Mayor member of all-white, all-male Anglers Club hearkening back to Jim Crow era
NEW SMYRNA BEACH -- The Rev. Lorenzo Laws of the Allen Chapel AME Church and others in the predominantly-African-American Westside community and other parts of this coastal community marched across the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Memorial Bridge and into the Old Fort Park downtown for the MLK holiday vigil.
In fact, a couple of nights after the incident, Barringer held a fundraiser at his beachside wine-bar restaurant for County Councilwoman Deb Denys' re-election campaign and neither availed themselves to the media or to the churches or residents offended by the flyer invasion.
The flyers -- with the image of the over-sized white hood that since the early days of Jim Crow has been the unmistakable symbol the mark of the militant and cross-burning Ku Klux Klan -- were contained in clear plastic baggies with fishing weights in them so they wouldn't blow away.
Headline Surfer®, which quickly followed Orlando's FOX 35 in breaking the story, was the lone media outlet to pay a visit to the church for that Sunday's worship attended by 40 or so regular worshippers, who mostly live in the tight-knit Westside, borne out of segregation, with separate black public schools as late as 1969, including the Chisholm School, which stands this day as an elementary school.
Only three public officials in Volusia County spoke out against the KKK visit in the middle of the night: County Chair Jason Davis, of Edgewater, a combat-wounded hero of the Iraq War; Webster Barnaby, a Deltona City commissioner, and at-large Councilwoman Joyce Cusack of DeLand, born and raised in the Westside community.
Volusia County County Chair Jason Davis, Deltona City Commissioner Webster Barnaby and At-Large County Councilwoman Joyce Cusack, shown left to right, were the only public officials countywide to speak out against the KKK flier drop in the Westside of New Smyrna Beach.
But here in New Smyrna Beach, where the KKK had strong influence at the turn of the previous century, from Jacksonville down through Oak Hill and across the area, including the back woods of Samsula, just west of the coastal communities, a group of privileged white men set up shop back in 2013 along the Intracoastal Waterway during the Jim Crow era where they established the exclusive "whites only" Anglers Club.
Barringer, and his father are members of that exclusive fishermen's club, which is private, invitation only, even as it sits on city-owned land.
And while the race restriction was lifted from the private club's charter back in the early 1970s by the federal government, it remains exclusively all-white as well as all-male.
The anglers enjoy all the amenities of a two-story clubhouse -- complete with outdoor grill, 47 large boat slips on prime riverfront acreage adjacent to the New Smyrna Beach Marina.
And get this: The Anglers pay $25 annually for the entire city-owned property through a long-term lease that continues for several more decades.
And while Barringer pledged in his election for office in 2009 to renegotiate the terms of the lease, he's done nothing of the sort to this day.
During his tenure in office, Barringer has pushed for upwards of $2 million in Community Redevelopment Agency grants -- taxpayer money intended to fight blight -- to instead fix up bars and to fund alcohol-fueled street parties on the beachside while the Westside continues to decay with crumbled sidewalks and decaying properties.
And on a day like today, the last person anyone in the Westside saw they would see was Adam Barringer, the flashy mayor with the pearly whites, who's known for giving speeches.
And while others had march the couple miles, the mayor pulled up to the downtown park in his white Barringer construction pick-up truck for the MLK rally and took center stage.
"The first words out of his mouth were, "How about a big round of applause for each and everyone of you who came out today."
The mayor then proceeded to wax poetic about how far race relations have come in the nearly 50 years since MLK's crusade. He equated Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson as an example of how far African Americans have come as far as prominence "where players are all equal -- not because of their skin color, but because of their talent.
Some in the crowd later joked that Barringer apparently never heard of a black QB for the Washington Redskins by the name of Doug Williams, who was MVP of Super Bowl XXII back in 1988 over the Denver Broncos.
For Melvin Brown, Sr., an elderly black man who has been fighting city hall for years, he did everything he could to hold his tongue and be respectful of the mayor.
"He has some gall," Brown said, adding Barringer's speech was self-serving, especially after calling his fellow city commissioners to the stage to take a bow -- Judy Reiker, Jack Grasty, Jason McGuirk and Kirk Jones, none of whom were available to media when the KKK furor was news.
"He has some gall," Westside citizen activist Melvin Brown, Sr., said, adding Barringer's speech was self-serving, especially after calling his fellow city commissuioners to yje stage to take a bow -- Judy Reiker, Jack Grasty, Jason McGuirk and Kirk Jones, none of whom were available to media when the KKK furor was news.
"Somethings just never change. At least they haven't in my lifetime here," Brown said, but adding he found comfort in seeing Headline Surfer® here as the internet newspaper has dome since it was established in 2008, covering the stories that matter.
Rev. Laws told Headline Surfer®, that he didn't contact the Justice Department about the KKK, but rather "they contacted me after learning about it online with your reporting and the other (bigger) media reports.
"They're going to bring an entourage and they're going to "get to the bottom of it," Laws told the 24/7 internet newspaper, reiterating what he had informed his congregants moments earlier in his sermon.
New Smyrna Beach police took filled-out complaints from four residents and ended its investigation within hours, even noting in its own incident report that that was trickled to media outlets over a period of days with no press release issued nor any attempt made to contact the FBI or the Justice Department.
Sabrina Brooks, a Westside resident, who found a flyer on her front yard when she walked out the door to go to work, said she was happy the community was able to come together for the MLK event, but in reality, nothing has really changed.
"It's sad," she said.
As for the mayor, when the ceremony ended, he hopped off the opposite side of the stage away from the reporter and into his pick-up truck. He didn't return calls for comment.