The local president and members of the Goldsboro/Wayne branch of the NAACP are standing behind Councilman Antonio Williams, who the city council voted to censure two weeks ago.

Sylvia E. Barnes, local NAACP president, said the NAACP is launching an investigation into city council’s actions of censuring Williams. Barnes and the local chapter of the NAACP held a news conference Monday at Rebuilding Broken Places.

In November, Shycole Simpson-Carter, Goldsboro community relations director, attempted to secure a no-contact order against Williams but was denied because Chief District Court Judge Elizabeth Heath ruled Simpson-Carter’s telling of events did not meet the requirements of the type of restraining order she was seeking.

The court ruling was played on tape during a special called public meeting May 9 before Williams was censured.

The incident stems from a Sept. 27 incident during a Goldsboro-Wayne Transportation Authority board meeting when Simpson-Carter said Williams verbally attacked her and made her fear for her safety.

The city’s investigation, which involved hiring an outside attorney to conduct the investigation, resulting in a near 80-page report, concluded that Williams created a hostile work environment.

The NAACP did not address the specific incident and focused on the city council’s decision to censure Williams.

The council is waiting on direction from its attorney regarding the censuring process, which includes providing Williams with a formal letter of the censure and, at that time, he will have the right to have a hearing. Williams denied any allegations of improper behavior and said he would fight the motion.

On May 9, the council’s vote included denying Williams access to the building where Simpson-Carter works.

“The latest in many attempts by this council to censure him and ask for a recall of 2015 election would render his voice and the voices of the citizens in his district as null and void,” Barnes said of Williams, who represents District 1. “It is an attack on his rights and the rights of the citizens that elected him as their representative.”

Councilmen Gene Aycock and Bill Broadway said, after the May 9 meeting, that Williams’ voice on the board would not be silenced and the board had no intention of removing Williams from council. They wanted to censure his contact with Simpson-Carter’s office, they said.

Barnes said the attempt at censuring Williams was a violation of the city ordinance 31.15-31.21 and procedures.

“We have received a complaint,” she said. “We believe the complaint has validity. The Goldsboro/Wayne branch of the NAACP has been called upon to monitor your actions and take appropriate legal actions to ensure that race is not an issue, that the civil rights of Councilman Williams and his constituents are not violated and that justice is achieved.”

Barnes said the local NAACP branch will fight the censure of Williams and his constituents.

“We will not stand by while you attempt to silence the voices of our community,” she said.

Jerry Howard, executive board member of the Goldsboro/Wayne branch of the NAACP, said although he does not live in the city limits, he does patronize the city and spends his money here and also supports Williams and what he is trying to do on the council.

Howard said he did not think the issue was dividing the community.

“I think things happen to try to confuse the people,” he said. “But unity is the best way to go, anything that accomplishes unity.”

Larsene Taylor, a member of the local NAACP branch and a District 1 resident, which Williams represents, said she thought the worst thing city council could do is silence Williams.

“He is our voice,” Taylor said. “He is speaking on our behalf.”

Taylor said the NAACP needs to get involved in the incident.

“We need to do more than we are doing,” she said. “We need to stand with him, for him, behind him. It’s about civil rights, and we’re about civil rights. What does this say about us if we’re not trying to make it right?”