Roy Exum: A Creek Has 2 Banks

Sunday, June 28, 2020 - by Roy Exum
Roy Exum
Roy Exum

The Tennessee River is 652 miles long and has three major tributaries, The Clinch, the Little Tennessee, aand the Hiwassee. In Paducah, Ky., the Tennessee becomes the largest tributary of the Ohio River, but this story isn’t about rivers. Instead, it’s about the indisputable fact that for over 652 miles there are two major things the each of these five rivers have in common: the first is obvious – water – but today’s topic is something as easily seen, yet a topic nobody as of late wants to talk about. Yes, every river and even the smallest creek has two banks. Ironically, a fast-growing number of stories involving white police officers and black suspects do, too.

Yes, so what’s the other side of the story?

My senses were assailed when the Chattanooga Times Free Press horribly sensationalized a tape that was taken of Hamilton County Deputy Sheriffs fighting to restrain a black man roughly one month ago. The tape was of a most unfortunate encounter on May 23 between Reginald Arrington, Jr., age 32, and five deputies in Ooltewah. Arrington was stopped after several complaints were received that he was accosting female joggers on a popular roadway in ways that they alleged scared them.

It is good and proper protocol that anytime a police officer steps from his cruiser, other law enforcement arrives as “back up” and that accounts for the number of officers at the scene. According to official reports, Arrington gave the officers a name other than his own, along with other false information. He then told the officers he was “asking (the accosted joggers) for directions.” Please, if you had been an officer in the group who had just told false information, “looking for directions” in broad daylight in Ooltewah didn’t pass the smell test.

Arrington had been most cooperative up to this point but the Sheriff’s Deputies determined there was “sufficient cause” to take Arrington downtown for a few better answers – this after he was handcuffed – he began to fight and kick violently. Sheriff Jim Hammond and others at the sheriff’s office have viewed the tape time and time again and believe Arrington was not beaten with any police batons, explaining that the batons are quite often employed to hold down a person who disobeys police commands, like “stop fighting,” “quit trying to kick us,” “stop making this worse,” and “Please stop!” Similar demands can be clearly heard in the inflammable tape.

When Arrington arrived at the jail, every officer involved believed that they had subdued “a violent arrest” properly. They actually wanted one of Hamilton County’s judges to watch the tape in the event they needed to explain it but soon it was in the hands of (our very able) District Attorney General Neal Pinkston. Knowing Neal, he wished to “do the right thing” and sought FBI counsel, this at a most volatile time of racial discord.

Because of how the tape was used for sensationalism, the three liberals on the Hamilton County Commission were primed and ready for a show that would dominate the newspaper’s front page for yet another day. Commissioner Katherlyn Geter acted as though she was seeking “Best Supporting Actress,” her lines appearing as though they were taken from a screenplay. “I am mad as hell,” she said under a sulking front-page photo. “Enough is enough. We simply can no longer keep doing this,” she said adding carefully, “We can’t breathe.”

Warren Mackey jumped in. “This is unacceptable. I didn’t see any efforts to de-escalate. I didn’t see any effort to intervene,” Dr. Mackey said, while also violating the “one creek-two banks rule,” one that he has consistently espoused as a commissioner. Had he listened to Sheriff Hammond or any officer involved in the tape that was already one month old, his answer was only waiting: It was because Arrington didn’t stop fighting.

‘Act Two’ was quick to follow. The Unity Group, a pro-racist crowd of pro whiners, issued a statement, aimed at the other six conservative commissioners who, quite frankly, are weary of the whining and the baseless allegations.  In a letter entitled, “The Silence of our Friends,” it read, “We say to the Commission, your silence makes you complicit; your failure to address is a ringing indictment; your ambivalence in answering and addressing the racial and social challenges of this community is just an example of why many will attest that you continue to be derelict in your duty.

“Those who demand justice,” the letter read with the same weekly predictability that wore away long ago, “for Mr. Arrington know what we call what was witnessed on video. We call it inhumane. We call it force excessive. We call it intolerable. We call it brutal. We call it immoral. We call it unjust. We call it cruel and unusual punishment, a clear constitutional violation.”

Well, let’s hold it right there. One day before “The Silence of Our Friends” appeared on, the same website reported that two men, ages 28 and 33, were shot on Dee Drive. This was only three days after a 14-year-old was shot on Grove Street and, let’s not leave out the 54-year-old woman who was dropped in a hail of gunfire on Tunnel Blvd. Madame Geter, forget the gathering summer skim on the pond; don’t you think we ought to focus on blacks who shoot other blacks? Please. Please, black men, women, and children are getting shot every week. Should we not instead seek the true and killing alligators in our pond?

I was talking to our best lawman, Sheriff Jim Hammond who has a world’s wealth of police knowledge, and he told me the truth. “Until the black community steps in and says, ‘Enough is enough’ and helps the police, I don’t think you can stop the shootings.”

Please, Comm. Geter, can you not see that 250,000 in our Hamilton County believe that “Enough is enough!” You delivered a beautiful and compelling analogy to say what if this beating had happened to one of your sons. Yes, it drew me, but, Katherlyn, your boys have a greater chance of being shot right now. Do you realize that? Yes, ma’am. “We simply can no longer keep doing this!” Further, it’s said the 58-year-old woman gunned down on Tunnel Blvd. told EMT techs, “I cannot breathe.” Should I keep going?

And Comm. Mackey, how ‘bout this partial paragraph in a letter written Friday. “ … Your lack of leadership on this important issue (black on black shootings) continues to fail people you have sworn to protect. I am concerned it is yet another example of your lack of commitment (Warren!) to the vulnerable citizens who are victims of this violence and lack of respect for the men and women of law enforcement.”

Actually, the letter was written to the Illinois Gov. and Mayor of Chicago by President Trump after last week’s Father’s Day “massacre” set a national record for ‘black on black’ destruction. From Thursday night last week until 5 a.m. this Monday, the inside-the-city-limits tally was 103 shot, and the 14 dead included three minors, the youngest 3 years old. This week it’s even stronger; the weekly count started Sunday, June 25 and was rolling toward midnight Saturday; thus far its 113 with 18 homicides.

And then that comes to ‘The Friends’ the Unity Group chides for being silent. I have read nothing from any in the Chattanooga black community about our local plague of 9 mm. rounds. The Black Pastor’s Association is quick to demand a ‘photo op’ when they have a sullen statement about how blacks are being abused but other blacks are the real culprit. In Chicago this year there have been 315 homicides (roughly 75 percent from black guns and an estimated 22 percent by Latinos, mostly in the drug trade. Less than 5 per cent by whites.) The all-time record for black-on-black homicides in Chicago stands at 342 in 2017. Late yesterday afternoon the number was 317 with six more months to run. How’s the USofA doing?       

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