Arkansas County Sheriff Todd Wright was forced to resign on Friday (Aug. 28) after a recording of him repeatedly using a racist slur went viral on Facebook. According to the Atlanta Black Star, the five-minute audio clip was secretly recorded by the mother of Wright’s child — Desiree Middlebrooks. The outlet reports that Wright called Middlebrooks a n***er-lover for speaking to a Black employee at a Piggly Wiggly grocery store in DeWitt, Arkansas.
“Why you got to holler at fu*king n***ers when I’m around,” Wright said to Middlebrooks, per Local 12.
Additionally, Wright called the Black employee — named Nick Clark — a “dread head n***er.”
A special Quorum Court meeting was held on Friday morning (Aug. 28) to address the recording. During the meeting, Arkansas County Judge Thomas Best announced that the court had decided to ask for Wright’s immediate resignation.
“It saddens me that anyone would disrespect God’s creation in this manner,” Best said. “No way will I condone this action from anyone.”
Justice of the Peace Inez Mclemore added, “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.”
Wright reportedly insisted that he was not racist during the meeting and claimed he had several Black friends.
“I’m a Christian man. I read my bible everyday,” he said. “I am by no means a racist. That video does not show the true picture of me.”
Betty Wofford — Nick Clark’s aunt — also addressed the court. She said Clark hadn’t been to work and avoided the Quorum Court meeting because he was hurt by Wright’s slurs.
“I don’t believe anything you just said,” she said to Wright. “You have to say this stuff because you want to keep your job. I don’t feel that was right for you to call him out of his name like that. I do wish that you would resign or get fired.”
After hearing from family, friends and community members who were deeply troubled by Wright’s words, he eventually agreed to resign.
“When I heard that audio, I did not jump to conclusions, but I was taken back,” attorney Furonda Brasfield, who has called for an FBI investigation into the entire Arkansas County sheriff’s department, said. “It was unbelievable, but it was believable because we live in Arkansas County. This is not the first racist officer that’s been allowed to run rogue in this county.”
“Let’s just clean the town up,” local resident Consuela McKinzie added after Wright resigned. “Clean the town up, so we can let our kids live free.”
After spending 26 years with the sheriff’s office — the last four as the elected sheriff — Wright will now be replaced by interim sheriff Chief Deputy Randy Bateman. He will receive a contract labor check for the next month.