Black leaders rebuke Tuberville stance on reparations, crime

Oct 13, 2022, 10:39 PM | Updated: Oct 15, 2022, 6:05 am
Jeremy Ellis poses for a photo, Thursday, Oct. 13, 2022, in Marietta , Ga. Ellis is concerned, Repu...

Jeremy Ellis poses for a photo, Thursday, Oct. 13, 2022, in Marietta , Ga. Ellis is concerned, Republican Tommy Tuberville should know or learn more about the long history and struggles of the Black Alabama residents he represents in the U.S. Senate. (AP Photo/Mike Stewart)

(AP Photo/Mike Stewart)

As far as Jeremy Ellis is concerned, Republican Tommy Tuberville should know or learn more about the long history and struggles of the Black Alabama residents he represents in the U.S. Senate.

Tuberville told people Saturday at an election rally in Nevada that Democrats support reparations for the descendants of enslaved people because “they think the people that do the crime are owed that.”

His remarks — seen by many as racist and stereotyping Black Americans as people committing crimes — cut deeply for some, especially in and around Africatown, a community in Mobile, Alabama, that was founded by descendants of Africans who were illegally smuggled into the United States in 1860 aboard a schooner called the Clotilda.

The 2019 discovery of the vessel in the muddy waters near Mobile offers the best argument for reparations of some type to the descendants of the enslaved people who survived the long and arduous Atlantic crossing.

“I think that Sen. Tuberville’s comments were misinformed, ignorant in nature and an embarrassment for 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 football, including 11 years as the head coach at Auburn University, which is about a three-hour drive northeast of Mobile.

Ellis graduated in 2003 from Auburn’s engineering school and said he attended all of the football team’s home games while at Auburn. Ellis also said he served as a student assistant for the team under Tuberville.

“I think it would suit Sen. Tuberville to visit Africatown,” Ellis said. “It’s an area he is extremely familiar with since he recruited a number of his players there when he was head football coach.”

Tuberville’s remarks about the Democratic Party’s response to perceived rising crime across the nation come just weeks before the Nov. 8 general election, as Republicans seek to regain control of Congress.

“They’re not soft on crime,” Tuberville said of Democrats. “They’re pro-crime. They want crime. They want crime because they want to take over what you got. They want to control what you have. They want reparation because they think the people that do the crime are owed that.”

The first-term senator has not publicly responded to backlash from his words, which have revived the national debate about reparations.

In April 2021, a House panel approved legislation that would create a commission to study the issue. President Joe Biden’s White House said earlier that he backs studying reparation 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, evidence of the crime, I think this is a clear and perfect case study.”

Tuberville’s statements “are the words of a man who is trying to lead a desperation effort to discredit and discount the fact that reparations are owed,” said Darron Patterson, past 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 assertions.

“Are you saying the descendants of slaves are the only ones doing crime in this country?” Patterson said. “We’ve got people in Washington that really don’t understand what their job is. We sent you there to do the job. The job is to have America’s best interest at heart. How in the world is America’s best interest at heart when you make a statement that Democrats are for crime and the ones doing the crimes are the ones hollering for reparations?”

Patterson said he plans to meet next week with Tuberville.

Tuberville’s message was directed at the base of MAGA Republicans seeking office and supporters of former President Donald Trump, an ally of Tuberville, according to Ron Daniels, convener of the National African American Reparations Commission.

The remarks present “an Emancipation Proclamation moment” for Biden, a Democrat, to embrace the federal study on reparations and say, “‘I stand on the side of racial justice and racial healing,'” Daniels said.

But Frederick Gooding Jr., an African American studies and honors college 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’re a couple years away from the next major national election. He’s leveraging time, pulling some of the rhetoric out piecemeal and in small dosages. Being a successful football coach for so long, strategy literally is his game.”

But what Tuberville said about reparations and crime “doesn’t make any sense,” Gooding added.

“The idea that ‘they want to take over what you got, then control what you have’ stokes fearmongering,” Gooding said. “Then he throws in reparations. Reparations has to do with repairing the human crimes that were committed.”

Data compiled by the FBI shows that crime has slowed in the last year and most crimes are committed by white people, who make up more than 75% of the U.S. population, according to the Census Bureau.

