We thought civil rights violations came to an end after the murders of the 3 civil rights workers (James Chaney, Andrew Goodman, and Michael Schwerner) caused such righteous indignation, and the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was signed into law…we thought wrong.
Richard Lofton, the man pictured here, is, from all reports I have received, a nice, soft-spoken, intelligent man. He has chosen to attend church and Bible study at Christ’s Church In Action (CCIA) for the past two years. Last year he began to notice some strange things were happening to him because of where he attends church. The following detailed information has been reported to me regarding the discrimination against Mr. Lofton:
FIRST INCIDENT OF DISCRIMINATION, AT THE GATHERING PLACE/SIDETRACK COFFEEHOUSE, BY TERRENCE ROBERTS:
In May of 2008, Mr. Lofton went into The Gathering Place/Sidetrack Coffeehouse with Lucinda Johnson, a friend from church. She had been invited to sing at a meeting of the Mississippi Writers Guild by the author Robert J. Ray, who had heard her sing at a local restaurant previously. When Mr. Lofton and Ms. Johnson arrived, they found out that the meeting had been changed to another day. Since they were already there, they decided to stay and have a beverage and a bite to eat. Ms. Johnson sat at a table while Mr. Lofton went up to the counter to order. Terrence Roberts, who runs the place, told him, “I’m sorry, I can’t serve you.”
Mr. Lofton went back to the table, feeling very angry at this. He had been to The Gathering Place/Sidetrack Coffeehouse many times since its opening in 2006, and he had never been refused service. He realized that it was because of who he was with, Lucinda Johnson (and therefore the association with CCIA), that he was refused service at the restaurant. This was a violation of his rights due to where he chooses to go to church and Bible study.
ANOTHER INCIDENT OF DISCRIMINATION, BY CRYSTAL DUPRE OF THE MERIDIAN STAR, COMPLICIT WITH MAYOR JOHN ROBERT SMITH AND MERIDIAN CAO KEN STORMS:
On September 30, 2008, Mr. Lofton stood patiently in a long line and picked up 4 tickets to “Sample the South,” a public food tasting event. Many local restaurants were going to be represented, and a prominent, syndicated (humorous) food columnist named Robert St. John was going to be there. Mr. Lofton and his three friends were dressed up, and looking forward to this event. When Mr. Lofton brought the tickets back out, he was told by Crystal Dupre, the publisher of the local newspaper, The Meridian Star, that he and his friends were not allowed to go in to the event. This event had been written up 2 or 3 times in the paper and was a highly anticipated event; yet, cruelly, and without explanation, Mr. Lofton was turned away, as were his three friends (his pastor, Wade Demers, Mrs. Demers, and Lucinda Johnson.) Again, Mr. Lofton says that he believes it is because of where he chooses to go to church, that he was discriminated against.
He was never given a reason as to why they could not go in. He had never done anything to cause Crystal Dupre to do this to him. Neither had his friends done anything. Crystal Dupre, on the other hand, had banned her reporters from talking to them, because she did not want the truth about the crimes committed against these victims in Meridian, Mississippi (by the police and the mayor’s office) to come out.
She told the victims, “You’ll NEVER get the truth out in my newspaper. You’ll have to find another way to get the truth out.” To this day, since Ms. Dupre’s edict, no one from Christ’s Church In Action can even advertise in The Meridian Star, and Crystal Dupre’s reporters are under threat from her if they even talk to anyone who attends that church. (If you will read the article "CRYSTAL'S FOLLY": CRYSTAL DUPRE (Publisher of The Meridian Star) ORDERS DEPRIVATION OF RIGHTS TO BOTH BLACK AND WHITE MEMBERS/ATTENDEES OF CHURCH! MAYOR AND CAO INVOLVED!, you will see the mayor’s direct involvement in depriving Mr. Lofton and the others of their rights.)
