Tags: Ohio | Democrats | lawsuit

Black Lawmaker Sues 'Plantation-Style' Ohio Democrat Party

By    |   Thursday, 13 Nov 2014 04:30 PM

A Democrat state lawmaker in Ohio has filed a lawsuit against the Ohio Democrat Party and its outgoing leader, charging racism, defamation and practicing a "plantation style" of politics.

Rep. John Barnes, D-Cleveland, told the Nordonia Hills News-Leader that the state Democrat Party practices "a kind of plantation-style management of black public officials in the state of Ohio," adding, "African-American members have to go through another door and the white members go through another door and they expect you to stay in a box of despair. They expect you to stay in a box where your voice is minimized in a process."

In a lawsuit filed in Franklin County Common Pleas Court against the party and outgoing chairman Chris Redfern, who is white, Barnes says he was denied desirable committee assignments because he refused to join the Ohio Black Caucus, The Columbus Dispatch reported.

Barnes said he refused to join the Black Caucus because he found the organization's "moral compass" troubling, he told the Dispatch, and he "wanted to be treated as an individual rather than as a member of a presumed monolithic block of votes based upon skin color."

He told the Dispatch, "I understand the focus is, you want to have people where you can manage them like they’re on a plantation. That’s unacceptable and insulting to my intelligence."

Barnes said that Rep. Sandra Williams, D-Cleveland, offered him a committee assignment he wanted, but only if he would join the Black Caucus, of which she is the president.

"Black people need a voice," Barnes told The Cleveland Plain Dealer, "but they need that voice to be independent, they need that voice to speak to the issues that affect their community, they need a voice that is going to identify them not whether or not there is ignominious peace but whether or not it is the right thing to do so that ultimately we can all come together and work together as a state."

Barnes is seeking $50,000 compensation and said that any money he might receive will be donated to charities in his district, the Plain Dealer reported.

Barnes also accuses the party of telling lies about his voting record in distributed campaign material and ultimately supported another candidate in the primary election, which Barnes won.

"I’m proud to be a 94 percent voting Democrat in a historic district,” Barnes said during a Nov. 11 press conference. “As a lifelong Democrat, I am extremely disappointed for the outright lies that Chris Redfern, chairman of the Ohio Democrat Party, circulated in the 12th House District during the primary election," the News-Leader reported.

Redfern told the Dispatch: "What happens now is, anybody who has felt disrespected by the party over the last nine years gets to get their coverage. Anytime you have new leadership come in, it’s time to attack the old leadership. Let’s attack Redfern with these baseless claims because he’s on the way out, and who’s going to defend him?"

Redfern told the News-Leader that Barnes is "delusional," and added, "he's mad at me, he's mad at the state party. We're evidently to be suing over how mad we are."

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A Democrat state lawmaker in Ohio has filed a lawsuit against the Ohio Democrat Party and its outgoing leader, charging racism, defamation and practicing a "plantation style" of politics.
Ohio, Democrats, lawsuit
524
2014-30-13
Thursday, 13 Nov 2014 04:30 PM
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