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Thursday, November 12, 2015

Why is it surprising that an Alabama football fan would use the "N word" to describe Tide players?


J.T. Smallwood (left) and Matt Pitt (center), with an
unidentified man as Pitt receives an honorary sheriff's
badge from Jefferson County.
(From Google+)

A number of readers have expressed doubt or surprise about our report this week that a political figure and University of Alabama football fan used the "N word" to describe college football players--including those wearing Crimson Tide jerseys. The report came in the wake of news that a threatened boycott by University of Missouri football players, over the administration's tepid response to several race-based incidents on campus, helped cause the school's president and chancellor to announce their resignation.

The point of our post was to show that the University of Missouri hardly is the only school--not even the only one in the Southeastern Conference--where racism and college athletics collide. We also asked the question: Will Alabama players show the kind of social conscience, and guts, that caused University of Missouri players to rise up against a mostly white administration that seemed willing to tolerate all sorts of ugliness targeting black students?

Specifically, we reported that Jefferson County Tax Collector J.T. Smallwood was watching an Alabama game from the private box of Trustee Paul Bryant Jr., while hosting Trussville-based youth minister Matt Pitt and several of his associates as guests. Here's how we described the ugly scene that followed:

Part of Pitt's plan has been to build a ministry that embraces diversity and reaches out to young people of all colors and ethnicities. While viewing the Alabama game from Bryant's box, Pitt was stunned and sickened to see Smallwood look out over the massive crowd and state: "Can you imagine this many people pay us to watch n-----s beat up on each other?"

Why do some folks not want to believe this happened? One reason, I suspect, is that many Crimson Tide fans have a strong emotional attachment to their team, and they want to believe that fans view the team's black players with affection and respect. Some readers indicated they know J.T. Smallwood and found it hard to believe he would utter such a vile and racist statement.

I have no doubt that the incident happened. For one, Matt Pitt related it to me directly, with plenty of details and no hesitation about recounting the words he heard--and the circumstances under which he heard them.

On top of that, there is plenty of circumstantial evidence to suggest that Smallwood was part of an effort to use Pitt's immensely popular The Basement ministry to endorse a slate of white, conservative political candidates--and to place The Basement's money with Bryant Bank. Pitt was strongly opposed to both requests.

The gruesome injury that ended Tyrone Prothro's
football career at the University of Alabama.
(From Flicker)
Pitt said Smallwood helped arrange for him to receive an honorary sheriff's badge, which led to criminal charges that Pitt had impersonated a police officer. (He was found not guilty.) Pitt showed me probably a dozen or more photographs of him and Smallwood together, including one taken as Pitt was receiving the honorary sheriff's badge. (See photo at the beginning of this post.) Another shows Pitt and a friend "locked" in a cell from a historical display at the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute, while Smallwood flashes a sheriff's badge to the camera. (See photo at the end of this post.)

Was Smallwood imitating an officer? Was he hinting at what was to come for Pitt if he did not cave into demands that the minister endorse certain political candidates and put his money with Bryant Bank?

As for Bryant Jr., no one should be surprised at any sign he is affiliated with backward thinking. Consider his business practices, as we described in an April 27, 2015, post titled "New study indicates Paul Bryant Jr.'s bank has adopted mortgage-loan policies tinged with racism." From the post:

Tuscaloosa-based Bryant Bank makes almost no mortgage loans to black or Latino customers, a new study shows.

In an article titled "The Color of Money Runs White At The Crimson Tide's Bank," Adam Rust of banktalk.org shows that Bryant Bank rarely makes mortgage loans to certain minority groups. . . .

How much does race matter at Bryant Bank? Rust's research indicates the answer is "a lot."

My review of their Home Mortgage Disclosure Act data suggests that they rarely extend the same opportunity to minorities who want to buy a home for their families. Between 2011 and 2013, the bank made two owner-occupant loans to African-American borrowers, two to Asian applicants, and another to a Latino applicant. They made a home purchase mortgage loan to an African-American in 2010, but they did not do so in 2008 or 2009.

Do many Alabama fans respect their black football players? I feel certain the answer is yes. But does the Crimson Tide fan base include quite a few Neanderthals, including some who have lots of money and hang out in luxury boxes? The answer definitely is yes, and no one who has spent time around athletics in the Deep South--and I've covered sports in Dixie on a full- or part-time basis for more than 30 years--should be surprised by that.

