Too Much Blood: Activists Walk When Alabama Pol Uses Selma Remembrance To Praise Voting Restrictions
Thousands march again across the Edmund Pettus Bridge. AP photo
Shameless Inc: Someone should tell Alabama's Attorney General and other clueless Republicans it's not cool to use the commemoration of one of this country's most famous civil rights march - followed by perhaps its most violent police response - to talk up the greatness of photo IDs and other voter suppression tactics most commonly targeting the descendants of those marchers. The gathering Sunday, marking the 52nd anniversary of the "Bloody Sunday" march across Selma's Edmund Pettus Bridge in the name of voting rights, drew thousands of people, including the NAACP's, Moral Monday's and Repairers of the Breach's Rev. William Barber, the Rev. Jesse Jackson and other civil rights activists to a church town hall and re-enactment of the march.
Bizarrely, also turning up was Alabama’s GOP Secretary of State John Merrill, who has a state voter ID law aimed at disenfranchising African-American voters, argued closing scores of motor vehicle offices in majority black areas wouldn't make it even harder for them to get those IDs, blasted automatic voter registration that would "cheapen" the work of civil rights leaders by helping people "too sorry or lazy to get up off of your rear and to go register to vote," and resisted the removal of Confederate symbols because they represent "a way of life that makes us special." At Sunday's event, Merrill's tone-deaf choice to again cite the benefits of voter suppression at an event celebrating voting rights prompted Barber and other attendees to walk out, protesting "the lie of voter fraud."
At a time when Trump et al are normalizing a wide range of hateful and undemocratic acts - including "more voter suppression (than) we've seen since Jim Crow" - Barber said he had to speak up, particularly on that day and on "this historic ground where people died for voting rights." "We can't be polite about this. We can't be casual or cavalier," he said. "If you undermine voting, everything else falls apart."
“Too much blood is on the pews of that church and in these walls for us to sit there and not at least say...'Excuse me, Mr. Secretary of State, you’re wrong.' You cannot have a democracy where voter suppression is normalized, where people will politely let people say to them what they're doing, in their face and in their church, and it's okay," Barber said. "To respect injustice is to be a part of it."
John Lewis famously getting his head cracked open 52 years earlier, for the rights now increasingly threatened