Although the now infamous and regrettable incident at the Montgomery Riverfront occurred last Saturday evening, it was not until Tuesday that the national media were prodding local officials about the possibility of a racial element and federal so-called hate crime charges.

However, State Sen. Kirk Hatcher (D-Montgomery) isn't taking that approach. During an appearance on CNN last week, the Montgomery County Democrat lawmaker dismissed the presence of "tension" in the community.

Instead, Hatcher said the incident provided an opportunity for "hope and healing."

"You know, there is a very big difference, as you're mentioning, between, you know, race being a part of something and there actually being a hate crime that can be proved," CNN host Sara Sidner said. "I am curious what you're hearing from your community there. Is there tension on the rise, or are people talking about this like we have more work to do?"

"Well, you know, I wouldn't say there is unusual tension," Hatcher replied. "I think the mayor has done a fantastic job of maintaining calm at all times. Our chief, Albert, and the police officers have done an incredible job, I think, of maintaining the calm in the community. But that does not keep the community from having the conversations, thank goodness, about what does it look like to be able to have some real healing. And in my view, I think it provides us with a unique opportunity, a very unique opportunity to do just that. We are right now filming in the back of Dexter Avenue Church. My Morehouse brother, reverend, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., came, started that healing in this community many years ago. And quite frankly, I have said to so many people that I do believe, I absolutely believe, that the continued healing in this nation will have to make its way back through Montgomery, Alabama."

"And I believe that Saturday may have ignited that," he continued. "And I'm hoping that we will be able to get our community together to begin to do what it is our country has resisted doing, and that is to at least come closer to having something like a truth and reconciliation council because what we've been doing is doing a lot of hugging without embracing. And every time something like this happens, what we realize is that just beneath the flesh is a festering womb. And we think that somehow beyond these moments that suddenly we can come into a space where there's this momentary healing, like there's some sort of social lobotomy that's taking place. So, hopefully, these are the moments right now that will provide us with the necessary hope and healing, and I do believe that there are people not only in this city and the state but across this country who are hungry for the kind of healing that gets us beyond the toxic rhetoric that continues to fire people up."

"So, I want our folks to join me and join us in this city to help do what we can to really bring about genuine hope and healing because it's needed," Hatcher added.

Jeff Poor is the editor in chief of 1819 News and host of "The Jeff Poor Show," heard Monday-Friday, 9 a.m.-noon on Mobile's FM Talk 106.5. To connect or comment, email or follow him on Twitter @jeff_poor.

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