Breaking News: Latasha Johnson charged by Grand Jury with using her position as a Eutaw City Council member for personal gain; her attorney says she is innocent

Latasha Johnson

The Circuit Court Grand Jury for Greene County issued charges against Mayor elect, Latasha Johnson, for a September 30, 2019 incident. The charges were signed by Gregory S. Griggers District Attorney for the 17th Judicial Circuit.

She is charged with using her position as a Eutaw City Council member, “To obtain personal gain for herself, to wit: instructed Tyler Sellers not to tow her automobile, after identifying herself as a Eutaw City Councilwoman and informing Tyler Sellers that if he towed her vehicle that it would cause problems for him with the Eutaw City Council, which resulted in a personal gain for the said Latasha Johnson in the amount of $100, in violation of Section 36-25-5(a) and Section 36-25-27(a)(1) of the Code of Alabama, against the peace and dignity of the State of Alabama.”

Count II of the indictment accuses Johnson of “making a false statement” to Brian Barker, an investigator with the Alabama Ethics
Commission, on or about May 26, 2020, concerning her knowledge of Tyler Sellers and his family, which allowed Johnson to take possession of her vehicle, rather than allow Sellers to tow it.

Latasha Johnson was arrested on October 27, 2020 and brought to the Greene County Jail. She was released on a $10,000 bond the same day.

Attorney Hank Sanders of Selma, who represents Johnson said, “My client is innocent.  She will have her day in court and will be able to prove her innocence.  She will continue to go about her work duties and her mayoral duties.  This has come as a complete surprise just days after her election as Mayor of Eutaw and before she could take office.”

Latasha Johnson was elected Mayor of Eutaw in the Runoff Municipal Elections of October 6, 2020 by a vote of 718 (57.7%) to 526 (42.3%) for incumbent Mayor Raymond Steele. She and the newly elected City Council members plan to take office in a ceremony scheduled for Noon on Monday, November 2, 2020 at the Thomas Gilmore Courthouse Square.

Chief Derick Coleman Retiring

Notice
Retiring Eutaw Police Chief, Derick Coleman
will be recognized for his work
at a program scheduled for
Friday, October 30, 2020 at 12:00 noon
on the Thomas Gilmore Courthouse Square
in Eutaw, sponsored by the
Greene County First Responders
Support Group

COVID-19

As of October 28, 2020 at 11:10 AM
(according to Alabama Political Reporter)
Alabama had 187,706 confirmed cases of coronavirus,
(13,178 more than last week) with 2,911 deaths (106 more than last week)
Greene County had 436 confirmed cases,
(7 more cases than last week),
with 16 deaths
Sumter Co. had 477 cases with 21 deaths
Hale Co. had 780 cases with 30 deaths

ADEM holds Public Hearing in Eutaw on permit to cap coal ash pond at Alabama Power Steamplant in Forkland

Phillis Belcher of the Greene County Industrial Development Authority addresses ADEM at the October 22, 2020 meeting.

By: John Zippert,
Co-Publisher

On October 22, 2020, the Alabama Department of Environmental Management (ADEM) held a public hearing on permitting the closure, treatment and management of a coal ash pond, at the Alabama Power Company Steamplant in Forkland, which adjoins the Black Warrior River.
Alabama Power Company has submitted a plan to ADEM to treat the current open coal ash pond at its Steamplant, reduce its size from over 559 acres to 268 acres, by pulling out water and concentrating the ash residue, place a thirty foot deep, two foot wide wall, around the pond anchored to its chalk material base, place a plastic cap on the pond and continue to monitor 30 wells on the perimeter of the pond for contamination.

 Alabama Power Company stopped using coal as a fuel at its Forkland electricity generating facility about five years ago. The facility now uses natural gas to fuel its turbines. The company has a residue of coal ash stored in a 500 acre pond near the Black Warrior River. The EPA has required plants like the Forkland Steamplant to come up with a plan to deal with its coal ash residues, to prevent contamination of the nearby river or subterrain water sources.

