Alabama King and Parks arrest records could be wiped by a bid

A civil rights pioneer is seeking to have her arrest record expunged after protesting racial discrimination for nearly 70 years. This has raised concerns about similar efforts to exonerate Martin Luther King Jr. and Rosa Parks.

Alabama King and Parks arrest records could be wiped by a bid

Parks was a Black seamstress who also became an activist and was convicted for violating racial discrimination laws. She refused to give her seat on a bus to a white man in 1955. King, who was a leader of the Montgomery Bus Boycott in 1956, was convicted of violating a ban on boycotts.

Parks refused to pay King a $10 fine. King and she went on to be icons of racial justice, civil rights and modern day activism. Fred Gray, a civil rights attorney, stated that both cases are still on the Montgomery books.

Gray stated that efforts to reverse King's conviction in court were unsuccessful. King was a young pastor at the time.

Gray stated that Gray could decide to file a suit on his behalf to get the record expunged. Gray said that Parks and other potential victims could be similarly exonerated.

Montgomery County District Attorney Daryl Bailey said that he supports the expungement of King and Parks' arrest records. However, he needs to review any request for details before responding to court.

Bailey and Gray represented Claudette Collvin when she requested a court to erase records that led to her arrest and conviction. She was unable to comply with Montgomery's March 1955 racial segregation laws by refusing to move to the back seat of a bus. Colvin, now 82, was a high school student of 15 years.

After filing the expungement request she stated that her mindset was focused on freedom. The matter has not been decided.

Phillip Ensler, Phillip Ensler's attorney, stated that he would support an effort to erase the court records of civil rights activists. Colvin was convicted of assaulting a police officer and was declared delinquent. However, he isn't certain that such an effort will be possible because there has been so much injustice.

She said, "That would take 100 years, maybe 200 years to get through the court system." It would take you forever to finish.

Parks' home, The King Center in Atlanta and The Rosa and Raymond Parks Foundation, Detroit, were unable to return email requests for comment.

Hundreds were detained across the South in civil rights demonstrations of the 1950s and 1960s. It's not clear how many people would like to have their arrest records removed, which many consider a badge or honor. Many refused to accept mass pardons offered by Birmingham to protestors arrested in 1963.

Gina Ishman, Montgomery County Circuit Clerk, stated that expunging court records removes convictions from defendants’ record, but does not generally result in the destruction or historical police and court records involving people such as Colvin King, King, and Parks.

Colvin, who was 20 when she left Alabama to go to New York, said that the conviction did not bother her. However, her family was concerned because they never received notice that her probation had ended. Colvin said that the worst part of her ordeal was the loss of high school friends due to her defiance.

Colvin stated, "They didn’t want to be around us."

Updated Date: 30 October 2021, 15:51

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