Black men are more dangerous to other black men than white Ku Klux Klansmen ever were, Montgomery County Judge Wayne Shelton told a man accused of murder this week.

Shelton, presiding over the preliminary hearing of Vincent Bryan Merriweather on Thursday, said he’s sick and disheartened by what he sees as a lack of respect for human life, especially among young black men willing to shoot at one another for little or no reason.

“I grew up in a time where people wore white robes and they shot at black people,” Shelton said. “And now we see young black men wearing black hoodies shooting at black men – and doing  much more effective job than the Klan ever thought about doing.”

Although Shelton has been saying that “black lives matter” for years, he lamented Thursday that no one is listening. “I’m sick of it,” he said.

Witnesses testified Thursday that Merriweather and two other men exchanged gunfire between their car and another before Antorius Gallion was fatally shot in the head on Nov. 19.

According to Gallion’s brother and statements made to police, the altercation began at a middle school basketball game when two of the men’s feet brushed in the stands. That led to a stare-down and argument.

Shelton has given similar lectures in previous cases, comparing crime among young black men to KKK violence.

After two teenage brothers were accused of gunning down a young Clarksville man following a high school graduation party in May 2015, Shelton had stern words.

“What a horrible tragedy this is,” Shelton said at that hearing in June 2015. “Black lives matter.”

One of the suspects had just graduated high school and had a future ahead of him, as did the other two men. “That life mattered,” Shelton said as the victim’s family sobbed. “That black life mattered to them, and it matters to me.”

Shelton said he was upset that the shooting may have simply stemmed from a reaction of perceived “disrespect.” In years long past, the Ku Klux Klan would kill black people who they thought were disrespectful, he added.

“The Klan doesn’t exist anymore,” he said. “Who doesn’t care about black lives now? I’ll let you answer that. I’m tired of black men killing black men. If I offended anyone … I can’t help it.”

On Thursday after Merriweather’s hearing, Shelton told The (Clarksville, Tennessee) Leaf-Chronicle that while he “might look like the whitest man in the room,” he isn’t.

Shelton said his great-great-great-grandfather was a free man of color in the 1860s, and he is disgusted by what he sees as a lack of respect for human life, whether it be at the hands of a racist police officer or rival gang members.

“Black lives really do matter,” he said. “The total disregard of that fact by any in our society is totally reprehensible.”


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