How much do some Alabama players sacrifice to help the Crimson Tide win games? Consider Tyrone Prothro, a receiver for the Tide from 2003-05. Prothro suffered a gruesome leg injury while trying to catch a pass in the end zone against the Florida Gators in 2005. Ten years later, video of the play remains gut-wrenching to watch.

Prothro had three surgeries to repair the leg, but never was able to resume his football career. He has gone on to have 10 surgeries on the leg, but the injury still bothers him.

Tyrone Prothro essentially gave up a leg for Alabama Crimson Tide football. Would he receive a mortgage loan from Paul Bryant Jr.'s bank? It doesn't sound like it. Would J.T. Smallwood use the "N word" to describe Prothro? Sure sounds like it.


J.T. Smallwood flashes a badge as Matt Pitt and a friend
are "behind bars" at the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute.
(From usreligion.blogspot.com)


25 comments:

Anonymous said...

You should look into how many mortgage loans Bryant Bank makes, period. I have several relatives/acquaintances who are Lily White with blue eyes, blonde hair, and everything. And they have been rejected multiple times for loans at Bryant Bank. My understand is that they were having some difficulties a while back and that's why they are so stingy when it comes to loans.

Anonymous said...

I don't doubt what J.T. Smallwood said, not for one second.

legalschnauzer said...

Hmmm, interesting 11:33. Seems odd for a bank for be that stingy about mortgage loans. Do you know what kind of difficulties the bank was experiencing a while back?

Anonymous said...

Whatever happened with Matt Pitt? I haven't heard much about him lately.

legalschnauzer said...

I don't know, @2:05. As far as I know, he and The Basement are moving forward. I think Matt is a good guy, a talented guy, and I wish him well. Hope he can steer clear of the J.T. Smallwoods and PBJs of the world.

Anonymous said...

At one point, I heard that Bryant, Jr. was a member of the Military Order of the Stars and Bars (MOS&B) in Tuscaloosa; an exclusive sort of quasi branch of the Sons of Confederate Veterans, which is mostly a harmless historical organization. However, the MOS&B is the "elitest" branch of the organization. Rumor has it, that Bryant, Jr. actually doesn't qualify (he doesn't have officer ancestors), but they made a special exception for him to be a member.

legalschnauzer said...

I believe the Southern Poverty Law Center considers SCV to be a hate group, in line with the CCC (Council of Concerned Citizens).

Anonymous said...

What the Southern Poverty Law Center (an organization apparently dedicated to anything but poverty) says, carries no weight with me.

Anonymous said...

I don't see it listed: https://www.splcenter.org/fighting-hate/extremist-files/groups?keyword=Sons+of+Confederate+Veterans

legalschnauzer said...

Yes, it looks like SCV is not on the hate list, but SPLC has written some pretty critical pieces about the organization:

https://www.splcenter.org/hatewatch/2011/02/11/once-again-racism-rears-sons-confederate-veterans

Sounds like SCV has a variety of factions, some mainstream (focused on history, etc.) and some fairly extreme in terms of race.

Anonymous said...

You should place your disclaimer regarding your friendship with Matt prior to every Matt Pitt article like you did the first one in April. We get it; you think Matt Pitt is a credible minister and a good role model for children. A lot of people would differ with you on that. Matt Pitt's associates have an axe to grind; they are no longer on the payroll and have real jobs for the first time. They need a scapegoat to attract new revenue to fund all of the ski and beach vacations they have been missing out on. Why are you pretending it is 2009, and the basement is the largest youth movement in America? It is 2015 and the basement is lucky to have 50 kids show up. It may not be the largest youth group in Roebuck. Not many people hate or dislike Pitt, we just don't want our kids hanging around him.

Anonymous said...

Roger, You are probably not aware of the process of obtaining a honary badge, and Pitt has done his best to deceive you. The sheriff writes a letter of recommendation and gives it to an individual. Many people keep that letter for posterity or frame it and hang it on the wall. Should you choose to, one may take it to McCains in southside and order an honary badge and pay for it themselves. Matt had the badge he purchased taken as evidence by Calera police during his first arrest. What does Pitt do? Takes his letter and purchases a second badge, and causes more trouble for himself. I'm sure jeffco has the second badge, and I hope he hasn't purchased another one. The sheriff doesn't give anyone a badge.

Anonymous said...

