DOVER — Following an encounter between state Sen. Darius Brown and state Rep. Melissa Minor-Brown — one she called “extremely unnerving and unsettling” — Sen. Brown has been removed from the Senate Capital Improvement Committee, effective immediately.
The incident occurred Nov. 8 at a signing ceremony for several police and criminal justice reform bills, Rep. Minor-Brown, D-New Castle, said in a statement Wednesday. She said Sen. Brown, D-Wilmington, was aggressively rude toward her and “stood in very close proximity, angrily yelling profanities in my face.”
She added that the exchange, about an undisclosed topic, took place in full view of many witnesses.
The incident follows one in May, when Sen. Brown was charged with offensive touching and disorderly conduct after an alleged domestic altercation at a restaurant in Wilmington. A trial date for those charges has been set for Dec. 1.
“The entire encounter (last week) was extremely unnerving and unsettling, enough so that I felt compelled to speak up,” Rep. Minor-Brown said. “I have spoken to leadership in both chambers about this and received support from everyone, which has been comforting.”
Sen. Brown, who is not related to Rep. Minor-Brown, did not respond to requests for comment Wednesday.
Senate Majority Whip Elizabeth “Tizzy” Lockman, D-Wilmington — who chairs the six-member, bipartisan Senate Rules & Ethics Committee — said in a Wednesday statement that she intends to monitor Sen. Brown’s upcoming trial closely.
This comes after Sen. Lockman said she received numerous questions regarding how the committee will handle the Brown case, particularly given his removal from the Capital Improvement Committee.
She said that, whether or not he is found guilty, the committee should review the facts of the incident and other accusations of abusive behavior that may not have risen to the level of criminal conduct.
“I plan to convene the Senate Rules and Ethics Committee in the weeks ahead to adopt the procedures for investigating these matters and making whatever recommendations the Committee deems appropriate to the full Delaware State Senate,” she said.
In a statement, Senate President Pro Tempore Dave Sokola, D-Newark, said Sen. Brown was informed that he would be removed from the committee Saturday. Sen. Marie Pinkney, D-Bear, will be assigned to the entity at the start of the 2022 session in January.
Sen. Sokola said he also has requested that Sen. Brown enroll in an anger-management course. He added that he is committed to helping connect him to resources for such a class.
Rep. Minor-Brown called the removal of Sen. Brown from the committee a “good step” toward holding him accountable for his actions.
“It’s important to note that his actions and their consequences don’t only affect him and his colleagues, but they also can negatively impact the communities he’s been elected to serve,” she said.
Rep. Minor-Brown said Sen. Brown should seek help to correct a “disturbing pattern of behavior” he’s exhibited toward women.
“I feel it is important to speak about this incident, to acknowledge the truth — something so many people, especially women of color, struggle in silence with each and every day,” she said. “Sen. Brown also needs to take accountability for his own actions and seek help. He has displayed a disturbing pattern of behavior toward women, and this is just the latest example.”
In May, Sen. Brown was arrested and charged with two misdemeanors, offensive touching and disorderly conduct, connected to a reported domestic argument with his girlfriend at a Wilmington restaurant.
Sen. Brown was removed from the Senate Judiciary Committee following his arrest. He still serves as vice chairman of both the Elections & Government Affairs Committee and the Veterans Affairs Committee.
Nick Miles, chairman of the Delaware Young Republicans, called for Sen. Brown’s removal from office in a statement Wednesday.
“As should be abundantly clear by now, State Senator Darius Brown is a dangerous person, particularly towards women, and needs to be removed from office immediately,” he said.
The Senate Republican Caucus also issued a statement Wednesday, condemning Sen. Brown’s behavior toward women.
“We are deeply concerned by what seems to be a pattern of inappropriate and, according to charges listed in a Delaware State Police report from May of this year, sometimes violent behavior toward women,” the statement read. “The vast majority of our caucus’s staff are women, and it is our responsibility to ensure that they feel safe within the workplace.”
The Republican Caucus called for Sen. Brown to be held accountable by asking that serious consideration be given to a Rules & Ethics Committee review.
In a separate statement, Sen. Dave Lawson, R-Marydel, spoke critically of the Delaware Democratic Party for not taking more action against Sen. Brown than removing him from committees. He also called for a full Rules & Ethics Committee inquiry.
“Senate leadership has merely given Sen. Brown a couple slaps on the wrist,” Sen. Lawson said. “Removal from committees has, apparently, only emboldened this behavior as he knows nothing serious will occur.”
Sen. Sokola called the incident between Sen. Brown and Rep. Minor-Brown deeply concerning to him and those who witnessed it.
“Verbal abuse is abuse, full stop, and it cannot go unpunished. In the Senate, there will be consequences for behavior unbecoming an elected official,” he said.