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Markel Hutchins

Markel Hutchins

From the AJC.com:

The feud between rival factions of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference escalated to new heights Tuesday, with charges of vandalism leveled at one participant in the dispute.

The Rev. Markel Hutchins said Tuesday that he is the legitimate president of the SCLC and has the right to weld shut and change the locks on some of the buildings on the doors of the headquarters on Auburn Avenue.

“I am the person responsible for SCLC … and to secure the office of the property,” Hutchins said. “They claimed we broke into the office. I cannot break into my own office.”

Hutchins on Monday night went to the SCLC offices and removed some equipment and computers, and he had a bolt welded to the back door and the gates padlocked.

He said he waited until nightfall because he could not do so when the staff was still in the building.

He said he also would take out arrest warrants for the SCLC staff who removed the lock when they showed up this morning for work.

He accelerated the rhetoric between two factions fighting for control over the organization by accusing his opponents of being “renegades and dissidents.”

That faction includes the Rev. Bernice King, the youngest child of SCLC co-founder the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.

Hutchins has insisted for several months that he is a board member for the decades-old civil rights group, even though a judge has said the vote that put him on the board was void.

“Hutchins has no right to be on SCLC property. His conduct of vandalizing and damaging SCLC property proves that Hutchins will do anything to try to control the SCLC,” chairwoman Sylvia Tucker, of Virginia, said. “I am troubled by this conduct. It is the act of [a] reckless individual. Markel Hutchins has stated that he would take over SCLC. He has stated that he would be president, and like a dictator or bully in a foreign land, who takes power by violence, Hutchins entered the headquarters after knocking in the back door, had the doors to the headquarters welded shut and chained.”

Hutchins ran for SCLC president last year but lost to King. Hutchins said he was among 20 people added to the board earlier this year by a faction led by ousted chairman Raleigh Trammell. A judge has since ruled that those decisions were void. There is a motion pending in Fulton Superior Court demanding that Hutchins, Trammell and several other former board members be prohibited from saying they are still on the board.

According to attorney Charles Mathis, Hutchins went to the SCLC headquarters on Auburn Avenue between 9 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. Monday. He had with him a locksmith and a welder, and he was seen taking equipment from the building.

“APD was called. They did nothing to stop his reckless conduct and criminal conduct. He seized the SCLC office and we are dealing with it,” Mathis said.

The APD declined to comment until it talks to the city.

“The SCLC headquarters contains valuable articles which depict the civil rights movement,” Tucker said. “Hutchins’ acts have breached security and placed those items in jeopardy. Hutchins’ actions do violence to the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Enough is enough; it is time that we stop Markel Hutchins and the dictators whom he serves. They have no respect for democracy or the judicial process.”

Read the full story here.

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