QUITMAN, GA – Yesterday, supporters of Stacey Abrams called out Brian Kemp’s history of voter suppression in events across the state.
In Brooks County, “Quitman 10+2” members and other community leaders held a press conference sharing their testimony about Brian Kemp’s record of intimidation tactics and attempts to stop Black Georgians from making their voices heard at the polls.
In Atlanta, Black elected officials, and business, faith, and community leaders held a press conference to discuss how Brian Kemp has failed Black Georgians and how Stacey Abrams has shown up to ensure that Black Georgians have a leader who will fight to support their priorities.
HIGHLIGHTS FROM QUITMAN
In 2010, then-Secretary of State Kemp launched an investigation after the “Quitman 10+2” organized to flip the majority-white school board. Kemp sent armed investigators door-to-door in Black neighborhoods to arrest and charge them despite having no evidence of voter fraud. After four years, the charges against the “Quitman 10+2” were dropped but Kemp’s actions led some members of the “Quitman 10+2” to contemplate suicide and some Black residents in Quitman to never return to the polls to vote.
Key quotes from the “Quitman 10+2” press conference can be read below:
“I’m here today because Brian Kemp has the audacity to return to our city of Quitman to campaign. Georgia needs to remember the dark side of what happened in Quitman,” said Dr. Nancy Dennard. “While he was Secretary of State, Brian Kemp sent armed law enforcement agents to our homes – myself and 11 others – and we were arrested and taken to court on false charges…We went to court four times before eventually a judge and jury decided there was no guilt. Exonerated, the prosecutor erased all the other charges against the other 11, but Brian Kemp continued, in his position as Secretary of State and State Election Board continued to have an open case…Four years of character assassination, four years of emotional turmoil, four years of our community being harassed.”
“I’m appalled by the audacity of Brian Kemp to come to Quitman, Georgia — the town where he tried to keep me from being on the Board of Education, the town where he arrested and investigated twelve people,“ said Diane Thomas. “Brian Kemp decided to investigate us so that his counterparts could shut us up. And when they investigated us, their findings said there was nothing wrong. But [Kemp] did not even look at these findings and say, ‘We are going to drop this.’ He had us arrested…Brian Kemp had five agencies come to my house after I had won and my vote was certified. To me, I thought I was done. But not according to Brian Kemp. They drove up to my house like I was a killer, like I had stolen something.”
“For four years…Quitman 10+2 had to undergo constant scrutiny, intimidation, and medical issues that are ongoing right now because or as a result of the voter suppression that was brought to us by, the then-Secretary of State, Brian Kemp and the now-current governor, the same Brian Kemp,” said Gladys Lee. “Brian Kemp has shown us who he is. He has come to Quitman, Georgia where he has tried to destroy the lives of 12 people, plus all of the citizens, to have a fundraiser…But, nevertheless, we will not be silenced, Brian Kemp. We are taxpayers, we are stakeholders, we are property owners here in Brooks County. We will not be silenced as Georgians. Make your plans to vote early. I’m making my plan — the Lord willing. Early voting starts Monday, October 17th. Plan. Get your ride. Drive yourself. If you have to start early and walk, go to the polls and exercise your right to vote.”
HIGHLIGHTS FROM ATLANTA
Speakers at the Atlanta press conference highlighted Stacey’s plans for supporting Black-owned small businesses, expanding access to affordable housing and healthcare, creating more education and job training opportunities, and instituting criminal justice and public safety reforms that will help build One Georgia, where all Georgians will have the opportunity to thrive.
Key quotes from the Atlanta press conference can be read below:
“The truth is, all of the men that you see standing behind me represent our community,” said State Representative El-Mahdi Holly. “They are working alongside every day to make sure that everybody in our community has the opportunity to vote. Now is the time that we step up to power and make [our] voices known by casting our ballot and pulling out for early voting because we know that Senate Bill 202, signed by Stacey Abrams’ opponent [Brian Kemp] makes it harder for Black and brown folks to vote [and] makes it harder for people in working class communities that can’t take off to go and vote.”
“We have the risk of losing healthcare. We have the risk of losing our quality of life. We have the risk of being shot down by gunfire. All of this under this governor [Brian Kemp],” said Bishop Reginald T. Jackson, presiding prelate of the Sixth Episcopal District of the African Methodist Episcopal Church. “Black mortality is among the highest in the nation. But more than that, we also have a greater risk of losing our right to vote. And that’s really what I’m wanting to emphasize today. How dare this governor seek to delude us to believe that he is a champion of democracy? In 2020, Black people turn out in monumental numbers. What was the response? This state legislature, in order to punish Black voters for turning out in large numbers, passed SB 202 and had the audacity to call it The Election Integrity Act. But, where is the integrity?”
“The Republican party has been utilizing absentee ballots for almost 20 years now,” said State Representative William Boddie, candidate for Georgia Commissioner of Labor. “But, when our Democratic voters across the state of Georgia, Black and brown people, utilize absentee ballots to vote during a global pandemic, all of a sudden, it fails to live up to integrity. What about the integrity of the last 20 years of absentee ballots? What about us just getting out to vote because we know voting is the way to give us a voice? What about Black and brown men coming together to vote for the best candidates on the ballot? What about minority communities realizing that they have a voice and a vote and acting on it?… We will show the state of Georgia that Black, brown, and minority communities stand in unison with everyone to get out of the vote and vote for the best candidate to get the job done for all of Georgia.”
“Lawyers across this state will come together to protect our right to vote…if [voters] are challenged, we will challenge them back. If there is a fight to be had, we are here to fight it,” said attorney Mauwli Davis. “Black men for so long have been at the bottom, considered less than, and nothing, but here we are– we are still standing and fighting. We are still committed. We are still building families, businesses, and communities, and we will be a part of this election process, and our voices and votes will be heard.”