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Southern Christian Leadership Conference Dispute Boils Over

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Special to the NNPA from the Afro-American Newspaper –

(NNPA) - The feud between two factions of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference has come to a head over an alleged break-in at the group’s Atlanta headquarters. A hearing has been scheduled for June 2 to settle the matter.

The Rev. Markel Hutchins, who claims he was named interim president, CEO and CFO of the group, welded shut the back doors of the headquarters and padlocked three gates May 17. His rivals, including SCLC Chairwoman Sylvia Tucker, dispute his claims to those positions and said he had no authority to lock the facility.

"This conduct is criminal and deplorable," Tucker said in a statement after the incident. "It is like a hate crime."

The Rev. Bernard LaFayette, a supporter of president-elect, Bernice King, agreed with Tucker when he told the Atlanta Journal Constitution that Hutchins “admitted that he went into the office and he was unauthorized. He disabled the fire alarm, the water and the electricity. He got a welder to weld up the back door. He took files from the office. I understand now he took one of those [computer] monitors. His behavior is described as breaking and entering.”

Hutchins said the allegations of theft are a lie and said that’s he’s only given to the organization.

"I made the decision to secure the building," Hutchins told the Associated Press. "I am not responsible for the mess the SCLC is in, but I will be responsible for helping to right some of the wrongs and get the organization back on course to fulfill its mission."

Padlocks and chains were cut and removed from the building on May 19.

The barring of the SCLC building was the latest incident in a prolonged fight over the removal of two former board members, ex-chairman Raleigh Trammell and ex-treasurer Spiver Gordon, over allegations that the two mismanaged SCLC funds. Since then the group has suffered from severe infighting over who are the true board members.

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