‘voter fraud is a lie, voter suppression is alive’ Rev. Barber: “We want full restoration of the Voting Rights Act now!”

By: John Zippert,  Co-Publisher

Amid the celebration and commemoration at this weekend’s Bridge Crossing Jubilee in Selma, Alabama, celebrating the 52nd anniversary of the “Bloody Sunday March” in 1965, there was a demand for “Full Restoration of the Voting Rights Act” by Rev. William Barber of the North Carolina Repairers of the Breach and Forward Together Movement. Rev. Barber’s demand was echoed by other speakers and was the central issue in many of the workshops and programs of the Jubilee.
In addition to the workshops, there was a parade, golf tournament, dinners, a unity breakfast, street festival, and the march reenactment on Sunday afternoon. Ten thousand or more marchers crossed the Edmund Pettus Bridge behind a host of local and national leaders, including: Rev. Jesse Jackson of PUSH, Charles Steele of SCLC, Rev. Barber, Faya Rose Toure, Senator Hank Sanders, Rev. Mark Thompson of Sirius 127 Radio and many others. The Masons of Alabama turned out in force and in uniform, to participate in the march.
The weekend culminated in Monday’s “Slow-Ride from Selma to Montgomery” with a caravan of 35 vehicles including a Greene County School bus, carrying the members of the Eutaw High Ninth Grade Academy. The caravan was met by local Montgomery leaders for a rally on the steps of the State Capitol.
Prior to the re-enactment march, Attorney Faya Rose Toure pointed out that the Edmund Pettus Bridge was named for an Alabama Klu Klux Klan leader and that the name should be changed to honor Ms. Amelia Boyton Robinson and the Voting Rights Foot-soldiers who won the 1965 VRA.
Rev. William Barber spoke many times, as ketnote for the Sunday morning breakfast, at Brown’s Chapel Church before the march reenactment, on a national radio broadcast from the Dallas County Courthouse on Sunday evening and at the rally at the Alabama State Capitol in Montgomery at the end of the slow-ride.

Rev. Barber made similar points in each speech. At the breakfast, we invoked the martyrs of the civil and voting rights movement – Dr. King, Jimmie Lee Jackson, Jonathan Daniels, James Reid, Viola Luizzo, and un-named others, whose blood he said was crying out to people today to continue the work of restoring the Voting Rights Act, fighting voter suppression in all its forms, and building a more beloved community involving Blacks, Whites, Latinos and all religious faiths.
He said he had come to Selma, ”not for the nostalgia of history but to listen for the ‘blood’ that was shed and soaked into the concrete of the bridge and the wooden pews of the churches.” Barber said that America was headed by an egotistical narsisistic man, “but this is not the first time that a racist was in the White House. Steve Bannon is not the first white Supremacist to be in high places. Trump is not the first President to hold these views. Many of his predacessors felt the same way.”
“On June 25, 2013”, Barber said, “the U. S. Supreme Court in the Holder vs. Shelby County case, overturned Section 4 and nullified Section 5 of the 1965 Voting Rights Act. Within an hour of the destruction of pre-clearence of voting changes in the Shelby decision, Texas approved a voter ID law and other changes; two months later, North Carolina passed voter suppression laws.
Alabama, Mississippi, Georgia and other Southern states also passed voter ID and other voter suppression measures. Voter fraud is a lie, voter suppression is alive.”
“Twenty-one states adopted 47 regressive voting changes within a year of the Shelby decision, The 2016 Presidential election was the first in half a century without the protection of the Voting Rights Act.
868 fewer polling places were allowed in Black and Brown communities around the nation. In the 25 Presidential debates, both Republican and Democratic, no mention was made of the issue of voter suppression in our communities,” said Rev. Barber.
“Long before Russia interfered in our elections, voter suppression had hacked and distorted the system,” said Barber. He pointed out that in Wisconsin 300,000 voters were disenfranchised due to the voter ID requirements and Trump defeated Hillary by 20,000 votes in that state.
Senator Hank Sanders spoke to the problems of voter suppression, voter ID, Legislative gerrymandering in Alabama, Packing and stacking Black voters in majority Black districts. He also recounted the history of now Attorney General Jeff Sessions role in initiating voter suppression in Alabama with voter fraud trials of civil rights activists.
Rev. Barber said, “ the 11 former Confederate states have 171 electoral votes, you only need 99 more to have the 270 needed to win the electoral college. These states have 26 U. S. senators, the extremists need only 25 more Senators to control the Senate which they are doing now. They have the House of Representatives, statehouses, county courthouses, we have work to do to fully restore the Voting Rights Act.”
As part of the evening radio broadcast and rally at the Dallas County Courthouse, Rev. Barber displayed maps, which showed the concentration of poverty, child poverty, low wages-right-to-work states, states that did not expand Medicaid, overlapped with the states that adopted new voter suppression measures. Most of these maps showed concentration of these problems in the rural South. Rev. Barber also displayed a map of states and areas with a concentration of protestant Evangelical Christians and once again the overlap was clear. He called this a “mis-teaching of faith and a false interpretation of the Bible”.
At the rally in Montgomery, speaker after speaker blasted the voter suppression, racial gerrymandering and limits to voting by the people. Rev. Barber said, ”We must get ready for a 100 days of disruption and civil disobedience in our state houses and in Congress to work for full restoration of the Voting Rights Act. Different state organizations should be preparing to go to Washington, D. C. and non-violently disrupt the process qnd win back our full voting rights.

