Forsyth Committee Agrees On How To Disagree, Chairman Says
May. 14, 1987
CUMMING, Ga. (AP) _ The chairman of a panel studying Forsyth County's racial practices said the group has reached a turning point in its work by agreeing to disagree about its conclusions.
Phill Bettis, a Cumming attorney, said the committee agreed Wednesday to issue a final report that will include position papers from each side on the various topics it considers. The final report could come as soon as late June, he said.
The 12-member committee of blacks and whites was appointed after civil rights marchers werand organizations, the others by the Coalition to End Fear and Intimidation in Forsyth County.
Bettis said Wednesday's meeting was ''an extremely good meeting, probably the best'' of the seven held since work began in February.
When the committee prepares its report, he said, ''we'll each issue a position paper from local views and coalition views and then we will review the two together and draw a consensus on what we agree on and what we disagree on.''
He said the decision over the format was important because the committee members realized there would be points on which they could not agree.
Recent meetings have been tense as members grappled with their differing opinions, Bettis said.
''We've tested ourselves under fire and we know how we work and we have a method to conclude (the) issues,'' he said.
Heading the list of issues presented to the committee is that of repatriation, involving the possible reimbursement of black landowners who were driven from the county in 1912 following the death of a white teen-ager who said she had been raped by three black youths. Few blacks have lived in the county since then.
Attorney General Michael Bowers' office is researching whether land claims can still be made. Bettis has said the committee expects to adopt Bowers' findings, which it expects to receive by the end of June.
In addition, community leaders asked the committee to study the reimbursement of city and county businesses for revenue lost as a result of a march Jan. 17 and a larger one by about 25,000 civil rights demonstrators a week later. The first march of about 75 people was interrupted when some Ku Klux Klansmen and sympathizers threw rocks and bottles.
Other topics include whether state and federal equal employment and housing laws have been violated in the county.