Race Relations: What's happening in Montgomery? - WSFA.com Montgomery Alabama news.

October 31, 2000

Race Relations: What's happening in Montgomery?

Some Montgomery Police officers believe too many people jump to conclusions before they know all the facts. For example, MPD raided two neighborhoods within a week; one black neighborhood and one white neighborhood. Beth Jett was there. Here's what she observed.

MPD officers came in with a bang, raiding three homes in a predominantly black neighborhood. They arrested five people for drug charges; all were black. Undercover police say they bought drugs in that area several times within weeks and raided the homes after a plea from a concerned black man, City Councilman Tracy Larkin. "That is why I asked, because the constituents asked me to ask the police to pay more attention to that area," said Larkin.

After the raid during the day, the officers went back to the predominently black neighborhood that night to make more arrests in what they call a 'reversal'. "At night what we're seeing when we're out here working this area is it appears to be that a majority of the customers are white," said Lt. Bill Jameson.

Undercover agents took video of informants selling crack to 12 people. All were arrested and all were white. MPD statistics indicate blacks commit three times as many drug offenses as whites, but officers say when they go to make arrests, blacks and whites are equally critical of them. "If it's a white neighborhood, we'll do the exact same thing as if it was a black neighborhood," said one officer. "It's not like we pick and choose who we want to do raids on. It's just whoever's doing wrong that's who we go after."

A week later, agents rushed into a house in a predominantly white neighborhood. Again, there were arrests. People wearing the badge get frustrated with what they call misconceptions on the streets. "The only think I'm trying to do is my job," said one frustrated officer. "But, if I go to a black neighborhood, I'm treated differently."

"Is it a black and white issue?," asked another officer. "No, because we investigate all spectrums. We investigate whites, we investigate blacks, we investigate everybody." And that seems to make people mad. Police keep track of complaints against officers. Last year, they recorded 227. Black people made more than twice the number of complaints as white people.

Officers take these complaints seriously, but they find many people base their opinions on what they hear or only perceive to be the truth. Some people suggest there may be another motive behind the claims of racism and brutality: politics.  

For part one of beth's report, click here.
For part three, click here.

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