October 17, 2018 10:00 AM
Yesterday in Jefferson County, 40 African American senior citizens were denied a ride to the polls for the second day of early voting because of a “BBQ Becky.” In case you’re unaware of who BBQ Becky is, she is the lady who called police in Oakland, California this past May on some African American men who were holding a “barbecue” (or, let’s be real, it was a cookout) in a public space that the woman believed to be undesignated for that use. She was the first in a string of instances throughout the summer where white people were videotaped contacting authorities and being downright hostile for perceived, but often incorrectly assessed violations of community codes and regulations, to include a little girl selling water, a teenager who was a guest of a resident at a neighborhood pool, an actual resident of a neighborhood at the pool, and more. Lucky for Jefferson County’s version, there doesn’t appear to be video.
However, Black Votes Matter, the group holding the rally as a get out the vote event, did make a video of the seniors dancing toward the bus that was going to take them to the polls and a narration of what then occurred.
It seems that a passerby saw the bus and decided to call County Commission Chairman Mitchell McGraw to complain. Even though event organizers had gotten the rally approved by the Leisure Center’s director and county officials had been properly notified of the event in advance, the seniors asking for a ride to the polls was a bridge too far for someone who drove by. As Cliff Albright points out in the video, the look of the bus clearly made someone nervous. Jim Galloway noted in his article that all the seniors who were told they could not ride the bus to the polls still plan to vote. Good for them. On the other hand, it ends up not being a great look for Jefferson County and Chairman McGraw, who could have easily told the BBQ Becky that it’s perfectly legal for 501(c)(4)s to offer rides to the polls.