I knew something was very wrong

Published 11:56 am Thursday, May 24, 2018

“Councilman Sam Randolph has a warrant out for him. They said he peed in the street”. This message came from a person in my law firm. I instantly knew something was wrong. Others also knew something was very wrong. We were all concerned.

I have known Selma City Councilman Randolph for many years. I knew that this was something either made up or Councilman Randolph had gone off his rocker. It was hard to believe that a Selma City Councilman would be arrested for urinating in the street. People pee in the streets all the time in Selma, and few if any are arrested. Now a City Councilman had a warrant for peeing in the street. I knew something was very wrong.

My wife, Faya Rose Toure, was contacted. She agreed to represent Councilman Randolph along with former Attorney Representative Yusuf Salaam. They took him to the Selma Police Department to turn him in. There was no warrant. There was no incident report. I knew something was very wrong.

When Attorney Toure and Attorney Salaam could not get the warrant so Councilman Randolph could turn him in, Councilman Randolph and others decided to leave. Faya was one of those. They were contacted after they left. She returned to the Police Department. They said they had found the warrant for Councilman Randolph. I knew something was really wrong. When Attorney Toure and Attorney Salaam examined the warrant, there were no indications of the date or time or place of the alleged peeing in the street occurred. There was no complaint that provided such information.

The concern increased when it was discovered that the officer who made the allegations was White as is the Police Chief. Councilman Randolph’s bond for allegedly peeing in the street was $1,000.00. This Selma City Councilman could not sign his own bond. He had to pay a bail bondsman. I knew something was really, really wrong.

I learned that four police cars had arrived on the scene when he was stopped that night. When he was stopped, all they asked him was whether he had been drinking. He said he had not been drinking. They told him that they smelled alcohol on him, but it was not enough to arrest him. Councilman Randolph does not drink. There were no allegations whatsoever of his urinating in the street. I knew something was terribly wrong.

A mass meeting was called at the Morning Star Baptist Church at 6:00 p.m. on Tuesday. I had a long-scheduled statewide SOS conference call set for 6:30 pm. I went back and forth between the mass meeting and the conference call. Councilman Randolph shared what happened in detail. I made a few remarks at the mass meeting. I knew something was extremely wrong.

The mass meeting resolved that a press conference should be called as quickly as possible to alert the public. The mass meeting also resolved that City Hall should be protested. SOS was asked to facilitate the press conference. We decided to have the press conference in Montgomery to ensure the broadest possible media coverage. I knew something was completely wrong.

Councilman Randolph said the only time he was stopped by the police in early April. 2018, nothing was said to him about peeing in the street and he did not urinate in the street. A bunch of policemen came to the scene: four or five cars of policemen. Yet it was more a month later, in the middle of May, when a warrant was issued. The question is what happened in between. I knew something was wrong.

Councilman Randolph said that when he was in a Council meeting, he took a strong stand with the Mayor of Selma. The Mayor of Selma also took a strong stand with him. The Chief of Police, who is the former director of ALEA (Alabama Law Enforcement Agency) who had been fired from ALEA, tried to stop Councilman Randolph from talking. The Police Chief put his hand on his gun. This was very intimidating. It is not the responsibility of the Police Chief to stop a Councilperson from talking during a Council meeting. It is the duty of the City Council President to keep order. If the President thinks that he needs help, he or she will ask for it.

I knew something was wrong. Councilman Randolph says the Police Chief announced the warrant publicly. He also called his job and told company officials that they had a fugitive working for them.

All of this for an alleged misdemeanor? A fugitive is someone avoiding arrest. This person was turning himself in as soon as he found out there was a warrant. Is this the way of justice? I knew something was badly wrong.

Selma is nearly 80 percent African American. It is a challenging situation when a White policeman swears out a warrant against a Black City Councilman for allegedly peeing in the street at night and then a charge only arises six weeks later? It becomes even more challenging when a White Police Chief places his hand on his gun to stop a Black public official from talking in a public meeting. And then the Police Chief calls the job of a public official to say that he is a fugitive? Then they do not have any warrant for him when he arrives the very next day. I know something is very wrong.

Epilogue – Justice is really important. We create government to correct injustice. It is sad when our governments and government officials are sources of injustice.