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The Latest Story From The Trial

  • Now-former Democratic Congresswoman Corrine Brown has been denied a new trial, after being convicted on 18 of 22 federal fraud-related charges in May. A judge has also issued an order denying a motion for acquittal. Brown’s sentencing has now been set for November 16th. Brown was found guilty of soliciting hundreds of thousands of dollars for a sham charity called “One Door For Education”, using the money for personal expenses and lavish events instead. Her Chief of Staff Ronnie Simmons and the President of One Door Carla Wiley both pleaded guilty and testified against Brown at trial. Simmons has now been formally adjudicated guilty and his sentencing has been set for November 15th. Wiley was adjudicated shortly after entering her plea in March 2016, but her sentencing has now also been set for November 15th, to take place in the same courtroom at the same time as Simmons. FULL COVERAGE: Federal fraud trial of former Congresswoman Corrine Brown Brown had sought a new trial by claiming the judge improperly dismissed a juror after deliberations had already started, because that juror said at the outset of deliberations that the “Holy Spirit” had told him Brown was innocent. In the initial order dismissing the juror, District Judge Timothy Corrigan had carefully worded his ruling, saying that it would not have violated the jury process to pray for guidance, but to have an influence that prevents the juror from considering only the evidence- like a determination of innocence from a “Holy Spirit”- crosses the line. “Had Juror No. 13 simply stated to his fellow jurors that he was praying for guidance during the deliberations, that would not have been problematic,” Corrigan’s order says. “But that’s not what happened here.” Jurors are instructed only to consider the evidence of the case presented at trial and the court’s instruction on the law in determining a verdict. Some of that instruction included that jurors must discuss the case with one another and only make their verdict determination after considering all of the evidence with the other jurors. During the jury selection process, they also all agreed they had no religious or moral beliefs that would preclude them from serving in a fair and impartial panel.  Corrigan says he believes the juror felt he was obeying the court’s instructions on deliberations, but that he violated it by holding this conviction before deliberations even started. Corrigan further says he would have come to the same determination if the “Holy Spirit” had told Corrigan that Brown was guilty as well. An alternate juror was seated and the panel was instructed to start deliberations from scratch. The verdicts of guilty on 18 counts and not guilty on 4 counts were unanimously reached after about eleven hours of deliberations. “Corrine Brown is entitled to a fair trial with an impartial jury that reaches a verdict in accordance with the law. That is what she received,” Corrigan’s ruling says. Brown’s motion for acquittal said that prosecutors had not shown she had criminal intent, claiming instead that she had poorly managed her finances and office, but never intended to defraud anyone. Corrigan’s ruling detailed some of the evidence laid out by prosecutors and said the jury could reasonably infer guilt from that. Brown’s attorney further contended that the fact that Brown was found not guilty on four of the charges diminished the government’s proof. Corrigan belives that shows the jury carefully deliberated the evidence and merits of each specific charge. “Suffice it to say, there was more than sufficient evidence to justify the jury’s verdict on each count of conviction,” Corrigan’s ruling says. Brown’s attorney James Smith tells us she’s “understandably saddened and disappointed” by the judge’s rulings, but she remains strong and maintains her innocence. She further wants supporters to know that she appreciates their prayers and will continue fighting. While Smith said Brown is planning to pursue “any and all available legal options”, he declined to get in to many specifics on what those avenues include. He says their focus right now is geting her the best sentence possible, and a motion for reconsideration is something they could look at in the future. The US Attorney’s Office declined to comment about the rulings at this time.

