From: Ed Slavin
Subject: URGENT: Northeast Florida Voting Rights Violations -- Suppression of Minority Vote by Closing Universal Primaries on August 30, 2016
Dear Assistant Attorney General Gupta:
A. Thank you again for promptly referring my March 22, 2016 civil rights complaint against Governor RICHARD LYNN SCOTT'S invidiously discriminatory veto of $200,000 in matching grant funds for West Augustine sewers to the office of the United States Attorney for the MIddle District of Florida (which promptly called and wrote me on the morning of March 31, 2016). I was interviewed by an EPA lawyer and investigator on June 23, 2016 (yesterday).
B. I write today about another critical civil rights issue, one affecting more than one million residents of St. Johns and Duval Counties in Northeast Florida, traditional KKK strongholds.
1. In 1998, Florida voters adopted by 64.1% vote (2,239,607 votes) Amendment 11, enacting Article VI, section 5(b) of our Florida Constitution, stating that:
SECTION 5. Primary, general, and special elections.—
(a) A general election shall be held in each county on the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November of each even-numbered year to choose a successor to each elective state and county officer whose term will expire before the next general election and, except as provided herein, to fill each vacancy in elective office for the unexpired portion of the term. A general election may be suspended or delayed due to a state of emergency or impending emergency pursuant to general law. Special elections and referenda shall be held as provided by law.
(b) If all candidates for an office have the same party affiliation and the winner will have no opposition in the general election, all qualified electors, regardless of party affiliation, may vote in the primary elections for that office. History.—Am. S.J.R. 162, 1992; adopted 1992; Am. proposed by Constitution Revision Commission, Revision No. 11, 1998, filed with the Secretary of State May 5, 1998; adopted 1998.
2. Florida Constitution Article VI, section 5(b) has been interpreted by our controversial former Florida Secretary of State Katherine Harris, her successors and our state courts in a manner inconsistent with the Fifteenth Amendment and the Voting Rights Act. "Opposition" does not mean theoretical: a "spoiler," an unknown, impecunious shill, an obscure apolitical person who may receive a few write-in votes on a blank line on a general election ballot is not "opposition" to a major party candidate. The argument by the Democratic and Republican parties to use fictive flimflam "write-in" flummery and dupery to keep their respective primaries closed to "universal primaries" as voters intended is, at best facetious -- so much argle-bargle -- to preserve one-party rule in North Florida and to preserve one-party rule in South Florida. This violates minorities' constitutional rights, at the behest of a few misguided Tallahassee power lawyers and political party leaders.
3. Florida Constitution Article VI, section 5(b) has been interpreted to provide that a shill write-in candidate -- represented by a blank line on the general election ballot, not paying fees, not campaigning, and not having any interest in running or any chance of winning -- is "opposition" and thus enough to disenfranchise people from voting in what would otherwise be universal primaries.
4. This interpretation will result in August 30, 2016 universal primaries for St. Johns County Sheriff and County Commissioner being closed to minorities, mostly Democrats.
5. This interpretation will result in August 30, 2016 universal primary for Duval County (Jacksonville) State's Attorney being closed to minorities, mostly Democrats.
6. St. Johns and Duval Counties are historically segregated counties where racism and the KKK persist, with substantial influence in the Republican Party.
7. St. Augustine, Florida is where the first African-Americans lived, free and slave. This is where the Underground Railroad first ran, starting in 1671, with the Spanish freeing British slaves, leading to the British burning down our town. This is where the first American community founded by freed slaves was founded after the Civil War (Little Africa, now known as Lincolnville, 1866).
8. St. Augustine is where segregationist city and county law enforcement officers arrested Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in 1964, the only place where Dr. King was arrested in Florida and the very last place he was arrested before the 1964 Civil Rights Act was enacted. History teaches that President Lyndon Baines Johnson was able to break a formidable Senate filisbuster as a result of the KKK and law enforcement racist violence on our streets, seen on national and international news, with 180 accredited reporters here covering the events of June, 1964.
9. On June 11, 1964, Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. called this "the most lawless" place in America., writing Rabbi Israel Dressner about the segregationist bullies who ran this place, to include Sheriff LAWRENCE O. DAVIS, a KKK member who deputized KKK members and incarcerated Dr. King and other civil rights activists. On June 18, 1964, Rabbi Dressner and sixteen colleagues (15 other rabbis and an administrator) were arrested for praying, the largest mass arrest of rabbis in American history.
10. The current corrupt St. Johns County Sheriff, DAVID BERNERD SHOAR, f/k/a "HOAR, who is under FBI investigation, is the head of the local political machine. Sheriff DAVID SHOAR actually published a paen to Sheriff LAWRENCE O. DAViS on his website, inter alia falsely stating that Sheriff DAVIS was "exonerated" of corruption charges (he was removed by the Florida State Senate by vote of 44-2) and falsely stating that Sheriff DAVIS "held the town together" when in fact the KKK and law enforcement officers who were KKK members rioted, requiring relief from United States District Court Judge Bryan Simpson. Sheriff SHOAR's website even said that Dr. King was arrested by "federal agents," but that error was temporarily corrected after I wrote him on August 28, 1964, the anniversary of Dr. King's "I have a dream" speech.
