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Chattanooga City Council Chairman Moses Freeman

A group of citizens is set to give "The People's State of the City" address to the City Council on Tuesday.

Kevin Muhammad of the Nation of Islam will give the address on behalf of a coalition that includes Citizens Concerned for Justice, People United for Change and other community partners.

The address is a counterpoint to Mayor Andy Berke's "State of the City" on Monday, Muhammad said. In that speech, Berke called for devoting an additional $1 million toward public safety cameras over the next two years as part of Chattanooga's battle against violent crime.

"We just want to give a picture of a different reality that exists," Muhammad said. "We don't believe that $1 million will properly address the problem."

Muhammad said he will recommend alternative uses for the money during his address about "the other Chattanooga."

On Tuesday, coalition representatives encountered resistance when they asked council Chairman Moses Freeman for permission to give the presentation at the council's next meeting.

"We don't give the mayor that kind of authority, and we're not going to give it to you," said Freeman, who told Muhammad and other coalition members to find their own audience instead of using council meetings as the forum for their message.

"We are not in alignment with what we heard at the State of the City, and we deserve an opportunity to share that with the council," said Ash-Lee Henderson of Citizens Concerned for Justice, who alleged that the council would "rubber stamp" the mayor's proposed public safety expenditures.

A half-hour-long back-and-forth between Freeman and coalition members ensued until he approved requests by council members Ken Smith and Yusuf Hakeem to hear Muhammad speak.

"Any citizen that requests a little time to speak on an issue so important, I think it's our due right to sit here and listen until they are done saying what they have to say to us," Smith said.

Hakeem said he thought it was in the best interest of the council and the community to hear about "some of the pent-up frustration" residents are feeling about gang violence.

Freeman could not be reached for comment Wednesday.

Contact staff writer Paul Leach at 423-757-6481 or pleach@timesfreepress.com.

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