The city of McKinney is continuing the process to oust one of its own.
On Tuesday night, the city secretary declared that a petition to remove district one city councilman La'Shadion Shemwell has met the legal requirements to move forward.
That decision came after two hours of debate and contentious comments at the city council meeting, with residents occasionally sparring verbally with protesters who came out in support of Shemwell.
"La'Shadion Shemwell has done the work, I bear witness. That's why he's sitting in that seat right there because he's done the work," said resident Jarvis Wright during public comments. "The people of district one spoke when they sat him in that seat."
Unless Councilman Shemwell resigns within five days, council is mandated by law to call for a city-wide recall election on May 2, 2020.
The petition stems from more than a year of controversy between Shemwell and the city. He's accused of fanning racial tensions when he declared a "black state of emergency" following multiple officer-involved shootings in North Texas.
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"I've heard you say that we're missing an opportunity to have a discussion about race and I think you've missed an opportunity to have a productive conversation about race," said resident Lisa Perry during public comments. "Chief Conley has implemented about 13 programs to facilitate the race conversation and instead of providing input and putting those conversations and trying to make them better and stronger, you chose inflammatory rhetoric and baseless accusations for the cameras. And if you think that's how a productive conversation begins then you aren't fit to lead."
Shemwell made it very clear Tuesday night that he would not be resigning.
"It's not just about black people, it's about being different and having a difference in opinion. What is the point in having a first amendment right to speak and then when I speak, because you don't agree with it, you want to take my seat?" he said during the meeting. "Is that a right or is that a privilege you granted for me and I can only use it when you allow me to use it?"
Shemwell -- who is the only council member of color -- called the situation an example of voter suppression.
"Make no mistake your voting rights are at stake. This is voter suppression 2020. When the people can elect their council member by 58 percent of the vote and then people outside of that district over turn or circumvent election, this is voter suppression," he said.
A petition was delivered to McKinney City Hall two weeks ago and contained more than 3,300 signatures -- more than the 2,100 required for the recall to move forward.
The group who delivered the petition also cited instances involving Shemwell that they say brought controversy and division to the city since he took the position.
In December 2018, he was arrested and accused of continuous family violence involving a woman he was dating. Earlier that same year, Shemwell had publicly accused a McKinney police officer of racial profiling but then recanted some of his statements.
"We knew electing him would ignite a conversation about race because we wanted it ignited but when you ignite that conversation by stating that this council and these fine police officers have declared war on black and brown people and are conspiring to kill injure and oppress them, you are starting the conversation with a lie," said Al Perry, who helped deliver the petition. "Your cause is noble La'Shadion but your cause is not so noble that we will advance it with false narratives and lies."
Others who protested against the recall spoke in support of councilman Shemwell sparking conversation on racial issues.
"There is racism and I, as a 15 year old, who my mom has to tell me everyday that to watch out and be careful what you do around cops because you might not know their intentions," said Jolao, a teenager who took the podium to speak during public comments. "This is real and we have to have discussions with this."
"It's a problem. It's not just in McKinney, it's all over this country but it is in McKinney," said resident Christine Wasinger. "You guys aren't any better than anyone else. You have the problem -- quit acting like you don't and he is not the problem for saying it. Just because it's not real for you doesn't mean it's not real because it is -- we live it."
If Shemwell does not resign, the next step is for council to officially call for this recall election at the next meeting on January 21.