Protest march set for Lanett on Sunday

Published 7:25 am Wednesday, June 17, 2020

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LANETT — A Lanett city council member said Monday that a protest march would be taking place in Lanett on Sunday. Tony Malone said that a 2 p.m. EDT Father’s Day March would be taking place on the sidewalk that runs parallel to Highway 29 through the city.

“The issue with the police and the black community started way before the killing of George Floyd in Minnesota,” Malone said. “It has been lingering for a long time. Unfortunately, the officer in Minneapolis was white, so was the officer who killed Rayshawn Brooks in Atlanta. Does this mean that all white cops are racist? No, it doesn’t. There are also some black officers who have used unnecessary force. It’s clear, though, that black men are much more likely to be victimized in incidents involving police.”

Malone said he thinks it’s time to change the current system of laws.

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“You don’t have to have a knee on someone’s neck to stop them from breathing, and you don’t have to shoot them with a gun to bring them down,” he said.

“Protesters are taking to the streets throughout America and will soon be here in Lanett,” Malone said. “They are calling for changes in policing and how the criminal justice system works. Statistics bear out some ugly truths. Blacks constitute 28 percent of Alabama residents but 43 percent of those who are in jail and 57 percent of those who are in prison. According to the Southern Poverty Law Center and the Alabama Appleseed Center for Law & Justice, blacks are some four times as likely to be arrested for marijuana possession than are whites.”

Studies show, said Malone, that police officers nationwide are more likely to stop black and Hispanic drivers than they are white drivers. According to a new report from the Bureau of Justice Statistics, police are over twice as likely to threaten the use of force against blacks and Hispanics than they are with whites.

“Blacks are experiencing a higher rate of street stops compared to whites,” Malone continued. “These reports are uncovering further racial disparities. Because of this, blacks are less likely than are whites to reach out to law enforcement to report a crime, a non-crime emergency or to seek help.”

Malone said that he did not support defunding the police.

“We need law and order,” he said.

He does believe, though, that the law is too heavy-handed in prosecuting marijuana cases.

“I am in favor of making possession of less than one ounce of marijuana a simple ticket,” he said. “There should be no jail, no bond and no record. A large number of young African Americans are in jail, and sometimes prison, for simple marijuana possession. This can cost them jobs, scholarships to college and can tear families apart.”

Malone said he would like to see the city council make a statement on this.

“Should less than an ounce of marijuana send someone to jail?” he asked. “I don’t think it should.”

Council Member Angelia Thomas said that the country was in crisis and called upon all people of faith to pray.

“Prayer definitely changes things,” she said.

She encouraged people of faith to take part in the Sunday afternoon march. She also encouraged them to participate in 7 p.m. prayer meetings that will be taking place in an open field off 19th Street in West Shawmut on Wednesday through Friday.

“I thank God we have good police officers here in Lanett,” she said. “I ask everyone to continue praying for them and our community. Let’s pray for each other and never forget that God is in control.”

Monday’s meeting opened in prayer delivered by the city’s new chaplain, the Rev. Rodney Jones, pastor of the Galilee Baptist Church in Lee County. He succeeds the late Bobby Williams.