The Stuttgart Leader reports a meeting of the Arkansas County Quorum Court is scheduled at 10 a.m. today to talk about reports of Sheriff Todd Wright’s reported racist remarks on an audio recording. They reportedly will consider a resolution urging him to resign.
The five-minute audio (provenance unknown) has gotten wide circulation on Twitter and other media. It indicates Wright spoke harshly, cursing and repeatedly using a racial epithet because a woman he was with had spoken to a black man in a store.
Here’s more from the Pine Bluff Commercial. It includes a photo of him speaking at a racial unity rally in June. He has not commented publicly.
The Quorum Court, the county legislative body, has no power to remove the sheriff. A National Conference of State Legislatures summary says the office of sheriff is not among those covered by the Arkansas recall law.
UPDATE: A heavily attended meeting has been going for more than an hour. Comments on a Facebook Live video indicates the sheriff has said he has no intention of resigning. But he had a change of heart after hearing people speak, some of whom, both Black and white people, spoke warmly of their history with him but said he must resign for the good of the community.
Wright gave a rambling statement at the end of extended comments in which he said he was “disturbed my career was in shambles because of something I said.” He seemed to defend his feelings on racial issues and said he’d worked in the office for 23 years. But he ended by saying he would submit his resignation, though he’d like a month to make the transition and get his life in order. Several white people in the audience spoke warmly about the sheriff, but said for the sake of the community he needed to resign. He turned over his gun and badge after one of them spoke, a man who later told the reporter the resignation just had to happen: “It’s not the 60s; it’s not the 50s.”
The Quorum Court recessed briefly. It then reconvened and was told he’d submit a written resignation which the Quorum Court would then vote on accepting. Under Arkansas law, the Quorum Court will pick a successor.
Protesters who were gathered outside cheered the news of the resignation, which they watched as it was reported on the live Facebook feed of In the Loop
The Inside Loop, which covers the area. Attendance was limited for social distancing concerns.