A story that few people noticed when it happened will now be discussed and it comes to us courtesy of Gadsden County, Florida, the only county in that increasingly racially embattled state to have a majority Black population.
From what we can gather, it seems that members of the white minority in the county attempted to make a power play – they didn’t fire all Black police officers and march them out of the main precinct with snipers on the roof as the new Black Sheriff Victor Hill in Clayton County did to white officers in 2005 – and take over the local government, getting rid of incompetent Black government employees in the process.
Of course, Black government employees in DeKalb County (Georgia) led by former CEO Vernon Jones discriminated against white employees, but this is hardly the same thing as ‘disenfranchising’ Black voters as is going in Gadsden County.
It should be noted that – as of 2009 – 30 percent of the Black people in Gadsden County were on food stamps/ EBT cards compared to only five percent of whites.
What evil lurks in the hearts of white men in Gadsden, as they try and place competent people in government positions instead of Black people placed there solely for the color of their skin?:
White Gadsden County officials successfully conspired to remove or demote every black supervisor in county government, multiple lawsuits claim.
What’s more, the suits say that an African-American commissioner played a key role in the plot.
The ringleader, according to court filings, was another county commissioner, Douglas Croley, who was depicted as referring to black employees as “the Tribe” and was the only white on the five-member commission leading up to the 2008 election.
The suits say Croley schemed with Commissioner Eugene Lamb, who is black, to defeat another incumbent black commissioner and replace him with a white man, Gene Morgan.
Once they succeeded, the suits allege, the new commission majority of Croley, Lamb and Morgan pressured a black county administrator to resign. They replaced him with a white man and gave him a “hit list” of black supervisors to fire in order to “whiten up” the staff.
The lawsuits are the latest chapters in an uproar that surfaced in August when Gadsden County public works director Robert Presnell filed a complaint alleging that illegal campaign contributions were involved in a scheme to elect Morgan.
Lamb and other commissioners fired Presnell four hours after he made his complaint. Presnell filed a whistle-blower suit against the county. In a settlement last October, the county gave Presnell $22,500 and back pay, and restored his position.
Now attorneys for a handful of former county employees accuse Croley, the other commissioners and County Administrator Johnny Williams of violating the civil rights of more than a dozen black employees who were fired or demoted.
Doug Croley has made it a “personal mission” to rid the county of as many minority employees as possible, two of the lawsuits contend.
Croley refused to comment on the accusations. He and other Gadsden commissioners contacted by the St. Petersburg Times referred questions to Tallahassee lawyer Brian Duffy, who did not return telephone calls.
“All the allegations are false,” Williams said. “That’s probably all my attorney will let me say.”
Lamb, the black commissioner who allegedly sided with the white commissioners to get rid of black employees, refused to comment.
“I can’t talk about it,” Lamb said.
The NAACP has reported the affair to the FBI, according to Dale Landry, president of the NAACP in Tallahassee and vice president of the group’s North Florida charter.
“You won’t find one black supervisor left,” said Sam Palmer, president of the Gadsden County NAACP. “They called it reorganization. It was reorganized, all right.”
NAACP chapters in Gadsden County and neighboring Tallahassee plan a rally in Quincy just before the next County Commission meeting Tuesday.
Palmer said he expects students from Florida State University and Florida A&M to join the protest.
The lawsuits concern the only Florida county in which blacks form a majority of the electorate. About 55 percent of the county’s population is black, with minority voters outnumbering white voters 16,525 to 11,436 in 2010.
Not to be outdone, but the St. Petersburg Times editorial section opined on the situation, siding with “the Blacks” whom nearly 1/3 of rely on public assistance merely to eat (how can they be expected to properly govern themselves and allocate taxpayer money?):
Many of the vestiges of Florida’s racist history have faded over the decades — except in Gadsden County, where it appears discrimination remains acceptable and flourishes.
After an apparent plot by the white political establishment to systematically oust black elected officials and government workers from their jobs, the U.S. Justice Department and Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi should investigate and move quickly to protect the civil rights of residents in this small county trapped in a time warp.
As reported by the Times’ Lucy Morgan, several white Gadsden officials, in an effort to “whiten up” local government, manipulated local elections to ensure greater white representation on the County Commission. Once that was accomplished, they methodically culled black supervisors from the ranks of county employees.
The disturbing revelations came to light last year after Gadsden County public works director Robert Presnell stood up to the bullies and filed a complaint alleging illegal campaign contributions were used to displace a black county commissioner with a white commissioner. Presnell was immediately fired by the commission, but he later received a whistle-blower settlement of $22,500, restoration of back pay and his old job back.
