An unlikely figure was present for the 29th day of demonstrations for divestment from law enforcement. In the far corner of Miller Park, away from the fray and commotion, sat former United States senator and Chattanooga mayor Bob Corker. He quietly observed what the organizers had to say, and then left the park once the march began.
“No thank you. I’m just here to listen,” said the former senator when asked for a comment.
As is usually the case, “I Can’t Breath Chattanooga” organizers Cameron “C-Grimey” Williams and Marie Mott spoke to the crowd of 50 or so people before they marched around and through downtown Chattanooga.
“Today is day 29 of civil unrest, and many of us have been out here since day one practicing our first amendment right,” said Mr. Williams. “It’s not many of us, but it’s plenty of us.”
As he has many other times, Mr. Williams called for the resignation of the five sheriff’s deputies who were involved in the arrest of Reginald Arrington. He demanded more accountability from Hamilton County’s most visible branch of law enforcement.
“We’ve seen how our sheriff has run his department like the mafia, and refuses to hold his deputies accountable,” said Mr. Williams. “We are demanding the firing, and that criminal charges be brought to the five deputies who beat our brother Mr. Reginald Arrington Jr.”
“We are demanding that our County Commissioners divest from the bulky sheriff’s department and directly into our school system, public transportation, black and brown non-profits, and other initiatives that will help the black and brown community.”
Marie Mott echoed what her fellow organizer said, expanding on what she saw as the benefits of further investing in the community and schools.
“We have, I believe that is Mr. Bob Corker over there in the corner, who gentrified downtown and turned it into this bustling place for white people,” said Ms. Mott. “Yet he isn’t one of the people who is trying to bring Kirkman Technical High School back to the city. We’ve had mayors since Mr. Corker, and yet we still do not have a state-of-the-art facility that can connect us to the fastest Internet in the world to be able to code, participate in the future of manufacturing which is robotics, or be competitive citizens for a world economy.”
Ms. Mott also said that if children in the high-crime areas have well-funded school and recreational centers, crime would go down.
“If the statistics under several presidents show that when you invest in people, you lessen the outcome of crime and perpetual cycles of poverty, then I have a question,” said Ms. Mott. “If they know investing in people will solve the problem and they refuse to do that, it seems intentional that they want to subject certain populations to criminal activity and poverty.”
After this speech, the crowd of 50 or so people gathered and began their march around Chattanooga.