King salute has multiple messages - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

King salute has multiple messages

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January 17, 2005

Tifton-- Residents also spent the day commemorating Dr. Martin Luther King as they marched through the streets of city. But their message was two-fold.

First to celebrate King's legacy, and second to demand the Tift County Board of Education right what they say is an act of injustice and violation of ethics.

President Pat Melton says the annual NAACP march in memory of Dr. Martin Luther King has taken on greater significance this year. The marchers want to send a clear message to newly re-elected School Board Chairman Richard Golden and those who elected him.

"We are somewhat shocked, embarrassed, humiliated," says Melton.

In April, Golden was charged with aggravated assault and felony criminal damage to property after he fired a shotgun at the car of a man he caught fishing at his private pond. Last month Golden entered a guilty plea to lesser charges and was sentenced to three years probation.

Tuesday board members voted to give him his position back. "The message that the School Board sent is telling our students that the students have to have a zero tolerance, but then we can have a chairman that does such actions like that," Melton says.

"If we're going to really enforce children to do right, and teachers to be accountable, then we also need to have our board members to be accountable as well," says protester Rue'Nette Melton.

Now protestors are calling for the entire community to come together and demand Golden step down as chairman, and re-sign his position on the board.

"This is not a black issue, this is not a white issue, it's not an NAACP issue," Melton says.

But it is an issue protestors are taking seriously, and until they get the results they desire, they say they'll continue to fight, and display zero tolerance for Richard Golden.

The Tifton chapter of the NAACP has also sent a letter to the state ethics commission urging immediate action to correct what they say is a "miscarriage of justice." Attempts to contact Golden were unsuccessful.

posted at 4:15PM by dave.miller@walb.com