Recent Headlines

  • Now-former Democratic Congresswoman Corrine Brown has been denied a new trial, after being convicted on 18 of 22 federal fraud-related charges in May. A judge has also issued an order denying a motion for acquittal. Brown’s sentencing has now been set for November 16th. Brown was found guilty of soliciting hundreds of thousands of dollars for a sham charity called “One Door For Education”, using the money for personal expenses and lavish events instead. Her Chief of Staff Ronnie Simmons and the President of One Door Carla Wiley both pleaded guilty and testified against Brown at trial. Simmons has now been formally adjudicated guilty and his sentencing has been set for November 15th. Wiley was adjudicated shortly after entering her plea in March 2016, but her sentencing has now also been set for November 15th, to take place in the same courtroom at the same time as Simmons. FULL COVERAGE: Federal fraud trial of former Congresswoman Corrine Brown Brown had sought a new trial by claiming the judge improperly dismissed a juror after deliberations had already started, because that juror said at the outset of deliberations that the “Holy Spirit” had told him Brown was innocent. In the initial order dismissing the juror, District Judge Timothy Corrigan had carefully worded his ruling, saying that it would not have violated the jury process to pray for guidance, but to have an influence that prevents the juror from considering only the evidence- like a determination of innocence from a “Holy Spirit”- crosses the line. “Had Juror No. 13 simply stated to his fellow jurors that he was praying for guidance during the deliberations, that would not have been problematic,” Corrigan’s order says. “But that’s not what happened here.” Jurors are instructed only to consider the evidence of the case presented at trial and the court’s instruction on the law in determining a verdict. Some of that instruction included that jurors must discuss the case with one another and only make their verdict determination after considering all of the evidence with the other jurors. During the jury selection process, they also all agreed they had no religious or moral beliefs that would preclude them from serving in a fair and impartial panel.  Corrigan says he believes the juror felt he was obeying the court’s instructions on deliberations, but that he violated it by holding this conviction before deliberations even started. Corrigan further says he would have come to the same determination if the “Holy Spirit” had told Corrigan that Brown was guilty as well. An alternate juror was seated and the panel was instructed to start deliberations from scratch. The verdicts of guilty on 18 counts and not guilty on 4 counts were unanimously reached after about eleven hours of deliberations. “Corrine Brown is entitled to a fair trial with an impartial jury that reaches a verdict in accordance with the law. That is what she received,” Corrigan’s ruling says. Brown’s motion for acquittal said that prosecutors had not shown she had criminal intent, claiming instead that she had poorly managed her finances and office, but never intended to defraud anyone. Corrigan’s ruling detailed some of the evidence laid out by prosecutors and said the jury could reasonably infer guilt from that. Brown’s attorney further contended that the fact that Brown was found not guilty on four of the charges diminished the government’s proof. Corrigan belives that shows the jury carefully deliberated the evidence and merits of each specific charge. “Suffice it to say, there was more than sufficient evidence to justify the jury’s verdict on each count of conviction,” Corrigan’s ruling says. Brown’s attorney James Smith tells us she’s “understandably saddened and disappointed” by the judge’s rulings, but she remains strong and maintains her innocence. She further wants supporters to know that she appreciates their prayers and will continue fighting. While Smith said Brown is planning to pursue “any and all available legal options”, he declined to get in to many specifics on what those avenues include. He says their focus right now is geting her the best sentence possible, and a motion for reconsideration is something they could look at in the future. The US Attorney’s Office declined to comment about the rulings at this time.
