Selma City Councilman disputes harassment charge leveled against him

Published 3:40 pm Thursday, April 6, 2023

Selma City Councilman Clay Carmichael is disputing a harassment charge made by former City of Selma Information Technology Director John Kinnerson Jr., who alleges on January 12 Carmichael used foul language and called him a racial epithet. The alleged incident happened following an emergency meeting of the Selma City Council on the day a tornado ripped through the city.

According a police report filed by Kinnerson, Kinnerson alleges he and Carmichael were having a heated discussion in the hallway of council chambers when Carmichael “aggressively moved closer to him,” and cursed at him. He also alleges Carmichael called him a racial epithet and attempted to get Kinnerson to hit him, which he did not.

According to the report, Council President Billy Young separated the two, and Councilwoman Christie Thomas also witnessed the incident. Repeated attempts to contact Young for comment were not returned.

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When contacted about the incident, Kinnerson sent an email to The Selma Times-Journal Wednesday and said he stands by his version of the events that led to him filing the police report.

“My allegations against Councilman Carmichael are 100% factual. I was never aggressive towards him in any way,’ Kinnerson said. “I was verbally threatened, and he repeatedly antagonized me to hit him, which I remained calm and did not say anything back to him, nor did I show any aggressive behavior towards

him. I was totally shocked that he would exhibit this aggressive behavior and language towards me. Billy Young did, in fact, come in between us and pulled the aggressor Clay away. He was still cursing and threatening me. I do not have any political motive. I was seeking justice for his actions. He has been trying to cover up this incident and is now trying to make it a political ploy and paint me as the aggressor. I ask any person with sense why Billy would have to restrain him, if I was the aggressor? I was in shock and feared he would harm me, so I did not go curse him nor showed any aggressiveness or sudden movement.”

The report states the argument between the two came about when Carmichael suggested Kinnerson might have violated state ethics law. While the details of that allegation are not in the report filed by Kinnerson, it is based on Kinnerson’s position at the time as IT director for the city and his recommendations to the council for a new telephone system. Kinnerson’s LinkedIn page lists a position as CEO of CyberSignal Technologies, Inc. A Facebook post by the company in Feb. 2021 states “CyberSignal Technologies will be launching our new VoIP phone service, mobile app, and manager’s web portal on March 1, 2021.” A post Sept. 2020 by Kinnerson himself on the company’s Facebook page shows desks lined with telephones and the phrase “VoIP phone project in Montgomery, AL. This is one of our biggest contracts and first in the capital city!”

“In regards to the phone system. I do not have a phone company,” Kinnerson said. “The company he speaks of has been dormant since I started with the city. I would never bring something unethical to the city council. This is another ploy. I brought 2 phone companies to the city council. One was Ricoh which the city already has a copier/printing service contract with, and NetFortris, which is the city’s current phone provider. And I have never had a personal business relationship with these companies. I have been targeted by him and others for my recommendation as the IT Director for the city’s camera system. This incident has caused me mental anguish and traumatic stress, to the point I resigned from my director’s position on Feb 7.”

Carmichael said in a statement sent to The Selma Times-Journal he was approached by someone Tuesday, whom he did not name, urging him to “join the other side.”

“I got another offer last night “to join the other side and make it all go away,” Carmichael said. “This is not in my DNA. I was raised to earn respect and treat everybody with the same respect. I was raised to love other people. I was raised to do what’s right in the face of everything wrong. That’s the way I’ll live my life, and I will not change. I will be unapologetically me.”

Carmichael went on to say in his statement he is committed to Selma and its people, and the truth will come out about the efforts to smear his name.

“My allegiance to the City of Selma is not about me, not about any one person, not about a political side or a power grab. My allegiance to Selma is about the people of Selma, as a community,” he said. “I will always vote for what I believe is lawful and fair, and I always think about ‘what’s the best outcome for the people of Selma and the incorporated City of Selma.’ I may not express my views regularly or succinctly enough, but they are not underhanded or conspired like some would have you believe. I truly want the best for my hometown and everybody in it. The truth will prevail.”

Carmichael turned himself in to the Selma Police Department Tuesday and posted a $1,000 bond on the class C misdemeanor charge filed by Kinnerson on Feb. 2. Although he turned himself in, Carmichael continues to plead his innocence in the matter.

“The allegations thrown at me yesterday are false,” Carmichael said. “The harassment warrant I signed was falsified. By signing it, I did not plead guilty to the charges and will have my day in court. While there was an argument between me and the accuser, it did not go down like that, and there are witnesses who know the truth. I did not harass anybody; I simply answered when my name was called and was open and amenable to a conversation with somebody who was clearly upset.”

Carmichael continued: “I do not believe in hate, and I hate no one. I did not say the things that are being said about me. There’s an agenda at play to tear my good name and character down in an effort to ‘make me quit.’ I was aware of the rumors and agenda before they started, due to the silent threats passed my way.”