About 40 African-American senior citizens in Georgia boarded a bus Monday (Oct. 15) in Jefferson County, Ga. that was taking them to vote when officials ordered them to get off the bus according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. A county clerk had called the county-run senior center in Louisville, Georgia, after learning the group Black Votes Matter had offered to take residents to the polls.
The seniors agreed to depart the bus and planned to vote later.
As the senior citizens left the bus, they vowed to get a ride to the polls in a different way, and they jammed to James Brown’s “Say It Loud — I’m Black and Proud” as it blared through speakers. Early voting began Monday across the state of Georgia, where Democrat Stacey Abrams and Republican Brian Kemp are running a nearly dead heat race for governor. If Abrams is elected, she would become the first African American woman governor in US history.
An official from Jefferson County said there were concerns that Black Votes Matter, a nonpartisan group, was involved in “political activity,” which wasn’t allowed at the county-sponsored event at the senior center. The Democratic Party’s county chairwoman had helped organize the event.
“Jefferson County administration felt uncomfortable with allowing senior center patrons to leave the facility in a bus with an unknown third party,” County Administrator Adam Brett told the Journal-Constitution. “No seniors at the Jefferson County senior center were denied their right to vote,” he felt the need to clarify.
LaTosha Brown, a co-founder of Black Voters Matter, called the county’s action “an intimidation tactic.” She said her group held the event only to encourage seniors to vote, when some asked if they could be taken to an early-voting location.