June 28, 2000
By Rob Peecher
EATONTON - Between 600 and 800 members of the United Nuwaubian Nation of Moors rallied Tuesday at the Putnam County Courthouse, protesting what the group believes is discrimination against Nuwaubians on the county level. Standing in temperatures exceeding 90 degrees, Nuwaubians chanted, "Fired up!" and "Nuwaubian!" as speakers from their group, the Rainbow/PUSH coalition, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and the Georgia Association of Black Elected Officials talked about racial discrimination and the right to vote."We won the voting rights battle - the county just needs to get the word," said Joe Beasley from the courthouse steps. Beasley, a regional director of Jesse Jackson's Rainbow/PUSH coalition, promised Nuwaubians he would stay with them and help them in their fight against county officials.Tyrone Brooks, a state representative from Atlanta and president of the GABEO, promised that the 700 GABEO members would stand behind the Nuwaubians. Brooks said GABEO members voted unanimously a year ago to support the Nuwaubians."They are as committed as they were a year ago, because they do not appreciate the persecution that is going on here in Putnam County," Brooks said. "We will do whatever it takes to make sure your rights are protected. "We must get involved in this struggle to make sure that our brothers and sisters in Putnam County, Georgia, at Tama-Re are treated with fairness and dignity," Brooks continued. "I'm here to tell the officials of Putnam County here today: Just leave us alone."The rally was held in the wake of two Putnam County Board of Registrars hearings, during which more than 100 Nuwaubians registered to vote in Putnam are having their residency challenged by the county. So far, 36 of them have been purged from the voter rolls, while another 72 cases have been continued to an unspecified date.At least some of those gathered at the courthouse Tuesday were from other parts of the country in town for the Nuwaubians' annual festival, centered around the birthday of Malachi York, the group's leader. His birthday was Monday.The 12-day festival began Friday and ends Tuesday. The rally began with members of the group marching around the courthouse once and ended with them marching around the courthouse nine times, chanting, "AMUN Ma-at," which means "hidden justice" in ancient Egyptian, according to members of the group.Four uniformed Putnam County sheriff's deputies and the sheriff were at the courthouse for crowd control.Another deputy was stationed on a nearby water tower to, "watch the crowd," according to Sheriff Howard Sills.Several Eatonton police officers and Police Chief Kent Lawrence were also on the streets around the courthouse directing traffic and watching the crowd. One man identified as a Nuwaubian was arrested following the rally when he urinated on the sidewalk, Sills said. The man was charged with public indecency.