NAACP campaign asks for McKenzie resignation
by DAVID DAVIS, Managing Editor
Mar 06, 2013 | 750 views | 0 0 comments | 6 6 recommendations | email to a friend | print
LAWRENCE ARMSTRONG, president of the Bradley County Chapter of the NAACP, foreground, discusses strategy Saturday morning while Patience Brown, left, takes notes as her Hiawatha Brown identifies streets in the 1st Cleveland City Council District. The local chapter began limited circulation of a petition requesting the resignation of 1st District Cleveland City Councilman Charlie McKenzie. McKenzie is accused of using racial slurs of minority residents while serving as a Bradley County Sheriff’s deputy. McKenzie neither confirms nor denies the allegations.  Banner photo, DAVID DAVIS
LAWRENCE ARMSTRONG, president of the Bradley County Chapter of the NAACP, foreground, discusses strategy Saturday morning while Patience Brown, left, takes notes as her Hiawatha Brown identifies streets in the 1st Cleveland City Council District. The local chapter began limited circulation of a petition requesting the resignation of 1st District Cleveland City Councilman Charlie McKenzie. McKenzie is accused of using racial slurs of minority residents while serving as a Bradley County Sheriff’s deputy. McKenzie neither confirms nor denies the allegations. Banner photo, DAVID DAVIS
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Some residents began a petition drive Saturday calling for the resignation of 1st District Cleveland City Councilman Charlie McKenzie for allegedly using derogatory words and making other racial stereotypical remarks directed toward black people.

McKenzie has neither confirmed nor denied the allegations since they surfaced Jan. 31, but refers to a prepared statement he read during the Feb. 11 Council meeting. He said then he “has and will continue to serve every citizen equally, no matter what color or race.

“And — if — I ever said something to offend anyone — I apologize,” he said as he continued. “I don’t think anyone can get their story straight. The first story I heard, I beat up a guy over at the sheriff’s department. I’ve never arrested anybody in the last six months. I serve warrants. So, until somebody tells me something, I don’t believe nothing.”

The petition drive planned for Saturday was canceled due to possible inclement weather.

Lawrence Armstrong, president of the Bradley County chapter of the NAACP, met with a core group of members to discuss strategy and knock on a few doors in the South Meade area of the 1st District. They will serve as trainers on future weekends.

“This will continue until Charlie resigns. We do not plan on letting up,” he said. “Today will be our starting point. This will give us an exercise to demonstrate out in the field next week. As we continue this effort and we get more people, we can use this group as trainers.”

McKenzie blames the controversy on politics. “… they’ve got an election coming up over there. And it’s going to be a doozy of an election. One lies about the other, and the other lies about him.”

Also, he said he cannot remember what he said six weeks ago or six months ago.

The Cleveland City Council was split 3-3 on two motions raised by 2nd District Councilman Bill Estes at the Feb. 25 meeting. The two nonbinding votes called for a censure of McKenzie and the second asked for his resignation.

Following the Council meeting, McKenzie told the Rev. Teresa Oglesby, pastor of Price Memorial A.M.E. Church, he would visit with her on Tuesday.

Armstrong said Saturday McKenzie did not go to the church or visit Oglesby.

McKenzie did not return a message left on his cell phone on Saturday.

The accusations came from written statements by Bradley County deputies Kristi Barton and Anthony Liner.

According to their statements, McKenzie made the remarks to them in a private setting and never in public. Barton and Liner wrote their statements at the request of Sgt. James Bradford.

Barton wrote that McKenzie’s statements upset her, and she complained to Bradford. Bradford then asked the two deputies to write statements.

Liner said in a statement dated Jan. 18, “… and yesterday, the 17th of January, after leaving (a Pugh Street address) to serve a civil paper deputy McKenzie again said, ‘sounds like a typical n-----,’ referring to a black subject’s grandmother who denied knowing how to contact her grandson.”

“Deputy McKenzie has never said these offensive things in public outside our patrol unit that I can remember, and, being my elder, I did not think it was my duty to advise him it was inappropriate,” the statement said.

Liner wrote that on other occasions, “I have heard him make a number of derogatory comments regarding race. I have heard him refer to African Americans as spook, coon, spade and n-----. Deputy McKenzie has asked me while going to addresses to serve papers if the subjects are black on a number of occasions, as if it mattered. Once after explaining that we are looking for a black male and that I had already talked to a family member, deputy McKenzie asked, ‘were they nice n------?’ I have also heard him say ‘they always stick together’ when referring to black subjects.”

Barton stated McKenzie asked on several occasions, “if the subject we are looking for is black” before arriving at an address.

“If I answer yes, then he will make a comment that they will run,” Barton said in the statement. “If a black person answers the door and advises they do not know where the person we are looking for is, he has said comments like, ‘they are covering for them ‘cause they stick together.’

“On one occasion he asked me if the black boy who works on the warrant team, referring to Gabe Thomas, is a good guy. I answered yes. He then asked me if Gabe would arrest a black person. I told him he would arrest anyone who needed to be arrested. He said ‘that's good because most of them won’t because they like to stick together.’­”

Barton said deputy McKenzie did not use derogatory terminology while in her presence, “but his demeanor and meanings are clear when he makes these comments.”

The events surrounding McKenzie began Jan. 30 when an email was circulated to area media from southeastnaacp@gmail.com. The email cited the complaints filed by Liner and Barton.