A permit to treat, concentrate and cap the coal ash residues has been presented to ADEM by Alabama Power Company. The company did not present an alternative plan of excavating the coal ash and moving it to an inland secure landfill. The ADEM Public Hearing in Eutaw, at Carver School gymnasium, last week, was to solicit public comment on the permit application.
Most of the witnesses testified in support of the Alabama Power Company’s plan and permit, including: Woody Collins, Mayor-elect of Demopolis, Jason Williams, Marengo County Commission, Seth Hammett, Energy Institute of Alabama, Chris Arnold, Alabama Coal Cooperative, Blake Hartwick, Coosa-Alabama River Improvement Association, Jo Ellen Martin, Marengo County Development Authority and Phillis Belcher, Greene County Industrial Development Authority.
These witnesses basically said they agreed with Alabama Power’s permitting application, which they felt to be economically and environmentally sound. Most extolled their positive “community relationship and communications” with the company.
Residents of the area testified and questioned the safety of the project. John Jay and his wife said they had a camphouse south of the plant and that the area frequent floods and materials are discharged into the river. They warned of earthquakes in the area and said that the plant was adversely affecting overflowing wells on their property. Ms. Shamicka Gray of Forkland worried that the project would contaminate the water system which was the only source of water for her and her elderly mother.
Keith Johnston, Director of the Alabama Office of the Southern Environmental Law Center in Birmingham opposed the permit saying it does not satisfy requirements in Federal and state requirements. He argued that Alabama Power Company created this problem itself by disposing of the coal ash wastes in the easiest possible place that allowed leakage and contamination of the adjacent river.
Johnston observed that electric generating companies in other Southern states: Georgia, Tennessee, Virginia and coastal Carolinas were disposing of their similar coal ash wastes by excavating them and moving them to safer lined landfills away from wetlands, rivers and water sources.
He indicated that contaminants like arsenic, boron, calcium, chloride, cobalt, lithium and other substances were leaking from the ash pond into groundwater sources. He asked the ADEM officials, “Would you ever permit a permanent, unlined, waste disposal site on a wetland like this one, close to a river? So why are you going to permit one without a long-term maintenance plan for the Forkland, Alabama area.
Nelson Brooks with Black Warrior Waterkeepers, an environmental watch-dog group that monitors the river flowing by the plant site said he did not support the permit. He said the Forkland Steamplant was built in the 1950’s on a wetland in a bow of the Black Warrior River. The land under the coal ash pond has many streams and tributaries flowing under it.
Brooks argued that the site was not suitable for a coal ash containment pond and that the materials should be excavated and moved to a safer location. “It may cost more to do this now, than cap the pond, but there will be great costs in the future if the plan fails and contaminants leak into the river and adjacent steams.” Brooks concluded by saying,” It is improper to permit this coal ash pond because it is too close to the Black Warrior River. ADEM and Alabama Power Company should reconsider this plan.”
At the end of the public hearing, Collin Sibley, ADEM Hearing Officer said the official record on this permit would remain open, at ADEM’s Headquarters Office in Montgomery, until 5:00 PM on October 29, 2020, for additional oral or written comments.

County approves budget increase for the Highway and Solid Waste Departments

At the Greene County Commission’s call meeting, held Thursday, October 22, 2020, the commission approved salary adjustments for the Enterprise Fund employees in the Highway and Solid Waste Departments. The commission approved a 3% salary adjustment for the County Engineer, Willie Branch, and 5% salary adjustment for the Highway and Solid Waste Department employees. Approximately 26 county employees will benefit from the salary adjustments.
These adjustments represent a $49,872 increase for FY 2021 Enterprise Fund budget.
The county’s Enterprise Fund, separate from the General Fund, is derived from garbage pick-up fees as well as road tax fees and can only be used for expenditures in the Highway and Solid Waste Departments.
The commission held an executive session prior to addressing the single agenda item of the call meeting. Chairman Allen Turner reported that no decisions were made in the executive session

Bayou La Batre, an historic African American community on Alabama’s Gulf Coast suffers from Hurricane Katrina 15 years later

Shrimp boats deposited on land, in Bayou La Batre, by Hurricane Katrina

Katrina survivor and activist Barbara Robbins and her 95-year-old mother are forced from their home of 52 years, because they never received rebuilding assistance!

