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Voting Error Leads to 6-Year Prison Sentence for Black Woman in Tennessee

District Attorney Amy Weirich, a Republican, has been touting the success of her case, gaining nationwide attention by conservative pundits. “What we had proved, we presented to that jury, and they listened to the evidence. They listened to the facts. They applied their common sense, and they returned the verdict of guilty,” she said in a statement to WREG, a Memphis TV station.

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Pamela Moses journey began in 2019 to run for mayor of Memphis when she discovered she was not eligible because of a felony conviction. Facebook photo.

By Post Staff

Pamela Moses, a Black Lives Matter activist in Memphis, Tenn., was sentenced to six years in prison for attempting to register to vote.

Both her conviction last fall and her sentence on Feb. 4 have been met with furor by Black leaders and political progressives.

Janai Nelson, the associate director-counsel of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, told NBC News it was another level of voter suppression aimed at breaking democracy in the U.S. today.

Pamela Moses, a Black woman, has been sentenced to six years in prison because of a voting error,” Nelson’s tweet said. “Meanwhile, white individuals who are known to have committed blatant voter fraud have only received probation. There are two criminal justice systems in America.”

Referring to it as a ‘paper case,’ Josh Spickler, executive director of an advocacy group called Just City, wondered why it was prosecuted at all considering the spike in violent crime in Memphis.

“Elected officials have used incredible amounts of resources in a time when there’s a backlog in this justice system unlike any we’ve seen before. They use resources to try …(to) convict this woman for trying to vote,” he told the Memphis Commercial Appeal.

Moses, a former felon who wanted to run for mayor in 2019, tried to register to vote but was denied.

Believing that the denial was linked to miscalculating the terms of her sentence, Moses approached the department of corrections, where an official filled out the voter registration application for her, and then the county election commission signed off on her application.

What Moses didn’t know was, that under Tennessee law, her right to vote had been permanently revoked after her arrest in 2015 when she agreed to a felony plea deal because she couldn’t afford a $500,000 bond. “They never mentioned anything about not voting, being able to vote … none of that,” Moses said.

Moses would pay dearly for what she didn’t know because once the error on her voter registration application was discovered, the election commission, as was routine, notified the district attorney’s office.

What was not routine was that Moses would then face charges of perjury and falsifying an election document. This time, Moses refused to plead guilty because she didn’t believe she had done anything wrong.

District Attorney Amy Weirich, a Republican, has been touting the success of her case, gaining nationwide attention by conservative pundits. “What we had proved, we presented to that jury, and they listened to the evidence. They listened to the facts. They applied their common sense, and they returned the verdict of guilty,” she said in a statement to WREG, a Memphis TV station.

In last November’s trial, Moses’ defense showed that the errors were made by government authorities, but the jury and the judge believed that Moses had knowingly attempted to subvert the law.

“I did not falsify anything,” Moses said at her sentencing hearing. “All I did was try to get my rights to vote back the way the people at the election commission told me and the way the clerk did.”

Judge Mark Ward wasn’t having it.

“You tricked the probation department into giving you documents saying you were off probation,” said Ward, who would consider granting her probation after she serves nine months.

Moses’ lawyer, Bede Anyanwu, told the Washington Post her client would appeal. “This case is one about the disparity in sentencing and punishment – and one that shouldn’t have happened.”

According to Sam Levine, an opinion writer for The Guardian, “The Republicans who actually cast illegal ballots in the name of relatives they definitely knew were dead each received light sentences. The Black woman who thought she was allowed to register to vote is set to spend the next 72 months in prison.”

At a press conference following her sentencing, Moses, 44, was joined by about a dozen supporters holding signs despite an ice storm “Trying to vote is not a crime” and “Justice for Pamela,” signs read.

In 2015, Moses pleaded guilty to two felonies and three misdemeanors, which led to her receiving probation for seven years. The felony convictions made her ineligible to vote in Tennessee permanently.

Depending on the offense, Tennessee is one of several states that disenfranchise former felons. California is one of 21 states where disenfranchisement ends after incarceration is complete. Maine, Vermont and Wash., D.C., allow prisoners to cast absentee ballots.

“I relied on the election commission because those are the people who are supposed to know what you’re supposed to do,” Moses told station WREG in Memphis. “And I found out that they didn’t know.”

Reports from The Memphis Commercial Appeal, The Guardian, The Washington Post, BET, WREG-TV and MSNBC were the sources for this report.

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Oakland Post: Week of May 15 – 21, 2024

The printed Weekly Edition of the Oakland Post: Week of May May 15 – 21, 2024

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Oakland Post: Week of May 8 – 14, 2024

The printed Weekly Edition of the Oakland Post: Week of May May 8 – 14, 2024

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S.F. Black Leaders Rally to Protest, Discuss ‘Epidemic’ of Racial Slurs Against Black Students in SF Public School System

Parents at the meeting spoke of their children as no longer feeling safe in school because of bullying and discrimination. Parents also said that reported incidents such as racial slurs and intimidation are not dealt with to their satisfaction and feel ignored. 

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Rev. Amos C. Brown, president of the San Francisco NAACP and pastor of Third Baptist Church. Photo courtesy Third Baptist Church.
Rev. Amos C. Brown, president of the San Francisco NAACP and pastor of Third Baptist Church. Photo courtesy Third Baptist Church.

By Carla Thomas

San Francisco’s Third Baptist Church hosted a rally and meeting Sunday to discuss hatred toward African American students of the San Francisco Unified School District (SFUSD).

Rev. Amos C. Brown, president of the San Francisco NAACP and pastor of Third Baptist Church, along with leadership from local civil rights groups, the city’s faith-based community and Black community leadership convened at the church.

“There has been an epidemic of racial slurs and mistreatment of Black children in our public schools in the city,” said Brown. “This will not be tolerated.”

According to civil rights advocate Mattie Scott, students from elementary to high school have reported an extraordinary amount of racial slurs directed at them.

“There is a surge of overt racism in the schools, and our children should not be subjected to this,” said Scott. “Students are in school to learn, develop, and grow, not be hated on,” said Scott. “The parents of the children feel they have not received the support necessary to protect their children.”

Attendees were briefed last Friday in a meeting with SFUSD Superintendent Dr. Matt Wayne.

SFUSD states that their policies protect children and they are not at liberty to publicly discuss the issues to protect the children’s privacy.

Parents at the meeting spoke of their children as no longer feeling safe in school because of bullying and discrimination. Parents also said that reported incidents such as racial slurs and intimidation are not dealt with to their satisfaction and feel ignored.

Some parents said they have removed their students from school while other parents and community leaders called on the removal of the SFUSD superintendent, the firing of certain school principals and the need for more supportive school board members.

Community advocates discussed boycotting the schools and creating Freedom Schools led by Black leaders and educators, reassuring parents that their child’s wellbeing and education are the highest priority and youth are not to be disrupted by racism or policies that don’t support them.

Virginia Marshall, chair of the San Francisco NAACP’s education committee, offered encouragement to the parents and students in attendance while also announcing an upcoming May 14 school board meeting to demand accountability over their mistreatment.

“I’m urging anyone that cares about our students to pack the May 14 school board meeting,” said Marshall.

This resource was supported in whole or in part by funding provided by the State of California, administered by the California State Library via California Black Media as part of the Stop the Hate Program. The program is supported by partnership with California Department of Social Services and the California Commission on Asian and Pacific Islander American Affairs as part of the Stop the Hate program. To report a hate incident or hate crime and get support, go to CA vs Hate.

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