Arkansas sheriff who was secretly recorded using racial slurs reluctantly resigned and insisted he’s not racist

amiller@businessinsider.com (Anna Medaris Miller)-August 30, 2020, 5:32 PM EDT

  • Desiree Middlebrooks secretly recorded the father of her child, Todd Wright, the Arkansas County sheriff, going on a racist rant about a Black grocery-store employee she had talked to.
  • During a court meeting on Friday, community members pleaded for Wright to resign, but he resisted.
  • After a former colleague told Wright to “lay that badge down, lay that gun down, and walk out of here,” Wright did just that.
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Arkansas County Sheriff Todd Wright resigned on Friday, months after he was recorded going on a racist rant about a Black grocery-store employee.

In a five-minute recording captured secretly by Desiree Middlebrooks, the mother of his child, and shared widely on social media, Wright can be heard using a racial slur nine times.

Wright was apparently upset that Middlebrooks talked to the employee. He called her a “n—– lover” and later said, “Why you got to holler at f—ing n—– when I’m around?”

In a Facebook post on May 28, The Pine Bluff Commercial reported, Wright acknowledged that it was his voice and said, “To all I have offended or hurt I send my sincere apologies and will pray for my enemies.”

But that wasn’t enough. In a special meeting on Friday, the Arkansas County Quorum Court unanimously requested that Wright resign.

The court didn’t have the authority to fire him, Arkansas County Judge Eddie Best said.

In the hours-long hearing, broadcast on Facebook, public officials, community members, activists, and at least one colleague urged Wright to resign.

“After viewing and hearing the video, I was terribly upset to know that we have someone out here that’s supposed to be taking care of us, protecting and serving, to have that kind of opinion of me — I’m using me as a race because of my color,” Justice of the Peace Inez McLemore said.

Wright blamed his behavior on the devil, insisted he wasn’t racist, and said he had good relationships with some Black community members, The Commercial reported.

“I’m a Christian man. I read my Bible every day,” Wright said. “I am by no means a racist. That video does not show the true picture of me.”

But people in the crowd, including a woman who said she was the aunt of the Black employee, didn’t buy it.

“I don’t believe anything you just said,” she said. “You have to say this stuff because you want to keep your job.”

Wright at first refused to resign, then said he would do so in a month. Finally, after his former colleague Bobby Webb spoke, he did what the crowd requested and said he’d resign immediately, The Commercial reported.

“Todd, I’ve known you all my life. You need to take that badge and sat it on that table and walk out of here, Todd,” Webb said. “You know I love you, but you screwed up. Lay that badge down, lay that gun down, and walk out of here.”

The court passed a motion allowing Wright to receive payment as a contract laborer but not active law enforcement, for the next month, NBC News reported. The county’s chief deputy will fill in for Wright until a replacement is found.

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