News Analysis
By: Zack Carter

Preparing for the 10th Anniversary of Katrina the Poor People’s Campaign held a Truth Commission in Bayou La Batre, Alabama. The organizer’s report cites the community’s action items, and the testimony of Barbara Robbins, with whom I had the privilege of working with for ten years, fighting for a just recovery after Katrina:
“From the testimonies of these community leaders, the Saving OurSelves Coalition identified the following issues for action:

• “Recover and repair the homes of Snows Quarters: Alabama Fisheries Coop leader Barbara Robbins was forced out of Safe Harbor after she became disabled. ‘We [in Snows Quarter, the African American community of Bayou La Batre]…
Out of some 100 homes, only four of us received meaningful assistance. Since Katrina many of our homes flood after a hard rain and we can’t even flush the toilet. My living room floor is rotting. I am afraid my 90-year-old mother will fall through any day…”.
(“A Truth Commission Begins in Bayou La Batre, Alabama”, by John Wessel-McCoy, Nov. 7, 2014/Kairos). kairoscenter.org/truth-commission-bayou-la-batre-alabama/

The Truth Commission also referenced a 10-page report submitted to the United Nations, five years after Katrina, authored by Louisiana and Mississippi activists which concluded on pp. 7-8:

‘The hurricane damaged communities in Alabama are the most overlooked areas by the U.S. Government, and are not mentioned in the U.S. Government’s reports to the UN Human Rights Committee and the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination regarding Hurricane Katrina” ( Prepared by Advocates for Environmental Human Rights (Louisiana, USA),and The Gulf States Human Rights Working Group (Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, USA) alafishcoop. wordpress.com/Gulf Coast Activists Report to the United Nations
Barbara Robbins was one of the thousands overlooked, but she refused to give up on getting their home repaired. With years of savings from her meager wages as a seafood worker and with a lot of borrower’s debt, Barbara hired a contractor to repair the floors. But it was a scam, like that suffered by thousands of other Katrina survivors. A photo shows the problem of the floors separating from the walls, which forced their recent departure from where they lived since 1968. Barbara Robbins, now disabled, cares full-time for her mother in a small low-income housing apartment.


Floors separating from walls in Barbara Robbins home

On the 15th Anniversary of Katrina, Aug 29, 2020, Barbara told me their heartbreaking story:

“When I take Mother out, the only place she wants to go, and the only safe place where we can avoid the virus, is the driveway of our home in Snows Quarter. This is where she and my father raised six children in the 1960’s and 70’s. Mother wants to go into our house, but I have to remind her it is not safe anymore. So, we just sit there in the car and reminisce for an hour or so until she finally says, ‘Okay, I’m ready to go now.’”

After an emotional pause in our interview Barbara continued.

“Recently the bank approved me for a trailer to put next to our home that I still hope to rebuild. I was about to rush to our apartment and give Mother the great news, but I was then told the City of Bayou La Batre will not allow trailers, even on the property we have owned for 52 years!”

“We never received any Katrina rebuilding assistance, like most of us in our Black Community. And that goes all the way back to our homeowners insurance agent who refused our claim, saying we were only covered for wind damage and not water damage even though Katrina’s 130 mph winds pushed the huge surge of water through our house, and on its return to the Gulf the surge sucked all our furniture out except the large freezer that jammed in the doorway.”
The powers that be in our state tried to deflect Alabama Katrina survivors’ demands for justice with the coded racist-based lie that ‘all the aid is going to New Orleans.’ Then, less than two years after Katrina, an Alabama investigative reporter revealed:  (”Katrina aid goes to condo buyers:…near the University of Alabama’s football stadium”, by Jay Reeves, AP, August 14, 2007, Tuscaloosa News,)

The next week the same newspaper published my Op-ed based on testimony and data provided by neglected Katrina survivors collected by Mobile County, and supported by a strong legal opinion from a national Civil Rights organization:

