Alabama police have charged Rev. Kenneth Glasgow, a nationally profiled left-wing activist who participated in the “March for Our Lives” and claims to be Al Sharpton’s half-brother, with capital murder.
The killing happened on Sunday night in the small city of Dothan, just a short drive north of the Florida Panhandle. Dothan police believe that Glasgow drove another man, Jamie Townes, to help pursue Breunia Jennings, a woman Townes believed had stolen his car. As Glasgow gave chase, Townes allegedly fired several rounds at Jennings as she was in her car, and she was struck in the head by a bullet and killed.
Under Alabama state law, killing someone inside a vehicle is a capital crime, punishable with life in prison without parole or the death penalty. Glasgow has been charged with the capital murder alongside Townes because of Alabama’s complicity statute, which allows suspects to be charged for helping accomplices commit certain crimes.
According to the Dothan Eagle, during his first appearance in court, Glasgow pleaded innocence by questioning why he was being charged with murder:
Community activist Rev. Kenneth Glasgow repeatedly questioned the capital murder charge against him at Glasgow’s first appearance in court since his arrest Sunday night after a fatal shooting on Allen Road, and provided a possible indication of his defense in comments made to the judge.
During the hearing, District Judge Benjamin Lewis informed Glasgow of his rights. Glasgow, in return, asked Lewis how he could face capital murder charges.
“I don’t know why I am facing capital murder charges,” Glasgow stated. “I’m not responsible for what someone else does. He just asked me for a ride to take him to look for his car.”
In 2008, the New York Times ran a laudatory profile piece promoting Glasgow and his activist group “The Ordinary People Society,” which advocates in favor of allowing convicted felons to vote. According to the Times, Glasgow is no stranger to the justice system himself, having served more than nine years in prison for armed robbery and other offenses, including drug crimes.
In 2017, the Drug Policy Alliance (DPA) made a short video with Glasgow in which he outlined the broader goal of his activism and promoted one of the DPA's upcoming events:
“As a formerly incarcerated person, I know firsthand all the ways that we are disenfranchised when we are run through the system. Every day I work to help people regain their rights and dignity, but the fight is far from over. We need you to join us in this important fight. This October, we are coming to Atlanta for the 2017 Drug Policy Alliance Reform Conference. Join us in the fight to end the drug war.”
In another video published by the DPA one year earlier, Glasgow portrayed himself as a harmless drug criminal (not mentioning his armed robbery conviction):
“For those of us that were there just for drugs, using drugs, we started to develop bitterness. Why? Because we needed treatment. We didn’t need to go to prison. How much money are they making off me being here?”
Glasgow went on in the video to argue that the “war on drugs” is really just another way to enslave “black and brown” people:
“There’s only one thing that’s in America and in the United States that classifies you and declares you a citizen, that’s your right to vote. So if I get a felony that takes away my right to vote -- so that also takes away my citizenship. So what is this war on drugs really about? Is it really about keeping the same black and brown people enslaved to where you control them?”
According to Dothan TV station WTVY, Glasgow and other members of the The Ordinary People Society participated in their local “March for Our Lives” rally on Saturday to advocate for stricter gun control laws.
The march’s organizers released a statement on Monday distancing themselves from Glasgow and denying that he was a significant presence at the event:
As organizer of the March for Our Lives, we are saddened to once again have to mourn the death of young life lost to gun violence in our community. Breunia Jennings' family and loved ones are in our thoughts and prayers as they seek justice for her. We stand behind them in advocating for any common sense legislation that would have kept a gun out of her killer's hands.
Kenneth Glasgow's alleged connection with this crime is very troubling to our organization. While we believe in due process of law, we wish to correct some misattribution of his particpation in our march Saturday.
Kenneth Glasgow is the executive officer of The Ordinary People Society. The Ordinary People Society had participants in our march, and one of their officers coordinated emceeing duties and helped with permit registration. The bulk of the organization of the march was performed by myself, Kailee Maciulla and student organizing was performed by Morgan Shaw, a senior at a local high school.
Kenneth Glasgow was never a scheduled speaker at the march nor did he participate in its planning. It frankly came as a surprise to organizers when the person from his organization who temporarily emceed the event at Porter Park as an "organizer," as he had never attended an organizational meeting or donated funds.
The organizers of this event are relative newcomers to the area and unaware of the history surrounding many activists in this area. As such, they were not aware that Glasgow may claim credit that was not due him.
The organizers wish to remind the public that this march was not about one person. This march was about preventing gun violence. We stand in support of all law enforcement efforts to curtail such activity, and we pray for justice for Breunia Jennings.
-March for Our Lives Wiregrass