Timeline of Nuwaubian events
Macon Telegraph/May 9, 2002
Jan. 15, 1993 - Dwight York, aka Malachi Z. York, buys
476 acres at 404 Shady Dale Road from Arne and Sandra Gay Lassen
for $975,000. York and his followers from the Ansaaru Allah
Community begin moving from Sullivan County, N.Y., to the property
and surrounding communities.
Jan. 1, 1997 - Howard Sills takes office as sheriff of
April 10, 1997 - Nuwaubians refuse to let building
inspector J.D. "Dizzy" Adams onto the property to inspect
construction. When Adams returns the next day with Sills, the
Nuwaubians allow them onto the property, where Adams finds a
building under construction that has not been issued a permit.
Victor Greig, acting as York's representative in building and
zoning matters, is cited for building without a permit. The same
day, Adams issues Greig a permit for a 100-by-50-foot metal
storage building with limited electricity.
March 9, 1998 - After seeing an Atlanta television news
report about the Nuwaubians in which the "Rameses Social Club" is
featured, Sills and Adams return to 404 Shady Dale Road, because
the Nuwaubians had not secured permits for a nightclub. Nine days
later, Greig is cited by Sills and the state fire marshal for
violations regarding the nightclub. Rameses is the 100-by-50-foot
metal storage building with numerous additions, including
bathrooms, extensive lighting and sound equipment, larger
dimensions and an Egyptian-style facade.
April 20, 1998 - Magistrate Judge Sylvia Huskins finds
Greig guilty of violations of zoning and fire codes and fines him
$45,750 - a total calculated for each day that Rameses was open in
violation of the codes. The Georgia Court of Appeals later reduces
the fine to $2,500 but upholds the conviction.
May 5, 1998 - Sills sues York and others at the property
seeking an injunction preventing use of the Rameses nightclub.
Also in May, the Nuwaubians file a zoning request in which they
announce plans to build an "Egyptian theme park" comparable to
Busch Gardens in Florida. That zoning request is denied in
Jan. 4, 1999 - Putnam County Attorney Dorothy Adams and
law partner and husband Frank Ford file lawsuit 99-CV-1-1, seeking
to prevent the Nuwaubians from using the property for anything
other than residential or agricultural purposes. Under this
lawsuit - which ends three years later - numerous contempt of
court and other pleadings are filed by both sides, and a bitter
battle between the county and the Nuwaubians over zoning and
building permits begins. York and others are named as defendants
in the suit, along with 1 to 200 John Does and 1 to 200 Jane Does,
representing unnamed Nuwaubians.
May 20, 1999 - Superior Court Judge John Lee Parrott
issues a permanent injunction ordering Rameses to be padlocked and
not used, and giving Sills the authority to enter the property
during certain hours to inspect the building. The order allows for
the Nuwaubians to restore the building to its original permitted
state or to seek zoning to allow for the nightclub.
June 11, 1999 - As the annual Nuwaubian week-long
celebration known as "Savior's Day" - marking York's birthday -
approaches, Superior Court Judge Hugh V. Wingfield III orders York
to appear in court on a contempt motion filed by the county. York
does not appear as ordered June 22. Wingfield also orders several
buildings on the property to be padlocked by the sheriff.
June 25, 1999 - Savior's Day celebration begins. Members
are barred from entering buildings at the Nuwaubian village but
proclaim, "We love the sunshine." Gov. Roy Barnes meets with Sills
in Atlanta to discuss the timing of York's contempt hearing during
June 29, 1999 - With some 500 Nuwaubians packed inside
and outside the County Courthouse and another 200 law enforcement
officers waiting at nearby locations, York appears in court for
the contempt hearing. Wingfield orders the courtroom emptied of
all but the principal parties. After two hours behind closed
doors, attorneys for both sides emerge claiming agreements were
reached. The case, however, will drag on.
Sept. 15, 1999 - Civil rights leader Al Sharpton visits
the Nuwaubian village to address a crowd of about 150 Nuwaubians.
