Jun-11-98 01:26P ky alliance 502 7788130 P.04
public office. (Alabama's population is 35 percent African American. At present is has just one Black congressman out of seven, and just 35 out of 140 legislators.) In 1996, the home of a Black Circuit Judge, Eddie Hardaway, in Livingston AL, in Sumter County, was shot into while he and his family were inside. When the State Attorney General looke into the shooting, he investigated Hardaway instead of the shooting. Meantime the news media carries on a campaign implying that Black Elected Officials are dishonest and cannot manage government. All this is very similar to attacks that drove Blacks from public office after Reconstruction in the 19th Century and ushered in a reign of terror in the South that lasted 100 years. Attacks on voting rights --- different in detail, but similar in basic thrust --- are going on in many other states.
We come to the U.S. Attorney General because we think our Federal Government must not find itself on the side of people trying to turn the clock back and deny full voting rights and political representation to African Americans. The Federal government must take positive action to support the people who try to make democracy work by coming out to vote.
We wish to raise three basic questions about the Alabama Investigations and prosecutions that we think merit the attention of the Attorney General:
1. There has been gross misconduct on the part of FBI agents which has resulted in intimidation and fear among voters.
2. The investigation and criminal charges in Alabama are an attempt to use the courts and criminal charges to deal with what should be a political struggle. That is, the matter of who controls a governmental body should be decided by voters at the polls. When one side has the power to try and enforce its will through criminal investigations and charges, this democratic process itself is undermined. This is a total misuse of the court system.
(And while it might be argued that such investigations are necessary so that our elections can be honest and free of fraud, this argument does not hold up in Alabama because such investigations have only occurred in areas where African Americans are in the majority and have elected Black-majority governments. Complaints of voter fraud against whites have been ignored. Thus, one cannot conclude that the motive for the Black Belt investigations is honest elections )
3. The case against the two people already convicted in Greene County was based on flimsy, virtually non-existent, evidence. While we understand that no one, inlcuindg the Attorney General, should go behind a decision of a jury, we think a question must be raised as to how a Federal prosecutor could take such a case to court. The indictment of the six people still to be tried in Greene County is equally questionable.
In this paper, we document first the effect of the intimidation on voter turnout in the past four years and then each of the above points.
We ask that the Attorney General give this matter thorough attention. At the end of this paper, we make specific recommendations for action.
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