Pubdate: Tue, 21 Dec 2004
Source: Ledger-Enquirer (GA)
Copyright: 2004 Ledger-Enquirer
Author: Kelli Esters
Bookmark: (Racial Issues)


ATLANTA - On Monday morning, the Rev. Jesse Jackson asked people across
the country to pull their money out of financial institutions in
Columbus until the man who shot Kenneth Walker is federally prosecuted
and Georgia adopts anti-racial profiling legislation.

"We call for economic disinvestment from Columbus, Ga., until such
time as that community is ready to stand for the end to racial
violence and assure all citizens equal protection under the law,"
Jackson told about 50 people after the monthly breakfast meeting of
the Concerned Black Clergy of Metro Atlanta. He also announced a march
in Columbus on Jan. 15 to protest "the killing of Kenneth Walker
without consequences."

Four men -- Rainbow/PUSH President William Howell; his field director,
Manuel Whitfield; National Action Network President Antonio Carter;
and Interdenominational Ministerial Alliance President Wayne Baker --
traveled from Columbus and stood with Jackson as he made his statement.

News of the announcement surprised other black leaders from Columbus,
including Rep. Calvin Smyre, D-Columbus, the most influential black
legislator in the state.

"I find myself in a peculiar situation," Smyre said. "I was aware of
plans being made for a march, but no one has talked to me about a
boycott as it relates to us locally."

Surprised by news

He said a conference call involving local civil rights leaders and
Jackson's people was held on Dec. 14. Among those on the line were
state Sen. Ed Harbison and state Rep. Carolyn Hugley, both of Columbus.

Harbison, D-Columbus, president of the Legislative Black Caucus, said
he was not aware that a call for a disinvestment was coming.

"We want to be sure we're on the same page instead of just saying
we're going to do something," Harbison said.

The veteran legislator said there is a need to continue applying
pressure on authorities since there are "real strong feelings that
justice has been ignored" in the Walker case.

Councilor Nathan Suber, an insurance agent, pointed out that federally
prosecuting Glisson and adopting state legislation to combat racial
profiling is out of the control of local government.

"We are doing everything we know to do," Suber said. "But we're
between a rock and a hard place. I think all of us want to see
something done."

Walker, 39, was fatally shot in December 2003 by then-Muscogee County
sheriff deputy David Glisson during a traffic stop that was part of a
drug investigation. Last month, a state grand jury decided not to
criminally indict Glisson for the shooting. Muscogee County Sheriff
Ralph Johnson fired Glisson for not following proper procedure on the
night he killed Walker.

Columbus' black elected officials and civil rights leaders have
written letters to U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft asking for his
involvement in the case. Earlier this year in the Georgia Assembly, an
anti-racial profiling bill, which was supported by the local
delegation, died in the Senate.

What they want

The disinvestment calls for people to close insurance and bank
accounts at financial institutions, withdraw support from public and
private events and sell stock in publicly held companies based in Columbus.

Urban League President Reginald Pugh also did not know the
disinvestment would be called for, but he has heard the idea before.
He said if there was to be a boycott of any services it should be in
Albany, Ga., where Dougherty County District Attorney Kenneth Hodges
works. There is a lawsuit pending against Hodges, the special
prosecutor, for allowing Glisson to make an unsworn statement before
the grand jury.

"What I'm hoping and praying for is that we get this situation
resolved and Kenneth Hodges comes to his senses," Pugh said. "The best
thing he could do is convene a new grand jury."

Steve Melton, president Columbus Bank & Trust Company, said he hoped
people in Columbus would make up their own minds. "A boycott would
affect too many people, including the black people we employ at CB&T
and the black customers we support," he said. "You can't go into a
community and separate black businesses from white businesses. We are
too dependent on one another."

Greater Columbus Chamber Commerce President Mike Gaymon said it was
not necessary for someone to come from another state to try to find a

"Nothing that is done now is going to bring Kenneth Walker back to
life," he said. "As a community we need to work through this trying
time to see that justice is done." Staff writer Richard Hyatt
contributed to this story.
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