Roughly 40 black senior citizens were on a bus from the senior center to a polling location in Georgia on Monday when they were ordered off the bus, Politically Georgia reported. People in the area are calling the decision voter suppression.
The group Black Votes Matter was using a bus owned and operated by Jefferson County. When the bus went to leave the senior center parking lot, the center's director said they had to get off. The reason? Political events aren't allowed at county-sponsored events.
The main concern about the caravan was that it was organized by Jefferson County Democratic Party Chairwoman Diane Evans.
“Jefferson County administration felt uncomfortable with allowing senior center patrons to leave the facility in a bus with an unknown third party,” County Administrator Adam Brett said in a statement. “No seniors at the Jefferson County senior center were denied their right to vote.”
According to LaTosha Brown, a co-founder of Black Voters Matter, the group had received prior permission to have the event at the senior center.
“We knew it was an intimidation tactic,” Brown said. “It was really unnecessary. These are grown people.”
Apparently someone saw the words "The South is Rising" on the side of the bus and decided to make a complaint with county officials.
“It was discouraging that they weren’t able to vote,” said Evans, who was on the bus. “When they’re suppressing votes, they’re going to come up with any kind of excuse about what your problem is.”
Evans argued that the event was not political in nature and sponsors didn't tell citizens who to vote for. She also said she planned this event as a private citizen and pastor in the community, not as Party Chairwoman.
The seniors on the bus did disembark but they plan to find a way to vote.
“The seniors were so resolved. They said: ‘We’re going to vote. Nobody’s going to stop us,’ ” Brown said. “It wasn’t the first time someone has denied them or tried to prevent them from voting.”