The Chattanooga Hamilton County Branch hosted its historical 13th Annual Criminal Justice Seminar on Saturday at UTC. The branch awarded the Thurgood Marshall Award to its first white recipient, District Attorney Neal Pinkston.
The Thurgood Marshall Award is the highest honor bestowed upon an individual by the local NAACP in the area of Law Enforcement for Civil Rights and Community Activism. According to President Dr. Elenora Woods, Mr. Pinkston, a life member of the NAACP, was nominated by the organization and vetted by his peers. The results were overwhelming in support of Mr. Pinkston receiving this honor.
In 2016 Chattanooga was ranked as the 23rd most dangerous place to live in America. Dr. Woods said, "Mr. Pinkston was chosen to receive the Thurgood Marshall Award because under his leadership he had to make tough and unpopular decisions and use the Rico Law and other legal measures to clean up crime in predominately black communities where more than 95 percent of organized heinous crimes were occurring to restore law and order. Drive by shootings were all to common and murder rates were at an all time high. Innocent children lives were taken and helpless mothers were murdered at the hands of those participating in organized crimes.
"Mr. Pinkston has prosecuted most of the more dangerous criminals which has restored our freedom and peace to our communities. So far this year we have not witnessed any drive-bys, people are less fearful to come outside and sit on their front porch, neighbors are playing cards and enjoying music with family and friends outside more and allowing their children to play outside again.
"Moreover, there are less 'visible' gang related activities and Chattanoogans are feeling more safe in their neighborhoods that were once considered too dangerous to live in. His job is not complete but we applaud him for his success thus far.
"The scales of justice must be balanced for the victims and Mr. Pinkston has done a great job."
According to Mr. Pinkston in a statement issued at the Criminal Justice Seminar, the police brutality cases that occurred in Chattanooga are still under an ongoing investigation by the FBI, TBI and the Department of Justice. We trust that justice will be served in those cases as well, said organizers.