Chatham County Commissioner Shabazz convicted of reckless driving at trial, avoids prison time

From the Savannah Morning News:

Chatham County Commissioner Yusuf Shabazz on Tuesday was sentenced to 12 months probation, fined $1,000 and ordered to complete a complete driving education course after a jury convicted him of reckless driving in the June 1 incident that left a city maintenance worker with an injured finger.

Yusuf Shabazz has been one of Savannah’s most polarizing political figures since his affiliation over a decade ago with the New Black Panther Party. His 2003 claim that the city’s unofficial but compelling Black Holocaust Memorial was vandalized by four white men was debunked by then-Major Willie Lovett (who later became Chief of Police and is now in prison after being convicted of federal offenses). The story was even discussed in a forum at Stormfront, a haven for white supremacists. In that same year, Shabazz landed on the Southern Poverty Law Center’s 40 to Watch: Leaders of the Radical Right as a “Black supremacist and anti-Semite.”

But Shabazz later experienced a conversion and became a Christian minister through the church of his wife Estella Shabazz, who was just reelected to her second term as the 5th district representative on Savannah’s city council. He was elected without opposition to the Chatham County Commission in 2012.

That didn’t put an end to the controversies, however.

After a fatal police shooting of a suspect in 2014, Shabazz called for the boycott of a convenience store, alleging that employees tipped off police about the whereabouts of the wanted man. That incident seems to be the primary impetus behind the push by Chatham County Commissioners to have state legislatures give them the ability to censure members. Last fall, a challenger for his wife’s position alleged that Commissioner Shabazz threatened her with a gun after a candidate forum, and Savannahians still haven’t received the results of the investigation into a claim that a bearded, forehead-tattooed white man in a black Camaro fired shots at Shabazz’s seafood restaurant in November (not long before the racially charged runoff election for Savannah mayor and two council seats).

This week’s jury trial, presided over by Long County State Court Judge Jeffery Arnold, resulted from claims that Shabazz, while driving a non-emergency medical transport vehicle, struck a flag person’s hand as he went around a temporary roadblock. He allegedly returned to the scene after discovering that police had been called and then left again before they arrived. Prosecutors sought jail time, but the judge, despite describing Shabazz as “pompous and arrogant,” saw no reason for confinement after this misdemeanor conviction. Shabazz was acquitted of a couple of other misdemeanors.


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