Steve Visser, Atlanta Journal-Constitution, April 3, 2008
Fulton County Judge Marvin Arrington, who last week asked white people to leave his courtroom while he chastised black defendants, on Thursday delivered much the same message to anyone who wanted to hear it.
“We have insanity going on in the black community,” he said to the courtroom as TV news crews filmed his spiel. “If we don’t say something, the infrastructure of this community is going to collapse. It will be like living in the wild, wild west.
The judge apologized if he offended any whites but said he was just trying to do some good. He ticked off a list of crimes to help illustrate why he was delivering a message to African-American youth.
—Arrington said a white man and a white woman were buying crack cocaine near Christian City in South Fulton County when they got into a dispute with the black vendor over the price. The dealer wanted $20 for the rock, the male buyer wanted to pay $15.
“He (the dealer) said, and I quote, ‘I get tired of you crackers,’ and he shot the fella in the head. The girlfriend said, ‘Why would you do that?’ And he said, ‘We don’t need no witnesses,’ and shot her in the head,” Arrington recalled. A security guard investigated and the gunman killed him. Three deaths, the judge said, in 20 minutes.
—His own brother was robbed while unlocking the door to his home. A gunman put a pistol in his brother’s mouth while his brother’s wife watched. “My sister-in-law was a nervous wreck,” he said. These are the type of crimes you don’t read about.”
African-Americans in positions of authority have an obligation to speak out to young people who are on the path to becoming street thugs before they turn into killers, Arrington said. He said people he puts on probation too often end up back in court on a new charge.
He said as a youth he could have easily ended up on the wrong track when he was doing poorly in school. He credits his parents, teachers and his childhood friend Hamilton Holmes, one of the students who later integrated the University of Georgia, with giving him a helping hand and persuading him to buckle down.
He said he also recognized that all honest work was worthy work, and holding steady jobs ensured he had money and stayed out of trouble.
[Editor’s Note: Earlier stories about Judge Arrington can be read here.]