Mayor, councilman Karriem fight at City Hall

April 2, 2010 11:35:00 AM

Kristin Mamrack -


An argument between Mayor Robert Smith and Ward 5 Councilman Kabir Karriem boiled over into a physical fight at City Hall Thursday night. 


"(Smith) beat him up pretty good," according to a city official who did not want to be named.  


Reportedly, Karriem confronted Smith at City Hall over an issue one official characterized as an ongoing argument or disagreement between Karriem and Smith. 


WCBI TV this morning reported that Karriem went to city hall after the two argued over the first-term councilman''s opposition to signing a $2 million agreement to restore the old Highway 182 bridge.  


Police Chief Joseph St. John said the investigation was turned over to the Lowndes County Sheriff''s Department. Sheriff''s officials confirmed they are investigating, but refused further comment this morning. 


Neither Karriem nor Smith could be reached for comment this morning. 


Columbus Chief Operations Officer David Armstrong said he could not elaborate on the incident, as it is a "personnel matter" and he "was involved." He did say that it was "a very bad situation ... absolutely inexcusable."  


According to sources, Karriem sought treatment at Baptist Memorial Hospital-Golden Triangle after the incident, which occurred between 9-9:30 p.m. Hospital officials could not confirm that Karriem went to the hospital. 


According to sources, Ward 1 Councilman Gene Taylor witnessed the incident. He could not be reached for comment this morning. 


"From the city''s standpoint we''re treating this a personnel matter, and we don''t comment on personnel matters," said vice mayor and Ward 6 Councilman Bill Gavin. 


"If we don''t handle this with the urgency and respect it deserves, we as a town are going to be set back," a city official said, on condition of anonymity.