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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This Week’s Celebrity Instagrams (10/15-10/21)
31 photos Launch gallery
1. Just a NY girl with BIG dreams....
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2. HAPPY CHILDREN=QUALITY PARENTING. We don't always see eye to eye on everything and that's normal. We're human beings. But we come together and do it right for what's important, the kids. We are not enemies, we are parents. And we are parents 1st. S/O to @monyettashaw for making Mason's bday memorable. S/O to @itscrystalsmith at home taking care of our other lil' Prince. ❤️❤️❤️ THIS IS WHAT CO-PARENTING LOOKS LIKE. #Blessed #Happy #AboveTheDrama #BiggerThanUs
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3. So happy to finally be able to share with you all that I’m the new Global Brand Ambassador for @Revlon! Follow my day on RevlonSnaps. Yay! Choose Love, Everybody! #RevlonXCiara #chooselove #ad
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4. Glam on point!!!@makeupbymotoko & @shaylinjoneshair #easybreezy @lifetimetv #beachesmovie #january2017 😘
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5. ✨True love ✨📸: @jessiemarrerophotography
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7. Today was not easy..but by the grace of God we all got through it. Words cannot express our gratitude for all of your Prayers, Positive thoughts and Support for us throughout the years. Tommy will be missed but most certainly never forgotten...And PLEASE don't ask "Where's Martin?.." he was there too...just not in this picture. Lol! God bless you all.. #LoveConquersAll #MartinShow
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9. West coast get ready for #RockyHorror. I will be live tweeting again. #letsdothetimewarpagain
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10. #THEKEYS pre order yours now ... Available everywhere #NOV22 #WeTheBest 🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑
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11. We about to ROCK at #KCABlackBall!! All for our life-changing effort to end 🌎 AIDS.
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12. Today's #SNAPJACK is brought to you by @yazzthegreatest 😂😂😂💋💋💋
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13. Damn girl you kinda old to be headed to the Go Go. You coming in at the age they leaving. LMAO
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14. Daddy daycare B-Boxin with @acewellstucker @shopraisingace
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15. #FBF Naviyd & URV "LIL MONSTERS"
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16. HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ONE OF THE BIGGEST LEGENDS IN OUR HIPHOP HISTORY! @snoopdogg CONTINUED BLESSING AND LOVE FAMILY!!!!! REAL OG!
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17. Thank you for a beautiful night VSU! Let's do it again! #HOMECOMING
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18. Had a great time this morning with my familia Erica, Griff & Truth!!
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19. Check out my interview on @essence facebook live. #inmyownwords #nycpromo #day2
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20. #She💋 #tbt #TheCoveAtTheAtlantis #DawgPawsAndAll
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21. Bae #retailtherapy
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22. Why me and @coryhardrict got the same pose... and notee... new mouth #naked
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23. When my husband is my personal 'hype-man'! it kills me every time! 💜😂 #WHATNOW #lostfiles📷
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24. Diggy Simmons
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25. Hand full of @jacquieaiche 💙💎💍 @esnail_la 💅🏾
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26. SuperSoulers! You can watch my interview with Carl Lentz live from my Facebook page, tomorrow at 11a ET| 8a PT. #SuperSoulSunday
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27. 💋 .. When the friendship is easy like Sunday morning. ☀️
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28. Sunday mornings are the best........... hugs and cuddles with my angel
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29. #huggar16 #hellohuggars
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30. My gym is everywhere!.. #RnBMoney #TheGeneral 📸: @twelvepastseven
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31. Nothing I would rather be doing... Rocko setting up our movie, Romelō working on a puzzle & Laiyah singing and sharing all she's learning at school... I'm so grateful for the joy they've brought into my life ... Praying for peace , joy & love in the home of EVERY family ♥️ #HeadScarfPJSunday LOL 😂
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