Georgia mayor fed up with segregation in his small town, takes it to the grave

Mayor Rufus Davis has retained attorney Benjamin Crump to desegregate a city-owned cemetery in Camilla, Georgia. On Wednesday, Dec. 20, Crump issued a formal demand to remove the cemetery fence that divides Blacks from Whites within 30 days or the city will face legal action.

He issued a formal demand letter to the city of Camilla to remove a fence that segregates the Oakview Cemetery. The city came under fire recently when mayor Davis retained Crump on Dec. 18 to represent him in an ongoing feud with city officials to end “segregationist practices,” specifically a fence that separates Blacks from Whites in the city-owned cemetery.

Despite the city’s majority racial makeup percentage of African Americans, there is an ongoing practice by Camilla City Hall — composed of members from the white minority of the city — to refuse to bury people of color next to Whites in the cemetery in question.

In this context, the demand letter is a formal notice requiring that the city remove the fence and begin to reverse the segregationist practices long-instilled by city officials. If the terms in the demand letter are not met by the deadline of 30 days, attorney Crump has agreed to take legal action and represent mayor Davis in court against the city.

Here is a copy of the letter in full:

December 19, 2017

Via Certified Mail Return Receipt Requested

City of Camilla

City Hall

30 East Broad Street

Camilla, Georgia 31730

Attn: Records Custodian

Re: Notice to Preserve Evidence Regarding the Investigation of Discrimination in Camilla, Georgia

To Whom It May Concern:

Our law firm represents Mr. Rufus Davis and several citizens of Camilla, Georgia. We are currently investigating the City of Camilla for its alleged pattern and practice of discrimination, segregation, and potential financial irregularities. Your agency is the current custodian of evidence that may be related to our investigation.

This letter requests your immediate action to preserve any evidence relating to these allegations including, but not limited to, all city contracts for employment, employment records of City personnel, all records relating to hiring and termination of City employees, all notes and records pertaining to potential applicants, all records and communications related to the Oakview Cemetery, and any photographs, videos, notes, audio, and/or written communications related to these allegations.

Please ensure that such items remain in the same and unchanged condition, to preserve and prevent the spoliation of evidence for litigation purposes. Failure to preserve this material will result in a request for a spoliation instruction at any trial in this matter.

In addition, under the Georgia Open Records Act§ 50.18. 70 et seq., I am requesting an opportunity to inspect or to produce copies of the following public records:

1.      A list of all vendors that have contracted business with the City over the past ten years;

2.      A list of all jobs that have been posted and billed by the city over the last ten years;

3.      A current roster of all city employees, including their name, title, ethnicity and pay;

4.      Copies of all contracts involving the City Manager’s employment, including the most recent;

5.      Signed copy of contract with any and all search firms involved with the hiring of the most recent City Manager;

6.      All Contracts, letters, or communications regarding the establishment, sale and/or transfer of the Camilla CNS venture; and

7. A list of all institutions holding any City of Camilla assets along with amounts and duration of each account.

The Georgia Open Records Act requires a response time within three business days. If access to the records I am requesting will take longer than three days, please contact me in writing with information about when I might expect copies of the requested records.

If you deny any or all of this request, please cite each specific exemption you feel justifies the refusal to release the information and notify me of the appeal procedures available to me under the law.

Last, I am requesting the immediate removal of the fence in the City’s Oakview Cemetery within thirty days of your receipt of this letter. While this action will not resolve the issue of desegregating the cemetery, it does remove the negative symbolism represented for decades by its existence.

Please feel free to contact me at [redacted] with any inquiries regarding this request. Thank you for your prompt attention to this matter.

Respectfully,

BEN CRUMP LAW, PLCC

Yvette Caslin
Yvette Caslin

I'm a writer, image architect & significance marketer. Love photojournalism, creative expression & originality.



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