ATLANTA — Two factions entangled in a power struggle for control of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference say one side locked and chained the civil right group’s downtown Atlanta headquarters.
The Rev. Markel Hutchins admitted to padlocking two doors and a gate at the building on Auburn Avenue on Monday night. He said he was appointed interim president of the 53-year-old SCLC last week by members of the civil rights organization’s board.
However, other members of the group’s board, including its chairwoman, don’t recognize his authority. The feuding groups were once part of the same board, but have met and functioned separately since a rift began months ago.
“This conduct is criminal and deplorable,” SCLC Chairwoman Sylvia Tucker said in a statement after the incident. “It is like a hate crime.”
Charles Mathis, an attorney representing the Tucker faction, said Tuesday that he filed a temporary restraining order to keep Hutchins from using the headquarters.
Tucker, who is based in Virginia, said the board of directors will investigate the incident. She said that Hutchins is not a board member or officer of the organization.