ATLANTA (AP) – Board members of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference who sided with the group's embattled treasurer and chairman have lost their fight for control of the group.
The ruling issued Wednesday from Fulton County Superior Court Judge Alford Dempsey effectively places control of the group with the faction siding with the Rev. Bernice King, who was elected last October to lead the group.
The SCLC was co-founded by King's father, Martin Luther King Jr., Ralph David Abernathy, Joseph Lowery and others in 1957 and was a leading force in the civil rights struggle of the 1960s.
Last fall, federal and local authorities launched an investigation of allegations that the SCLC chairman and treasurer mismanaged at least $569,000 of the group's money. The two denied the allegations and have continued to challenge their dismissal by some board members.
Chairman Raleigh Trammell and Treasurer Spiver Gordon have not been criminally charged, but the SCLC has spent nearly a year in court, wrangling over control of the organization. Separate factions that both claimed to be the SCLC's board of directors met hundreds of miles apart earlier this year, and each claimed to make moves on the group's behalf to save it from its legal woes and infighting.
The 37-page order favored the plaintiffs in the case, recognizing their meetings and actions as legal and valid, including the appointment or removal of any officers during that time period by that group.
The court banned the defendants, including Trammell, Gordon and the Rev. Markel Hutchins, who was acting as the SCLC's interim president and chief executive officer, from representing themselves as board members unless they are elected, reinstated or appointed by the board of directors recognized by the court in Wednesday's ruling.
The order also found that the defendants illegally interfered with the SCLC's downtown Atlanta headquarters, which Hutchins padlocked in May.
Pictured Above: Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.