May 9, 2002
Jan. 15, 1993 - Dwight York, aka Malachi Z. York, buys 476 acres at 404 Shady Dale Road from Arne and Sandra Gay Lassen for $975,000. York and his followers from the Ansaaru Allah Community begin moving from Sullivan County, N.Y., to the property and surrounding communities.
Jan. 1, 1997 - Howard Sills takes office as sheriff of Putnam County.
April 10, 1997 - Nuwaubians refuse to let building inspector J.D. "Dizzy" Adams onto the property to inspect construction. When Adams returns the next day with Sills, the Nuwaubians allow them onto the property, where Adams finds a building under construction that has not been issued a permit. Victor Greig, acting as York's representative in building and zoning matters, is cited for building without a permit. The same day, Adams issues Greig a permit for a 100-by-50-foot metal storage building with limited electricity.
March 9, 1998 - After seeing an Atlanta television news report about the Nuwaubians in which the "Rameses Social Club" is featured, Sills and Adams return to 404 Shady Dale Road, because the Nuwaubians had not secured permits for a nightclub. Nine days later, Greig is cited by Sills and the state fire marshal for violations regarding the nightclub. Rameses is the 100-by-50-foot metal storage building with numerous additions, including bathrooms, extensive lighting and sound equipment, larger dimensions and an Egyptian-style facade.
April 20, 1998 - Magistrate Judge Sylvia Huskins finds Greig guilty of violations of zoning and fire codes and fines him $45,750 - a total calculated for each day that Rameses was open in violation of the codes. The Georgia Court of Appeals later reduces the fine to $2,500 but upholds the conviction.
May 5, 1998 - Sills sues York and others at the property seeking an injunction preventing use of the Rameses nightclub. Also in May, the Nuwaubians file a zoning request in which they announce plans to build an "Egyptian theme park" comparable to Busch Gardens in Florida. That zoning request is denied in November.
Jan. 4, 1999 - Putnam County Attorney Dorothy Adams and law partner and husband Frank Ford file lawsuit 99-CV-1-1, seeking to prevent the Nuwaubians from using the property for anything other than residential or agricultural purposes. Under this lawsuit - which ends three years later - numerous contempt of court and other pleadings are filed by both sides, and a bitter battle between the county and the Nuwaubians over zoning and building permits begins. York and others are named as defendants in the suit, along with 1 to 200 John Does and 1 to 200 Jane Does, representing unnamed Nuwaubians.
May 20, 1999 - Superior Court Judge John Lee Parrott issues a permanent injunction ordering Rameses to be padlocked and not used, and giving Sills the authority to enter the property during certain hours to inspect the building. The order allows for the Nuwaubians to restore the building to its original permitted state or to seek zoning to allow for the nightclub.
June 11, 1999 - As the annual Nuwaubian week-long celebration known as "Savior's Day" - marking York's birthday - approaches, Superior Court Judge Hugh V. Wingfield III orders York to appear in court on a contempt motion filed by the county. York does not appear as ordered June 22. Wingfield also orders several buildings on the property to be padlocked by the sheriff.
June 25, 1999 - Savior's Day celebration begins. Members are barred from entering buildings at the Nuwaubian village but proclaim, "We love the sunshine." Gov. Roy Barnes meets with Sills in Atlanta to discuss the timing of York's contempt hearing during Savior's Day.
June 29, 1999 - With some 500 Nuwaubians packed inside and outside the County Courthouse and another 200 law enforcement officers waiting at nearby locations, York appears in court for the contempt hearing. Wingfield orders the courtroom emptied of all but the principal parties. After two hours behind closed doors, attorneys for both sides emerge claiming agreements were reached. The case, however, will drag on.
Sept. 15, 1999 - Civil rights leader Al Sharpton visits the Nuwaubian village to address a crowd of about 150 Nuwaubians. Sharpton accuses county officials of persecuting Nuwaubians because of York's teachings. York makes a rare appearance before the media and delivers a speech to the crowd in which he calls white people "the devil" and says they should "go home" to Europe.
