Anneke is a registered user.

Dear Lydia,

Please stay strong. You are a hero in my book, and you are an example of courage for many.

May I suggest that you have a private, honest, meeting with Mr. Breya in which you can tell him directly about the personal feelings of threat and harassment his calls caused you, and in which he can ask you for forgiveness. I am sad, but not surprised, that the police recommended to Mr. Brea that he not apologize to you.

A number of years ago my husband, while cycling on Bryant Street downtown, hit the large door of a very large personal SUV suddenly opened wide by a Palo Alto fireman. The police held the fireman responsible for this accident My husband, spent half a day at Stanford, but of more serious consequence, he lost his confidence in biking. The fireman never apologized for his mistake, which could have done so much in rebuilding my husband's confidence.

Asking for forgiveness is not easy, but it is a beautiful characteristic in a good human being.

Posted by H. Pierce
a resident of Barron Park
on Aug 18, 2021 at 11:02 am

H. Pierce is a registered user.

Times have changed since 9/11 along with countless PC considerations and modern day definitions of sexual harassment.

High school bomb scares, phone pranks, and unwarranted sexual commentaries are no longer acceptable.

Some people do peculiar things when under the influence of alcohol or fully intoxicated.

Posted by Claude Ezran
a resident of Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on Aug 18, 2021 at 11:15 am

Claude Ezran is a registered user.

Dear Lydia,

I am deeply sorry that you had to go through this absolutely awful experience. Thank you for your courage and leadership in speaking up. And thank you for your service to Palo Alto and the community.

Posted by dontliveinCA
a resident of another community
on Aug 18, 2021 at 11:33 am

dontliveinCA is a registered user.

Someone above mentioned Breya's parents as being "well connected." Please explain; thanks.

Posted by Consider Your Options.
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 18, 2021 at 11:36 am

Consider Your Options. is a registered user.

Dear Lydia, I'm sorry you went through this. I'm glad you reported this to the police and glad they caught him.

I wish you healing and peace.

Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Aug 18, 2021 at 11:43 am

Online Name is a registered user.

[Post removed.]

Posted by Jennifer
a resident of another community
on Aug 18, 2021 at 11:46 am

Jennifer is a registered user.

How awful. I'm sorry this happened. I hope he really is remorseful. I understand why the police would advise him not to apologize. No further contact. She's suffered enough. You can forgive someone without a personal apology. Forgiveness frees you, and it's something we should all be practicing daily. Stay strong Lydia.

Posted by Green Gables
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Aug 18, 2021 at 12:10 pm

Green Gables is a registered user.

I'm so sorry that you had to endure all that frightening garbage, Lydia.

Posted by AllenPod
a resident of Community Center
on Aug 18, 2021 at 12:10 pm

AllenPod is a registered user.

Lydia is a decent person. She listens, even to people with whom she disagrees sometimes, like myself. To know her is to know that she is fair, understanding and strong. She was attacked because she had the courage of her convictions, and spoke out.
You can attack her position on politics, but not her humanity.
The great majority of us stand by your side, Lydia.

Posted by Deidre LaPorte
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Aug 18, 2021 at 12:13 pm

Deidre LaPorte is a registered user.

Were these calls received on a cellphone or landline?

Public officials should never disclose their personal & private phone lines.

Posted by Avery Shein
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Aug 18, 2021 at 12:32 pm

Avery Shein is a registered user.

Being a Jew, I've learned never to take things personally.

You'll live longer.

Posted by No heat
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Aug 18, 2021 at 2:49 pm

No heat is a registered user.

Deidre LaPorte: It's basically impossible for public officials to hide addresses and phone numbers, even with a state law limiting their disclosure. Too many people have a legitimate need to know, and secrets don't stay secret once more than a handful of people know.

Posted by Ismail Muhammad
a resident of Midtown
on Aug 18, 2021 at 5:25 pm

Ismail Muhammad is a registered user.

I do not know Lydia Kou personally, in fact I don’t even know what her political leanings are and what policies she suggests…

But for anyone to receive a death threat they must have said something/advocating for something that really “grinds people’s gears”.

Someone mentioned this Mr Breya’s has well connected parents. Care to explain? He probably is a working professional… I sure wouldn’t want a guy who wants to slit a woman’s throat just because they may disagree on some issues to be a coworker of mine.

Posted by vmshadle
a resident of Meadow Park
on Aug 18, 2021 at 5:50 pm

vmshadle is a registered user.

Ismael Muhammad's comment above, "But for anyone to receive a death threat they must have said something/advocating for something that really 'grinds people’s gears,'" sounds like making excuses for inexcusable behavior.

We all have the right to disagree (even quite strenuously) with public officials, but the responsibility for vile phone calls and death threats is entirely Mr. Breya's and remains with Mr. Breya.

Sane people do not throw knives at firefighters pulling hoses toward their burning houses.

Threatening someone's bodily autonomy and physical safety leaves psychological scars, period.

