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Civil rights group forming local chapter

September 11, 1998|By DAVE McMILLION, Charles Town

NEW MARKET, Md. - The Southern Christian Leadership Conference, a national civil rights organization founded by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., is about to increase its presence in the area, a local black leader said Thursday.

Members of the organization plan to meet Sunday to begin organizing a new chapter that will represent Washington and Frederick counties.

Officials from the national chapter of The Southern Christian Leadership Conference will meet with local members of the organization at 4 p.m. at the Simpson Christian Community Church, 20 E. Main St., in New Market, to explore forming a bi-county chapter of the group.

Until now, the Southern Christian Leadership Conference has had few chapters in rural areas, said the Rev. Philip Hundley.

"We're about to change that," he said.

Hundley said the organization is being formed because several issues need to be addressed, including the circumstances surrounding an incident last September at the former National Guard Armory on North Potomac Street in Hagerstown, where Hundley helped run two programs.

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Last year, Hagerstown officials cut off power and water to the building at the request of the state of Maryland, which owns the building. Utility bills at the building had not been paid.

Hundley said he never received the bills, and suggested he was a victim of racial discrimination.

Mayor Robert E. Bruchey II and City Administrator Bruce Zimmerman denied at the time that city officials were discriminating against Hundley.

An House of Prayer for All People, for which Hundley served as bishop, and 21st Century Teens, for which he served as president, were forced out of the building, along with Has Beens Boxing, Hundley said.

Zimmerman said at the time that significant life-threatening safety code violations needed to be fixed.

Hundley said his organization never received notices of payment due and questioned the accuracy of the water bill. City officials said the total was $3,202 for water use from March 1997 to early June 1997.

Hundley has said his group spent about $147,000 to fix the building. He said plumbing work that the group performed should have prevented such a large bill.

Hundley said he wants to see the groups reimbursed for the work they did to the building, and for lost meeting space.

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