Sanders gives thanks for verdict

Published 12:00 am Saturday, October 7, 2006

To the Editor:

To God be the glory, last week a diverse jury awarded $310,000 to three young black men.

This award was justly set because the jury was convinced that three white former Selma City Police Officers unlawfully arrested, assaulted and violated the civil rights of the young men.

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It was a major milestone for the people in Selma and the nation at large. When the white jury foreman read the verdict, I began to weep. I noticed that one female juror was weeping with me. While I was weeping my mind reflected on the all white male juries in the 1960s who never bought justice to slain civil rights workers.

I also thought about the killers of Jimmie Lee Jackson and the Rev. Jonathan Reed who still remain free. I began thinking about the countless acts of police brutality that have gone unpunished.

Incredibly, this jury bought vindication and renewed hope to The City of Selma’s Judicial System. Only God himself, I thought, could have delivered such a victory. And this I truly believe. I want to thank the members of the jury for their courage and commitment to be fair and just. I pray that they suffer no repercussions for being true to the American Creed.

Lastly, I would like to inform the taxpayers that Chestnut, Sanders and Sanders made several attempts to settle this case.

The settlement amount we offered was a mere $20,000, which included all cost and attorney fees. Initially, we asked that the money be given to the National Voting Rights Museum and Institute.

The mayor refused this offer. However, Cecil Williamson was without moral authority to criticize the mayor handling this situation in his editorial attack printed last week in the paper. When the mayor tried to negotiate a settlement, Councilmen Reid and Cain were emphatically against settling the case for any amount.

On the night before trial, an offer was communicated to Selma City Council President George Evans for $20,000, again that offer was refused.

Our motive was not greed, but justice. Three white jurors and two jurors associated with the city rendered this verdict. It is one of the highest monetary awards in the history of this county. This victory was for all. Now citizens know that unlawful acts of violence from the police department will not be tolerated. I would be remiss if I did not acknowledge and express appreciation for the countless numbers of decent and honorable police officers that serve our community everyday.

Sen. Hank Sanders