The Chattanooga-Hamilton County branch of the NAACP has awarded the Thurgood Marshall Award to its first white recipient, District Attorney Neal Pinkston. The awards ceremony took place during the organization’s 13th annual Criminal Justice Seminar June 8 at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga.
The Thurgood Marshall Award is the highest honor given to an individual by the local NAACP in the area of law enforcement for civil rights and community activism.
Support for Pinkston to receive the honor was “overwhelming” within the organization, says Dr. Elenora Woods, NAACP Chattanooga president. Pinkston was nominated by the organization and vetted by his peers.
In 2016, Chattanooga was ranked as the 23rd most dangerous place to live in America. “Mr. Pinkston was chosen to receive the Thurgood Marshall Award because he made tough and unpopular decisions to use the Rico Law and other legal measures to clean up crime in predominately black communities, where more than 95% of organized heinous crimes were occurring, to restore law and order,” Woods says.
“Drive-by shootings were common and murder rates were at an all-time high. Innocent children’s lives were taken and helpless mothers were murdered by those participating in organized crimes.
“Mr. Pinkston has prosecuted most of the more dangerous criminals, which has restored freedom and peace to our communities. So far this year, we have not witnessed any drive-bys, people are less fearful to sit on their front porch, neighbors are playing cards and enjoying music with family and friends outside and allowing their children to play outside again.
“Moreover, there are less visible gang-related activities and Chattanoogans are feeling more safe in neighborhoods that were once considered too dangerous to live in. His job is not complete, but we applaud him for his success thus far.
“The scales of justice must be balanced for the victims, and Mr. Pinkston has done a great job.”