Georgia deputy says he’d charge Black people with fake felonies to stop voting

"I'm going to charge them with whatever felonies I can to take away their ability to vote," he texted.

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An investigation revealed a former white Georgia sheriff’s deputy bragged in text messages to alleged white supremacists about his treatment of Black people while on the job.

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The Bellville News-Democrat reported an FBI affidavit revealed ex-Wilkinson County deputy, Cody Richard Griggers, was fired last November after it was found he shared that he had beaten a Black person he arrested and planned to charge Black Georgians with felonies to keep them from voting.

The FBI contacted the local sheriff to inform them of the investigation.

The 28-year-old and former Marine pleaded guilty to one count of possession of an unregistered firearm on Monday in federal court in Macon. According to the report, Griggers faces a maximum of 10 years in prison when he is sentenced in July. The FBI investigation probed into illegal guns and their alleged ties to a California man said to have made violent political statements on Facebook.

Voting Access Bill Sparks Controversy In Georgia
Demonstrators stand outside of the Georgia Capitol building, to oppose the HB 531 bill on March 3, 2021 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Megan Varner/Getty Images)

The FBI began looking into Griggers in August when agents searched the cellphone of a San Diego man and discovered group text messages with a group where members referred to themselves as “Shadow Moses” or “Shadmo,” court documents state. Griggers text messages claimed he had gathered illegal firearms and explosives and also made weaponry.

When the FBI searched Griggers’ patrol car in November, they found a machine gun “with an obliterated serial number,” and in his home, “an unregistered short barrel shotgun.”

According to BND, prosecutors claimed Griggers “also expressed viewpoints consistent with racially motivated violent extremism, including the use of racial slurs, slurs against homosexuals and making frequent positive references to the Nazi holocaust.”

In some text messages, he bragged about his use of excessive force against Black suspects, citing a specific incident in Aug. 2019 correspondence.

“I beat the (expletive) out of a (racial slur) Saturday. (Expletive) tried to steal (a gun magazine) from the local gun store. … Sheriff’s dept. said it looked like he fell,” the affidavit noted, quoting Griggers, according to the report.

Wilkinson Sheriff Richard Chatman said the story was false and Griggers was “being braggadocious.”

“We don’t even have a gun shop here,” he said.

Chatman continued, “I think he may have been working in the jail (at the time). … We looked at all the cases he may have been involved in and we never had any complaints on him of any kind. We looked back and we pulled (records) of anything that he had taken a warrant for, any call that he had gone on, and we found nothing [that raised any red flags].”

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Revealed in the text messages, Griggers also shared his desire to have purposely charged Black people with felonies to prevent them from voting. The group chat also discussed “killing liberal politicians” and saying they could “make it look like Muslims” were at fault.

“It’s a sign of beautiful things to come,” he wrote, according to the affidavit. “Also I’m going to charge them with whatever felonies I can to take away their ability to vote.”

In Georgia, voting laws have been passed that help Griggers’ stated goals of suppressing the rights of citizens looking to exercise their civic duty. As theGrio reported, Gov. Brian Kemp signed into law a sweeping Republican-sponsored overhaul of state elections that includes new restrictions on voting by mail and gives the legislature greater control over how elections are run.

Democrats and voting rights groups say the law will disproportionately disenfranchise voters of color. It is part of a wave of GOP-backed election bills introduced in states around the nation after former President Donald Trump stoked false claims that fraud led to his 2020 election defeat.

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Stacey Abrams speaks to Biden supporters at Turner Field in Atlanta in 2020. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson, File)

Among highlights, the law requires a photo ID in order to vote absentee by mail, after more than 1.3M Georgia voters used that option during the COVID-19 pandemic. It also cuts the time people have to request an absentee ballot and limits where ballot drop boxes can be placed and when they can be accessed.

The law also reduces the timeframe in which runoff elections are held, including the amount of early voting for runoffs. And it bars outside groups from handing out food or water to people standing in line to vote.

The backlash against the legislation has resulted in corporations removing productions and events from the Peach State. Politician and organizer Stacey Abrams criticized the companies who choose to remain silent.

“The companies that stood silently by or gave mealy-mouthed responses during the debate were wrong,” Abrams said in an interview with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution about what critics believe amounts to voter suppression. “What people want to know now is where they stand on this fundamental issue of voting rights.” 

“Hopefully, we’ll build such a hue and cry that the legislature will have to correct what they’ve done,” Abrams continued. “But these companies sell their products across the country, and across the country, there are Black and brown voters who need to know they’re not being left behind.”

This article contains additional reporting by theGrio’s Blue Telusma.

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