MERIDIAN POLICE DEPARTMENT:
A few days after they were turned away from this event, Mr. Lofton and his friends went to the Meridian, Mississippi Police Station to file a complaint about the violation of their civil rights. Mr. Lofton says that he sat there and watched as a detective (Detective Massie) began to take a complaint, but then Detective Massie’s superior (Lt. James Sharpe) came in, took the detective out of the room, and told him not to write anything down. Lt. Sharpe then left, and came back a few minutes later and ordered everyone to leave who came to make the complaint. Lt. Sharpe actually threatened them with arrest if they did not leave the police station! (The victims believe that Lt. Sharpe went and talked to the mayor, who was in another part of the building at the time.)
I don’t care who you are or what anyone’s opinion is of you, you deserve equal protection under the law. Richard Lofton began to realize that this was not true for him and his friends in Meridian, Mississippi...he realized that they were being denied their rights, threatened, and intimidated just like black people were in the 60’s, and no one in the city seemed to care. He realized it was not for the color of his skin but due to his religious beliefs…yet, for a black man who lived through the terror and the hatred of the 60’s in Meridian, Mississippi, this was not a pleasant experience to go through, to say the least.
STILL, THERE IS MORE DISCRIMINATION, BY TERRENCE ROBERTS AT THE GATHERING PLACE:
On February 26, 2009, Mr. Lofton attended a meeting of the Mississippi Writers Guild (MWG) with Lucinda Johnson, held at The Gathering Place/Sidetrack Coffeehouse. It was a celebration of African-American authors in honor of Black History Month, and Ms. Johnson had been invited to be on the program by Barry McMullan, the head of the Meridian Chapter of the MWG, and Ms. Ruth Jones, a distinguished lady who was in charge of the program that evening. Terrence Roberts had said in the past that if a person or group invited them to a function being held at his place, there was nothing he could do about that; he could not stop them from attending another group’s function. However, Mr. Lofton and Ms. Johnson did not attempt to purchase a beverage or anything from the counter. They simply sat in the audience and Ms. Johnson did her reading when it was her turn.
Mr. Lofton and Ms. Johnson were invited back to the next MWG meeting, to be held on March 26, 2009, and they planned to attend.
At the end of the meeting, Ms. Johnson mentioned to Ms. Jones that she and Mr. Lofton, in the past, had been refused service by Terrence Roberts, and Ms. Jones was shocked. When Ms. Jones asked Ms. Johnson why, Ms. Johnson said that Terrence Roberts had never given them a reason. Ms. Jones said that she considered herself a “peacemaker,” and was going to ask Terrence about it.
Terrence Roberts apparently kept this older woman waiting for 45 minutes while he chatted with a young woman, and then, he finally came over to talk to Ms. Jones. She reminded him gently that he was a pastor, and that he should want to make peace, and asked him why these people were not allowed to be served at his establishment.
Mr. Roberts apparently said that he would answer her question, and said, “Wait just a minute.” He went in to the back and came out with a letter with CCIA letterhead on it. (Probably the letter on this website in News called “Terrence Roberts of New Wine Ministries caught practicing religious discrimination….”) He did not bring the letter over, however, but went to the bar to wait on some customers. He chatted with them, and never answered Ms. Jones question, made her wait 15 more minutes (totaling an hour), then told her he did not have time to talk to her. She left, naturally upset at what he had done.
Ms. Jones, however, apparently talked to Mr. Roberts the next day, and he slandered Mr. Lofton’s pastor, the pastor’s wife, and Ms. Johnson. (This is a trick of Terrence Roberts and other slanderers; he will not say these things while the victims are present—thus the stalling technique in not talking to Ms. Jones while Mr. Lofton and Ms. Johnson were present—and they will lie and slander when the victims are not there to defend themselves with the truth.)*
The way they found this out is that Ms. Jones told them what had been said about them (all lies) on Saturday, February 28, 2009, at a street-naming ceremony in honor of the late Obie Clark, Meridian, Mississippi Civil Rights Pioneer.
On this day, after the ceremony, Terrence Roberts encountered Mr. Lofton, Ms. Johnson, Pastor Demers, and Mrs. Demers and yelled, in the street, in front of his dad (George Roberts) and other witnesses: “None of you (who go to that church) are allowed in my place! And that includes the Writers Guild meetings.” He also said, when asked why, that it is because they are “the apostasy.” Terrence Roberts proved his religious bigotry in banning these people from his restaurant/meeting place because they go to a certain church and they are, in his mind, “the apostasy.”
