Community Fearful of Backlash

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After a recent wave of burglaries and the assault of Quitman alderman, allegedly by four black men, citizens of Clarke County, the city of Quitman in particular, say they are concerned and fearful about the climate seemingly growing in the area.

"We are concerned about it. It brings back to my memory, back in the sixties and so we don't want to go back to that type of environment here in Clarke County," said the rev. Washington McKenzie, Jr.

In a meeting organized by community leaders Sunday, citizens aired grievances and voiced concerns over how they say the investigations into the crimes are being handled. Some said that investigators are engaging in what amounts to racial profiling.

"Every black male has become a suspect," said the Rev. Advial McKenzie. "It's dangerous now for a young black youth to even be found walking on the street. They become targets."

And some residents say the danger is multiplied by a recent increase in gun purchases.

"With bitterness and anger floating in the air, they become prime suspects for some terrorist attack and it's a situation that sparks terror in our community," said the Rev. Advial McKenzie.

"We have noticed and we have heard that the people in this county, the white race is arming themselves," said the Rev. Washington McKenzie. "Too many people, when they buy guns, they have the wrong thing in mind."

In a telephone interview, Clarke County Sheriff Todd Kemp denied the use of any racial profiling. Kemp said he didn't know about the meeting but would have liked to have been given the opportunity to address the concerns raised by residents.