  • There is no decision yet on whether now-former Congresswoman Corrine Brown will get a new trial or potentially be acquitted outright in connection to the 18 federal charges for which she’s been convicted. During a motions hearing Monday, Brown’s attorneys argued their case. WOKV has previously told you that the motion for a new trial looked heavily at the judge’s decision to dismiss a juror during deliberations, because that juror had said the “Holy Spirit” told him Brown was not guilty. That juror was replaced by the first alternate, and the jury rendered its verdicts soon after. In deciding to dismiss the juror, District Judge Timothy Corrigan drew a dividing line, saying a juror is allowed to have deeply held religious beliefs, but the problem in this case is the juror had been directed on a verdict. In the motion for a new trial, Brown’s attorney argued the court improperly interpreted the juror’s statements as external forces, where it could have indicating his gut and instincts. The arguments around the motion to acquit were based on whether Brown actually had any criminal intent, or if she was just negligent in managing her finances and office- which was a theme the defense had argued in the trial itself. FULL COVERAGE: The trial of now-former Congresswoman Corrine Brown On both counts, government prosecutors stood by the arguments previously made and the decisions already rendered by the court. Corrigan said he will issue his rulings in writing, but there’s no clear timeline when they will be filed. Brown was convicted in May on 18 of 22 charges. The convictions show that a jury believed she was actively involved in soliciting hundreds of thousands of dollars in donations to a sham charity called One Door For Education, knowing the money would be used for lavish events and personal expenses instead. Brown’s Chief of Staff Ronnie Simmons and his then-girlfriend- the President of One Door- Carla Wiley, were also indicted in the scheme. They both pleaded guilty and testified at Brown’s trial. In addition to the fraud related counts connected to One Door, Brown was also found guilty of lying on tax returns by inflating charitable contributions and under-reporting income, as well as filing false financial disclosures required by public officials. No sentencing date has yet been set for any of the three defendants.
  • The US Attorney has filed two motions in response to former Congressman Corrine Brown’s pursuit of a new trial.  Brown was found guilty on 18 of 22 federal charges. Her attorney says Brown’s Sixth Amendment right to a jury of her peers and to a unanimous verdict were violated with the removal of a juror during deliberations. An alternate juror was seated, and the verdicts were rendered about a day and a half later.  FULL COVERAGE:  The federal case of former Congresswoman Corrine Brown  In its response, the Acting US Attorney Stephen Muldrow says the self-serving view of the facts is belied by the record, which supports the Court’s decision to strike Juror 13, and the Court should deny the motion.  And he says the Court was well within its discretion to remove the juror based on a finding that there was no substantial possibility that the juror could render a verdict determined solely on the facts and the law.  In a separate motion, the US Attorney’s Office opposes Brown’s request for a judgment of acquittal. Motion for a new trial  WOKV was in the courtroom throughout the trial, including a hearing after a day and a half of jury deliberations where District Judge Timothy Corrigan told attorneys that a juror had contacted him about concerns with another juror. While much of the nature of that juror’s concerns were initially discussed in a closed session of court, WOKV has since obtained the transcript, which shows Juror 13 had said at the outset of deliberations that the “Holy Spirit” told him Brown was not guilty on all charges.  Juror 13 was questioned by Corrigan and told the court he believed he was following instructions to consider the evidence presented at trial and the law as instructed. He further said his religious or moral believes were not interfering with his ability to decide the case as instructed. The juror who initially raised a concern to the court even said Juror 13’s statements weren’t getting in the way of the deliberations, according to the transcript.  Corrigan carefully worded his ruling in his decision to remove that Juror 13, saying sincerely held religious beliefs and prayers for guidance are not ground for dismissal, but Juror 13 making the statement that he did before the deliberations took hold show inconsistencies with the instructions. Corrigan also noted that Juror 13 said specifically that the “Holy Spirit” had directed him on the verdict.  Corrigan ruled that, while it seemed Juror 13 was “very earnest, very sincere” in his belief and attempt to follow the court’s instructions, his statement about the “Holy Spirit” directing his verdict was a “disqualifying statement”. That further led to the conclusion that there was “no substantial possibility” the juror could follow the court’s instructions and that he using an “external force” in his decision making.  Case in review  Brown was convicted on May 11th of conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud, five counts of aiding and abetting mail fraud, and seven counts of aiding and abetting wire fraud in connection to her soliciting money for a sham charity organization called “One Door For Education”. Prosecutors argued Brown, her Chief of Staff Ronnie Simmons, and One Door President Carla Wiley raised money for the group, but used the funds for personal expenses and lavish events.  Brown was also convicted of engaging in a scheme to conceal material facts, corruptly endeavoring to obstruct the due administration of internal revenue law, and three counts of filing a false tax return- generally involving Brown not reporting income she received from One Door and over reporting her charitable contributions.  Simmons and Wiley pleaded guilty ahead of Brown’s trial, and both testified for the prosecution. Brown took the stand in her own defense, claiming she was taken advantage of by Simmons. Sentencing dates have not yet been set for any of the three, with all remaining out of prison as the court proceedings continue.
