Pine Bluff Alderman Glen Brown has denied a report that he called a police officer a racist during a confrontation outside the City Council Chambers on Friday.
Officer Mike Sweeney said in a report that Brown also called Mayor Debe Hollingsworth a racist and said “you all are what’s wrong with Pine Bluff.”
“That officer is a liar,” Brown said Saturday afternoon. “I never said anything like that.”
Brown also said that someone else could have made the statement outside the council chambers but he did not.
Interim Police Chief Jeff Hubanks said Saturday afternoon he had not seen the report as yet but he had been briefed on its contents by Sweeney.
“Based on what I’ve been told, I’m deeply concerned,” Hubanks said. “I intend to investigate this fully and act accordingly.”
According to Sweeney’s report, he was working security at the special council meeting when Hollingsworth signaled him to move a person back that Hollingsworth said was “standing too close and disrupting the meeting.”
Sweeney said he made contact with the person, who was not identified in the report, and told him to move, and that person refused “and said in a loud voice he is a member of the media and he had a right to be there.”
“Mayor Hollingsworth lied when she said he was disrupting the meeting,” Brown said. “All he had was a tripod and a camera and there was no call to remove him.”
Sweeney said in the report that the individual said he had approval from the council to be in his position.
“As I looked around the room there were other media personnel there but they were all behind the first row of chairs,” Sweeney said in the report. “I told him he was going to have to move and he said he didn’t have to.”
The report said two other individuals, one later identified as Sam Whitfield, approached Sweeney while he was attempting to get the first person to move and “as they became more irritated I asked them to step into the hallway outside the meeting room but they still refused to move.”
Sweeney said Whitfield spoke up and got the group to move into the hallway. Once there, Sweeney reported that another person, later identified as Brown “approached in a hostile and aggressive manner wanting to know what was going on.”
The report went on to say that Brown told the person he could go back to where he was, then one of the other individuals asked Sweeney who gave him an order to remove the man from his position.
“Before I could answer him, Mr. Brown said ‘the Mayor did,’ ” Sweeney said in the report. “Mr. Brown said ‘I saw her motion for the officer to remove him.’ Mr. Brown said ‘the mayor does not have the authority to make anyone move.’”
Sweeney reported that Brown told the group to go back into the council chambers but “I said, no, they couldn’t.
“Mr. Brown then made a comment about a white female who was at the meeting with her camera,” Sweeney said in the report. “This lady was with Channel 4 and was towards the back of the room. She was not up close to the City Council members. Mr. Brown told me I would not say anything to her because she was white.”
Sweeney went on to say that after Brown made his remarks calling Sweeney and mayor racists he went back into the meeting and the situation calmed down.
Sweeney reported that when he went back inside the council chambers, Whitfield was standing in the same spot as the other person had been and moved when told to do so.
“As I walked back to the back of the room I could hear Mr. Brown yelling something at the mayor and interrupting the entire meeting,” Sweeney said in the report. “At this time Mayor Hollingsworth stopped the meeting and addressed the boundaries once again to the media.”
Sweeney also said in the report that he saw the original individual with another camera once again across the line from where Hollingsworth said he was permitted to stand, “and this time there was a white female standing in front of him blocking his view and they were both being disruptive. I made contact with both of them and I made the white female move to the other side of the room and I made him move back to the approved area.”
When asked why Hollingsworth wanted the man moved, Brown said “because of her meanness. She didn’t want him in the room because sometimes he reports things that are not in her favor.”