Voter suppression laws helped Trump take the White House

 

By Barrington M. Salmon (NNPA Newswire Contributor)

Shortly after the United Sates Supreme Court gutted the Voting Rights Act in 2013, Republican state lawmakers began a calculated assault on the ballot box at the expense of Black and poor people across the nation; a coalition of civil and voting rights organizations fought back, primarily in the courts, against a wave of laws that restricted early voting, required photo IDs, limited pre-registration for 16- and 17 year-olds and closed polling centers.

Now critics of those laws say that those measures may have tipped the November 8 presidential election in Donald Trump’s favor.

Ari Berman, a political reporter and investigative journalist with “The Nation,” calls the GOP’s attack on voting rights the most under-reported story of 2016 and his reporting during the election campaign encapsulates the fallout from Republican lawmakers’ relentless and sustained voter suppression tactics on the election.

“There were 25 debates during the presidential primaries and general election and not a single question about the attack on voting rights, even though this was the first presidential election in 50 years without the full protections of the Voting Rights Act,” he noted in a post-election story.             “Fourteen states had new voting restrictions in place for the first time in 2016 – including crucial swing states like Wisconsin and Virginia – yet we heard nary a peep about it on Election Day except from outlets like ‘The Nation.’ This was the biggest under-covered scandal of the 2016 campaign.”

Berman continued: “We’ll likely never know how many people were kept from the polls by restrictions like voter-ID laws, cuts to early voting, and barriers to voter registration. But at the very least this should have been a question that many more people were looking into. For example, 27,000 votes currently separate Trump and Clinton in Wisconsin, where 300,000 registered voters, according to a federal court, lacked strict forms of voter ID. Voter turnout in Wisconsin was at its lowest levels in 20 years and decreased 13 percent in Milwaukee, where 70 percent of the state’s African-American population lives, according to Daniel Nichanian of the University of Chicago.”

Rev. Dr. William Barber II has called his home state of North Carolina “ground zero for voter suppression.” “The court ruled on the most sweeping, retrogressive voter suppression bill that we have seen since the 19th century and since Jim Crow, and the worst in the nation since the Shelby decision,” said Barber, the president of the North Carolina state branch of the NAACP and also one of the lead plaintiffs in lawsuit against the state of North Carolina in a case that led to a federal court striking down the law. “The ruling in North Carolina was intentional discrimination of the highest order. They were retrogressing racially through redistricting. Over the past two election cycles, North Carolina has had an unconstitutionally constituted General Assembly. We should be appalled that anyone could rule that long.

