Atlanta (CNSNews.com) - A featured speaker at Saturday's civil rights march in Atlanta said the Bush administration and Republican Party leaders are "thieves" who "need to be locked up" for stealing the past two presidential elections and presiding over federal budget deficits and the war in Iraq.
"They all need to be locked up because they are all criminals and they are all thieves," said Judge Greg Mathis, the star of the syndicated television program "The Judge Mathis Show."
Mathis made his remarks to an enthusiastic crowd assembled in Atlanta to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Participants are launching a two-year campaign to extend and strengthen key aspects of the act when it expires in 2007.
"It is indeed criminal to steal an election and within two years run up a federal deficit of half-a-trillion dollars, send our young people over to Iraq to die for an unjust war. What they are doing is criminal," Mathis said to loud cheers.
The march was sponsored by the Rainbow/PUSH Coalition and included leaders from the National Urban League, The Southern Christian Leadership Conference, the NAACP, and the AFL-CIO.
Entertainer/activist Harry Belafonte also used charged rhetoric during the march when he referred to black members of the Bush administration as "black tyrants."
Mathis, whose speech drew the largest and most raucous reception from the crowd, also chastised the Supreme Court for its role in the 2000 presidential recount.
"[The] Supreme Court was an accomplice to the biggest election crime in history in 2000. And I call it a crime because indeed that is exactly what it was," he said to applause.
The Bush administration was equated with past policies of slavery and segregation and labeled "the enemy of our (black America's) progress" by Mathis.
"They shot and missed when they enslaved, segregated and oppressed our people. They shot and missed when they stole the past two presidential elections. They shot and missed when they denied our right to vote," Mathis said.
An extension and strengthening of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 is imperative to ensure black Americans the right to vote, according to Mathis. "The enemy of democracy continues to attack voting rights here, while they try to fight for democracy in Iraq," he said.
'Intimidation and discrepancies'Democratic House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi of California appeared at the march and noted that minorities may not have had full voting rights in the last two presidential elections.
"Some changes have to be made so we don't have a repeat of 2000 and 2004 where there was intimidation and discrepancies at the polls," Pelosi told Cybercast News Service during the voting rights march.
"In the state of Ohio, where they had fewer voting booths and long lines in minority neighborhoods and no lines and many voting booths in white neighborhoods, that the balance is not what it should have been," she added.
U.S. Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.) echoed the accusation of many at the march that Bush was an illegitimate president.
"The last two elections were stolen. They were stolen and so we will not rest until we reclaim our democracy and this is what today is all about," Lee told the crowd gathered.
Lee also called the war in Iraq "unnecessary, immoral and illegal" and added "our nation was lied to in order to justify this invasion and occupation."
Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA) made it clear who the marchers were directing their anger at on Saturday.
"We are here to take on President Bush, [Vice President] Dick Cheney. We are here to take on [House Majority Leader] Tom DeLay. We are here to take on the new appointee to the Supreme Court, John Roberts," Waters said from the podium to cheers from the crowd.
'Cause Mother Earth so much pain'
Musician Stevie Wonder addressed the marchers demanding that the Voting Rights Act be extended and strengthened.
"Having to demand that we have a bill that will guarantee the voting rights of all American citizens forever is ridiculous," Wonder said. He also read the lyrics of an upcoming song to be released in September.
"At this time we have a choice to make. Father God is watching while we cause Mother Earth so much pain. It's such a shame. Not enough money for the young, the old, the poor, but for war there is always more," Wonder said.
The Bush administration was also targeted by Rep. Charles Rangel (D-N.Y.), who declared that the president's "record against human rights, civil rights, economic rights, is absolutely terrible."
Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich.) said America was being ruled by the "Bush mentality," where "crony capitalism" was supreme.
Jesse Jackson said the Voting Rights Act extension is critical because "the same old enemies of civil rights and voting rights will always keep up their ugly activities.
"Race baiters and discriminators may go underground, but they never move out of town," Jackson said.
The organizers of Saturday's march want to strengthen and preserve Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, which maintains that states with a discriminatory past must submit all changes in voting procedures to the U.S. Department of Justice for approval in order to ensure the changes do not have racially discriminatory effects or purposes.
While the Bush administration and House Judiciary Committee Chairman James Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.) have indicated that they would support full reauthorization of the Voting Rights Act provisions in 2007, the organizers of Saturday's march believe they must begin acting now to ensure their goals.
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