Delaware prosecutors have dropped charges against a man arrested for harassment and disorderly conduct for his actions in and outside Wilmington City Council meetings.
“The state does not believe it can meet the high threshold of ‘beyond a reasonable doubt’ on either charge,” Deputy Attorney General Timothy McGuire wrote in the dismissal papers filed Monday.
Dion Wilson, the man who was charged, didn’t mince his words during a Sept. 19 meeting when Council President Hanifa Shabazz prevented him from addressing members. Shabazz said Wilson’s “previous disrespect of this chambers and violation of FCC regulations’’ led to her decision.
“You keep doing this!” he shouted after Shabazz wouldn’t let him speak during the 30 minutes allotted for public comment before each meeting. “You’re wrong. You’re wrong. You’re wrong. And you’re ignorant.”
The violation Shabazz cited occurred at the previous meeting, where Wilson cursed when addressing members.
Shabazz reported the incidents to police after the Sept. 19 meeting. She also told officers she felt threatened because — when she had not allowed Wilson to speak a year earlier because of time constraints — he launched into an expletive-laced tirade and said that if Shabazz wasn’t a woman, he would beat her up.
But the Department of Justice focused on Wilson’s behavior only at the Sept. 19 meeting.
McGuire ruled that Wilson did not threaten harm to anyone and while “the state does not condone Wilson’s approach in this situation,” his comments were not “intentionally disruptive.”
Wilson, 71, would not comment, referring WHYY to his lawyer, David Finger.
“Obviously someone doesn’t like having a criminal indictment hanging over them, particularly one that’s undeserved. So he’s very happy right now,” Finger said. “He has been the subject, he believes, of a vendetta by the City Council president in denying him the right to speak because he has spoken out in the past against her.”
Shabazz said in a written statement that she respects the decision to dismiss the case.
But, Shabazz added, “I filed the criminal complaint, which resulted in Mr. Wilson’s arrest, as a measure of protection, and to send a message that such behavior will not be tolerated, by me as president of Wilmington City Council, or by other members of the Council or our staff.
“Wilmington City Council, as a body, welcomes constructive criticism, but will not endure threats, harassment or unruly behavior,” she added. “No public official should ever fear that their duties will result in an act of violence against them.”
Finger said his client will likely resume attending Council meetings and speaking his mind.
“He’s very civic-minded and he has been a regular at these meetings,’’ Finger said. “I expect that to go back to the way it was.”