11. There were 41 African-American owned businesses in Linoclnville in 1964. None survive. Two (2) of three (3) false statements remain on SHOAR's website, a white-sheeted badge of institutional racism:
One major development that his tenure as Sheriff saw was the civil rights movement, a challenging time for our nation, state and county. In 1963, the Reverend Martin Luther King and his associates came to St. Augustine, the oldest city in the nation. St. Augustine became the site of many demonstrations. During one of these, Dr. King was arrested by deputies and booked into the St. Johns County Jail. Shortly afterwards, Dr. King and others were released from jail.
The climate was stressful in those years, but with Sheriff Davis' leadership the community held together. This nation moved forward after the signing of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
Sheriff Davis was well respected in the community. Many citizens tell stories of his kindness; taking bags of groceries to those who were in need, or helping others get jobs.
Sheriff Davis had been a city police officer for approximately three years prior to taking the Office of Sheriff. He had a deep, abiding commitment to the youth of our county.
Also, he was one of the founders of the Florida Sheriffs Boys Ranch, which grew from a small camp on the banks of the Suwannee River to a working ranch system, serving thousands of Florida's children every year.
In 1970, then Governor Claude Kirk removed Sheriff Davis from office based on allegations made by several individuals. Subsequently, in a trial, Sheriff Davis was found innocent.
Later, at hearings in Tallahassee in front of the Senate, Sheriff Davis was exonerated. By this time, Governor Kirk had appointed Dudley Garrett, to take Sheriff Davis' place.
In the 1972 election, "L.O." Davis tried to regain the office, but lost to Sheriff Garrett. http://www.sjso.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/07/20th-Century.pdf 12. African-American Florida Memorial University was run out of St. Augustine by the KKK by 1968 because it was a center of desegregation activism.
13. Meanwhile, the then-racist St. Augustine City government here annexed land, resulting in intentional diminution of African-American voting strength in St. Augustine from 25% to 12.5%, 1964-2005, in probable violation of the Fifteenth Amendment.
14. When I first publicly objected to this pattern of 15th Amendment violating annexations at a St. Augustine City Commission meeting on April 9, 2005, then-City Manager WILLIAM B. HARRISS threatened me with "arrest" for "disorderly conduct." This was the first time I had ever attended or spoken at a City Commission meeting. I later presented an affidavit from Ms. Sue Neely, who heard his threats -- the members of the City Commission did nothing about it. HARRISS left office in 2010, going to work for Sheriff SHOAR.
15. Intentionally diminishing minority voting strength and disenfranchising African-Americans who had elected Commissioner Moses "Coach" Floyd, our St. Johns County Commission redistricted itself in 1998, eliminating single member districts, changing from seven elected from districts to five elected by all voters but required to live in districts. Tellingly, the County Commission redistricted itself in this manner -- in probable violation of the Fifteenth Amendment --- without a consultant, without a decennial census and outside the ordinary course of business. Again, it did so for the purpose of eliminating single member districts, which had resulted in election of an African-American.
16. After the very unexpected election of an African-American to County Commission in 2008, Sheriff DAVID BERNARD SHOAR and his henchmen campaigned against him. SHOAR succeeded in defeating County Commission J. Kenneth Bryan, an African-American Justice Department retiree, who was our County Commission Chairman, using developer funding and TV advertisements on Fox News in running a 24 year old ingenue, defeating Commissioner Bryan in 2012.
17. Sheriff SHOAR and his henchmen also campaigned against Benjamin Rich, Sr., a retired federal agent, whom they defeated in 2008.
18. Sheriff SHOAR and his allies campaigned against both of these ethical, honorable retired federal employees, in 2008 and 2012, at least in part as retaliation for their First Amendment rights and their support of Fifteenth Amendment rights.
19. The result is that African-Americans here still live in fear, in a a milieu where voting is discouraged and disempowered, including closing of universal primaries guaranteed by Florida and U.S. Constitutions.
20. Please investigate the closing of:
A. the August 30, 2016 Duval County State's Attorney universal primary,
B. St. Johns County Sheriff's universal primary, District 3 County Commission universal primary and Clerk of Courts primary by shill-write-ins in violation of the 14th and 15th Amendments, the Ku Klux Klan Act of 1871, 18 U.S.C. 241 and 243, 42 U.S.C. 1983 and 1985, and the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title VI).
21. Please investigate Florida closed-primary electoral machinations and the developer-driven political machine headed by St. Johns County Sheriff DAVID BERNARD SHOAR. For more on SHOAR and his record of violating citizens' constitutional rights, please consult the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals decision in the Gennusa v. Canova case: http://www.ca11.uscourts.gov/opinions/ops/201213871.pdf , and the 14,000 word New York Times investigation and the PBS Frontline and NBC Dateline investigations at:
http://www.nytimes.com/projects/2013/two-gunshots/ "Two Gunshots on a Summer Night," by Walt Bogdanich and Glenn Silber
http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/death-in-st-augustine/ http://www.nbcnews.com/dateline/full-episode-two-shots-fired-n84816 NBC News Dateline documentary, "Two Shots Fired"
22. Please empower the DoJ Community Relations Service (CRS) to help.
23. Let every vote count.
24. The qualification deadline for the universal primary was Noon today, June 24, 2016.
25. The St. Johns County Supervisor of Elections currently plans to send the ballots to the printer on Tuesday, June 27, 2016.
Thank you for all that you do.
And thank you in advance for helping solve this statewide violation of civil and constitutional rights.
With kindest regards, I am,
St. Augustine, Florida 32085-3084