NAACP Outraged by East Lake Incident - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

NAACP Outraged by East Lake Incident

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CHATTANOOGA, TN (WRCB) -- Attorney Robin Flores says James Smiley is not the "racist animal" he is pegged to be.

Smiley, along with two other men, is charged with civil rights intimidation after being arrested for throwing firecrackers and shouting racial slurs at a residents at East Lake Courts.

The local NAACP says racial issues are flaring out of control.

"This is one of those appalling malicious instances that apply to discrimination and what we are calling for is for these individuals to be charged to the fullest extent of the law," says local chapter President Valoria Armstrong.

Armstrong addressed the issue on talk radio this afternoon saying the legal system should push for the stiffest penalties in discrimination cases.

Right now, if convicted, the men face anywhere from 2 to 12 years in prison.

Flores maintains his client's innocence and that of the other men.

"Any of these boys," says Flores. "They are just three guys throwing fireworks."

Flores said this is nothing more than vandalism, and his client was being charged too aggressively.

Flores claims the arresting officer has done this in the past.

"We maintain he has a history of going off the handle and doing things excessively," says Flores.

The NAACP said the officers at the scene were only doing their job.

"The individuals could have been hurt, or potentially died out of this and it is a situation that could have gotten so out of hand," Armstrong said.

Sgt. Jerri Weary of the Chattanooga Police Department responded to the "aggressive charges" allegation saying, "The responding officers acted appropriately."

We also have learned Smiley's personnel file is 86 pages.

Off camera, Smiley maintains his innocence and said he wasn't forced to resign.

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