At the center of the controversy is Gadsden County Commissioner Douglas Croley, who has been named in three civil rights lawsuits as the instigator behind ensuring the County Commission was no longer controlled by black commissioners. Croley also was the leader in insisting upon the removal of black employees, whom he referred to as “the Tribe.” An attorney for Croley and other commissioners denies they did anything wrong, but the changes appear too coordinated to be unintended. It seems apparent that Croley and his cronies regarded Gadsden County as a personal political fiefdom exempt from election and civil rights laws and basic standards of human dignity.
Along with the civil rights division of the U.S. Justice Department, Bondi, as the state’s chief law enforcement officer, also has an obligation to vigorously investigate if black residents of the Gadsden County were disenfranchised as a result of Croley’s effort to unduly influence local elections.
It would be nice, albeit naive, to believe Florida has moved beyond its often sorry history of racial discrimination. And in so many areas of the state, a compelling case can be made that progress has been substantial. In Gadsden County, it seems, time stopped in the 1950s.
Wait. Isn’t St. Pete the same city where Officer Thad “Stu” Crisco is under fire for telling a citizen about a high crime area and that it might not be safe to go near? Black crime in Orlando, Miami, Tallahassee, St. Pete/ Tampa is astonishingly high, but the Southeastern Conference (SEC) caliber Black recruits that come from these same thug neighborhoods mean we will tolerate the crime for wins on the football field!
All Croley – the only white person on the county commission – and his friends are guilty of is trying to get white people elected at the expense of Black people in Florida’s only majority Black county. When Black people voted 96 percent for Mein Obama in 2008, the media applauded and said this was a watershed moment for democracy.
When white people try and get representation it means disenfranchising Black people. By voting monolithic for Obama in 2008, didn’t Black people disenfranchise everyone else?
It should be noted that back in 2004, Gadsden County elected its first Black Sheriff in Morris Young. Let’s read the St. Petersburg Times wrote on this joyous occassion, when the citizens of that fine county were no longer trapped in time but up-to-speed with Black-Run America (BRA) progressive idea of always improving life for Black people at the expense of everyone else:
It was after 10 p.m. when the final vote tallies flashed on the wall of the Gadsden County elections office on Madison Street. Outside, people had waited all evening, milling around anxiously or hunkered down on the sidewalks with their children.
Now the street erupted with cries of “Thank you, Jesus!” Someone lifted a toddler with beaded braids high above the crowd. People surged into the elections office, blocking the projector that beamed the results onto the wall.
“I don’t want to be disenfranchised, Miss Shirley!” one man shouted to Shirley Green Knight, the county elections supervisor. “Put it up! Put it up!”
Outside, they were singing We Shall Overcome. The crowd – mainly black, some white – knotted around Morris Young, a tall man in a gray blazer with a small gold cross around his neck. Young stood calm, with one hand raised in the air. He had just won the sheriff’s race by 64 votes – ultimately 115 after a recount – to become the first black sheriff of Gadsden County, the only county in Florida with an African-American majority.
Sometimes a big thing happens in a small place, only to be overshadowed by big things going on elsewhere. On this night, Florida had chosen a president, and the rest of the country was still making up its mind. In 2000, Gadsden tossed out about 1,800 votes in the presidential race, the highest percentage of disqualified ballots in the state. This year the county’s handful of discards wasn’t nearly enough to change the course of the election.
Yet something big happened in Gadsden, where the median household income is $10,000 less than the national average and fewer than one in seven residents has a college degree. It started long before the election and came to a head when 78 percent of the county’s 26,884 voters lined up at tiny churches, tree-shaded libraries and town halls.
Through the warm fall months, politics took up residence here, seeding the grass with signs and filling the air with honking car horns and greetings shouted purposefully from street corners. Six-year-old children held forth on the presidential race (“Bush got to go, Miss,” one boy told the head of his after-school program).
In a county of C, D and F schools, the superintendent of schools’ office was up for grabs. And in a brick building off U.S. 90, Sheriff William A. Woodham, a white Alabaman with a diamond ring and a disarming Southern manner, was retiring after 34 years.
Young defeated Chief Deputy Sheriff Ed Spooner, whom Woodham supported.
Outside the elections office, the people sang: “Na-na, hey, hey, hey, goodbye!” The crowd of Young supporters moved up the street, into the town square. By midnight, they had reached the steps of the white-columned courthouse. Young stood on the steps and called for silence.
“I want to thank everybody who believed in me, who stood on that corner there,” Young said, pointing to the corner of Madison and Jefferson streets. “I stood on that corner alone sometimes.”
He campaigned there all day, even in the rain. Once someone threw a can of Coke at him; another time it was water. People hurled rocks. Drivers called out “n—–” as they passed.
On the steps of the courthouse, a supporter told the crowd: “He stands here to represent Gadsden County as a whole. Black, white, Hispanic, Asian – he’s your sheriff.”