The data was released Oct. 5. It showed violent and property crime generally remained consistent between 2020 and 2021, with a slight decrease in the overall violent crime rate and a 4.3% rise in the murder rate. That’s an improvement over 2020, when the murder rate in the U.S. jumped 29%.

Figures from some of the nation’s largest police departments weren’t included in the FBI report.

An analysis of crime data by The Brennan Center for Justice also shows that the murder rate grew nearly 30% in 2020, rising in cities and rural areas alike.


Williams, based in Detroit, is a member of AP’s Race and Ethnicity team.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp campaigns alongside Senate candidate Herschel Walker on Saturday, Nov. 19, ...
Associated Press

Ga. Senate runoff between Warnock, Walker has bitter closing

WARNER ROBINS, Ga. (AP) — Ads with the candidates’ ex-wives. Cries of “liar” flying in both directions. Stories of a squalid apartment building and abortions under pressure. Questioning an opponent’s independence. His intellect. His mental stability. His religious faith. The extended Senate campaign in Georgia between the Democratic incumbent, Raphael Warnock, and his Republican challenger, […]
6 hours ago
FILE - Former Minister for Health Matt Hancock arrives with MP's and Peers for a service of remembr...
Associated Press

Disgraced former UK Minister seeks jungle redemption

LONDON (AP) — Matt Hancock, the U.K’s scandal-prone former health secretary, is seeking an unlikely form of redemption Sunday: attempting to win “I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out of Here” — a grueling, often gruesome reality show set in the Australian jungle. Hancock led Britain’s response to COVID-19 in the first year of the pandemic, […]
6 hours ago
Associated Press

Airbnb has a plan to fix cleaning fees

Pretty much everyone hates Airbnb cleaning fees — those pesky charges tacked on to your vacation rental bill that supposedly cover the costs to get the place ready for the next visitors. Travelers don’t like the expense, and hosts don’t like charging them, either. Dennis Shirshikov, an Airbnb host who owns a rental property in […]
6 hours ago
Associated Press

Railway workers in Austria to strike Monday in pay standoff

BERLIN (AP) — Railway workers in Austria are set to hold a one-day strike on Monday after a failed round of talks in pay negotiations. The Austria Press Agency reported Sunday that both sides said the fifth round of talks on pay for some 50,000 employees of about 65 railway operators, including the main national […]
6 hours ago
FILE - In this Aug. 7, 2017 file photo, a Royal Canadian Mounted Police officer informs a migrant c...
Associated Press

Mexican asylum seekers set their sights north — on Canada

MONTREAL (AP) — Pedro Meraz says living in Colima, Mexico, was like living in a war zone, with shootings, burning cars and dismembered bodies being left outside of schools. When his wife Rocio Gonzalez, a 28-year-old lawyer who worked with abused women, began receiving death threats from a cartel and the local authorities ignored her […]
6 hours ago
General view of the damaged Antonivsky Bridge in Kherson, Ukraine, Sunday, Nov. 27, 2022. The bridg...
Associated Press

Pockets of shelling across Ukraine as wintry warfare looms

KHERSON, Ukraine (AP) — Shelling by Russian forces struck several areas in eastern and southern Ukraine overnight as utility crews continued a scramble to restore power, water and heating following widespread strikes in recent weeks, officials said Sunday. With persistent snowfall blanketing the capital, Kyiv, Sunday, analysts predicted that wintry weather — bringing with it […]
6 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

(Desert Institute for Spine Care photo)...

Why DISC is world renowned for back and neck pain treatments

Fifty percent of Americans and 90% of people at least 50 years old have some level of degenerative disc disease.
(Photo via MLB's Arizona Fall League / Twitter)...
Arizona Fall League

Top prospects to watch at this year’s Arizona Fall League

One of the most exciting elements of the MLB offseason is the Arizona Fall League, which began its 30th season Monday.
Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing

Here are 4 signs the HVAC unit needs to be replaced

Pool renovations and kitchen upgrades may seem enticing, but at the forefront of these investments arguably should be what residents use the most. In a state where summertime is sweltering, access to a functioning HVAC unit can be critical.
Black leaders rebuke Tuberville stance on reparations, crime