Friday, September 14, 2007

Selma: Day of Witness To Hate Crimes

By Chapin Gray and Jim Toweill (from

Selma, AL - Over 100 activists, youth and community organizers met at the 21st Century Youth Leadership Center outside Selma, Alabama, July 14 to witness the aftermath of a recent attack on the center. The 21st Century Youth Leadership Movement is an organization that helps train African-American youth for future leadership roles in their communities.

In March, while thousands, including big-name politicians and civil rights leaders, rallied to commemorate Bloody Sunday - the march for voting rights in 1965 that was met with fierce police brutality - vandals broke into the center, trashing rooms, destroying office equipment, pulling plumbing from ceilings, cutting appliance cords and spray painting racial slurs and obscenities on the walls, even severing gas lines. This resulted in a total of $200,000 worth of damage.

This is not the first hate crime committed against members and leaders of the 21st Century Youth Leadership Movement. Cars were firebombed outside the law offices of organizers Hank and Rose Sanders at the height of the “Joe Gotta Go” campaign against Selma’s incumbent republican candidate for mayor, Joe Smitherman, in 2000.

The progressive local African-American radio station has been the target of multiple attacks, and both the tower and the station itself have been set fire to and burned down. Road signs for the nearby Martin Luther King Drive have been shot up repeatedly, as has the grave of Jimmy Lee Jackson, whose murders sparked the march on Selma in 1965.

Read the whole article and see pictures of the damage here.

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