The crowd roared.
Morning found Spooner, 54, taking calls on a cell phone in the lobby of the Sheriff’s Office. He said he wasn’t bitter.
“Sometimes these things happen to make you do something better,” he said.
Sheriff Woodham, a pale man with watery blue eyes, says the election came down to who was more popular.
“I think qualificationwise, Ed Spooner’s head and shoulders more qualified,” Woodham said, easing himself into a chair in his empty office. “But Morris is a super nice guy.”
Woodham was appointed sheriff in 1971 and won re-election eight times since. He admits he didn’t have much experience himself when he started – he had been a juvenile court counselor for five years and a trooper for a year and a half – “but I did have a college degree,” Woodham says. “And I was capable of learning.”
Young has been in law enforcement for 16 years and now works for the Sheriff’s Office as a school resource officer. He went to Chipola Junior College in Mariana. He ran for sheriff in 2000 and lost. Other black candidates have done the same.
Black leadership isn’t always the answer, Woodham says. Look at Gretna, Young’s hometown, which is mainly African-American and has an all-black town council.
Blacks and whites agree that Gretna has problems. At Smith’s tire shop in the center of Gretna, Thomas Davis, 31, a Holiness minister with a goatee and a gold tooth, says that two weeks ago, the town misplaced his wife’s check and cut off the water at his house.
Black people may make mistakes, he says, but it’s about time Gadsden had a black sheriff.
“It’s time for a change,” Davis says. “We asked for this. We prayed for it. A lot of blacks get along with Sheriff Woodham. We go along to obey them. Why can’t they obey a black sheriff?”
About 3,500 people live in faded, listing trailers, tin-roofed houses, brick ranches and grand wooden mansions in Gretna, a web of dirt roads shaded by pine woods and century-old oak trees in the middle of Gadsden, which is west of Tallahassee and just south of Georgia.
Besides Smith’s tires (“At Smiths We Keep You Roolin,” says a hand-painted sign out front), there are two convenience stores and the Hole, a rented house off U.S. 90 where people gather to drink on the porch.
On a recent day in Gretna, police had to board a school bus to break up a fight. John Williams, 63, saw it all from where he sat under a spreading oak selling mustard greens, turnips and sugar cane off the bed of a red pickup. Williams voted for Young, but it didn’t have anything to do with his being black. He just wanted to give the young man a chance.
“You do something wrong, you face the consequences. It don’t matter who be sheriff,” Williams said.
Across town in a white house on a sandy road next to a big, open field, Young greets supporters, squeezes hands, accepts congratulations. There’s a half-eaten sheet cake on the kitchen table, and well-wishers crowd the couches watching the TV news. By Wednesday, someone has spray-painted the word “n—–” with a heart on the hood and sides of a pickup belonging to one of Young’s white supporters. No one is surprised.
Young, 39, is softspoken and straight-talking. He’s a deacon at his church, and you can hear church in his sentences. In the quiet of his dining room, his phone rings nonstop.
“Yeah, I’ll be a good sheriff,” he tells a caller who backed his opponent. “Y’all just stand behind me, man.”
During his campaign, Young promised to devote attention to a string of unsolved killings of blacks in Gadsden County in the last decade. He pledged to reduce black-on-black crime, which he says accounts for 95 percent of reported crime in the county.
“The law should be colorblind, and our jail is full of black men and women,” he says. “White crimes are committed here in Gadsden County, but they seem to go unnoticed.”
The jails in Gadsden County are full of Black people because Black people commit the crime. Didn’t you learn anything at the National Network for Preventing Crime in the Black Community?
It’s 2011: Black people should run every local, state, and federal government agency. To think otherwise means you live in the bad-old-days and wish for a restoration of a time when Detroit and Birmingham had thriving economies.
Let’s be honest for a second: Gadsden County offers us a glimpse, a microcosm, of what life is like for the dwindling white minority in South Africa and for those areas around America where white flight has turned over the reigns of power to Black people, freshly in control for the first time.
As Unamusement Park has shown, Black crime in all of Florida is an insane problem there, that for merely mentioning gets you suspended from your job as a police officer (or saying an area is bad which is synonymous with Black).
Are you sure you want to be a minority in a country that – when white people are a majority – fanatically subscribes to a Black-Run America (BRA) governing philosophy?
If one was to look at Croley’s true motivation for trying to save Gadsden County and get white people in places of power, one would only need to look and see how the business sector of that county is doing. With Black people in power, have businesses left, which means tax-revenue generated and collected is collapsing?
Is the cost of doing business in Gadsden too great because you have to pay the Nigga Tax? If so, then you can understand why Croley and his white minority partners would want to go back to the old days.
Things seemed to work then.