The macro question is that after Shelby, we’re in a different place in that there was no protection for civil rights. Shelby took us back across the Edmund Pettis Bridge. If preclearance was in place, they wouldn’t have passed these laws. They spent between $5 million – $6 million fighting us. To have the loss of the Voting Rights Act is an affront to the country.”

Berman said North Carolina is a case study for how Republicans have institutionalized voter suppression at every level of government and made it the new normal within the GOP. He fears the same thing could soon happen in Washington when Trump assumes power.

Going forward, Scott Simpson, the director of media and campaigns for the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, said that civil rights groups have a daunting, but not impossible task before them.

“The important thing to note about this election is that it started in June 2013,” he said. “For all the laws, statewide and locally, the vast majority, the wheels were set in motion well before Election Day.”

Simpson was referring to the raft of voter suppression laws passed by Republican lawmakers in a number of states in the aftermath of the 2013 Supreme Court decision to invalidate a key section of the landmark Voting Rights Act; Wisconsin, Georgia, Texas, Kansas and North Carolina were among those states that passed laws that made it harder to vote.

“It’s so clear that the loss of the Voting Rights Act had an impact on the election,” Simpson explained. “People were scared off, turned away from polling places, saw long lines and left without voting and with all the changes, some were left confused. It was a travesty. In North Carolina, you had a razor-thin election and in Wisconsin you had a very close election, because of the voter ID law.”

Simpson continued: “You shave a couple of percentage points in an election, say one or two percent, and there will be an impact.” Simpson said the recent election was framed in rhetoric and racial hostility “and we now have the Department of Justice with a man in charge (Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III of Alabama) who opposes the Voting Rights Act.”

Berman said that we can already glimpse how a Trump administration will undermine voting rights, based on the people he nominated to top positions, those he has advising him, and his own statements.

Berman wrote: “[Trump’s] pick for attorney general, Jeff Sessions, wrongly prosecuted Black civil rights activists for voter fraud in Alabama in the 1980s, called the Voting Rights Act ‘a piece of intrusive legislation,’ and praised the Supreme Court’s gutting of the Voting Rights Act in 2013 saying that “if you go to Alabama, Georgia or North Carolina, people aren’t being denied the vote because of the color of their skin.”

Lawsuit claims state blocking Birmingham minimum wage hike violates Voting Rights Act

By Kelly Poe | kpoe@al.com

 

B'ham Fight for $15 protestors
 B’ham Fight for $15 protestors

 

The suit that says Alabama broke the law by blocking Birmingham’s minimum wage hike was amended Thursday to claim the nullification violated the Voting Rights Act of 1965. In April, the Alabama National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and Greater Birmingham Ministries filed the suit in U.S. District Court. The original suit claimed that HB 174 is tainted “with racial animus” and that is violates the equal protection clause of the U.S. Constitution.
The amended complaint filed Thursday added the Alabama Legislative Black Caucus and nine individual black state legislators as plaintiffs to the suit.
The amended suit also added a new complaint: that the defendants violated the Voting Rights Act of 1965 by transferring control over minimum wages from Birmingham’s officials – who were voted in by Birmingham’s majority black electorate – to state officials, who were elected by a majority white electorate. The suit claims this effectively disenfranchises Birmingham’s voters.
On Thursday morning, the Alabama NAACP and Greater Birmingham Ministries filed the suit in U.S. District Court. “It perpetuates an official policy of political white supremacy that has been maintained in Alabama since it became a state in 1819, whereby white control is preserved by state government over the governing bodies of majority-black counties, cities, and educational institutions,” the complaint says.
The suit argues that the bill violates equal protection law because it targets an ordinance that Birmingham’s black community and council strongly supported.
The Birmingham City Council voted in 2015 to raise the city’s minimum wage to $10.10 per hour through incremental raises. The Republican super majorities in the legislature’s House and Senate put a bill to void the increase on the fast track, prompting the council to expedite Birmingham’s raise, but the law ultimately voided the ordinance.