Local Politics

Sharpsburg mayor alleges racial bias, storms out of meeting

Posted June 12, 2018 6:34 p.m. EDT

— Mayor Robert Williams interrupted an emergency meeting by the Sharpsburg Board of Commissioners on Tuesday evening to claim local officials and police are biased against him because he's black.

Williams then stormed out, pushing a television news reporter out of his way.

Within hours of his election last month, Williams was charged with driving while impaired after leaving a local polling site. He also was charged with carrying a concealed weapon, having a concealed gun after consuming alcohol, carrying a concealed handgun in private premises where prohibited and two counts of resisting a public officer.

Less than two weeks after that, Williams was pulled over again and cited with driving while his license was revoked. His pending DWI charge meant he wasn't supposed to be behind the wheel.

The North Carolina Police Benevolent Association complained to the Sharpsburg board that Williams has hurled racially charged insults and made obscene gestures toward officers.

The PBA also criticized Williams for violating the town charter and policies and state law by summarily removing Commissioner Randall Collie as police commissioner during a June 5 board meeting and appointing Police Chief John Hunt to the position before abruptly adjourning the meeting.

"The actions reek of personal bias and retaliation," PBA Executive Director John Midgette wrote to commissioners last week.

Tuesday's emergency meeting was scheduled to respond to Midgette's concerns, define the mayor's authority, address Collie's removal as police commissioner and amend personnel policies and the board's rules of procedure.

A quorum wasn't present, so commissioners couldn't take any action. But that didn't stop Williams from breaking in to ensure his side was heard.

"I'm requesting that the meeting be delayed because of the actions, and I've asked the town attorney, who refuses to call me back," Williams said.

"That's incorrect, sir," Town Attorney Brian Pridgen interjected.

"Excuse me, sir, I'm talking," Williams shot back. "I have asked for this meeting to be delayed because I don't have appropriate representation because of what this biased and racially motivated council has against me.

"We will deal with these actions because it's all racially motivated, even with the police officers," he said before leaving.

Once outside, Williams continued his heated discussion with reporters.

"Get out of my face, man," he shouted at a WNCN reporter, as he pushed him out of the way. "You're not allowed to be filming me."

The Board of Commissioners could address the PBA's concerns and the situation with Williams as soon as next week.