Ms. Johnson and Mr. Lofton were, obviously, at this point, in a dilemma due to this, because Ms. Johnson had been invited to be on the program for the next Writers Guild meeting. So, Ms. Johnson contacted Daniel Lee, the Executive Director/Treasurer of the Mississippi Writers Guild (MWG). He assured her, on the phone and in writing, that the MWG has a no-discrimination policy and that all are welcome to attend meetings. Based on this, Mr. Lofton and Ms. Johnson attended the next meeting of the MWG on Thursday, March 26, 2009. (The group meets on the last Thursday of each month, at The Gathering Place.)
They arrived for the meeting, and sat at the front table with Barry McMullan (Meridian MWG Chapter Head). Mr. McMullan signed up Ms. Johnson to be on the program; she was to go second, after Daniel Lee. Mr. McMullan also invited Mr. Lofton to be on the program, but Mr. Lofton said that he didn’t have anything to share. However, Mr. Lofton expressed to Ms. Johnson that he was thinking he would like to read something at the next meeting, in April.
They sat there for a few more minutes and all seemed to be going fine. Daniel Lee had given Ms. Johnson a copy of the MWG booklet to read, as she was thinking of becoming a member. He told her to make sure she gave it back, because he only had two, and the rest were at the printers. She said she would.
After a few minutes Ms. Johnson looked up and noticed that Terrence Roberts was bounding up to the front towards their table, with a policeman. They came right up to the table and Terrence announced, in front of everyone, that Ms. Johnson and Mr. Lofton had to leave. This was very embarrassing for Mr. Lofton and Ms. Johnson, who, of course, got up to leave. (What else could they do, with a policeman there like that?) As the police officer and Terrence Roberts escorted Mr. Lofton and Ms. Johnson out, they passed by a table where Daniel Lee was sitting with three other people, and Ms. Johnson said to Daniel Lee, “Daniel, I put your booklet back on your table.” Mr. Lee did not look at her, but according to my reports, deliberately looked down, and said, “Okay.”
Can you believe this? Mr. Lofton and Ms. Johnson had done absolutely NOTHING to warrant this. Mr. Lofton has reported that the police officer, with Terrence Roberts standing there, told him and Ms. Johnson that if they came back, they would be charged with trespassing! (Remember, Ms. Johnson and Mr. Lofton had never done anything to cause Terrence Roberts to ban them or remove them!)
Ms. Johnson apparently tried to nicely tell the officer that Mr. Roberts was discriminating against them and violating the Civil Rights Act which prohibits discrimination because of religion, color of skin, etc. The officer said that he didn’t know anything about that, and repeated that they were not to come back, or they would be charged with trespassing.
Where were the Writers Guild people on this? What happened to the no-discrimination policy? I guess it’s just on paper, and if a guy like Terrence Roberts, who likes to “throw his weight around,” decides to pick on some people, the Writers Guild just caves in, stays silent, and becomes complicit in breaking the law with Terrence Roberts; kind of like a silent partner in crime—an undeclared co-conspirator in the deprivation of rights.
No one defended these people from being taken away for no reason other than the church they attend. It appears to us that this is no different than what was done to the black people in the 60’s and the Jews in Nazi Germany. People were silent and turned their backs while this kind of thing went on against their fellow man.
As a person observing this from here in New England, this looks very bad to me, and I have a question: What could possibly be the reason for people down there wanting to hurt Mr. Lofton, who is a native son from Meridian, Mississippi? It’s not like he’s a northerner from New England like the Demerses and Ms. Johnson (which it seems causes some of the “good ol’ boy” prejudice to come out), and it is obviously not because he is black...he has had no problem getting served in restaurants and attending any public event he wanted to in the past, before he started attending CCIA. And, as stated previously, he had been served in the Sidetrack many times, prior to his walking in with Ms. Johnson, whom Terrence Roberts knew attended CCIA.
WE REALLY WONDER WHY NO ONE IN THAT CITY SEEMS TO CARE WHAT’S BEEN DONE TO THIS MAN!