“……more than 2,000 Katrina survivors in Alabama still stuck in FEMA campers, and hundreds more doubled up in single-family homes, desperately waiting for Federal Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funds — allocated last summer — to be released.
“ The state’s failure to provide for these citizens contradicts the federal funding program’s intent to assist low- to moderate-income people and violates Alabama’s own stated objective to address unmet needs,” said Barbara Arnwine, executive director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law in Washington, D.C. (“MY TURN” by Zack Carter, Tuscaloosa News, July 15,2007).
Thus, our coalition countered the racist propaganda and policies by uniting with Civil Rights organizations and historic African American communities in north Mobile hard-hit by Katrina, as well as Katrina survivors in Louisiana and Mississippi. See for example one of our brochures that includes several pages of riveting photos of destruction, and survivors testimonies, from north Mobile along a 30 mile stretch to the “Bayou” : (“Tour of Mobile County Katrina Survivors”. alafishcoop.wordpress.comflyer-for-tour-of-mobile-county-victims/ )

We also received a legal boost from the Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law who, on June 6, 2007 wrote a 4.5-page letter and shared their logo with three Alabama groups, and co-signed by hundreds of organizations and individals. alafishcoop.wordpress.com/2020/09/24/lawyers-committee-on-civil-rights-under-law-al-activists-letter-to-state-of-al/.

On the 2nd Anniversary of Katrina, Barbara Robbins, along with several carloads of Alabama Katrina survivors, Blacks, Asians, and Whites, attended the August 28, 2007 GULF COAST REBUILDING PROGRAM at the HBCU Dillard University in New Orleans. 

A featured speaker was Representative Maxine Waters. In the first two minutes of the CSPAN user video clip cited below, Representative Waters commended a Mississippi panelist for documenting unjust homeowner’s insurance companies’ schemes. She received a loud ovation after strongly stating: “it will take a revolution” to end these monopolized insurance companies’ corrupt refusal to pay claims (such as that suffered by Barbra Robbins!). 

Just after Rep Waters thunder, Derrick Johnson (now president of the NAACP)  introduced me and the inhuman treatment of people in our state: “Zack Carter, Alabama has been largely ignored as it relates to Katrina damage you all suffered. What do you see the federal government’s response should be?”.
cspan.org/video/?c4901931/user-clip-rep-maxine-waters-zack-carter
My response was based on the, detailed evidence Alabama Katrina survivors had initiated, and then collected from licensed housing inspectors and summarized in a letter a Mobile County Commissioner, co-signed with us activists on July 7, 2007– documenting that there was only enough federal funds to repair or rebuild 15 – 20% of 1200 CDBG applicants who were accepted; and thousands more who missed the unjust two week, and barely publicized, deadline. ( Mobile County and AL activists letter to Sen Shelby documenting Katrina damage) alafishcoop.wordpress.com/mobile-county-and al-activists letter

Barbara Robbins helped lead a multi-racial Coalition of Alabama Katrina Survivors 

On the 4th Anniversary of Katrina Celebrating a Victory: Barbara and Gertrude Robbins are pictured with several other activists in an article on the award winning blog Bridge the Gulf : “…in front of one of the 300-plus homes that were repaired or rebuilt in south Mobile County because of the grassroots advocacy and determined unity of all cultures, races, and creeds in The Bayou’ “. The activists also vowed to continue the fight for thousands of others who were left out in the cold, like the Robbins family. (“We Have Lost One of Our Own: Stella Mae Smith”, Posted by Bridge the Gulf /May 12, 2012.)