  • Former Congresswoman Corrine Brown was found guilty on 18 of 22 federal charges, but now, she’s pushing for a new trial.  Brown’s attorney has filed a motion that says her Sixth Amendment right to a jury of her peers and to a unanimous verdict were violated with the removal of a juror during deliberations. An alternate juror was seated, and the verdicts were rendered about a day and a half later.  FULL COVERAGE: The federal case of former Congresswoman Corrine Brown A motion for a judgement of acquittal has also been filed. These come as the defense notifies the court that a new attorney, Samuel Walker, will be joining Brown’s legal team. He’s from the same firm as the attorney that’s taken her through trial, James Smith III. Motion for a new trial WOKV was in the courtroom throughout the trial, including a hearing after a day and a half of jury deliberations where District Judge Timothy Corrigan told attorneys that a juror had contacted him about concerns with another juror. While much of the nature of that juror’s concerns were initially discussed in a closed session of court, WOKV has since obtained the transcript, which shows Juror 13 had said at the outset of deliberations that the “Holy Spirit” told him Brown was not guilty on all charges.  Juror 13 was questioned by Corrigan and told the court he believed he was following instructions to consider the evidence presented at trial and the law as instructed. He further said his religious or moral believes were not interfering with his ability to decide the case as instructed. The juror who initially raised a concern to the court even said Juror 13’s statements weren’t getting in the way of the deliberations, according to the transcript.  Corrigan carefully worded his ruling in his decision to remove that Juror 13, saying sincerely held religious beliefs and prayers for guidance are not ground for dismissal, but Juror 13 making the statement that he did before the deliberations took hold show inconsistencies with the instructions. Corrigan also noted that Juror 13 said specifically that the “Holy Spirit” had directed him on the verdict.  Corrigan ruled that, while it seemed Juror 13 was “very earnest, very sincere” in his belief and attempt to follow the court’s instructions, his statement about the “Holy Spirit” directing his verdict was a “disqualifying statement”. That further led to the conclusion that there was “no substantial possibility” the juror could follow the court’s instructions and that he using an “external force” in his decision making.  In the motion for a new trial, Brown’s attorney, James Smith III argues that the record does not support the court’s conclusion that the “Holy Spirit” is an external force.  “There is a substantial possibility the holy spirit was actually the juror’s own mind or spirit telling him that one or more witnesses had not testified truthfully,” the motion says.  Smith focuses on the fact that Juror 13 believed he was deciding the case based on the evidence and the court’s instructions, and that he believed he was receiving “guidance” from “his father in heaven”. The motion argues that the court must find the juror’s dissent isn’t based on the evidence- beyond a reasonable doubt- and that wasn’t done here. Smith distinguishes Brown’s case from two cases which were cited in the decision to dismiss, because both of those cases involved eleven jurors testifying that the twelfth juror was refusing to follow the court’s instructions.  In his claim that Brown’s right to a unanimous verdict was violated, Smith argues the other jurors did not testify that Juror 13 wasn’t following the court’s instructions, and in fact one of the jurors had testified the statement wasn’t interfering in deliberations. According to Smith, Juror 13 showed his decision would be based on his thoughts and beliefs, and his determination of not guilty was based on his assessment of witness credibility.  Because of that, Smith argues the record doesn’t show beyond a reasonable doubt that Juror 13’s “not guilty” verdict was based on anything but the evidence, so Brown’s right to a unanimous verdict was violated.  Smith further argues Brown’s right to a jury of her peers was violated. In these arguments, Smith focuses on Corrigan’s statement that “there’s nothing wrong with praying for guidance”.  “If there is nothing wrong with praying for guidance from the holy spirit, then there can be nothing wrong with receiving guidance from the holy spirit,” Smith says in the motion.  He called on a Fourth Circuit case over the presence of a Bible in the deliberation room to further his argument, quoting portions of the ruling which speak to the interaction between religious beliefs and jury service.  “To ask that jurors become fundamentally different people when they enter the jury room is at odds with the idea that the jury be ‘drawn from a fair cross section of the community’,” the portion of the Robinson v. Polk case reads.  This builds to Smith’s argument that Juror 13’s reference to a “Holy Spirit” may not be an outside force, but may instead be evidence of his “appreciation of the seriousness of his duty” and “an aspect of their identity”.  “Indeed, for some, the holy spirit, whether one exists or not, may provide the strength to render whatever verdict the law and the evidence compel,” Smith argues in the motion.  He adds that dismissing a juror because of reliance on a “Holy Spirit” could risk excluding much of the population from jury service.  To close, Smith says determining the “Holy Spirit” is an external force is a “philosophical determination”.  “Accordingly, justice requires a new trial,” he says.  Motion for acquittal A second motion filed by Brown’s legal team says the government’s case didn’t establish “the essential elements” of the charges Brown faced. Several references are made to the testimony of Brown’s Chief of Staff Ronnie Simmons. Brown’s defense was built on the argument that she became increasingly reliant on Simmons, and he took advantage of that trust. The defense argued Simmons controlled Brown’s finances and managed her office, and while she was negligent in handling her personal affairs, there was no intent of criminal wrongdoing. “Had she paid closer attention to her finances she might have discovered Mr. Simmons misdeeds,” the motion says. Instead, Smith argues the prosecution asked the jury to speculate about what Brown was thinking and to rely on “guilt by association”. “The government presented a purely circumstantial evidence case,” the motion says. Smith says a portion of Simmons’ testimony “eviscerated” the government’s theory about Brown’s guilt. “To the surprise of the government, Mr. Simmons provided exculpatory on behalf of the defendant. One of the government’s primary theories of guilt was that the defendant never intended to use any of the funds solicited from donor for charitable or legitimate purposes. Mr. Simmons testified it was in fact the intent with regard to the funds raised for the events and despite the government’s attempt to impeach him on that point he remained resolute,” the motion reads. That is referring to a portion of Simmons’ testimony where he said they always intended to use events to raise money for a sham charity organization called One Door For Education, but never could because of high costs. When asked by  prosecutors how long he would let the alleged mismanagement go on before changing something, Simmons could not give a definitive answer. The motion additionally says Brown never controlled One Door accounts or even served on the organization’s Board. She also had only met a third alleged co-conspirator, the President of One Door Carla Wiley- on a few occasions. Brown says she didn’t know that One Door was not a legitimate charity when she solicited donations, and in fact did see at least one example of their work paying off- when almost two dozen students were sent on an exchange trip to China. Finally, the motion argues that Brown’s innocence is boosted by the fact that she was acquitted on four of the charges. Smith writes it doesn’t make “logical sense” to believe Brown was involved in this scheme, but be acquitted on these charges. Case in review Brown was convicted on May 11th of conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud, five counts of aiding and abetting mail fraud, and seven counts of aiding and abetting wire fraud in connection to her soliciting money for a sham charity organization called “One Door For Education”. Prosecutors argued Brown, her Chief of Staff Ronnie Simmons, and One Door President Carla Wiley raised money for the group, but used the funds for personal expenses and lavish events.  Brown was also convicted of engaging in a scheme to conceal material facts, corruptly endeavoring to obstruct the due administration of internal revenue law, and three counts of filing a false tax return- generally involving Brown not reporting income she received from One Door and overreporting her charitable contributions.  Simmons and Wiley pleaded guilty ahead of Brown’s trial, and both testified for the prosecution. Brown took the stand in her own defense, claiming she was taken advantage of by Simmons. Sentencing dates have not yet been set for any of the three, with all remaining out of prison as the court proceedings continue.

