Letter of petition requesting Justice Department to restore voting rights in Greene County is circulated among citizens at the Courthouse gathering.
An overflow crowd gathered at the Greene County Courthouse on Thursday, June 2 to protest what they termed a violation of their voting rights with the closing of electronic bingo at Greenetrack.
Rev. A. B. Griffin, Pastor of New Peace Baptist Church, Eutaw, opened the meeting with a prayer, and laid the foundation for the gathering. “This is a voting rights issue we are facing. We have a history of fighting for our voting rights in Greene County and now we must do it again,” he stated.
Greenetrack CEO, Luther Winn, II, presented a draft letter addressed to Congresswoman Terri Sewell, requesting that she contact the U. S. Justice Department concerning the violation of citizens’ voting rights in Greene County. The letter requests that the U. S. Justice Department come to Greene County to investigate these violations and enforce the Voting Rights Act.
Winn said that the community is asked to sign this letter of petition. The goal is to accumulate 2000 signatures of support.
On Wednesday, June 1, Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange, conducted a raid on two bingo facilities in Greene County. This marked the second time electronic bingo machines were seized from the Greenetrack facility. The initial raid at Greenetrack, which occurred on June 30, 2010, was authorized by the former Alabama Governor Bob Riley.
Greenetrack CEO Nat Winn reminded those present at the June 4 rally that neither Riley nor the current governor Robert Bentley, “got a search warrant from a legally elected Greene County Judge, which would have been the normal procedure.” Greene County Circuit Judge, Eddie Hardaway, had been removed from the process.
Winn noted that Jefferson County Circuit Judge Houston Brown was appointed as a special Greene County Judge by Sue Bell Cobb, Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice, and Brown subsequently issued the warrant authorizing the recent raid by Attorney General Luther Strange.
“ Let us be very clear about what is going on with the closure of electronic bingo at Greenetrack, “ said Winn. “When we allow one political party to take control of everything we are in trouble. There are no checks and balances now in Alabama government.” he stated.
“If we sit here and do nothing, we are going back to before the time of the Freedom Riders. This is bigger than Greenetrack. This is about losing our voting rights” Winn said.
Those gathered at the courthouse were provided leaflets documenting the steps that led to the constitutional amendment that legalized electronic bingo in Greene County in 2003.
According to Winn, all necessary steps were taken to ensure that the 2003 local election was legal. The bill was advertised in a local newspaper; pre-cleared by the U.S. Justice Department; passed by both houses of the Alabama Legislature and voted on by the people of Greene County, passing by 83% of the vote.
The results were certified by Probate Judge Earlean Isaac and the Alabama Secretary of State.
When Gov. Robert Bentley won the Republican Primary, he said, “We have passed constitutional amendments that have allowed bingo in certain areas….. Now if we want to get rid of that we need a constitutional vote. If they (Greenetrack) open up and they are legal under the law, there is nothing we can do about that.”
Despite that statement, Bentley supported state troopers confiscating electronic bingo machines at Greenetrack. Winn emphasized that this wasn’t just about bingo. “Greene County voters’ rights were taken away from them. Bentley did not honor the votes of the people of Greene County.”
Winn has announced that the community is asked to attend the First Baptist Church of Tuscaloosa this coming Sunday. This is the church which Governor Bentley attends and Winn seemed to feel that a large showing of Greene Countians to worship there might make a difference or at least make a point.
Winn refused to speculate on the future of Greenetrack. “Simulcasting is still open. We are trying to make an assessment if it is going to be feasible to remain open after this month.”
Weather for Eutaw, Ala. Saturday Sunday MondayThunderstorm90/70Partly Cloudy86/70Partly Cloudy91/68
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