From the AJC.com:
The complicated struggle for control of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference continued Friday with court filings and accusations that that some SCLC leaders were willing to sacrifice the civil rights group to seize power.
One faction of the SCLC board has asked a judge to order an opposing faction to return more than $12,240 in “illegal and improper” withdrawals from the SCLC’s bank account to pay an attorney to sue other board members and executives.
“Those payments were entirely valid,” said former Fulton Judge Thelma Wyatt Moore, the attorney who filed the suit and received the payments.
She said the decision to withdraw the suit against the board on Friday had nothing to do with court filings on Thursday asking that the money she received be returned.
The SCLC, an organization founded in 1957 and closely associated with civil rights icon Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., is embroiled in an internecine battle that pits a group of board members against a faction led by a recently ousted chairman.
“There is a huge divide,” said Markel Hutchins, who said he was added to the board by one of the groups trying to refashion the panel to its liking.
In January, a group led by ousted Chairman Raleigh Trammell tried to reconstitute the board by removing some members and adding 14, including Hutchins. Hutchins ran for president of the SCLC in October but he was defeated by the Rev. Bernice King — the daughter of Martin Luther King Jr., one of the SCLC founders. She has not taken the position yet.
Questions about the group’s finances were raised last summer. As the scrutiny increased, several board members voted in December to remove Trammell and treasurer Spiver Gordon, who were suspected of misappropriating SCLC funds. Several weeks later, Trammell’s supporters sued to have Trammell, of Dayton, Ohio, and Gordon, of Eutaw, Ala., reinstated and their opponents locked out of the organization.
In response to a series of court filings, the control of the organization switched back and forth. The most recent ruling was issued earlier this week when Judge Alford Dempsey vacated all previous orders and said any changes made since the first of the year were void.
Each faction claims to be legally and morally in charge of the SCLC.
“The spirit of litigiousness, the spirit of Cain and Abel … threaten to bring the SCLC to an untimely demise,” Hutchins said.