[Barbara Robbins]

The 15-minute video “Struggle for a Home Struggle for a Home in Alabama’s Bayou” documents how Black, White, and Asian Alabama Katrina survivors joined in a decade-long active struggle for their human right to housing or to rebuild after Katrina. https://vimeo.com/55330965 (14’52”)

Barbara Robbins is seen often in the video — including the above photo of the blistering speech she gave to the corrupt director at Bayou La Batre’s Safe Harbor in 2012, for rent gouging and evicting residents from this 100 home neighborhood built with $18 million from HUD and FEMA for homeless Katrina survivors. The Safe Harbor director’s response was to call the police on all of the Katrina survivors and activists gathered at this public meeting.
Now in 2020, the same director and co-director recently resigned and are under investigation by the local sheriff’s office who told the press: ‘There is a substantial amount of money that comes in and not a dime has been used to improve or maintain the houses. there certainty appears to be a misappropriation of funds to put it nicely.’” (“Safe Harbor Landing raises concerns as MCSO launches investigation”, by Gaby Easterwood, WKRG, Sept. 20, 20. wkrg.com/local-news/safe-harbor-landing-raises-concerns-as-mcso-launches-investigation/
Ms. Robbins’s activism continues to this day, see this letter to the present Mayor of Bayou La Batre from, Barbara Robbins, John Zippert, and me asking that he allow Ms. Robbins to place a trailer on her property as she continues to seek rebuilding assistance; and proposing a plan and for a housing cooperative that would restore the promise of affordable housing and rent-to-buy at Safe Harbor, dated Oct. 13, 2020. alafishcoop.wordpress.com/2020/10/25/letter-to-mayor-of-bayou-la-batre-from-barbara-robbins-john-zippert-and-zack-carter-oct-13-2020/
Barbara and Gertrude Robbins story is emblematic of the one million people who were displaced by the inhuman and racist policies that followed in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, which also and yet to be accurately calculated, greatly increased the initial death toll of some 2,000. And today, as we are hit with disasters from Coronavirus to Gulf Coast hurricanes Laura, Sally, Beta, and Delta to forest fires in California and Colorado, our human rights are increasingly trampled under Trump and the extreme racist influence of his senior advisor Steven Miller.
By April of this year Trump and Miller had already cut FEMA’s budget in half — our country’s main relief agency – as they increased funding for their southern border wall and war on immigrants and their children, even separating nursing babies from their mothers! See: “FEMA Joined Coronavirus Fight with Posts Unfilled and Parent Agency Shifting Funds to Immigration” (Wall Street Journal, April 2020); and the above cited yubanet.com article.

Pictured left to right: Earl Presley; Stella Mae Smith; Paul Nelson, Zack Carter, Becky Barbour, Ernest Montgomery, Gertrude Robbins, Neece Presley, Donna Hunt, Danielle McKenzie, Phyllis Johnson, Barbara-Jean Robbins, Michael Robbins, Rosie Robbins. (Photo by Stefanie Bosare, August 29, 2009)


Trump and Miller are determined that survivors and victims of recent Gulf Coast Hurricanes will not be able to return to their homes in the same way that Hurricane Katrina survivors in Bayou La Batre and other Gulf Coast towns have not been able to return after a decade and a half.
Many properties of Katrina survivors ended up in the hands of wealthy developers and casinos, a phenomenon documented in Naomi Klein’s 2007 book, “The Shock Doctrine: the Rise of Disaster Capitalism” Indeed, at the end of my interview with Barbara Robbins she told me a developer shamelessly offered a paltry amount for their property. Barbara rejected him and said: “I would rather see my home remain in ruins commemorating unjust Katrina policy”.

ACTION ALERT: Please call Bayou La Batre Mayor Terry Dowdy at 251 824 2171 and ask that he allow Barbara Robbins to place a trailer on their property so she and 95-year-old Gertrude Robbins can return to the home she bought and loves.

About the author: Zack Carter is a community organizer who helped bring national attention to unjust Katrina and BP recovery policies. He was trade union activist in Mobile during the 1980’s and advocated for Labor to speak out against the Klan lynching of Michael Donald. He currently serves on the Steering Committee of the SaveOurselves Movement for Justice and Democracy.

Greene County Townships schedule inaugurations

The four municipal governments in Greene County have scheduled their inauguration ceremonies for Tuesday, November 2, 2020.
City of Eutaw will hold its ceremony at 12 noon on the Judge Rolanda Wedgeworth in the center of town. Judge Lillie Jones Osborne will officiate.
Town of Forkland will hold its ceremony at 5:00p.m. at the Town Hall. Judge Lillie Jones Osborne will officiate.
Town of Union will hold its ceremony at 6:00 p.m. at the Union Fire Station Hall. The city clerk, Ms. Marilyn Sanford will officiate.
Town of Boligee will hold its ceremony at 5:00 p.m. at its Paramount School site. Judge Rolanda Wedgeworth will officiate.

