The fire, said to be the biggest in B’ham in ten years, was last Thursday.
The intitial reports noted that the area is frequented by vagrants, and it is. Where Fourteenth Street goes under the tracks just South of First Avenue, on the right, is a large “camp.” If you go by it during the colder months, you will see, more often than not, several members of B’ham’s homeless community standing around a large fire.
This month, however, is not one of the colder ones. I guess that is why the authorities began looking for foul play rather than a campfire gone bad.
One of the suspects was out on bond when the fire started. North Precinct Sgt. Steve Young:
Young said he was shocked when the man was released with just $300 bond even after threatening arresting officers.
“They told the magistrate that he had been violent and threatened them,” Young said. “He said he was going to kill them like the West officers that got killed. She didn’t let that bother her.”
Young said Johnson was obviously a violent person who should have remained in custody.
“It’s crazy that he gets out and burns this building down,” Young said. “It’s kind of a morale killer.”
Pardon me if I do not feel too sorry for Sgt. Young. In Alabama, you have an absolute right to be released pending trial. The ONLY exceptions are if the judge thinks you are not going to show up for trial, or if you pose a clear and present threat of serious harm to another person. It appears that in this situation the cops argued for the second exception. The court rejected it. That could be because, as the Sgt. hints, the judge is a cop-hating SOB on a mission to destroy America. Or, it could be because the judge heard the evidence, evaluated the arguments and concluded there was no threat. Or, it could be because the cops make this argument so often that it gets hard to believe. They are cops; they think everyone is a clear and present danger. Anyway, I’m sure this is not the scandal Sgt. Young want you to think it is.