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Centreville mayor arrested after council argument

CENTREVILLE – Centreville’s mayor faces harassment charges after a councilwoman accused him of threatening to burn a cross in her yard during an argument at a council meeting.

Mayor Dalton Murphy turned himself in Wednesday on misdemeanor charges of harassment and disorderly conduct. He posted $500 bail and spent no time behind bars. Murphy did not immediately return phone messages left Thursday.

Councilwoman Linda Renn-Pierce, who brought the charges, said the threat was made Tuesday during a heated discussion about the firing of three black city workers.

She said Murphy, who is white, fired the three on July 30. He claimed they were not watering plants in the town square.

Renn-Pierce, who also is white, owns two businesses in the town square and said she saw the men watering plants every morning between 7 and 7:30 except the morning they were fired.

The council reinstated the men in mid-August. But during the Tuesday meeting, the issue resurfaced.

The mayor’s wife addressed the council, telling them they mistreated her husband because of the firings. Renn-Pierce said Thursday that the wife waived newspaper articles at council members and told them they were spreading lies.

“We let her speak her peace,” said Don Mack, the only black councilman on the five-member board.

Renn-Pierce said that after she told the mayor she thinks the firings were racially motivated, he responded by saying, “Well, maybe you need a cross burned in your yard.”

She said the mayor frequently uses the N-word and talks about his Ku Klux Klan meetings.

Mack said the mayor added, “I’ve got eight more weeks in office, and I’m not through with you yet.”

Murphy, who is serving his second term as Centreville’s mayor, leaves office in November.