The Latest On-Air Coverage

The Trial of Corrine Brown

Former congresswoman Corrine Brown has returned to Duval county to answer federal charges of conspiracy and fraud. We go in-depth to dissect the latest from inside the courtroom

Corrine Brown denied new trial

Topics: A judge set a sentencing date for former Congresswoman Corrine Brown.
Posted: August 16, 2017

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  • Ten sailors are missing and five are injured after a U.S. Navy destroyer collided with an oil and chemical tanker early Monday. >> Read more trending news The USS John S. McCain collided with the 'Alnic MC' at 6:24 a.m. in the Strait of Malacca off the coast of Singapore in the Pacific Ocean, according to the U.S. 7th Fleet. The USS John S. McCain sustained damage to its left rear side. The Navy said the ship has significant hull damage, and the crew berths, machinery and communications rooms were flooded, according to The Associated Press. Osprey aircraft and Seahawk helicopters from the USS America are helping with search and rescue efforts, officials said. Tug boats and coast guard vessels are also helping. The ship is named for both McCain Sr. and Jr. who served in the Navy. This is a developing story. Check back for updates. The Associated Press contributed to this report.
  • U.S. Navy Petty Officer First Class Benjamin Whitten, 33, and his live-in girlfriend Jeryn Johnson, 25, are charged with torture and child abuse after authorities said Whitten’s 5-year-old son was discovered with severe injuries and living in filth among 15 animals, reports KGTV. >> Watch the news report here The police and fire departments in Murrieta, California, reportedly discovered the boy when they responded to a call for medical aid. The boy was airlifted to a San Diego County hospital, where he currently remains in “grave condition.” The injuries, which police said were caused by Whitten and Johnson, were unspecified beyond this. >> On Rare.us: YouTube parent-pranksters who lost custody of their children are now facing jail time KGTV reported that the home was said to be in “extremely unsanitary” conditions. Animal control removed “11 dogs, four cats and two fish.” “I didn’t even know there was a child who lived in the house,” neighbor Kristine Hendrickson told KCAL. “Did not know. We’ve lived here for 21 years.” >> Read more trending news The boy reportedly hadn’t been seen since Christmas of last year.
  • If you have not gotten a pair of glasses to view Monday’s solar eclipse, you are not alone.Retail stores and online outlets across the country have reported that supplies are low or nonexistent in the hours before the 2017 solar eclipse.If you haven’t secured a pair, there are a few things you can do to safely watch the eclipse.Here are some tips. Is there any way to still get glasses?Some vendors may have a few pairs left, but they are going fast. Click here to find the American Astronomical Society’s list of approved glasses sellers. Many libraries are hosting events. Click here to see an updated list from NASA. The libraries will have glasses for the event. Scientific societies are holding viewing events as well, and they will likely have some glasses to give out.What if I don’t have glasses?You do not have to have glasses to watch an eclipse. Read what NASA says about it:“The safest and most inexpensive method of viewing an eclipse is by projection, in which a pinhole or small opening is used to cast the image of the sun on a screen placed a half-meter or more beyond the opening. Projected images of the sun may even be seen on the ground in the small openings created by interlacing fingers, or in the dappled sunlight beneath a leafy tree. Binoculars can also be used to project a magnified image of the sun on a white card, but you must avoid the temptation of using these instruments for direct viewing.”For those who missed school the day astrophysics was taught, here’s what that means:You can take something as common as a shoe box to make a device that will let you watch the eclipse without looking directly at the sun; you can actually use your fingers to view the eclipse; you can stand underneath a tree and see a cool display that reflects through the leaves; you can use binoculars to project the sun’s image on a white card, but do not look at the sun with them. Don’t ever.So what if you can’t get a pair of glasses?If you can’t get glasses for the cosmic block party, start gathering some common supplies.From NASA, here’s how to make a pinhole viewer. You can also