A county attorney in Georgia who represented a majority Black county was removed from his post after protesters called for his firing. What did he do, you ask? Well, he tried to suppress the vote of his constituents.
According to CNN, state Rep. Barry Fleming, (R-Harlem) was one of the many Republicans in the state who co-signed a series of legislations that would enact stricter voting requirements in the state. These restrictions would disproportionately affect Black voters, and I guess Fleming forgot that he was also the attorney for Hancock County.
Fun fact about Hancock County: 7 out of 10 residents are Black.
Predictably, they didn’t take too kindly to their county attorney being on board with suppressing their vote. Voter suppression was already so bad in the county that residents will cast votes under the eye of a federal examiner this year as a result of the county being accused of unfairly removing Black voters from the rolls in a federal lawsuit.
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“So many people in the county didn’t know he was the attorney. Now, some Blacks in the community who ... have an understanding of things are infuriated,” Johnny Thornton, who helped launch the federal lawsuit regarding the voter rolls, told CNN. “We’re one of the poorest counties in the country, and we’re paying this attorney and he’s in Atlanta creating laws to further restrict our voting rights.”
Last week, a group of approximately 40 protesters pulled up to the Hancock County Courthouse with signs and shirts calling for Fleming to be fired. Sure enough, during the scheduling meeting between the county commissioners, he was.
The commissioners opted to ask Fleming to step down, though their reasoning is not clear: The minutes indicate his future with the county was decided in an hourlong executive session closed to the public.
“I don’t think it needs discussion,” Commissioner Ted Reid, who was in the session, told CNN. “Mr. Fleming was asked to resign by unanimous consent.”
Asked why, Reid said the commission had released a statement, but he was referring to the commission meeting’s minutes, which are unofficial and provide no rationale.
They say only, “Unanimous consent by Commissioners to ask Mr. Fleming for resignation,” and add that “while the search for county attorney services is in process,” any legal matters will be addressed by a partner from Fleming’s law firm outside Augusta.
For his part, Fleming had no ill will regarding his firing and told WXIA that “Hancock County is a great place,” after losing his position. He went on to say that the protesters “misunderstand” the voting rights legislation but didn’t provide any information to clear up the “misunderstanding.”
The only one who seems to misunderstand the legislation seems to be Fleming. I don’t know how you can argue that putting obstacles for Black people to get the polls is a good thing for Black people. The math just ain’t mathing.