Protesters take to the street over sheriff - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Protesters take to the street over sheriff

Sheriff Jimmie Murkerson Sheriff Jimmie Murkerson
Protest leader,  Rev. Cynthia Edwards Protest leader, Rev. Cynthia Edwards
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July 2, 2003

Blakely-- More than thirty people marched through downtown Blakely calling the Early County Sheriff a "slave master." They are upset over a Grand Jury decision last month not to indict Jimmie Murkerson.

They say he used inmates to work for his family and friends and they think he should be punished.

On the steps of the Early County Courthouse, protestors waived signs saying "Early County needs a Sheriff, Not a Slave Master," "Step Down, Step Down Slave Master Jimmie Murkerson Now," "Murkerson's Jail, aka Murkerson Plantation".

Several people watched protestors from across the downtown Blakely square. "I thought this was really stupid," said resident Jennifer Jordan. "Our Sheriff has done nothing wrong. If he had, he would have been indicted."

These protestors say Sheriff Murkerson should have been indicted, but the Grand Jury was intimidated. "Out of 15 indictments, he was not indicted on one," said protestor Rev. Cynthia Edwards. "We are talking video tapes, we are talking about eye witnesses, we are talking about documents that went before a Grand Jury. That tells us justice is not serving us and that was the straw that broke the camel's back."

From the Courthouse to the Early County Jail, the protestors walked one mile. I asked four of them why they were marching. One answered: "For freedom."

When I asked another one why, the reply was: "No comment."

I asked another marcher, "What do you think is going on? "I don't know," was his answer.

"Then why are you marching?" I asked.
"I'm marching with the crew," he said.

"Are you upset with Jimmie Murkerson?"
No I'm not upset. I'm for the right," said another.

"Why are marching?" I asked another protester.
"Have you talked to our spokesperson?"

I said that I had, but that I wanted to talk to folks other than the spokesperson. "Well they have said all I want to say," was the answer I got.

Pastor Cynthia Edwards, president of the Freedom Council in Blakely, is the spokesperson. She says everybody knows why they are marching. "Everybody in Early County know why we are here. Oh they know, oh yes. But they also know in Early County when you have one man ruling, you be careful about what you say, and who you say it to."

And it's fear, organizers say, that is why the Grand Jury did not indict the Sheriff. The protesters yelled, "Come out Murkerson! Come out Murkerson!"

Sheriff Murkerson did not address the protesters outside his jail, and he did not want to talk to us either.

But these people say Murkerson will have to answer to them soon, even if it's at the ballot box. A letter has been sent to the U.S. Attorney for the Middle District, to see if federal charges can be brought against the sheriff.

posted at 4:10PM by dave.miller@walb.com