Threats Darken Council Meeting

WINNSBORO – A Winnsboro man was escorted out of Monday night’s County Council meeting by Sheriff’s deputies after threatening Chairman David Ferguson with bodily harm during the second public comment portion of the meeting.

Mike Ward, who had spent his allotted 3 minutes at the podium reviewing a portion of Councilman Kamau Marcharia’s history with the New Jersey State Penal System, refused to surrender the microphone after his time had expired. Instead, Ward asked Ferguson, “Who sits in that seat?” indicating Marcharia’s District 4 Council seat. When Ferguson only thanked Ward for offering his comments, Ward said, “That’s not an answer.”

“Yes, it is,” Ferguson said.

“No it ain’t,” Ward said. “Try again. Work on your verbiage.”

When Ferguson invited Ward to take a seat, Ward said, “I know where I can have a seat.”

As Ferguson motioned to a deputy posted directly behind the podium, Ward issued remarks that set the audience on edge.

“If he touches me,” Ward said to Ferguson, “you’re going to get dropped.”

At that point a second deputy swooped in and the two lawmen escorted a stone-faced Ward from the chambers.

The Sheriff’s Office said Tuesday that no charges had yet been filed on Ward, but investigators were consulting with 6th Circuit Solicitor Doug Barfield to consider the best course of action. A DVD of the meeting was also being reviewed by investigators.

Ward had spent his public comment time rehashing a few lines from the 72-page parole transcript from Marcharia’s arrest and conviction by an all-white jury in New Jersey for assault, kidnapping, rape and carrying a concealed weapon in 1964. At that time, Marcharia was known by his birth name, Robert Lewis. Although the victim in the incident maintained that Lewis had not been involved in the crime, he was nonetheless sentenced to 50 years in prison. His official age was listed as 19, but Lewis was actually 16, having lied to avoid what he was told was a worse New Jersey juvenile penal system, according to “Parole as Post Conviction Relief: The Robert Lewis Decision,” by Andrew Vachss, published in the New England Law Review, Volume 9, Number 1, 1973.

Lewis was paroled in September of 1973.

During his time at the podium, Ward said Marcharia’s “violent and uncontrollable rantings have not changed on this council.”

“But I got my G.E.D. (high school diploma equivalency), I went to college, I tried to better myself as a human being,” Marcharia said. “Even the victim, even the police will tell you, in writing, if you read the transcripts, that I did not commit that crime. That doesn’t mean just because you’re innocent you won’t go to jail. I’m not going to be labeled. I’ve been on this council for 16 years and everybody knows my background. If people believed what (Ward) said, you think that the good people of my district would have elected me over and over?”

Comments

  1. Mark Polk says

    Even IF Councilman Marcharia committed the crime – and the police say he did not – he served his time and has worked hard to improve his image. Perhaps Mr. Ward has a personal agenda. I do wish, however, that County Council members would understand they represent all the County, not just their district.

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