Mayor Steven Reed of Montgomery, Alabama, is in hot water with Black constituents after being caught on tape dismissing them in a profanity-laden string of comments. Reed, the city’s first Black mayor, appears to state his preference for white support and money over Black constituents. Now, the mayor apologizes but claims the recordings were made and released maliciously as part of a shakedown against him.

On the leaked recordings, Reed said, “I can come smile,” but “I don’t f**king have to do no goddamn work” to get the Black vote because he “will always get 35-45% of the white vote.” He also explained his priorities, saying that if “the white money thinks that you aren’t looking after their s**t, they will take their s**t.”


In additional comments, split between three short audio clips, Reed dismisses the importance of Montgomery’s Maxwell-Gunter Air Force Base and writes off the possibility that “the descendants of Confederate soldiers” would invest in the community’s well-being.

As expected, reactions to Reed’s comments have expressed outrage and disappointment at his remarks. Alan Holmes tweeted, “With friends like Mayor Steven Reed Black folk in his city don’t need enemies.”


I for one am so happy about arrogant politician getting caught on hot mics, ” Dr. Deborah Jenkins said.


He MUST be voted out!” Chad Johnson declared.

Mayor Reed addressed the recording in a Tuesday press conference, claiming the remarks were heavily edited from a phone call and released as part of an “extortion attempt.” According to Reed, the comments come from a conversation in 2020 in the wake of George Floyd’s murder with Montgomery business owner and nonprofit head Charles Lee about ways to “calm the city.” Reed claims Lee used the opportunity to attempt to obtain a $30,000 payment “promised from a previous administration,” WSFA reported. Reed said he was unaware the conversation was being recorded and that Lee later used the call in an extortion attempt, offering to destroy the recording in exchange for money and threatening to ruin Reed’s reputation with Black voters otherwise. Reed said he will be taking legal action against Lee.

The Montgomery Advertiser reported that Lee stated he was in the room when Reed made the comments, but he denied making or posting the audio recording. 

“I’ve never heard none of this stuff before in my life,” Lee told reporters Tuesday night when asked about his alleged attempt to extort money from the mayor. 

“I would never shake nobody down for no $30,000,” Lee added. 

Lee told WSFA, “People going to hear all the stuff on the tape. And I’m sure it’s going to all come out someday or whatever.” Defending himself, Lee said the full audio of the conversation would show “I’ve always been fighting for this community.”

As Reed and Lee tell different stories about the leaked recordings, Montgomery citizens will continue to decide what to believe about this incident. More content from the phone call could shed additional light on this scandal. But, regardless of what happens from here, Reed will likely remain under scrutiny for some time, especially in the eyes of the Black voters that he appears to blow off vulgarly.