Hertford confrontation

Councilman Quentin Jackson (left) is restrained by a Perquimans County sheriff’s deputy during a confrontation between Jackson and a Hertford citizen at a Town Council meeting Monday, July 12. Also reacting are Councilman Frank Norman (back left) and Mayor Earnell Brown (back right).

HERTFORD — A Perquimans County businessman has filed a complaint with a county magistrate charging Hertford Town Councilman Quentin Jackson with communicating threats.

Filed Thursday, Patrick Morrissey’s complaint stems from a heated confrontation between Morrissey and Jackson at the Monday, July 12, Hertford Town Council meeting.

“He said he would knock me out or put me to sleep,” Morrissey said Friday, referring to Jackson.

Jackson denied any wrongdoing when reached by phone. He said he is glad the meeting is recorded on video because the recording will support his account of events.

“We’ll just have to see that justice is served,” Jackson said. “I deny all of it and can’t wait for my day in court.”

Hertford Mayor Earnell Brown said she abruptly adjourned Monday’s council meeting for safety reasons. She said “words were exchanged” but she isn’t clear what was said by whom, or when, in the last moments of the meeting.

Video from the meeting shows Jackson criticizing Brown for not asking citizens to refrain from shouting during the meeting’s public comment period.

Several members of the public addressed the council at the meeting. Lenora Brown objected to a block of Hyde Park being renamed “Black Lives Matter.” She said citizens who live on that block and members of the church located there were not consulted and do not support the name change.

James Logan also addressed the renaming of the street. He said “all lives matter” and said he does not support the street being renamed.

Brown noted that audience members applauded after Logan spoke, and she said that was when Jackson sharply criticized her for not asking audience members not to applaud or cheer during public comment.

Video from the meeting shows Morrissey getting out of his seat and walking toward the area where council was seated. Morrissey appeared to be objecting to the tenor of Jackson’s comments toward the mayor.

Jackson is then shown getting out of his seat and taking off his jacket. A Perquimans sheriff’s deputy and a couple of citizens then intervened to keep Jackson and Morrissey apart.

Morrissey claims he didn’t start walking down toward the council seating area until Jackson started shouting at him, stood up and took off his jacket.

“I wasn’t threatening him,” Morrissey said, referring to Jackson. “I was calling him out — not to fight but to say enough is enough.”

Morrissey said his own comments to Jackson were along the lines of “I’m tired of this” and “enough is enough.” He also noted it was Jackson the deputy had to restrain, not him.

Morrissey said there have so many Hertford Town Council meetings where insults have been hurled at citizens and Brown, and the meetings — including Monday’s meeting — have been unproductive because of the disruptions Morrissey said he and other citizens are tired of government meetings being disrupted and citizens being disrespected.

Earlier in the meeting Jackson had questioned the motives of citizens who were in attendance, referring to some as “out-of-towners” and “a bunch of terrorists.”

“Why do y’all think that y’all speak for this whole town?” Jackson asked, directing his question to some of the citizens who attended the meeting.

Jackson defended his actions in the confrontation with Jackson.

“He was shouting from the audience,” Jackson said, referring to Morrissey.

He said Morrissey later began walking toward “the governing area.”

“When he jumped up he said something like, ‘I’m getting tired of this,’” Jackson said.

Jackson said he got out of his seat because he felt he was being threatened and needed to defend himself.

Morrissey said he is not a racist and did not make any threats. He said he has been accused online of calling Jackson “boy,” but he denies using the epithet.

“I know how offensive that is and I would not say that,” Morrissey said.

Morrissey said he is not a racist and made no threats. Other than calling out Jackson, he said, the only other thing he said was “shut up” to Councilman Frank Norman, who he said was yelling at him.

For her part, Brown said she made repeated attempts throughout Monday’s meeting to establish a tone of civility and order. She said she regrets that the council met for an hour and a half, yet was unable to take care of any of the town business.

But Brown said she felt that adjourning the meeting was necessary.

“I wanted to make sure no one got hurt,” Brown said.