City of Eutaw plans to approve new police chief at organizational meeting

The Eutaw Police Department lost three officers in the month of October, including Chief Derick Coleman, who resigns as of Oct. 30, 2020. According to Mayor-Elect Latosha Johnson, the city council will consider selecting a new chief of police, assistant chief and another officer at its organizational meeting following the city official’s inauguration ceremony scheduled for 12 noon, Monday, November 2. The names of the perspective appointees were not released.

Newswire: Archbishop Wilton Gregory appointed America’s 1st African American cardinal

Archbishop Wilton Gregory greets parishoners after mass in Washington, D. C.


By: NBC News
Pope Francis on Sunday elevated Archbishop of Washington, D.C., Wilton Gregory, to cardinal, making him the first African American appointed to the red-hat conclave.
The 72-year-old Gregory, who led the Roman Catholic Church’s response to an internal sexual abuse scandal in the early 2000s, was one of 13 new cardinals named by Pope Francis during his noontime prayer from the window of his studio overlooking St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican. The cardinal nominees will be installed during a ceremony on Nov. 28.
“With a very grateful and humble heart, I thank Pope Francis for this appointment which will allow me to work more closely with him in caring for Christ’s Church,” cardinal-elect Gregory said in a statement following the news from the Holy See.
In naming the selections, the pope elevated several archbishops from developing countries, including Cuba, the Congo and Guatemala. Nine of the new cardinals are younger than 80, a requirement to be allowed to vote on a successor to the pontiff.
The pope said the new crop of cardinals have all shown dedication to “the missionary vocation of the Church that continues to proclaim the merciful love of God to all men and women of the earth.”
The new appointments will expand the College of Cardinal’s from 120 to 128 electors, who hail from 68 countries.
The elevation of Gregory to cardinal will make him the highest-ranking African American prelate in the nation.
The historical appointment came two years after the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops issued a pastoral letter condemning what it called an accumulation of “episodes of violence and animosity with racial and xenophobic overtones” and imploring the Catholic church to practice what it preaches in regards to racial equality.
In June, Francis denounced the “sin of racism” and identified George Floyd, a Black man who died at the hands of Minneapolis police on May 25, as the victim of a “tragic” killing.
“We cannot close our eyes to any form of racism or exclusion while pretending to defend the sacredness of every human life,” the pope said at the time.
Gregory, who was born and raised in Chicago, was ordained a priest in the Archdiocese of Chicago in May 1973, according to his biography on the Archdiocese of Washington website. He served as the seventh bishop of the Diocese of Belleville, Illinois, from 1994 to December 2004, when Pope John Paul II appointed him archbishop of the Archdiocese of Atlanta.
Gregory was elected president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops in 2001 and under his leadership, the bishops implemented the “Charter of Protection of Children and Young People” that laid out five principles for responding to a sex abuse crisis involving Catholic clergy and conceded they had been remiss in protecting children from pedophile priests.
Earlier this year, Gregory issued a statement rebuking a visit by President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump to the Saint John Paul II National Shrine in Washington, D.C., for a photo op.
“I find it baffling and reprehensible that any Catholic facility would allow itself to be so egregiously misused and manipulated in a fashion that violates our religious principles, which call us to defend the rights of all people even those with whom we might disagree,” Gregory said.
His statement came just days after protesters outside the White House were tear-gassed and forcibly removed so Trump could walk to a vandalized St John’s Episcopal Church and pose for photos holding a Bible.
“St. Pope John Paul II was an ardent defender of the rights and dignity of human beings. His legacy bears vivid witness to that truth,” Gregory’s statement added. “He certainly would not condone the use of tear gas and other deterrents to silence, scatter or intimidate them for a photo opportunity in front of a place of worship and peace.”

