KANAB — A man was arrested after two men fought to have the last word during a recent Kanab City Council meeting, jail records show.
William James, 40, was arrested July 9 on suspicion of disorderly conduct after request to stop, a class B misdemeanor, and disrupting a meeting or procession, a class C misdemeanor. He was charged with disorderly conduct a few days later, according to court records.
About 250 people attended the meeting at the local library to comment on the city's plans to lease 600 acre feet to a company that wants to mine sand on nearby state trust land then ship it to be used in hydraulic fracking operations in northeastern Utah oil fields, according to a report from Southern Utah News.
Many at the meeting were opposed to the lease, believing the mining operation would mar the scenic area, pose a threat to future water supply, and increase traffic congestion, Southern Utah News reported.
There were about three or four citizens waiting to speak during the public comment period when two men near the back of the line "kept getting behind each other, in what appeared to be an attempt to be the last to speak," jail records state.
James said he had briefly left the meeting then got in line behind Mike Noel, executive director of the Kane County Water Conservancy District, when he returned. James said Noel then "nonchalantly moved behind him," according to Southern Utah News.
“He was clearly trying to get behind me,” James told the news outlet. “It was very conniving.”
James said he wanted to make his comments after Noel, who was in favor of the lease, and so moved behind him in line.
“And this childlike game ensued,” James told Southern Utah News. “I said, ‘What makes you think your rights supersede mine?’ It was ridiculous.”
The line hopping eventually snowballed into a loud, verbal argument between the two men, according to jail records.
"One man became very loud. In doing this, he stopped the meeting as everyone was looking at him," the records show.
An officer then asked both men to leave the meeting, and Noel immediately left. James, however, refused to leave. After the officer again asked him to leave, James asked if the officer was going to take him to jail, records show.
The officer said if he did not leave, he would take him to jail. James again refused to leave, so two officers physically escorted James from the building. One of the officers mentioned that James had been warned multiple times about his conduct during public meetings, according to jail records.
James was arrested and taken to jail where he spent the night before posting $1,030 bail, jail records show.
"James told me that he didn't care (that he went to jail), and that he was proud of the charges," the officer who arrested James stated in the jail records.
A few days later, Noel filed a civil stalking injunction against James, according to court records.
Noel told Southern Utah News that he called James a piece of garbage during the argument, but "was pushed to anger by James' constant belligerence at public meetings and feuding and harassment of his wife on Facebook concerning the sand mine project," the news outlet reports. James denies the accusations.
Noel said James had also disrupted a Chamber of Commerce meeting where Noel was a speaker earlier that day. When Noel heard of the charge filed against James, he said, "Well, good," according to Southern Utah News.