Protesters on Friday in Chattanooga angry at police brutality rally and march for what an organizer says is the 23rd time since the May 25 killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis.
The number of protesters has diminished. Today is about 100, mostly people in their 20s and 30s. “There’s not many of us, but it’s plenty of us,” Cameron “C-Grimey” Williams says.
Fresh police abuse stories in Chattanooga add fuel to the fire of indignation.
➤ A UTC staffer Carmen Carson reports a harassing campus “traffic stop” Wednesday.
➤ On Tuesday district attorney Neal Pinkston released video showing the beating arrest of Reginald Arrington Jr. on May 23 at the hands of Hamilton county sheriff’s deputies. He announced he was dropping the charges. His announcement drew anger from Sheriff Jim Hammond, who said the use of batons against a man who had not committed a public offense nor was wanted for a crime was proper. A regional police union rep said the beating wasn’t a beating.
The arrest was imposed on Mr. Arrington even though the county is under administrative notice about the requirements of Tennessee law at TCA 40-7-103, arrest by officer without warrant, which carefully doles out instances when arrest without judicial approval is warranted. Mr. Arrington had committed no public offense, nor was wanted under a warrant. Yet he was till attacked and illicitly seized by four deputies.
➤ The local chapter of NAACP is demanding the sheriff’s department reorganize and that the county commission — with power over the purse — demand better training and a restructuring of that office.
“Silence is not an option,” says George Calhoun, local president. “We are asking that commissioners seek the remedies available to them to stop Sheriff Hammond. Not only the sheriff, but his deputies, who continue these acts of brutality upon the citizens in our community.”
The county has two grand juries, but its “people power” to stop government abuse has been neutered by two longstanding customs. Judges putting favorites at the helm as foremen; district attorneys for decades have shaped grand juries to serve the state, not act as spoiler for state prosecutions of the people. The grand jury system in Tennessee is unconstitutional, according to two U.S. supreme court cases.
Marlon Carter, a UTC student who frequently attends city council meetings, says. “Who’s the heroes — is it us, or the city council?” After an outburst of approving cries, he says, “Yeah, in-house niggers don’t have a chance, do they? *** Why? They’re licking their slavemaster’s boots. Like Andy Berke.”
He recalls the 2012 slaying of Trayvon Martin and the 2015 church massacre by Dylann Roof in Charleston. Government agencies that don’t act to stop such crimes are “f–king cowards.”
In his press release, the NAACP president recounts the indictment of deputy Dennis Wilkey on 44 counts in multiple abusive arrests and says that “Sheriff Hammond has repeatedly stated that he will not step down and he has two years remaining before a new sheriff is elected for Hamilton County,” Mr. Calhoun says. “We say to the sheriff — 2 years is too long.” His statement demands Mr. Hammond’s resignation.
The protests in Chattanooga are the longest since the Martin Luther King Jr., Mr. Williams says. The first protest in Chattanooga was May 30, 27 days ago, and at on at least three nights protesters stayed home to “attend” city council online.
Mr. Williams hails UTC students for “showing solidarity with the community” and he can;t wait “until they take over my g—mn job, because I’m tired.”
Procession visits repainted MLK Boulevard