Montgomery Ala. Apologizes for Wrongful Killing of Black Man

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  • The Montgomery, Alabama City Council issued a statement Tuesday night apologizing to the family of black man, mistakenly gunned down by police 37 years ago, but the family of Bernard Whitehurst says the statement is not enough.

    “They read something off of a sheet. That’s not the kind of apology I’m talking about,” his widow Florence Whitehurst told BlackAmericaweb.com. “When you apologize to somebody, you come to them. You console them. You hold their hands and look them in the face.”

    Bernard Whitehurst was fatally shot by Montgomery police on Dec. 2, 1975. An investigation showed Whitehurst was mistaken for a robbery suspect, and that police tried to cover up the truth by placing a gun beside his body.

    A scandal followed, and when the investigation ended, several city officials had resigned, including the man serving as mayor at the time.
    The family has not received compensation for the loss, and lawyers said the statute of limitations has run out.

    Florence Whitehurst still remembers the day her husband died.  He had left home around 3:30 p.m. But he never came home that night.

    She remembered seeing something on the evening news about the police shooting someone, but they didn’t give a name.

    “I didn’t know they had killed him until the next morning when my mother-in-law called to tell me,” she said.

    The years immediately following the shooting death of her husband were not easy for the young Whitehurst family.

    The young mother and a widow, Whitehurst had a two-month-old, twin three-year-olds and a four-year-old at the time of her husband’s death.

    “I didn’t know what I was going to do,” she said. “When I went to get on Social Security, they told me I would be getting $97 a month. That was in 1975. I couldn’t do much with that.”

    Her husband was working as a cook at McDonald's before he was killed, and he hadn’t been on that job too long. “He didn’t have much Social Security for us draw. We were young, and he hadn’t been working a long time.”

    Growing up in the southern city that once served as home to the Confederacy, Florence Whitehurst said her husband did not like to be around police officers.

    “When he would see them, he would just start running,” she said. “I would tell him, ‘you don’t have to run,’ but he would still do it.” His running didn’t mean Bernard Whitehurst was doing anything wrong, he just didn’t trust police, his wife said.

    Current Montgomery Mayor Todd Strange says that city is different now. Next week, he said there will be a formal event for the Whitehurst family. At that event, the family will be presented a framed copy of the apology resolution, Strange said.

    The resolution was unanimously passed and says that council members "recognize the grief, pain and suffering caused by actions years ago."

    Stacy Whitehurst, the oldest of the couple's children, said he was pleased that the city is planning a marker to honor his father, but that doesn't go far enough.
     
    "We want justice," Stacy Whitehurst told BlackAmericaweb.com. "There are still people around who were involved in this, but no one ever went to jail."
     
    Since he was old enough to fight for justice, Stacy Whitehurst said he has been working on behalf of his family.
     
    The Whitehurst family was represented by lawyer Donald Watkins in the aftermath of Bernard Whitehurst's death.
     
    Watkins says the city's response to the family has been inadequate.

    The Whitehurst family deserves an apology and adequate compensation, Watkins told BlackAmericaweb.com via email. Bernard Whitehurst's death and subsequent police coverup in 1975 were inexcusable.

     

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    3 thoughts on “Montgomery Ala. Apologizes for Wrongful Killing of Black Man

    1. i have tried repeatedly to contact mr Donald Watkins Sr. about this case, it took 36.5 yrs. for the whitehurst family to get acknowledge from any Alabama official that her husband had been gunned down ” accidentally”, Mr Watkins, i guess did the best he could in the yrs following the incident, but where has he been for over 30 yrs.. it took me, the lonley talk show host from Indiana( been here 21 yrs now). to get some attention on this issue, i must say at the out set, mr Watkins made a tactical error yrs ago and caused Res judicata : Res Judicata Lat.: A thing decided. The doctrine stating that a matter that has already been judicially determined is conclusive and is not subject to re-litigation to go into effect, seems since that time, he has not been heard from very much since that time. he was on the Montgomery city council during that time also, which begs the question? why he never asked the city to apologize to the family, i have left message after message at Mr Watkins office in Birmingham Alabama for a call back, but i guess my bank account is not big enough for a call back, i am on news radio 1440 mr Watkins ( http://www.newsradio1440.com ) just in case you want to contact me.. 334-241-9998 so if you would like to come on and explain a few things to the Montgomery ppl. i will have you on any time, but if history is any guide, i don’t expect to here from you to soon. it took me, kevin elkins and cumulus media to get the whitehurst family some respect and an acknowledgement , that mr Bernard whitehurst was a human being and deserves the same respect as any other citizens, and i don’t think you fought hard enough for them, i understand that the south is and was a hard place to live for black folks back in the day, but one thing that has never changed in life no matter what the year is, is this” there is no victory ever given to anyone, you must fight for it, it was true then as it is now, . Mr Watkins, i ask? why did you not fight harder???

    2. HELL YEEEZZZZ!!!

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      Hit em up – THEY WILL HELP U!!

    3. 37 years of pain, grief and sleepless nights, raising babies by herself and all the city offers is a written apology on PAPER ! and closing the council RECONIZE but unaware of the situation this BLACK WOMAN had to indure. SHAME ON THE CITY OF MONTGOMERY!!!

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