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 Putnam County.
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
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
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
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
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 Savior's Day.
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 former
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 Nuwaubians.
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