As for Jeremy Ellis, Republican Tommy Tuberville should know or learn more about the long history and struggles of the people of Black Alabama that he represents in the US Senate.
Tuberville told people At an election rally in Nevada on Saturday, Democrats support reparations for the descendants of enslaved people because “they think the people who commit the crime owe it.”
His comments — seen by many as racist and stereotyping black Americans as people who commit crimes — touched some deeply, especially in and around Africatown, a community in Mobile, Alabama, founded by descendants of Africans illegally smuggled into the United States. in 1860 aboard a schooner called the Clotilda.
The discovery of the ship in the muddy waters off Mobile in 2019 offers the best argument for reparations of a kind for the descendants of the enslaved humans who survived the long and arduous crossing of the Atlantic.
“I think Senator Tuberville’s comments were wrong, ignorant by nature and an embarrassment to the state of Alabama,” said Ellis, who now lives in Marietta, Georgia and is president of the Clotilda Descendants Association.
Before running for the U.S. Senate, Tuberville spent four decades coaching, including 11 years as a head coach at Auburn University, about a three-hour drive northeast of Mobile.
Ellis graduated from Auburn Technical School in 2003 and said he attended all of the soccer team’s home games in Auburn. Ellis also said he served as a student assistant for the team under Tuberville.
“I think it would be appropriate for Senator Tuberville to visit Africatown,” Ellis said. “It’s an area he’s very familiar with since he recruited some of his players there when he was head football coach.”
Tuberville’s comments about the Democratic Party’s response to perceived rising crime across the country come just weeks before the Nov. 8 general election as Republicans try to regain control of Congress.
“They are not soft on crime,” Tuberville said of the Democrats. “They are pro-criminal. They want crime. They want crime because they want to take over what you have. They want to check what you have. They want compensation because they think the people who commit the crime owe it.”
The first-term senator has not publicly commented on the response to his words, which have rekindled the national debate over reparations.
A House panel in April 2021 approved legislation that would create a committee to study the matter. President Joe Biden’s White House previously said he supports studying reparations s for black Americans.
“When they illegally brought my ancestors to the Mobile, Alabama area, a crime was committed,” Ellis told the Associated Press on Tuesday. “And now that we have the actual artifacts, the evidence of the crime, I think this is a clear and perfect case study.”
Tuberville’s statements “are the words of a man desperately trying to discredit and ignore the fact that reparations are due,” said Darron Patterson, former president of the Clotilda Descendants Association and Ellis’ cousin.
Patterson, who lives in Mobile and says his great-great grandfather was a slave aboard the Clotilda, criticized Tuberville’s claims.
“Are you saying that the descendants of slaves are the only ones who commit crime in this country?” said Patterson. “We have people in Washington who really don’t understand what their job is. We sent you there to do the work. The job is to keep America’s best interests in mind. How in the world is America’s best interest at heart when you make a statement that Democrats are for crime and those who commit the crimes are the ones crying out for reparations?”
Patterson said he plans to meet with Tuberville next week.
Tuberville’s message was addressed to the grassroots MAGA Republicans seeking office and supporters of former President Donald Trump, an ally of Tuberville, according to Ron Daniels, chairman of the National African American Reparations Commission.
The comments represent an “Emancipation Proclamation moment” for Biden, a Democrat, to embrace the federal reparations study and say, “‘I’m on the side of racial justice and racial healing,'” Daniels said.
But Frederick Gooding Jr., an African-American studies and honors professor at Texas Christian University, believes Tuberville was simply “testing the waters.”
“I think this is quite strategic,” Gooding said. “Let’s see where it goes. He’s in a small town in Nevada. We are a few years away from the next big national election. He takes advantage of time and extracts some of the rhetoric, piece by piece and in small amounts. Being a successful football coach for so long, strategy is literally his game.”
But what Tuberville said about reparations and crime “makes no sense,” Gooding added.
“The idea that ‘they want to take what you have, and then control what you have’ fuels fear,” Gooding said. “Then he throws in reparations. Reparations have to do with rectifying the human crimes that have been committed.”
Data Collected by the FBI shows that crime has declined in the past year and that most crimes are committed by white people, who make up more than 75% of the US population, according to the Census Bureau.
The data was released on October 5. This found that violent and property crime generally remained consistent between 2020 and 2021, with a slight decrease in overall violent crime and a 4.3% increase in homicides. That’s an improvement from 2020, when the homicide rate in the US increased by 29%.
Figures from some of the country’s largest law enforcement agencies were not included in the FBI report.
An analysis of crime data by The Brennan Center for Justice also shows that the homicide rate has increased by nearly 30% in 2020, in both urban and rural areas.
Based in Detroit, Williams is a member of AP’s Race and Ethnicity team.
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