The Kingsland City council meeting started out business as usual but would turn into anything but on Monday.
When the audience was granted to the public, many concerned citizens of Kingsland raced to the podium to have their input heard on the killing of Tony M. Green Jr.
Pastor Mack Knight of Refreshing Oasis Church waited patiently while other members of the city voiced their grievances before stepping up to speak his peace.
Knight’s address to city council began with congratulating Terry Smith for being appointed to Fire Chief and commending police Chief Griffis in the handling of an arrest that Knight witnessed previously.
The speech then switched to Tony Green Jr. and how it had been fifty-four days with no statement to the family from the City about the officer-involved shooting of Green.
Knight had been told to submit any concerns in writing, and a response would be given back to him. Knight stated it had been roughly three weeks since he submitted his letter, still no response, and asked why the council cannot talk to him personally.
“I take this silence personal,” Knight said, “because I know many of you on the board and I was not silent with supporting any one of you. Mayor, you I’ve campaigned and rallied for you. On the day of voting, I was out holding signs that said re-elect Mayor Kenneth Smith. Waving for you, but you said I don’t act like a pastor, and I was the only pastor out there doing that.”
At the previous city council meeting, the council had instructed Knight to submit his concerns in writing and Knight came in, after no response to everything in writing, had been denied an audience with any of the city officials.
After Knight’s request for answers, the council board sat in silence blankly staring at him.
The silence finally broke as Mayor Kenneth Smith Sr. stated, “I would just like to say that due to the nature of the incident, as I’ve said before, we were told not to make any response to this situation because we are not investigating this.”
Knight asked if it were a policy requiring anyone coming to city hall to place their concerns in writing or if this is just for him.
Smith responded, “There is no written rule that I know of for that.”
Knight turned to the city clerk, Linda O’Shaugnessy, and City Manager, Lee Spell, asking why he is treated this way to which both O’Shaugnessy and Spell replied, “I have nothing to say.”
Spell then said, “If you need some information put it in writing, and we will respond accordingly.”
Additional members of the community stated their concerns with the incident and how it has personally impacted them fearing for their own lives and the lives of their children living in Kingsland.
New Black Panther Party activist James Muhamed attempted to address the council, but the mayor asked him to please leave the podium on the grounds of him not being a resident.
“I need to speak this right now please, everybody that comes up here that’s a citizen of Kingsland I’m gonna limit this to five minutes because we have a night of business that we need to take care of.” Smith stated, “I’m trying to run this in an orderly manner.”
Other activists spoke and discussed how they plan to continue a community boycott on Camden County’s businesses.
A Kingsland resident stated, [Smith] “Should be ashamed to be a black man.” The speaker was removed after telling someone to shut up when the woman commented on her statements.
Pastor Mathew Pettus of New Life Body of Christ Christian Church said he has looked for solutions, received help from both the mayor and chief of police in finding solutions.
Pettus had officers come to his church for an open dialogue to “teach our young people.” The officers came to his church to teach, talk, and answer questions.
Pettus plans to have more officers come to his church to “teach our children not to walk in fear but a walk in knowing who they are in compassion and friend police officers.”
“I offer to bring us together to unify us,” Pettus said, “but we gotta keep respect going we don’t get nowhere by disrespecting one another.”
Mayor Smith addressed the concerns of Kingsland citizens about the officer, Presley, not being hirable in St. Marys with a letter stating Presley was eligible for hire but was not chosen at that time, and his application would be held on file for possible future employment.
After the public discussion closed citizens rallied outside of city hall with banners, chanting “no justice no peace.”
Kingsland Police Officers and Camden County Sheriffs arrived on the scene as the crowd gained more bodies to speak out during the city council meeting.
Chief Darryl Griffis stepped out to talk to the protesters and requested they stop using a loudspeaker, which caused an altercation between the police and activist Mikhail Muhammad.
Muhammad was taken across the street and placed under arrest by Griffis for disorderly conduct.
The crowd hissed at the actions but continued their rally in a peaceful protest for Tony Green.
Once the city council meeting concluded the activists went to the Woodbine detention facility where Muhammad was later released that night.
The City of Kingsland was sent notice of claim for the civil action in July from Green family attorneys, but the City has not responded. The City had 30-days to respond to the Green Family about a possible financial settlement.
AllOnGeorgia-Camden has reached out to the attorneys representing the Green family about their attempt to file a civil action, but no response was given before publishing.
Below is a video of a portion of the public comment period – (video contributed by Jeremy Spencer/AOG-Camden)
[Correction – The spelling of Mikhail Muhammad’s name has been corrected. The original spelling was used from the CCSO police report]