There is a contentious race for sheriff going on in St. Louis between two former colleagues turned political rivals, as evidenced by a video showing a threatening confrontation between them.
Current St. Louis Sheriff Vernon Betts is running for re-election against his former deputy, Alfred Montgomery, who was controversially fired late last year after announcing his intention to challenge his boss for the job. And after viewing a video of a recent encounter between the two Black men, it was safe to say there is still some lingering animosity there. While the entire context of the video was not immediately clear, Betts’ words to Montgomery were very clear.
The video, apparently recorded by Montgomery, abruptly begins when a visibly perturbed Betts turns around and says curtly to his rival, “I wasn’t talking to you. Was I talking to you, huh?” Betts, who was not wearing a mask, then approached Montgomery before an unidentified man stepped in between them to prevent them from getting any closer. That was when the sheriff issued his stern warning with a very straight face, “I’ll smack you in yo’ face, boy.”
Montgomery, seemingly delighting in being able to get a rise out of Betts, offered what sounded like a sarcastic and condescending apology.
“I’m sorry,” Montgomery said. “Don’t smack me. Please don’t.”
Montgomery then goes on to say that Betts was demonstrating the same “law enforcement mentality” that “we’re trying to break. … You’re so upset that you think you can hit and you can beat on people just because you wear a badge. This millennial ain’t gonna be too easy to beat.”
Montgomery added that, “we’re breaking barriers and we’re holding those accountable for their actions. Now is the time to debate. We don’t have to get ignorant. We don’t have to get physical.”
Watch the 440-second video below.
It was only in December when Betts fired his then-deputy after Montgomery had only been on the job for five months. The firing followed Montgomery declaring his candidacy to run for St. Louis sheriff, Betts’ job. At the time, Montgomery told local news outlet Riverfront Times that he had originally planned to run in 2024 but changed the date after Betts “kept trying to intimidate me.”
Montgomery used his Facebook page to document his experience being fired by Betts, saying at the time that he was terminated “for exercising my constitutional 1st amendment right to run for Sheriff for the City of St. Louis.” He questioned how Betts, who is also a minister, could justify the firing.
“For someone who is supposed to be a man of God, a pastor, a person who is supposed to be a supporter of the youth and exhibit fair treatment to all deputies; This is one of the many examples of how the sheriff has let this Deputy down,” Montgomery wrote.
The encounter between Betts and Montgomery came as
Betts is finishing up his first term as sheriff of St. Louis after being elected in 2016 following a career in education and public utilities that led to him becoming deputy sheriff. He and Montgomery and running against a third candidate, David Mosely. The Democratic primary is scheduled for Aug. 4.