Activists slam Chattanooga City Council inaction on police behavior

Activists slam Chattanooga City Council inaction on police behavior

September 25th, 2018 by Judy Walton in Local Regional News

For the second week in a row, a small group of local activists fired barbs at the Chattanooga City Council for what it calls indifference and inaction over police use of force in the community.

Councilwoman Demetrus Coonrod argued loudly with one speaker during the public comment period.

"City council, it's time for y'all to step up, especially for the inner-city communities," a speaker who gave his name only as Isaiah said.

He referred to a woman who last week described to the council how police pulled her 14-year-old daughter from their car in June. The Facebook video of that incident went viral, but police said the officers followed policy.

"We come up here every Tuesday and it's falling on deaf ears. Hold police accountable for what they do," Isaiah said.

Coonrod fired back, saying, "We don't ask the right questions. Nobody's coming to the council to hold our own accountable — let's hold ourselves accountable."

She said a friend's 19-year-old daughter was shot and killed Monday night, "not by police but by someone who looks just like us."

Chattanooga police said a juvenile has been charged with murder in the death of Shawnquelle Stanfield.

Coonrod and Isaiah loudly argued until Chairman Ken Smith calmed them down.

Things heated right back up when Marie Mott stepped to the microphone. Last week, Mott took over the mic despite being told she couldn't talk, and said she'd have to be dragged away.

Tuesday night, she read a quote from Harriet Tubman about never giving up fighting for freedom. She said council members and Mayor Andy Berke "don't know what the hell is going on."

"I just won't go away. I won't quit," Mott boomed into the mic. "I am a product of chattel slavery. Everything I do in this system is an insurrection and if I'm doing for the best interest of my people it's going to rub a lot of people the wrong way."

Another man who gave his name as Abdullah added, "If God was to judge us, you know what you're going to get. Some of y'all ought to be ashamed of yourself."

Council members listened quietly and Coonrod was the only one to respond.

Earlier Tuesday, council members heard some drama of another sort, spending nearly an hour in hopes of reassuring the Avondale community.

Councilman Anthony Byrd said community members were worried about several issues with the new Youth and Family Development Center under construction. YFD Administrator Lurone "Coach" Jennings, city Public Works Administrator Justin Holland and Public Library Director Corinne Hill answered numerous questions about the building, which will include a media center directed by the library.

"A lot of times when we listen to the community we get a lot of feedback," Byrd told Jennings. "We should definitely listen and take heed to what these people are saying."

The biggest issue, he said, is whether longtime center director Gerald Perry will stay on to run the new building.

Jennings assured him that "Gerald Perry is our guy as far as that center is concerned."

Contact Judy Walton at jwalton@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6416.


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