Angered Citizens Protest Politician's Speech

By Doug Payne
The Atlanta Journal and Constitution, December 24, 1998, page JG3
© Copyright 1998 The Atlanta Journal and Constitution

Civil rights activists demonstrated outside U.S. Rep. Bob Barr's Marietta office last week, demanding he resign from Congress over an address he made in June to a white supremacist group.

Barr released a letter he wrote to the president of the Council of Conservative Citizens, denouncing the group for falsely characterizing itself as "mainstream" when it invited him to speak.

The demonstration was peaceful and lasted less than an hour. Groups picketing the Whitlock Avenue office included the Southern Christian Leadership Conference and the Rainbow/ PUSH Coalition.

The Rev. Markel Hutchins, president of the National Youth Connection, said the Council of Conservative Citizens is an "exclusive organization of whites directly linked to the Ku Klux Klan . . . a racist, anti- immigration, anti-Semitic, terrorist and militia organization of violent people."

Barr, who was in Washington at the time, released a letter in which he said he'd been duped by the group. "I was not aware that your group opposed interracial marriage or argued in favor of the absurd view that Abraham Lincoln was elected by 'communists and socialists' when I accepted the invitation," Barr said in the letter. "If I had been aware white supremacist views occupied any place in the Council's philosophy, I would never have agreed to speak."