Black man who says he was elected mayor of Alabama town files federal lawsuit claiming white leaders are blocking him from role

A black man who says he was elected mayor of a small town in Alabama has filed a federal lawsuit against the municipality – alleging a clique of white residents have blocked him from taking office.

The plaintiff, 57-year-old Patrick Braxton, claims he filed the necessary proper paperwork to compete in the town of Newbern’s election in 2020 and that he won fair and square.

However, the filing claims, the incumbent mayor and town council held an illegal, unpublicized secret election to keep him in the position and prevent Braxton from taking office. 

The unusual predicament pertains to the rural town of just 133 residents, which has been run by a group of white residents for decades, who allegedly preside over the predominantly black population without holding elections.

The civil rights suit insists Newbern has not held a proper election ‘for decades’ and instead left ‘the office of mayor [to be] ‘inherited’ by a hand-picked successor.’

Patrick Braxton, 57, claims he filed the necessary proper paperwork to run in the town's 2020 mayoral election - and won  fair and square

Patrick Braxton, 57, claims he filed the necessary proper paperwork to run in the town's 2020 mayoral election - and won  fair and square

Patrick Braxton, 57, claims he filed the necessary proper paperwork to run in the town’s 2020 mayoral election – and won  fair and square

After Braxton found himself elected, the lawsuit describes how incumbent Haywood Stokes III, above, the acting mayor, 'conspired with the other defendant to unlawfully remain in office in order to prevent a majority black Town Council from taking office'

After Braxton found himself elected, the lawsuit describes how incumbent Haywood Stokes III, above, the acting mayor, 'conspired with the other defendant to unlawfully remain in office in order to prevent a majority black Town Council from taking office'

After Braxton found himself elected, the lawsuit describes how incumbent Haywood Stokes III, above, the acting mayor, ‘conspired with the other defendant to unlawfully remain in office in order to prevent a majority black Town Council from taking office’

‘Braxton alleges that he was the only candidate to qualify for any elected municipal office in Newbern,’ a section of the 21-page filing currently making its way through the Alabama Southern District Court read.

It added that four other plaintiffs named in the suit – James Ballard, Barbara Patrick, Janice Quarles and Wanda Scott – had been tapped to serve on Braxton’s Town Council once he assumed office, but were also denied, likely due to the fact they were black.

After Braxton found himself elected, the lawsuit describes how incumbent Haywood Stokes III, the acting mayor, ‘conspired with the other defendant to unlawfully remain in office in order to prevent a majority black Town Council from taking office.’

‘In order to do this,’ it adds, city officials ‘met in secret’ on October 6, 2020 ‘without giving notice of the meeting and adopted resolutions to conduct a special election.

Braxton, a volunteer firefighter and emergency responder who decided to run for mayor over ‘concerns that the Town Council and Mayor were not responding to the needs of the majority black community’, claims that notice was never given. 

'Braxton alleges that he was the only candidate to qualify for any elected municipal office in Newbern,' a section of the 21-page filing currently making its way through the Alabama Southern District Court reads

'Braxton alleges that he was the only candidate to qualify for any elected municipal office in Newbern,' a section of the 21-page filing currently making its way through the Alabama Southern District Court reads

‘Braxton alleges that he was the only candidate to qualify for any elected municipal office in Newbern,’ a section of the 21-page filing currently making its way through the Alabama Southern District Court reads

A post to Facebook explained the position in greater details as Braxton sees them

A post to Facebook explained the position in greater details as Braxton sees them

A post to Facebook explained the position in greater details as Braxton sees them

The suit claimed the Newbern defendants – which include Stokes III and several members of his cabinet – then filed statements of candidacy before deeming themselves the only people to qualify for the special election.

They assumed their new terms as town council members in November of that year, leaving Braxton and his handpicked helpers out in the cold.

The lawsuit, filed in April but recently came to light, alleged the maneuver was intentional.

‘When confronted with the first duly-elected black mayor and majority black Town Council, all defendants undertook racially motivated actions to prevent the first Black mayor from exercising the duties of this position,’ the lawsuit reads.

Braxton added he had asked both black and white residents to serve on the prospective city council, but no white residents agreed to join.