Sharpton accuses county officials of persecuting Nuwaubians
because of York's teachings. York makes a rare appearance before
the media and delivers a speech to the crowd in which he calls
white people "the devil" and says they should "go home" to Europe.
Feb. 17, 2000 - The brother of actor Wesley Snipes
confirms plans to purchase more than 200 acres adjoining the
Nuwaubian village, where he plans to build a "security guard
training facility." A Snipes spokeswoman says the actor has no
connection to the Nuwaubians. The county later denies permit
requests that would have cleared the way for the sale of the land
to Wesley Rudy Snipes, the actor's brother. A court action filed
by the current property owner, Stanley Bishop, is still pending.
May 23, 2000 - Pauline Rogers becomes the second of two
women to file child support actions claiming York is the father of
her son and daughter. Though a summons was issued, York never
appeared in court, and Rogers later dropped the action. The other
woman, [Ms. P.], filed her action through the state Department of
Human Resources' child support recovery office. Her action claims
York is the father of her son. [Ms. P.] still has an action
pending against York.
June 15, 2000 - The Putnam County Board of Registrars
begins purging primarily Nuwaubians who the county claims no
longer or never did live in the county from its voter rolls during
what will become a series of meetings. The Nuwaubians claim
discrimination and file a federal lawsuit, threatening to hold up
the July 18 primary election. A three-judge panel sides with the
county on its procedure for purging the voter rolls, allowing the
election to take place. Nearly 200 people were challenged, and
dozens of Nuwaubians were removed from the voter rolls.
July 18, 2000 - Despite strong opposition from
Nuwaubians on election day, Sills wins 72 percent of the vote.
Throughout the day, Nuwaubians crowd at intersections in Eatonton
encouraging voters to elect Sills' opposition.
Oct. 16, 2000 - Nuwaubian contractor Bernard Foster is
charged with slashing the tires on County Attorney Ford's vehicle
at a local grocery store. Days before, a hearing had been held
during which Ford said the county would issue certain building
permits to the Nuwaubians. But when the Nuwaubians attempted to
get the permits, the county building inspector said the group
provided inadequate information. Foster pleads guilty six months
later and is banished from the judicial circuit for three years.
Jan. 1, 2001 - A new slate of county commissioners take
office. District 3 Commissioner Steve Layson takes over the
chairman position from Ralph Perdomo after defeating Perdomo in
November. Sylbie Yon becomes the new commissioner in Layson's
April 27, 2001 - Rainbow/PUSH Coalition leader Jesse
Jackson visits the Nuwaubian village, pledging solidarity with
Nuwaubians in ongoing zoning and building dispute. Macon Mayor
Jack Ellis is among those attending Jackson's speech.
May 4, 2001 - County Commission in a 3-2 vote fires
Dorothy Adams as county attorney, claiming the commission wishes
to "move in a different direction," though during her four years
as county attorney, the county did not lose a lawsuit. Layson and
Yon say the firing does not indicate a change in policy toward the
Feb. 8, 2002 - A non-jury trial before Wingfield ends
99-CV-1-1. Wingfield gives the Nuwaubians 90 days to provide all
necessary information to the county building and zoning office to
obtain any building permits still outstanding. York is dismissed
from suit as a quit claim deed is filed, giving ownership of the
property to nine individuals who, since June 1999, have claimed to
be the owners of the property. The check to pay the fee at the
clerk's office to record the deed was drafted from the account of
the new county attorney's law firm. New County Attorney Bob Prior
says he has asked York's attorney to reimburse him the $16.
March 7, 2002 - Now calling the Rameses nightclub a
"fellowship hall" on permit applications, the Nuwaubians apply for
a building permit that will clear the way for the group to begin
using the building for the first time since it was padlocked in
1999. The building does not have to be taken back to its original
100-by-50-foot metal storage building status. Sills appeals the
issuance of the permit; the appeal is scheduled to be heard by the
Putnam County Planning and Zoning Commission next month.
May 8, 2002 - FBI agents and Putnam County sheriff's
officers raid the Nuwaubian village.