PEMBROKE — A member of the Lumbee Tribal Council has filed assault charges against Chairman Paul Brooks, an accusation that Brooks denies.
Louise Mitchell claims that Brooks “grabbed her arm, clothing and pushed” her as she attempted in her position as council secretary to post an ordinance for public review at the tribe’s administration complex on N.C. 711.
The case is scheduled to be heard in Robeson County District Court in Lumberton on Nov. 25.
Mitchell said that while she was attempting to get a copy of the ordinance to post from Tribal Clerk Cynthia Hunt, Brooks came up behind her and grabbed her by the shoulder and hand.
“He was shouting get out, get out, you’re not posting that ordinance,” Mitchell said. “Cynthia told him to stop and he released me after she touched his hand.”
Mitchell said as she attempted to get to a desk where she could sign the ordinance to be posted, Brooks continued to push up against her with his body and tell her she was not going to post the ordinance.
“He kept pushing his body against mine and bullying me,” she said.
Mitchell said as she left the office and attempted to walk down a hallway, Brooks turned and followed her “as close as he could.”
“I told him to stop pushing his body against me,” Mitchell said. “… I exited the building, got in the car and had a nervous, emotional breakdown. Then I went home.”
Mitchell said that while at the office, both at the time of the alleged assault and earlier in the day when she had stopped by to see if council-approved ordinance had been posted for public review as required by law, she “never raised her voice to any employees” or was “disrespectful to any employees.”
“But I did stand my ground,” she said, referring to the actions of the chairman. “… The chairman was in a rage when he came and grabbed me. He had his hands on me, his body pushing against me. His face was in my face.”
Brooks denies that he had any physical contact with Mitchell.
“Let me say first that I did not physically touch Councilwoman Louise Mitchell,” he said in a statement. “I received complaints from my tribal clerk and energy director about Ms. Louise walking unrestrained through the office.”
Brooks said that when Mitchell returned to post the ordinances, he heard her “demanding” the documents.
” I heard Ms. Louise demanding documents to allow her to post for public review,” he said. “I told Ms. Louise that she did not have authority to post tribal ordinances and asked her to leave the premises.”
In his statement, Brooks admitted he raised his voice, but said the councilwoman did also.
“Did I raise my voice? Absolutely,” Brooks said. “Ms. Louise and I talked over each other, and we both raised our voices.”
According to Brooks, Mitchell was making an “unreasonable demand” when she repeatedly asked the tribal clerk to hand over the ordinance so she could in sign it and post it for public review.
“Tribal staff should not be berated by Tribal Council making unreasonable demands.” Brooks said. “If Ms. Louise has a problem, she should direct her communications to me or Tribal Administrator Tony Hunt.”
Brooks in his statement said that he was wrong to have raised his voice.
“Do I regret raising my voice? I do,” Brooks said. ” However, I will always stand with my staff when enduring intolerable conduct by individuals coming into tribal offices.”