The suit argues that Stokes III and his current council conspired to put the kibosh on the town’s first majority black Town Council from exercising legislative power before it had the chance.

Rev Michael Malcon, left,  executive director of the The Peoples Justice Council and Patrick Braxton are pictured in May 2022, when Malcon visited Newbern

Rev Michael Malcon, left,  executive director of the The Peoples Justice Council and Patrick Braxton are pictured in May 2022, when Malcon visited Newbern

Rev Michael Malcon, left,  executive director of the The Peoples Justice Council and Patrick Braxton are pictured in May 2022, when Malcon visited Newbern

Stokes III, pictured. Stokes's office says that all of their actions, 'at all times relevant to this lawsuit... were acting under the color of law'

Stokes III, pictured. Stokes's office says that all of their actions, 'at all times relevant to this lawsuit... were acting under the color of law'

Stokes III, pictured. Stokes’s office says that all of their actions, ‘at all times relevant to this lawsuit… were acting under the color of law’

It was done after Stokes and his council members – fellow plaintiffs Gary Broussard, Jesse Donald Leverett, Voncille Brown Thomas and Willie Richard Tucker –  allegedly ‘met in secret to adopt [the] ‘special’ election ordinance’ prior to the October election.

Due to the election not being publicized, Braxton said, only Stokes and his council members qualified. 

They then ‘effectively reappointed themselves’ to their positions, the suit states, and ‘unlawfully assumed their new terms’ before being sworn in in November.

Meanwhile, Braxton assembled his own council, and claimed he was the only person who truly qualified for the position as Stokes ‘did not bother to qualify as a candidate,’ the lawsuit states.

It also stated that when Braxton approached Stokes for information about running for mayor months earlier, the mayor misled him, allegedly providing ‘wrong information about how to qualify’ and did not provide public notice to residents. 

Braxton, just outside town hall, looks across the street toward Newbern Mercantile, the only store there, which clack people seldom frequent

Braxton, just outside town hall, looks across the street toward Newbern Mercantile, the only store there, which clack people seldom frequent

Braxton, just outside town hall, looks across the street toward Newbern Mercantile, the only store there, which clack people seldom frequent

Despite that, Braxton said he still gave then-city clerk Lynn Williams his statement of candidacy and a qualifying money order before being circumvented by Stokes and his secret election.

If found to be elected, Braxton would be the first mayor of the Southeastern Alabama town in the 165 years – since it was founded.

Roughly 85 percent of Newbern’s 130 residents are black. In more than a century and a half, just one black person has served on the town council.

As for the group of white town officials named in the lawsuit, they have agreed with Braxton’s assessment that they ‘effectively reappointed themselves’ to their positions, but said they did so within the confines of the law.

In a response to Braxton’s lawsuit obtained by CBS News, Stokes and his council said they ‘admit that Plaintiff Patrick Braxton is Black and is the former Mayor of the Town of Newbern,’ but denied several of the other allegations. 

The defendants also admitted that Braxton initially was the only person to qualify for mayor at first, and that no other candidates qualified for mayor or council membership at the time.

They also admitted that a special election was held to put themselves in town council positions, and ‘that Defendant Stokes became Mayor of the Town of Newbern after Plaintiff Braxton lost the position by operation of law.’

As of Sunday, it remains unclear by law Braxton is said to have lost the position. 

When approached by CBS News this week, an attorney representing Stokes and his council members declined to comment but said that his team had recently filed a motion to dismiss the lawsuit, which also alleged defendants had the locks changed at Town Hall after their secret election to keep Braxton outside.

Braxton said he was not able to access the building until the next month, when he found ‘someone had removed official Town documents from the building.’

He claimed to have been barred access the town’s P.O. box since Lynn Theibe, also a defendant in the case, was appointed to the postmaster position in late 2021. 

In the filing, lawyers for Braxton allege Theibe was and is ‘acting in concert and/or at the request’ of Stokes and his council. 

The suit added that Stokes and his council have not held any public meetings at the Town Hall since 2020 – instead electing to hold meets at their own private residences. 

Stokes’s office stated all of their actions, ‘at all times relevant to this lawsuit… were acting under the color of law.’

Source: | This article originally belongs to Dailymail.co.uk

Content source – www.soundhealthandlastingwealth.com

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