make a pinhole camera. Click here to see how to make the device that lets light pass through a hole and project an image of the sun onto a light surface. Can I look at the sun at any time during the eclipse?You can look at the sun during the eclipse while wearing certified eclipse glasses, welding glass (level 14) or other filters. You can look at the sun without the protection ONLY during the two minutes or so when the moon completely blocks out the sun. Only look at the sun without glasses if you live in the area of totality – a narrow strip of the country where the sun will be completely blocked out.For the rest in the area where the sun is only partially blocked out, keep the glasses on. Do not look at the partially blocked sun without them.So what if I do look at the sun without protection?You could, and likely will, damage your retina, leading to vision damage.What if I want to see it, but not go out to look at it?No problem, all the major networks, and cable channels will be carrying the eclipse live. ABC, NBC, CBS, PBS, CNN, Fox and other cable outlets have plans to broadcast the progress of the eclipse across the country.NASA will livestream the eclipse starting at 1 p.m. ET. NASA plans views from balloons, satellites, and telescopes. What about taking a photo? Will it damage my iPhone?The eclipse won't damage your phone's camera, according to c/net. C/net’s post explains how to use your iPhone or an Android phone to capture the eclipse.
  • After two Jacksonville officers were shot on the Westside, support has been flooding social media. FULL STORY: Two JSO officers shot Government officials: Law enforcement:
  • The Stone Mountain Memorial Association this week denied a Ku Klux Klan request to burn a cross at the park in Dekalb County, Georgia, citing the trouble at a “pro-white” rally last year. >> Read more trending news Joey Hobbs, a Dublin man with the Sacred Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, wanted to hold a “lighting” ceremony on Oct. 21 with 20 participants, according to the application. This would have been to commemorate the KKK’s 1915 revival, which began with a flaming cross atop Stone Mountain on the evening of Thanksgiving. “We will light our cross and 20 minutes later we will be gone,” wrote Hobbs, who couldn’t be reached for comment Wednesday, in an application dated May 26. It wasn’t immediately clear if Hobbs holds a formal position with the group. >> Related: George H.W., George W. Bush condemn ‘racial bigotry’ in Charlottesville statement “We don’t want any of these groups at the park, quite frankly,” John Bankhead, spokesman for the association said Wednesday, referring to white nationalists groups and the KKK. “This is a family-oriented park.”  But since it’s a public park, the association created a permit process to consider each application individually. In a statement, the memorial group, which oversees the park, said it “condemns the beliefs and actions of the Ku Klux Klan and believes the denial of this Public Assembly request is in the best interest of all parties.” >> Related: Trump again blames ‘both sides’ for violence in CharlottesvilleWriting to deny Hobbs, CEO Bill Stephens cited the trouble at the “Rock Stone Mountain” rally of April 23, 2016. The park had to close that day as white power revelers, including KKK members, clashed with counter-protesters. Stephens said an event like Hobbs’ would require public safety resources beyond what park police could provide, and thus, would put guests, employees and public safety workers in danger.  Besides creating a potentially-dangerous scene, the cross-burning would’ve also been an act of intimidation, Bankhead said. >> Related: University of Florida denies request for white nationalist Richard Spencer to speak “I think anybody who knows about cross burning knows why it’s used,” Bankhead said, recalling the KKK’s track record of setting crosses on fire to intimidate African Americans. “We’re just not going to allow that.” Georgia's terroristic threats and acts statute also specifically bars the practice when it’s done with the intent to “terrorize.” The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 2003 that states can ban cross-burning, though it warned that the intent to intimidate must be proven in each case. Whatever Hobbs’ intent, the Stone Mountain Memorial Association CEO said the event would violate its ordinances against disruptions to the park and actions that present a “clear and present danger.”

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