By Camm Ashford
Tensions between Hamilton County Assistant District Attorney Coty Wamp who is also a Republican candidate for the office of Hamilton County District Attorney and the Chattanooga NAACP came to a boiling point last Friday when the organization’s president demanded an apology from Wamp.
Chattanooga NAACP Branch President the Reverend Ann Jones Pierre said Wamp called the historic civil rights organization “divisive” and accused it of mistreating police officers, and of providing statistics on its website about police crime against black residents, but no corresponding statistics reflecting crimes committed by blacks against blacks.
Wamp “does not understand the purpose of the NAACP and should apologize for misleading the public,” Rev. Pierre said last Friday.
“As a branch of this 113-year-old organization, we are nervous when a candidate for the office of Hamilton County District Attorney states that she cannot support the NAACP,” Rev. Pierre said. “The DA must be impartial and work for the people of Hamilton County and those people include members of the NAACP.”
Wamp, the lead counsel for the Hamilton County Sheriff’s Office, refused to apologize–instead doubling down by holding a press conference last Friday afternoon where she went on the attack.
“It really was conversational, and I stand by every single thing I said during that probably 35 to 40 minute talk we had,” Wamp said, referring to a recently surfaced 43-second audio clip where she was heard speaking last Tuesday night to the Tennessee Valley Republican women at Wally’s restaurant–while DA candidates Republican Neal Pinkston and Democrat John Allen Brooks were addressing the NAACP.
“So you all know, there was an NAACP forum tonight for my race between the three candidates,” Wamp told the Republican women. “There is a Democrat running against us. There was a forum and I had committed to this in December. I was happy to be able to come here.”
She continued, “But listen, the NAACP has accomplished some good things in the last hundred years, but one of them is NOT the way they’ve treated law enforcement. And I just can’t stand behind it right now.”
The war of words between Wamp and the NAACP first began to heat up when Rev. Pierre alleged that Wamp had refused to find a date that all three candidates for DA could appear before the NAACP for a virtual “Conversation & Votes” forum.
Wamp disputed this, saying she was already booked for the Republican Women’s Club event when Rev. Pierre extended to her the last-minute NAACP invitation.
“The D.A.’s office is committed to justice and the NAACP is committed to justice, therefore, there should be no reason that the NAACP is not supported.” Rev. Pierre said.
“One of the main reasons I’m running for office is to help the black community in this city,” Wamp said. “I’ve committed to the black community more than I have any other community in this county, period.”
The primary election will take place May 3, with winners from the party primaries meeting in the general election in August.