Curious that Smallwood was viewing the game from Bryant's private box, and that he was permitted to invite guests. Aren't those seats considered things of value? And, thus, was Smallwood violating the state Ethics Act by accepting them?

legalschnauzer said...

You raise an interesting question, @1:54. Is something similar a part of the Mike Hubbard case? I know this issue of football tickets as a "thing of value" has been raised in some legal case, but can't remember if it was Hubbard or something else.

legalschnauzer said...

You are correct, @1:29, that I'm not familiar with the honorary-badge process, but I can say for sure that Matt Pitt has made no effort to deceive me. I'm not sure Matt knows what the process is either. In the photo with this post, Matt is holding something that looks like a badge; hard to tell because the photo cuts out. I think I've seen a photo of him holding a badge at a ceremony, as if it was given to him there. Not certain about that, but not sure how he could have purchased that.

It should be noted that Pitt was not convicted of impersonating a police officer in either case, so I'm not sure it's accurate to say he "caused trouble for himself." Sounds to me like officers were out to create trouble for him.

legalschnauzer said...

You are correct, @1:29, that I'm not familiar with the honorary-badge process, but I can say for sure that Matt Pitt has made no effort to deceive me. I'm not sure Matt knows what the process is either, and I don't recall us ever talking about it. In the photo with this post, Matt is holding something that looks like a badge; hard to tell because the photo cuts out. I think I've seen a photo of him holding a badge at a ceremony, as if it was given to him there. Not certain about that, but not sure how he could have purchased that.

It should be noted that Pitt was not convicted of impersonating a police officer in either case, so I'm not sure it's accurate to say he "caused trouble for himself." Sounds to me like officers were out to create trouble for him.

Anonymous said...

Ask Matt Pitt who the other people in those pictures are that you posted. Meet with them, and I bet the stories you have been told will change drastically. Might be nice to collaborate the "story" by people other than pitt associates who used to be on the basement payroll and would love to return.

legalschnauzer said...

One of the people in the photo is J.T. Smallwood, and he is identified. Who are these people who used to be on the Basement payrool and would love to return? What are some names?

Anonymous said...

Not convicted? He pled guilty. http://blog.al.com/spotnews/2012/09/basement_youth_leader_matt_pit.html

Matt pitt is not a reliable source.

Anonymous said...

Didn't Pitt plead guilty in Shelby County? That's even better than a conviction, he admitted he committed the crime.

legalschnauzer said...

Matt Pitt pled guilty to attempting to impersonate a police officer, @6:01 and @5:02. He did that on the advice of a lawyer who showed signs of being highly compromised ethically. Given that Pitt was acquitted in Jeffco, the lawyer's advice in Shelby seems dubious, at best.

I'm not sure how one can "attempt" to impersonate a police officer--not even sure that is a legitimate charge. Seems to me that you either impersonate a police officer or you don't.

Either way, he pled guilty under strange circumstances to a lesser charge in Shelby, and he was acquitted in Jeffco.

My statement above is accurate.

As for @5:02, not sure why you can't bother to read the first paragraph of the story at the link YOU sent:


Evangelist Matt Pitt, founder of The Basement youth service, pleaded guilty today in Shelby County Court to a reduced charge of attempting to impersonate a peace officer, a misdemeanor.

Anonymous said...

He was convicted of impersonating an officer. And his behaviour surrounding the events was nothing short of bizarre. He is not of good character and anything he had to say is suspect. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/08/27/matt-pitt-pastor-basement-jumps-off-cliff_n_3822712.html

Anonymous said...

From an article about a judge's revocation of his parole: "The deputy in charge of booking at the Jefferson County jail testified Pitt did appear coherent. However, Deputy Elizabeth Robertson also said Pitt identified his employer as Mike Hale, at least three times during his time in booking. {}Hale is Jefferson County's sheriff. {}Only later did he tell investigators he was a minister."

legalschnauzer said...

Do you live in some alternate reality, @1:15? Matt Pitt was found not guilty of impersonating a law-enforcement officer in Jefferson County, the only time he ever went to trial on such a charge. It's a matter of public record. Are you next going to tell us that up is down and right is left. Sheesh. The jealousy toward Matt Pitt in the Bham community never ceases to amaze:


http://legalschnauzer.blogspot.com/2015/04/matt-pitt-trial-hides-nasty-story-of.html

legalschnauzer said...

Can you provide a link, @1:25? And what does this have to do with Pitt's guilt or innocence?

He was acquitted in Jeffco, after all.