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Context of 'June 2011 and After: Ohio Landlord Puts ‘White Only’ Sign on Swimming Pool, Says She Is Defending Her ‘White Rights’'

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John Tanner, the head of the civil rights division’s Voting Rights Section (VRS) in the Justice Department, writes a four-page letter to Nick A. Soulas, a civil prosecutor in Franklin County, Ohio. The letter is a notification that Tanner is ordering the closure of a VRS investigation into the unbalanced distribution of voting machines in Franklin County, which contains the large urban area of Columbus. Complaints had been filed alleging that districts with a predominance of white voters received a disparately larger number of voting machines than districts with a predominance of African-American voters. Although that disparity has been proven, Tanner writes that the disparity does not violate the Voting Rights Act (see August 6, 1965). The letter essentially defends the disparity, arguing that the use of such disparate numbers of machines is acceptable. It also praises the Franklin County Board of Elections for buying approximately 2,100 new voting machines. Sources, including a VRS staffer who left the section in late 2004, will later tell the citizen journalism project ePluribus Media (ePM) that many inside and outside the VRS found the letter “repugnant.” Moreover, they will tell the ePM researchers that the DOJ almost never writes such a letter: when it finishes an investigation it deems unworthy of pursuing, it merely sends a letter informing the involved parties that it is closing the investigation. For Tanner to write and send such a letter is highly unusual. And, Tanner’s is the only signature on the letter. No staff attorneys sign off on the letter. Sources will tell ePM that the lone signature apparently indicates that Tanner was the only person working the investigation. Section chiefs such as Tanner almost never handle investigations. ePM will say that the letter presents what it calls “convoluted excuses for why black voters didn’t have enough machines and white voters did.” [US Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division, 6/29/2005 pdf file; ePluribus Media, 5/7/2007]

Entity Tags: Nick A. Soulas, Civil Rights Division (DOJ), County of Franklin (Ohio), Franklin County Board of Elections (Ohio), John Tanner, Voting Rights Section (DOJ), ePluribus Media, Voting Rights Act of 1965

Timeline Tags: Civil Liberties

US Commission on Civil Rights logo.US Commission on Civil Rights logo. [Source: US Commission on Civil Rights]The US Commission on Civil Rights (USCCR) hosts its national conference in Washington. The conference is being boycotted by a number of civil rights organizations because, they say, the organization has become a “sham” operated by conservatives hostile to civil rights. “I’m not attending the conference. I think it’s a sham,” Wade Henderson, president of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, said two days ago. The USSCR was created in 1957 to oppose racial discrimination against African-Americans and has traditionally been associated with a pro-civil rights record. However, the Bush administration stacked it with conservatives opposed to civil rights; in recent years, the organization has spent much of its time pursuing charges of “reverse racism,” defending racial profiling, and opposing measures designed to grant equal rights to gay and lesbian citizens. The conference hosts panel discussions on how family structure perpetuates racial and ethnic disparities; how education reform can address community issues; whether legal tactics for combating discrimination should be combined with other tactics; and whether the commission should continue operations after this year. Henderson says that since this is the last year for the Bush-era conservatives to dominate the organization, they, particularly Chairman Gerald Reynolds, are mounting a final attempt to implement their agenda. “This is Gerald Reynolds’ last ditch effort to give legitimacy and luster to his failed tenure,” Henderson says. [TPM Muckraker, 9/13/2010; TPM Muckraker, 9/14/2010] In the days before the conference, Reynolds said the federal government should cut back its efforts to combat discrimination, and leave such efforts to local governments and private organizations. [Washington Times, 9/10/2010; TPM Muckraker, 9/13/2010] The conference will be dominated by speakers from conservative organizations, many of which explicitly oppose civil rights. All of the panels will be hosted by commission conservatives; one Democratic commission nominee, Michael Yaki, issues a statement condemning the decision to disallow Democrats to host panels, and says the entire conference promises to be “woefully short on civil rights.” Yaki says, “The topics are extremely narrow and do not begin to address the issues raised in the 21st century—such as immigration backlash on our Hispanic community, Islamophobia since 9/11, gay and lesbian rights, just to name a few—much less those issues that still linger from the last 50 years since the commission’s inception.” [TPM Muckraker, 9/13/2010; TPM Muckraker, 9/14/2010]

Entity Tags: Wade Henderson, Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, Gerald Reynolds, Michael Yaki, Bush administration (43), US Commission on Civil Rights

Timeline Tags: Domestic Propaganda

’White Only’ sign posted on Ohio landlord Jamie Hein’s swimming pool.’White Only’ sign posted on Ohio landlord Jamie Hein’s swimming pool. [Source: Ohio Civil Rights Commission / ABC News]Cincinnati, Ohio, landlord Jamie Hein is accused of discriminating against an African-American girl by putting a “white only” sign on the fence surrounding her swimming pool. Hein explains that the sign is an antique, intended only as a decoration, and she is “stick[ing] up for my white rights.” Hein’s sign reads: “Public Swimming Pool. White Only.” It is dated 1931 and is from Alabama. Hein says she collects antiques and was given the sign as a gift. She also says that even though the sign says the pool is public, her pool is on her property and “everybody has to ask before getting in my pool.” Michael Gunn has filed a complaint with the Ohio Civil Rights Commission against Hein. A tenant in one of Hein’s properties, Gunn explains: “We invited my daughter, who is African-American, to visit and swim in the pool for [a] Memorial Day weekend [party]. The owner, Jamie Hein, accused my daughter of making the pool ‘cloudy’ because she used chemicals in her hair. Days later, she posted a sign on the gate to the pool which reads, ‘Public Swimming Pool, White Only.’” Hein denies that she put the sign up in response to Gunn’s daughter, and says it was already in place when she opened her pool for the party, but when the gate is open, the sign cannot be easily seen. Gunn says that his family previously “had unrestricted access to the pool area,” but Hein denies this, saying that everyone must ask permission before swimming in her pool. Gunn says that after the incident, he moved out of the property “in order to not expose my daughter to the sign and the humiliation of the message.” On September 29, the Ohio Civil Rights Commission finds that Hein did violate the Ohio Civil Rights Act by posting the sign, but she files a request for the decision to be reconsidered. After that, the sign is stolen. Hein, who says she has no problem with anyone’s race, tells a reporter: “I’ve never said anything to that child. If I have to stick up for my white rights, I have to stick up for my white rights. It goes both ways.” The commission finds that the posting of such a sign “restricts the social interaction between Caucasians and African-Americans and reinforces discriminatory actions aimed at oppressing people of color.” If Hein loses her request for reconsideration, the case will be referred to the Ohio attorney general and charges could be filed against Hein. [Associated Press, 12/13/2011; ABC News, 12/15/2011; United Press International, 12/15/2011] In January 2012, the Ohio Civil Rights Commission will unanimously vote not to reconsider its ruling, without discussing the issue. [The Blaze, 1/12/2012; New York Daily News, 1/12/2012]

Entity Tags: Jamie Hein, Ohio Civil Rights Commission, Michael Gunn

Timeline Tags: Domestic Propaganda

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