People who cannot distinguish between persons and the jobs they do need to attend to their own mental states and correct their public behavior.

I am so sorry Ms. Kou and her family are forced to deal with these appalling assaults.

Posted by Anonymous
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Aug 18, 2021 at 8:00 pm

Anonymous is a registered user.

Ms. Kou is a fine person and fine public official. I want her to continue in her business and in public service. Thank you!
Her harrasser should have a more severe penalty.
Alcohol is NO EXCUSE.

Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Aug 18, 2021 at 8:35 pm

Online Name is a registered user.

I agree with the last 2 posters and find Ismael Muhammad's comment, "But for anyone to receive a death threat they must have said something/advocating for something that really 'grinds people’s gears,'" incredibly offensive.

Stop blaming the victim! Blame the criminal whose damage will last long after his record has been expunged now that he's completed his alcoholism counseling.

Stop defending those perpetuating violence. Look at the video gamers and anti-vaxers threatening those "grinding people's gears"! Take video gamers for example. There are literally thousands of news articles documenting their misogyny and their threats to kill and/or rape female gamers. The anti-vaxers forced Dr. Fauci to seek protection for himself and his family and they're gleefully attacking teachers and patients trying to get to their doctors because the hospitals support masking!

Lydia is a sweet person and a dedicated public official who didn't deserve this type of abuse. She deserved better from our legal system.

Posted by Annette
a resident of College Terrace
on Aug 18, 2021 at 9:17 pm

Annette is a registered user.

"He asked through this news organization for Kou to give him a chance to get his life back in order."

Seriously? What gall. If Mr. Breya is having difficulty finding a job and getting his life in order I seriously doubt it is b/c of any interference from Ms. Kou.

Posted by Leanne Simonis
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Aug 18, 2021 at 9:32 pm

Leanne Simonis is a registered user.

[Post removed.]

Posted by Not Good Enough
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 18, 2021 at 10:03 pm

Not Good Enough is a registered user.

What the law has no capacity to address here is that this was a sitting Councilmember running as an incumbent candidate for office. As a candidate, due to a political position Kou took, Breya harassed her and threatened her life. This is wrong.

At age 29, he seems to have an alcohol problem given he claims he can’t remember what he even said to Kou. That he was sentenced to a mere 10 AA meetings is a toe in the ocean. His worries about employment should center more on sobriety and making amends than on wiggling out of the repercussions of this light sentence.

The sentence surely isn’t enough reassure other women politicians they won’t go through this, be they Asian or other races.

Also, that Breya never heard Kou’s statement, and the police kept his apology from her, is beyond belief. This is not justice, it is comprehension deprivation.

What Breya did was try to frustrate the most basic process of democracy – running for political office so we the voters may choose. That this was not even recognized by the law damages us all, and what he did to Lydia Kou was abominable.

Posted by Bystander
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 18, 2021 at 10:11 pm

Bystander is a registered user.

I don't care about her politics, or her race, but the fact that an elected official during an election campaign should receive these types of threats including one on her life is a dreadful situation.

I believe in thanking anyone who is willing to take public office. It is something that most of us will never consider doing and regardless of whether we agree with their position, they still deserve respect for their willingness and thanks for their time and effort.

Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Aug 18, 2021 at 10:24 pm

Online Name is a registered user.

"Maybe the PAPD could provide protective bodyguard services for council members who are threatened or harassed by PA residents along with chaffeuring them between their homes and council chambers."

The perp wasn't a PA resident; he was from Menlo Park. "a man, later identified by police as Alexander Breya, 29, of Menlo Park.." remarks." Maybe the PAPD and the MPPD could follow Mr. Breya to ensure he stays sober to ensure his AA counseling worked.

Maybe the quoted representatives from the DA's offices in Santa Clara County and San Mateo County could start treating death and rape threats seriously. Remember Mr. Wagstaffe's excuse for the lenient treatment of the stalker who'd REPEATEDLY harassed the prison guard to the point that she had to change jobs because he kept getting arrested to be with her, his one "true love"?

We would have been tougher if only he'd threatened MORE women since threatening ONE woman repeatedly wasn't enough for a serious sentence. Doesn't that make victims feel safe and discourage other stalkers!

Posted by ALB
a resident of College Terrace
on Aug 18, 2021 at 10:49 pm

ALB is a registered user.

The twenty nine year old Breya needs to see a psychiatrist to help him with this character flaw. He is an angry man. What in the world would trigger such animus? I find it difficult to grasp that he was 'just' inebriated. No. The alcohol may lessen some inhibitions but bad behavior is inexcusable. This is who he is. Does he chafe at seeing a woman who is in a position of power? Is it really her values or is it her ethnicity that was the trigger? What did Breya see on Facebook that set him off? He is a white man who from what we know has not endured much hardship. He has received a light sentence. AA is cosmetic. He could be a textbook narcissist who refuses to engage in self examination. If he does not take a cold fish eye look at his actions and the effect it has had then his reputation will suffer even more than it is right now.

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