The Peebles choice

Race issue needlessly injected into campaign for sheriff

Elephant, meet the rest of the room. Rest of the room, meet the elephant.


When several black law enforcement officers purporting to represent the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives endorsed white Richmond County Sheriff’s candidate Capt. Scott Peebles recently, it turns out they really didn’t – and couldn’t – speak for the organization: The national organization clamped down, saying the officers don’t represent the group and, after all, as a 501(c)(3) the organization can’t endorse political candidates.

The five Waynesboro police officers, including the respected Chief Alfonzo Williams, appear to have overstepped their bounds, and have apologized. But they’re not retracting their personal support for Peebles.

Good for them. They were guilty mainly of over-enthusiasm. Surely they can be forgiven for that, particularly since they believe they’re doing the right thing.

Interestingly, Charles Lyons, a lawyer for one of Peebles’ black opponents, Richard Roundtree, is on the warpath about it all – but he claims, “This controversy is not about race.”

Really? Didn’t you just make it about race?

The fact is, it’s an endorsement of Peebles by black officers that isn’t about race. They’ve seen a candidate whose qualifications are head and shoulders above his opponents’ – and they don’t care what the heck he looks like.

Yet, some folks – particularly the race hustlers in town, who see everything through the prism of skin color – would absolutely love for this tempest in a teapot, and the entire sheriff’s campaign, to be about race.

How dare any prominent blacks endorse a white candidate!

The truth is, race may be Roundtree’s main “qualification” for sheriff. He was a bust at the Richmond County Sheriff’s Office before mercifully leaving. He was demoted after inexplicably, recklessly and unprofessionally leaving boxes of murder files, SWAT gear and a personal firearm and ammunition in a residence he’d moved out of earlier.

Then, to shore up his image, someone using the name “GratefulMother” just happened to post glowing praise for Roundtree on The Augusta Chronicle’s website. Coincidentally, “GratefulMother” happened to have access to Roundtree’s own work e-mail account – because that’s where “she” posted the comments from.

“(Roundtree’s) name, a birth date and the address of the sheriff’s office – 401 Walton Way – are linked to the account,” a Chronicle news story reported at the time.

Can you say “shameless and dishonest”?

Now Roundtree’s supporters are apoplectic over the black Waynesboro officers’ well-meaning endorsement of Peebles. Why? Again, most likely because it cuts away at Roundtree’s main qualification: his race. Chief Williams and the others had the impertinence to leave the herd and publicly endorse a white guy, and it clearly galls them.

When is Augusta going to grow up and get past such silly, backward racial contretemps?

Well, this election would be a great start.

We urge folks to see beyond Roundtree’s lawyer’s phoney-baloney indignation – and ask yourselves: Which party in this episode is acting out of the color-blind best interests of Richmond Countians?

The elephant in the room has been duly noted.

Now, let’s walk right by him.

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