‘Attempted assassination’

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Council calls for FBI, ABI, Attorney General investigation in attempted murder of police chief

By Victor Inge

The Selma Times-Journal

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The Selma City Council balked at another chance to consider purchasing 111 acres of land during its Monday regular meeting, and called for an investigation of an alleged plot to kill its police chief.

Councilman Cecil Williamson asked Council President George Evans and the public safety committee to contact the FBI, the Alabama Bureau of Investigations and the Alabama Attorney General’s Office to investigate the recent arrest of two persons who allegedly broke into Selma Police Chief Jimmy Martin’s apartment. Williamson said the “attempted assassination” needed further investigation.

Williamson asked Evans and Councilwoman Dr. Geraldine Allen, chair of the city’s public safety committee, to report their findings back to the council. Michael Hunter, a 22-year-old Selma man, and a juvenile were arrested and charged with breaking an entering and criminal mischief. Martin, who had been out of town for three days attending a conference at Troy University, returned Friday to discover someone had gained entry to his Minter Terrace apartment, located at 2501 Minter Ave. During the investigation authorities said the two admitted they had been waiting for Martin to return, and had a sawed-off shotgun. The gun has not been recovered.

Councilman Johnnie Leashore amended Williamson’s motion to include the origins of a Web site that reportedly published Martin’s address. Councilwoman Bennie Ruth Crenshaw said “it’s very, very serious.”

“The chief’s address was on there,” Crenshaw said. “Whoever’s found to be responsible, we will prosecute to the fullest extent of the law.” The council voted unanimously in support of the amended motion.

Mayor James Perkins Jr., who has been advocating the $1 million purchase of 111 acres, said the defeated land deal can be revisited if it’s introduced by one of the five members of the council who voted against the purchase. One by one Perkins polled members. Each explained they were not in favor of bringing the issue back for another vote.

Council members who voted against the purchase have said some of their concerns had been how the city would pay for it. They also questioned whether it was the responsibility of the council to initiate the purchase since the school board had not asked for support in bringing about a new high school. Perkins had Larry Striplin, the seller, and others facilitating the sale visit with city officials during a special meeting to address their concerns.

“To my satisfaction, their (questions and concerns) were answered. The purchase of this land does not affect the general fund at all,” Perkins said. “The plan is to develop it. In order to do that you have to own it.”

“This is not politics with me,” Dr. Allen said. “I have received many calls about this.”

Evans held up a hand full of petitions that he said were from individuals who were not in favor of the purchase. He said their reluctance was tied to how the purchase came about and city officials’ lack of concrete plans for the property. “It should have been an easy process, but it’s getting more difficult each day,” Evans said. “I want to do what’s right.”

Councilwoman Jean Martin, who asked Evans to read a statement for her since she had laryngitis, stated “no, I’m not changing my vote.”

Perkins said the reason for their reluctance was “misinformation.”

“A lot of it is tied to ’08 politics,” he said, pointing to the upcoming 2008 municipal election.

In other business, council members:

Heard a request from businessman David Blackmon, who asked city officials to look into the numbers of individuals who were selling unlicensed CDs, DVDs and movies at the Selma Flea Market, and whether they are paying sales taxes due to the city.

Heard of presentation from Jane Walker, seeking financial support for the Alabama Math, Science and Technology Initiative (AMSTI), which is sponsored through Wallace Community College Selma.

Heard a presentation from Sherica Braxton-Hatcher with the City Program, one of nine day treatment centers for juveniles in Alabama. They currently have 25 youths enrolled and have a maximum capacity of 30.

Heard a presentation from Deborah Spicer, Laurine Pettway and Gladys King from the Community Outreach Organization.