Whereas Fleming was not lead counsel for the county defendants within the federal lawsuit, his current efforts to restrict voting entry within the state angered some Hancock County residents, who’re nonetheless reeling from the battle over voting rolls.
“So many individuals within the county did not know he was the legal professional. Now, some Blacks in the neighborhood who … have an understanding of issues are infuriated,” mentioned Johnny Thornton, who helped launch the federal lawsuit after the Board of Elections and Registration scrubbed him from the voting rolls in 2015.
“We’re one of many poorest counties within the nation, and we’re paying this legal professional and he is in Atlanta creating legal guidelines to additional limit our voting rights,” he mentioned.
Protesters demand motion, and get it
Final week, 40 or so protesters, many sporting “Black Voters Matter” T-shirts, took to the steps of the Hancock County Courthouse in Sparta. Their placards left no thriller as to their expectations of the Board of Commissioners at its common assembly:
“Fleming does not care about Hancock”
“A vote for him is a vote towards us”
“Fireplace Fleming! Shield our vote!”
“Barry must be suppressed”
The commissioners opted to ask Fleming to step down, although their reasoning isn’t clear: The minutes point out his future with the county was determined in an hourlong govt session closed to the general public.
“I do not suppose it wants dialogue,” Commissioner Ted Reid, who was within the session, informed CNN. “Mr. Fleming was requested to resign by unanimous consent.”
They are saying solely, “Unanimous consent by Commissioners to ask Mr. Fleming for resignation,” and add that “whereas the seek for county legal professional companies is in course of,” any authorized issues shall be addressed by a companion from Fleming’s legislation agency outdoors Augusta.
CNN reached out to all the commissioners named within the minutes. BOC Chairwoman Sistie Hudson, BOC clerk Borderick Foster and Commissioners Gloria Cooper, Steve Hill and Randolph Clayton didn’t return CNN’s emails or cellphone calls searching for remark.
Reid didn’t know if Fleming had acquiesced to the BOC’s request, he mentioned Monday, however native media reviews point out Fleming stepped down final week. Fleming, who additionally serves as county legal professional in Burke, Glascock and Putnam counties and has represented a number of small Georgia cities, didn’t return CNN’s requests for remark.
Talking to the lawmaker after a closed-door session on election payments, WXIA reported Fleming mentioned he felt no animus towards the county.
“None in any respect. They’re good folks, and if I might ever do something sooner or later to assist them, I would be pleased to do it,” he mentioned.
Individuals protesting his proposed voting laws “misunderstand” a lot of its elements, he mentioned, in accordance with the station, which offered no elaboration.
Abrams says laws targets Black voters
“The one connection that we will discover is that extra folks of colour voted, and it modified the end result of elections in a path that Republicans don’t like,” Abrams informed CNN.
“If elections had been like coastal cities,” Fleming wrote, “absentee balloting can be the shady a part of city down close to the docks you do not need to wander into.”
Voters nonetheless really feel the sting of being burned
Nearly all the voters focused within the purge had been African American. When resident Larry Webb, who’s Black, went to the BOER to problem White voters he knew had died or moved out of the county, emails revealed within the lawsuit confirmed voting officers didn’t take Webb’s challenges critically. In addition they declined to ship deputies to the White voters’ houses except Webb paid $50 a pop, the place the BOER had despatched deputies to Black voters’ houses as a courtesy, Webb informed CNN.
Responding to the lawsuit, the election board “strenuously” denied violating any legal guidelines, together with focusing on Black voters.
The federal court docket reinstated lots of the purged voters to the rolls and administered a consent decree, appointing an examiner “who will overview the BOER’s actions relating to listing upkeep and voter challenges based mostly on residency” and make suggestions on how one can adjust to state legislation, a court docket order mentioned.
Examiner Gary Spencer, an Atlanta legal professional, informed CNN in December the county has been “form of noneventful” since his appointment. For a lot of residents, although, it is powerful to overlook current historical past.
“What they did was past voter suppression. If one thing is mistaken along with your voter registration, they need to name you and inform you what’s mistaken. What they had been doing is taking you off the rolls, and also you would not discover out till the election,” Webb informed CNN. “They had been making Black votes disappear.”