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The Rev. Markel Hutchins said Wednesday he will not seek criminal charges against those who removed padlocks from gates at the Southern Christian Leadership Conference headquarters.

But those on the other side of the fight for control of the SCLC said Wednesday they are still considering bringing criminal trespass charges against Hutchins for welding shut the headquarter’s back door and for chaining and padlocking three gates to a rear parking lot.

Hutchins – an ally of ousted SCLC chairman Raleigh Trammell and former treasurer Spiver Gordon – said a faction of the organization’s board named him interim president, chief executive officer and chief financial officer, and he was authorized to be in the building and was responsible for its security.

The other side – which is backing president-elect the Rev. Bernice King – says he is not the president. He is not on the SCLC board either, the Rev. Bernard LaFayette said.

Hutchins said he went into the SCLC offices shortly after 9 p.m. Monday. He had a welder attach bolts to the back door so it could not be opened and locked up the parking lot. The police were called, but the officer declined to do anything, saying the dispute seemed to be a civil matter and not criminal.

This incident was just the latest in a many-months-long fight over who is on the SCLC Board of Directors and who is not. It began when some board members first tried to remove then-chairman Raleigh Trammell of Dayton, Ohio, and then-treasurer Spiver Gordon of Eutaw, Ala., because of suspicions the two men had mismanaged SCLC funds. The FBI, the Alabama Attorney General’s Office and the Fulton District Attorney’s Office are conducting criminal investigation into the allegations.

At the same time, Fulton Superior Court Judge Alford Dempsey has scheduled a hearing on a civil case that concerns who is in charge.

Hutchins told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution on Wednesday that his decision to go to the headquarters Monday night was part of a plan to force the other side of the pending lawsuit and the judge to call a hearing.

“That hearing on the second [of June] will put an end to this mess,” Hutchins said.

Hutchins said he used a key to get inside the building Monday night and that he did not break in.

“There was no burglary. I took a key and went in the door,” Hutchins said.

LaFayette and other board members say Hutchins doesn’t have a key.

Read more here.


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