Kay Crowder, a member of the Raleigh City Council and the Democratic Party, confirmed reports on Wednesday to the News & Observer that she was “verbally and physically assaulted” by Raleigh Mayor Nancy McFarlane’s husband at a community meeting earlier this month.
“The reports are true that I was verbally and physically assaulted,” Crowder wrote in an email to the paper. “I am still very shaken by the experience, and I prefer not to speak publicly about this at this time.”
According to a statement from the mayor, her husband, Ron, was upset Crowder did not recognize McFarlane for her work on a park project in her public remarks that evening.
Ron McFarlane was among the Raleigh residents present at the local convention center on Feb. 6 for a meeting about the Dix Park Master Plan, which was approved by the City Council on Feb. 19. Crowder was the only elected official to speak at the event; in her speech she thanks all her fellow present City Council members as well as the city manager. McFarlane did not attend the event due to a pre-scheduled, unspecified surgery.
Bob Edgerton, the chairman of a local citizen advisory council, told the News & Observer that he witnessed the incident that night, saying Ron McFarlane waited until after Crowder concluded her remarks and exited the stage to approach her. He told the paper that while he did not recognize him, he clearly remembers observing “someone standing with Kay Crowder with a grip on her left shoulder shaking her rather violently and yelling at her.”
“I was a little concerned about her safety, you know?” he added. Edgerton also said when he approached them, McFarlane told him to “leave us alone” and walked away.
No police reports were filed that night and 911 was not called. While Ron McFarlane did not respond to the newspaper’s request for comment, the mayor didn’t deny the run-in happened in a statement to the paper, saying her husband has reached out numerous times to apologize.
“My husband, Ron, was understandably stressed that evening due to my surgery the previous day,” the mayor said. “He was upset that I was not recognized, as the rest of the council was, in the remarks given by Council Member Crowder at the Dix Park Community Meeting. He expressed to Council Member Crowder how upset he was in a way that I believe was too strongly worded. I’m sure that Council Member Crowder understands that he was tired and stressed that night.”
Stress can drive people do a lot of questionable things, but shaking and screaming at a public official at a community event isn’t stress-induced behavior; it’s just called being an abusive asshole.