The President of the Baldwin County (Alabama) NAACP contacted the Baldwin County Sheriff’s Office last month to report receiving a “harassing telephone call” from area resident, Barry Swope.
Alec Barnett Jr., the Baldwin County NAACP President, describes Swope as “a nuisance,” and said that Swope has “harassed” him a few times in the past.
Barnett said that he had previously received a harassing phone call from Swope at the beginning of this year, at which time he told Swope not to contact him again.
Barnett explained that he also felt compelled to block Barry Swope and his wife Marcia Swope from the Baldwin County NAACP Facebook page a few months ago after receiving harassing communications from both of their Facebook accounts.
Contacting the authorities
Despite Barnett telling Swope to cease contact earlier this year, and also blocking him on Facebook, Swope’s attempts to contact Barnett continued.
According to Barnett, he received another harassing telephone call from Swope as recently as last month.
Barnett says that during the call, Swope became upset, made false accusations, and even told Barnett to stop speaking to journalists. An argument ensued, causing Barnett to insist (once again) that Swope stops calling his phone and ceases from contacting the Baldwin County NAACP.
After hanging-up on Swope, Barnett immediately called the Baldwin County Sheriff’s Office. Barnett says that he spoke with a Deputy who put him in-touch with a Chief Deputy.
“I was assured by the Chief Deputy that [Swope] would be contacted and that he would be warned not to contact me or harass me again. I was told that if he contacts me again, then he could be charged with communication harassment.”
Barnett’s wife, who was next to her husband at the time of the call, described Swope’s call as “unwelcome and hostile,” adding, “the work that my husband and the NAACP do in our community makes a huge impact on the lives of minorities and their children. Those who try to silence my husband’s voice should be ashamed of themselves.”
IPJ contacted Barry Swope, who admitted to speaking with Barnett, but refused to answer specific questions about the call. When IPJ asked him why he had contacted Barnett, Swope responded with intimidation and threats.
“I’m going to make sure you’re criminally charged,” Swope told IPJ.
Swope is presumably upset at IPJ for publishing a story about him eavesdropping on his tenants, and for writing stories that expose the corruption, racism and inequality that is rife within his community.
Swope later added: “But don’t worry. You are the small fish. The lawsuit is going to be against Alec Barnett.”
Barnett told IPJ: “It’s obvious that Barry Swope is using intimidation tactics in an attempt to silence people, including myself. He’s trying to intimidate me with lawsuits to try to keep me from doing my work for the black community. It isn’t going to work.”
Photo: Barry Swope
In a photo posted to Facebook in January of this year, Swope can be seen with his fists in the air, wearing a t-shirt with an image of the founder of the KKK and the words: “It’s history. And I dig it.”
Nathan Bedford Forrest later founded the Ku Klux Klan (KKK) and served as their first Grand Wizard in 1866.
Harassment towards the NAACP
Barnett said that he takes harassment seriously: “I don’t take harassment lightly, especially considering the history we have here in Alabama and the history of people harassing our [NAACP] members.”
Barnett explained that leaders of the NAACP are accustomed to being targets for harassment by hate groups like the KKK, and their sympathizers.
“Since 1909, [NAACP] leaders and members have been harassed and even murdered, just for speaking-out or taking a stand against injustice,” Barnett said.
Barnett went on to mention the 1963 murder of Medgar Evers, a civil rights leader who was shot and killed in his driveway after meeting with an NAACP attorney. A member of the KKK was convicted of Evers’ murder.
Barnett brought things closer to home by recounting the story of Rosa Parks, arguably the most famous member of the NAACP. In 1955, Parks refused to be intimidated, taking her famous stand against segregation in Alabama.
Barnett told IPJ: “[Swope’s] harassment and threats don’t intimidate me. It’s obvious there are still people here in Alabama who are trying to silence the black community. They can try to harass us all they want, they’ve been doing it to us for years. We’re not going to be silenced, no matter what people like Barry Swope say or do.”
Barry Swope operates a family counseling business named Focal Point Professional Services, LLC, in Daphne, Alabama. The business is located on a commercial property owned by his father in-law, where Swope also acts as a property manager to other tenants.
Earlier this year, Swope admitted to eavesdropping on the communications of his tenants, including monitoring a tenant’s telephone records and reading their emails.
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