TARRANT, Alabama — An elderly woman was arrested at her Alabama home a day after a contentious city council meeting, where she criticized the mayor and engaged in a heated exchange with a city employee. Novilee Williams, 79, was charged with disorderly conduct and harassment following the incident, which was recorded and shared on social media. The arrest has sparked controversy and concern among community members and council officials.
During the meeting, held on December 4, Williams strongly criticized Tarrant Mayor Wayman Newton, accusing him of corruption in the recent suspension and reinstatement of Tarrant Police Chief Wendell Major. The video footage shows Williams seated behind Shayla Myricks, an accountant for the city, who repeatedly challenges the elderly woman’s assertions. At one point, Williams chides Myricks to turn back around, leading to a brief physical altercation between the two.
Myricks subsequently filed misdemeanor charges against Williams, alleging that she engaged in fighting and threatening behavior in a public place. A police report states that Williams directed Myricks to turn around and shoved her in an attempt to force her compliance.
The video also captures Williams briefly rising to her feet and glowering at Myricks after the confrontation. However, it does not show her shoving Myricks. Williams briefly touched her arm. Following the meeting, a uniformed police officer approached Williams and requested her identification. The footage concludes with the officer taking her ID and leaving the frame.
Williams is a regular attendee of Tarrant council meetings and has frequently clashed with Mayor Newton, who was not present during the public comment period. In response to the arrest, Newton stated that he was not involved but emphasized that physical altercations are unacceptable. Williams, on the other hand, declined to comment on the incident but confirmed that she has retained legal representation.
The arrest of Novilee Williams has ignited a debate about freedom of speech and the appropriate response to public confrontation. Community members, including Tarrant Councilwoman Veronica Bandy Freeman, expressed their concern over the elderly woman’s arrest, emphasizing that empathy and respect should guide interactions with residents. However, the city accountant’s decision to press charges has raised questions.
A formal statement regarding the incident has not yet been released by the Tarrant City Council or local authorities. As the controversy unfolds, many await further updates to understand the implications it may have on freedom of expression within the community.