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Saturday, 8 August 2020

Alabama lawmaker who faced calls to resign for attending a anniversary celebration for an early KKK leader is charged with stealing thousands of dollars from his employer four years ago

An Alabama lawmaker who faced calls to resign after he attended a celebration to mark the birthday of an early Ku Klux Klan leader has now been charged with stealing thousands of dollars from his employer four years ago. 
Rep. Will Dismukes, a Republican, was charged with first-degree theft of property on Thursday.
Dismukes turned himself into authorities soon after the Montgomery County District Attorney announced the warrant for his arrest. 
He is accused of stealing the money from a flooring company where he worked before being elected to the Alabama House of Representatives.
Prosecutors allege that he stole the money between 2016 and 2018.
District Attorney Daryl Bailey would not say how much Dismukes was accused of stealing but said it was in excess of $2,500.   
Bailey said his office started investigating back in May after receiving a complaint from Weiss Flooring that an employee had stolen money. 
Dismukes' lawyer Trey Norman told WBTV they were only notified of the investigation five days before the arrest warrant was issued.  
Dismukes (pictured before his arrest) is accused of stealing the money from a flooring company where he worked before being elected to the Alabama House of Representatives
Dismukes (pictured before his arrest) is accused of stealing the money from a flooring company where he worked before being elected to the Alabama House of Representatives
Dismukes' arrest comes two weeks after he was slammed for participating in a celebration marking the birthday of a Confederate general who was also an early Ku Klux Klan leader
Dismukes' arrest comes two weeks after he was slammed for participating in a celebration marking the birthday of a Confederate general who was also an early Ku Klux Klan leader
He added that Dismukes had never been given any indication by his employer at the time that he had been accused of any wrongdoing.  
'I don't think any money was taken by anyone,' the lawyer said. 
'Second of all, if I worked for someone and they accused me of taking money, I wouldn't expect four years to go by before anyone said anything to me. If someone worked for me and I thought they were taking money, I wouldn't wait four years.' 
Dismukes' arrest comes two weeks after he was slammed for participating in a celebration marking the birthday of a Confederate general who was also an early Ku Klux Klan leader.
He attended a gathering on July 25 to remember Nathan Bedford Forrest and posted a photo from the event on his Facebook page. 
The photo showed Dismukes speaking in front of several Confederate flags. 
'Had a great time at Fort Dixie speaking and giving the invocation for Nathan Bedford Forrest annual birthday celebration. Always a great time and some sure enough good eating!!' he wrote in a post that is no longer visible on his public page. 
The post came on the same day that the state was honoring the late John Lewis, an Alabama native who served for decades in Congress and had a long record of fighting for civil rights. Lewis died July 17 at the age of 80.  
Dismukes - who is chaplain of a chapter of the Sons of Confederate Veterans - later posted that it was not his intent to disrespect Lewis or glorify the Klan.
The lawmaker was condemned by both Democrats and Republicans. 
Dismukes turned himself into authorities soon after the Montgomery County District Attorney announced the warrant for his arrest
Dismukes turned himself into authorities soon after the Montgomery County District Attorney announced the warrant for his arrest
Dismukes, above with his wife, turned himself into authorities soon after the Montgomery County District Attorney announced the warrant for his arrest
Dismukes, above with his wife, turned himself into authorities soon after the Montgomery County District Attorney announced the warrant for his arrest
Wade Perry, executive director of the Alabama Democratic Party, called on Dismukes to resign.
'Will Dismukes has demonstrated yet again why he is unfit to hold public office. Americans don't celebrate racists or traitors. Nathan Bedford Forrest was both. And a founder of the Klan... It's 2020 and it's time for racial extremists like Will Dismukes to go away,' Perry said in a statement.
The Republican House whip later tweeted a statement that, while not naming his Republican colleague, said he could not fathom celebrating a Klan leader.
'I cannot fathom why anyone in 2020 celebrates the birthday of the 1st KKK Grand Wizard. And while the body of a civil rights icon beaten by the Klan lies at state Capitol being honored by GOP/Dem leaders from all over the state. This mentality does not rep my party or my faith,' Rep. Danny Garrett tweeted.
Dismukes posted a lengthy statement after, saying: 'My post was in no way glorifying the Klan or disrespecting the late Rep. John Lewis.' 
He said his regret was that it put a negative light on his legislative colleagues.
'I am a transparent person. To the point that as a public official I lay it all there for the people to see for better or for worse at times. The post was in no way intended to seem as if I was glorifying the Klan or any party thereof. The very atrocities and actions they committed are a disgrace to our country,' Dismukes said.
Alabama Republican Party Chairman Terry Lathan called Dismukes explanation 'shallow in understanding' about why it was offensive to many.
'Rep. Dismukes offered no explanation for why he participated in a birthday celebration of Nathan Bedford Forrest. Additionally, I find his statement to be shallow in understanding why his activities are deeply offensive to so many Alabamians. His constituents will be the final decision makers of his political future,' Lathan said.
'It is one thing to honor one's Southern heritage, however, it is completely another issue to specifically commemorate the leader of an organization with an indisputable history of unconscionable actions and atrocities toward African Americans,' Lathan said.

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