POSSIBLE INSIGHT INTO THE ABOVE STATEMENT:
Perhaps we can get some insight into this by examining some quotes from emails by Daniel Lee, the Executive Director/Treasurer of the Mississippi Writers Guild…Mr. Lee apparently has been participating in some gossip, and is believing slanderous reports he has read--so he decided to launch a vicious verbal attack on Ms. Johnson in a phone call subsequent to that night. She reported this to me, and was very hurt and upset by it.
Apparently Ms. Johnson had called Mr. Lee’s behavior into question regarding his possible involvement with Terrence Roberts in discriminatory behavior and violation of the law. After all, Mr. Lee had assured her that the Guild does not discriminate, and that the Guild would not participate in that kind of thing. Yet, when the actual event came, he, the Executive Director and Treasurer of the MWG, definitely participated as he “looked the other way,” literally, as Mr. Lofton’s rights, and hers, were violated, and their reputations maligned. (Remember, Mr. Lofton had come at the invitation of Ms. Johnson and the Writers Guild through Barry McMullan and through Daniel Lee, whose emails to Ms. Johnson had assured her that all Guild meetings were open to anyone who wished to attend and that the Guild would not discriminate. Well, the Guild DID discriminate by its passive complicity with the removal of these two people due to their religious beliefs! Also, Mr. McMullan had invited Mr. Lofton to be on the program! Yet, both stood by and did nothing while this innocent man was taken away. Seems like a cruel "set-up" of some kind to me.)
If someone commits a crime, and you see it, but don’t say anything or do anything, you have assisted in that crime. That person would not be able to get away with it if you did the right thing. That is why so much corruption exists; it is because you and I have looked the other way. That is why people like Hitler got away with what he did, because so-called “good people” looked the other way while the Jews were taken away. And, it wasn’t until people started standing up and saying, “No more of this,” that the denial of the rights of black people started to go away.
The reason Ms. Johnson had contacted Mr. Lee, prior to attending this meeting, was due to Terrence Roberts’ discriminatory, vitriolic, and erratic behavior.
To back up a bit, in late 2006, Terrence Roberts had violently yelled at and then forbid Pastor Demers and his wife, then Lucinda Johnson, from going in to his place. He supposedly claimed it was because his barkeep had overheard a conversation Pastor Demers was having, at a table in the Sidetrack, with a lawyer from Jackson who had asked Pastor Demers some questions. Supposedly, Terrence’s barkeep didn’t like Pastor Demers’ answers, so he complained to Terrence, who told Pastor Demers and his wife not to come in anymore. (Interesting excuse on Terrence’s part, because that person sees Pastor Demers and his wife occasionally around town and is very friendly with them.)
(Terrence Roberts never explained why Mrs. Demers was not allowed in, or why Ms. Johnson was not allowed in; and he has never explained it to this day.) Every so often Pastor and Mrs. Demers would stop by or call and ask Terrence if he had changed his mind and if they could start coming in again. Terrence would say varying things, such as:
Ø “I’ll think about it,”
Ø “I’ll pray about it,”
Ø “Not at this time,” and
Ø “If someone invites you to a function, you can come, there’s nothing I can do about that.”
Because of this last remark, when Lucy Johnson was invited by Richelle Putnam (President and Founder, MWG) and Barry McMullan (Meridian MWG Chapter Head) to attend the January 2009 meeting, she went.
She sat at Ms. Putnam’s table that night, and was asked to perform her original civil rights song that evening, which she did. She was invited back to sing at the February meeting for Black History Month. She invited Mr. Lofton to go along with her. As stated previously, Mr. Lofton and Ms. Johnson attended the February meeting, and then went in March.
After the unceremonious removal of Mr. Lofton and Ms. Johnson at the March 26th meeting, we at The Arm of Justice were attempting to see if Terrence Roberts was acting alone, or if the Mississippi Writers Guild was acting in concert with him, even passively. Mr. Lee showed his true colors when, shockingly, I received a rather vitriolic email in my email box. The full email and all of the insane things that this man said will be made available at another time. For now, I will simply share with you these quotes to me from Mr. Lee:
“You, and every one else involved with CCIA/AOJ, are liars, frauds, charlatans, and buffoons!”
“In all probability, you are…one of the other crackpot morons they attract!”
