Controversial pastor calls Chattanooga reporters “Racist”

CHATTANOOGA, Tennessee(WDEF) –  Controversy came to Chattanooga Saturday morning in the form of a polarizing religious figure who made national headlines during the 2008 presidential elections.

The outspoken Reverend Jeremiah Wright was invited to speak at an annual Dr. Martin Luther King junior celebration event at Greater Tucker Baptist Church.

Long before Reverend Wright took to the podium, organizers of the annual prayer breakfast at Greater Tucker Baptist Church found themselves defending Wright’s invitation. WDEF learned that several people from other religious organizations were uncomfortable with him being the main speaker.

"I think that it was appropriate for Reverend Wright to come because what we need is to hear the voices that don’t make it into the room. And the voices who opposed were people who though he may be inflammatory or abrasive," said event organizer Kuenston Coleman

"Actually it does not bother me. I have no problem with that because everyone has their own opinion," said Chattanooga resident Michelle Marshal.

"I have admired him for a long time and I think it’s an honor for him to come to bless our program," said Chattanooga resident Virgil Caldwell.

But Wright did more than bless the program. In fact, his speech started with a religious tone then quickly became political.

"look who’s up in the stands, United States sailors killed on board the USS Liberty by the Israeli Navy and the Israeli Air Force; watching to see if we’re still covering up the lies with a so-called 6-day war. Look who’s up in the stands; countless bodies of a strange fruit strung up and left hanging from tree’s in a country that’s taught to hate because of color of their skin; hung; men castrated; women violated, bodies mutilated; black men and women lynched and waiting to see if we understand that the Tea Party is nothing but a 2.0 upgrade of a lynch party," Wright said.

Then the Reverend talked about the death of Michael Brown and Eric Garner.

"Look who’s up in the stands; Michael Brown left rotting in the streets of Ferguson Missouri in a hot August sun; left for four hours like road-kill while his murderer walks free because a prosecutor orchestrated the verdict known not to indict. Eric Garner chocked to death in front of a video camera and his murderer is set free by a bigoted bozo because of their blindness," Wright said.

At one point, Rev. Wright targeted every local news reporter in the room with a statement that got the crowd excited.

"Freedom must be demanded by the oppressed. I wonder how the racist journalist covering this breakfast will try to spin that controversial sentence," he said.

WDEF spoke to a journalist who was at the event, she said she felt embarrassed after Wright made that statement.

Reverend Wright made national headlines back in 2008  when it became public knowledge that he was then Senator Barack Obama’s pastor. Obama was trying to get elected into the White House and eventually distanced himself from the Reverend after a video showed Wright making some controversial remarks.

"The government gives them the drugs; builds bigger prisons; passes a three strike law and then wants us to sing god bless America. No no no. Not god bless America. God damn America," Wright said in that controversial video that was shot during a church service in Chicago.

WDEF wanted to interview the Reverend about that statement and also ask why he felt reporters covering his speech were racist. But event organizers said the Reverend was not going to talk to the news media.

People who attended the event paid twenty five dollars at the door.

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