A Wilmington man who frequently rails about the city government faces criminal charges over his behavior in and outside of City Council chambers.
Complaints of harassment and disorderly conduct were brought to police attention by none other than Council President Hanifa Shabazz.
Shabazz has bickered often with 71-year-old Dion O. Wilson, a retired bulldozer operator.
A meeting on Sept. 19 featured a heated exchange after Shabazz would not allow Wilson to make a public comment because the half-hour allotted for the public to address council members during televised meetings had expired.
“It’s 6:30. It’s time to do the other part of our business,’’ Shabazz said.
Wilson responded that he should have been allowed to speak his mind and that once again Shabazz had unfairly thwarted him by violating his First Amendment rights.
“You keep doing this!” he shouted. “You’re wrong. You’re wrong. You’re wrong. And you’re ignorant.”
After leaving, he cursed outside chambers.
Days later, Shabazz filed a complaint with city police.
The arrest affidavit obtained by WHYY cites that encounter and another one at a council meeting in September 2018.
During that session, the two also argued, and afterward, outside chambers, Wilson made profanity-laden statements that led Shabazz to be “concerned for her safety,’’ the affidavit said.
In an interview, Wilson acknowledged he yelled that if Shabazz was a man, he would beat her up. He stressed, however, that while he has been in fistfights with men, he never has or would harm a woman.
Wilson said he’s no threat to anybody and just likes to voice his political beliefs. By cursing outside chambers, he said, he was just blowing off steam.
By reporting him to the police, Shabazz has “overreached her power,’’ Wilson said.
“If you are an elected official, you know you hear things you don’t like, so you accept that,” he said. “But to deny an individual his constitutional rights because you don’t like what he said? I’m angry.”
Shabazz countered that as president “it’s my responsibility that we handle the legislative business of City Council. I had to take action toward the gentleman because of his continuous — not just his comments, because I’ve allowed that for the last three years, and that of others — but his threat to do bodily harm to me because of me doing my job.”
Wilson was convicted on drug offenses more than three decades ago, according to court records.
On the current charge he is free on $4,000 unsecured bail. One condition is that he cannot attend council sessions while the criminal case is pending.