Feb. 17, 2000 - The brother of actor Wesley Snipes confirms plans to purchase more than 200 acres adjoining the Nuwaubian village, where he plans to build a "security guard training facility." A Snipes spokeswoman says the actor has no connection to the Nuwaubians. The county later denies permit requests that would have cleared the way for the sale of the land to Wesley Rudy Snipes, the actor's brother. A court action filed by the current property owner, Stanley Bishop, is still pending.
May 23, 2000 - Pauline Rogers becomes the second of two women to file child support actions claiming York is the father of her son and daughter. Though a summons was issued, York never appeared in court, and Rogers later dropped the action. The other woman, [Ms. P.], filed her action through the state Department of Human Resources' child support recovery office. Her action claims York is the father of her son. [Ms. P.] still has an action pending against York.
June 15, 2000 - The Putnam County Board of Registrars begins purging primarily Nuwaubians who the county claims no longer or never did live in the county from its voter rolls during what will become a series of meetings. The Nuwaubians claim discrimination and file a federal lawsuit, threatening to hold up the July 18 primary election. A three-judge panel sides with the county on its procedure for purging the voter rolls, allowing the election to take place. Nearly 200 people were challenged, and dozens of Nuwaubians were removed from the voter rolls.
July 18, 2000 - Despite strong opposition from Nuwaubians on election day, Sills wins 72 percent of the vote. Throughout the day, Nuwaubians crowd at intersections in Eatonton encouraging voters to elect Sills' opposition.
Oct. 16, 2000 - Nuwaubian contractor Bernard Foster is charged with slashing the tires on County Attorney Ford's vehicle at a local grocery store. Days before, a hearing had been held during which Ford said the county would issue certain building permits to the Nuwaubians. But when the Nuwaubians attempted to get the permits, the county building inspector said the group provided inadequate information. Foster pleads guilty six months later and is banished from the judicial circuit for three years.
Jan. 1, 2001 - A new slate of county commissioners take office. District 3 Commissioner Steve Layson takes over the chairman position from Ralph Perdomo after defeating Perdomo in November. Sylbie Yon becomes the new commissioner in Layson's former district.
April 27, 2001 - Rainbow/PUSH Coalition leader Jesse Jackson visits the Nuwaubian village, pledging solidarity with Nuwaubians in ongoing zoning and building dispute. Macon Mayor Jack Ellis is among those attending Jackson's speech.
May 4, 2001 - County Commission in a 3-2 vote fires Dorothy Adams as county attorney, claiming the commission wishes to "move in a different direction," though during her four years as county attorney, the county did not lose a lawsuit. Layson and Yon say the firing does not indicate a change in policy toward the Nuwaubians.
Feb. 8, 2002 - A non-jury trial before Wingfield ends 99-CV-1-1. Wingfield gives the Nuwaubians 90 days to provide all necessary information to the county building and zoning office to obtain any building permits still outstanding. York is dismissed from suit as a quit claim deed is filed, giving ownership of the property to nine individuals who, since June 1999, have claimed to be the owners of the property. The check to pay the fee at the clerk's office to record the deed was drafted from the account of the new county attorney's law firm. New County Attorney Bob Prior says he has asked York's attorney to reimburse him the $16.
March 7, 2002 - Now calling the Rameses nightclub a "fellowship hall" on permit applications, the Nuwaubians apply for a building permit that will clear the way for the group to begin using the building for the first time since it was padlocked in 1999. The building does not have to be taken back to its original 100-by-50-foot metal storage building status. Sills appeals the issuance of the permit; the appeal is scheduled to be heard by the Putnam County Planning and Zoning Commission next month.
May 8, 2002 - FBI agents and Putnam County sheriff's officers raid the Nuwaubian village.