KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — Knox County Commissioner Dr. Dasha Lundy walked out of the meeting after a heated debate involving the McAlister’s cashier who was fired after a social media post claimed that deputies were refused service in November.
Commissioner Rhonda Lee made statements about former cashier 15-year-old Aniya Thompson and her brother, Anthony Thompson Jr., who was shot and killed by a Knoxville police officer inside a bathroom at Austin-East Magnet High School. Lee questioned whether the McAlister’s incident was a commission issue.
“If McAlister’s says we give free meals to officers, if you don’t want to honor that, then go work at McDonald’s. To come in here and make it a race issue to this commission, to divide our community, this is not about race, this is about respect,” Lee said.
Lee also questioned if Thompson received the counseling needed after he brother’s death, to which Lundy answered, “First of all, Aniya has been in therapy for two years.”
Lundy was seen getting her items and preparing to walk out of the meeting. She said, “We have a 42 percent poverty rate in Knox County among Blacks, and people say, ‘You need to pick yourself up by the bootstraps.’ And guess what? A 15-year-old was trying to pick herself up by the bootstraps and she got fired because somebody got sensitive about her not serving them.”
Lundy asked for the incident to be put on the agenda so that the three Knox County deputies could tell their side of the encounter with Thompson. She sent Chief Tom Spangler a letter requesting that he and the deputies come to Tuesday night’s meeting.
According to Lundy, she received an email from Spangler stating:
“I am in receipt of both your email and letter. I am unavailable to attend the workshop. Additionally, my officers nor any other Knox County Sheriff’s Office representatives will be attending. However, if you wish to make an appointment to meet in person I will be happy to accommodate you. If you would like a copy of our social media policy one can be obtained by emailing the public records custodian at firstname.lastname@example.org.”
During the meeting, it was asked if a subpoena was to be issued to Thompson as well as the officers involved, the area manager of McAlister’s and the CEO of the Southern Rock Restaurant. Lundy said she felt that Thompson “has been through enough” and has “already given her statement on the issue” at the Dec. 19 commissioner meeting.
However, Lundy agreed to ask Thompson to take the subpoena to speak. A public forum will be held at the next meeting.