Newswire: Voter suppression tactics and long lines fail to quell resolve of Black voters

By Stacy M. Brown, NNPA Newswire Senior National Correspondent


The lines are long, but Black voters are demonstrating their will to vote. In Texas, Georgia, Virginia, North Carolina, and Indiana, African Americans’ resiliency and resolve have never been as severely tested.
They have gone to great lengths to overcome voter suppression, discouragement, misinformation, gerrymandering, and so many other obstacles to participate in America’s elections.
In Fort Bend County, Texas, a check-in machine glitch shut down at least four precincts, and a court ruling that significantly limited ballot locations didn’t stop many African Americans from traveling long distances and overcoming even longer wait times to vote.
In Georgia, NPR Reported that the clogged polling locations in metro Atlanta reflected an underlying pattern: the number of places to vote has shrunk statewide, with little recourse.
“Although the reduction in polling places has taken place across racial lines, it has primarily caused long lines in nonwhite neighborhoods where voter registration has surged and more residents cast ballots in person on Election Day. The pruning of polling places started long before the pandemic, which has discouraged people from voting in person,” the report noted.
In Virginia, a glitch shut down polls and forced officials to push back deadlines to cast early votes. Also, General Registrar Donna Patterson told reporters that the long lines in Virginia Beach had been like that each day since early voting began about one month ago. Add to that number the 55,000 mail-in ballots the registrar received to that point.
In North Carolina, about 163,000 votes were cast in person across North Carolina on Saturday, bringing the total to 828,456 in the state — more than double the number of people in North Carolina who went to the polls at this time in the 2016 election.
“Texas has been under siege confronting voter suppression from multiple fronts from our Governor Greg Abbott to the state higher courts,” noted Sonny Messiah Jiles, the publisher, and CEO of The Houston Defender Media Group, DefenderNetwork.com.
“It is unbelievable or ridiculous for a county with 2.4 million registered voters to have one location to drop off mail-in ballots,” Jiles remarked.
“Despite their efforts, the Harris County Clerk Chris Hollins, a smart young millennial, has been strategic and innovative with drive-thru voting, doubling the early voting locations and the historical move of 24-hour voting. But aside from voting access, we need to beware not to be bamboozled listening to the polls and just go and vote like our life depends on it, because it does.”
Numerous voter suppression tactics have been used in Texas and throughout the nation, added Patrick Washington, CEO, and co-publisher of the Dallas Weekly. “Like the late-night ruling, from a 5th Circuit Court via a three judge panel, all of whom appointed by President Trump to uphold Governor Abbot’s mandate to limit one ballot drop box for millions of voters in Dallas county,” Washington observed.
However, he continued: “Despite this deliberate, detrimental move, the night before early voting in Texas, I am pleased to see that the very voters that may have been affected in Dallas counties came to the polls big.
“I witnessed many volunteers at the Martin Luther King Center assisting the elderly with remaining comfortable with chairs and water during the long wait and assisting first-time voters by explaining the sample ballots. To know that ballot records are being broken in counties all over Texas doesn’t shock me. Unfortunately, a lot of tragic events due to racism and police brutality have occurred during Trump’s time in office.
“People are tired. People can’t see family and friends like they used to. In some cases, people are unemployed, angry, scared or maybe all of the above. So, in any case, people have the time to exercise their civic duty and vote.”
Even in states like Indiana, voter suppression efforts haven’t stopped Black people from lining up at the polls. “Indiana has some incredibly restrictive voter laws, and currently we only have one early voting site in all of Indianapolis,” stated Robert Shegog, CEO at the Indianapolis Recorder Newspaper and Indiana Minority Business Magazine.
“A few more will open Oct. 24, but significantly more are needed given the size of the city. However, it is very refreshing to see so many people voting early. This has been a trend in Indianapolis for over ten years now, and the numbers keep increasing,” Shegog noted.
The Indianapolis Recorder reported that there were 13,206 votes cast through the first nine days of early voting – or nearly 10,000 more in the same period in 2008 and 5,000 more than in 2016.