Johnny Ford, despite his repeated efforts, unable to get arrested during protests

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It wasn’t for lack of trying.

Tuskegee Mayor Johnny Ford outside of the office of Gov. Robert Bentley at the Capitol on Tuesday morning. (Montgomery Advertiser photo)

Protesting the closing of VictoryLand, Tuskegee mayor Johnny Ford walked to the offices of Gov. Robert Bentley, Attorney General Luther Strange, and the Alabama Legislature Tuesday, seeking to get arrested. Ford was unsuccessful in each attempt, in part because he did not engage in actions that would lead to being detained — for instance, attempting to block the door in the governor’s office.

“They would have just simply pushed me back,” Ford said after leaving the attorney general’s office lobby early Tuesday afternoon.

Ford, who may be the most outspoken supporter of VictoryLand, said he also attempted to engage in civil disobedience at the casino, but was not detained by state troopers there.

Gov. Bentley was not in his office Tuesday, nor was Strange. Ford told staffers at each location that he believed the raid was a violation of the constitutional amendment approved by Macon County voters that authorized bingo. Staffers for Bentley and Strange told Ford they would convey his feelings to their bosses.

Ford’s attempts at civil disobedience in the Legislature were equally unsuccessful, but he did meet with Sen. Billy Beasley, D-Clayton, whose district includes VictoryLand, and Sen. Bobby Singleton, D-Greensboro, whose district includes GreeneTrack. Beasley, referring to the 300 people employed at VictoryLand, said after meeting with Ford that “300 families are without jobs” following the action.

Ford said he planned to pursue a federal lawsuit over the closing.

“We legislate, we agitate — we go to jail — and now we’re going to litigate,” he said.

– by Brian Lyman

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