Lucinda Johnson also reported that she couldn’t believe the slanderous and spiteful things he said to her on the telephone.
A point to be made is, even if the victims (and I) are buffoons (etc.), what does that have to do with the crimes committed against them? These people are victims of arson and deprivation of their rights under color of law. Don’t buffoons get equal protection under the law? And, buffoonery may not be a legally provable offense; it may be just someone’s opinion of you, and therefore, as a buffoon, you may not be entitled to equal protection under the law. No, wait—that is Daniel Lee’s thinking, not mine!
Further, it could just be someone who does not want to do the right thing and therefore gets verbally violent at the one who points this out, calling that person who has pointed out their foible a “buffoon,” and a liar, charlatan, fraud, and crackpot moron. It is sad to think that not only does Mr. Lofton have to put up with the harassment of the 60’s, but Mr. Lee has had to resort to name-calling and insulting Mr. Lofton’s intelligence.
And, I use the term “foible” lightly…what he did was seriously wrong. All it would have taken was a few words from him, and Terrence may have not been able to get away with violating these people’s rights. For that matter, Mr. McMullan, Mr. Lee, and Ms. Putnam could have simply taken Terrence Roberts aside, ahead of time, and said, “Terrence, these people have a right to attend our meetings because we have a strict non-discrimination policy and we are going to stand by it.” But, I guess the “ostrich with the head in the sand” technique is easier. Unfortunately, that is how Hitler got away with killing Jews and Rainey got away with having the three civil rights workers killed. And, maybe they (MWG leaders) are afraid of Terrence.
From what I understand, Pastor Demers plans on reading Mr. Lee’s vicious email at the next full Bible study, so that all of the members of the assembly at Christ’s Church In Action will realize what type of ferociousness is coming out of the members of this community which is causing the atmosphere of hatred and violence. This email will be read at the Bible study, just in time for the return of one of the members of the assembly who has been away on vacation…he happens to be a manager for Amtrak. (I guess Amtrak is hiring “buffoons” these days...and I guess he must be a “liar,” a “fraud,” a “charlatan,” and a “crackpot moron,” to use Daniel Lee’s words.)
A LITTLE SIDE NOTE:
Many people consider Pastor Demers to be the patron saint of hopeless cases, because he does help the helpless and hopeless people who many times “fall through the cracks” of society. Many, many times this man and his wife have taken, into their home (the church parsonage), people with mental, physical, spiritual, and substance abuse problems, and people who have had breakdowns of various kinds. These people were not and are not members of the church, but were people who had, as I said, “fallen through the cracks” of the normal psychiatric and/or medical “nets.”
And, for those people, though not members of the assembly of CCIA, it is still highly insulting for Mr. Lee to characterize their problems in such an insulting and demeaning fashion, like some kind of Eugenicist.
It should be noted that on more than one occasion, the type of hopeless cases that Pastor Demers and his wife would help had been referred to Pastor Demers by other pastors who have failed with these individuals; and even though these pastors probably have been involved in slandering Pastor Demers, when they are desperate, they call him.
For Mr. Lee to characterize Pastor Demers as bad for helping these people is like saying that people who assist in the Special Olympics are bad for helping those participants…and to insult the participants themselves. Was Mr. Lee not aware of these people, or is he merely referring to, for example, the people who were asked to be on the Mississippi Writers Guild program on March 26th, Mr. Lofton and Ms. Johnson? Or, is it because Mr. Lofton is black? Or because Ms. Johnson is (gasp) a “Yankee"?
Just what is his reason for the cruel phone call with Ms. Johnson and the nasty email he sent to me? Why that malicious outburst? What is this man’s intention? What is his motivation? These are questions we need to ask, as we continue to explore this massive slander campaign launched and fed by Meridian, Mississippi Mayor John Robert Smith, pastors in Meridian, Mississippi, and others.
*Update: Ms. Jones subsequently told one of the victims that it was not Terrence she had spoken with. However, she would not say who told her the slanderous things she believed and repeated. Apparently Terrence's "slander tentacles" reach far and wide in the city.
 The Gathering Place is in a large building and has a coffeehouse/restaurant, a movie theater room, bookstore, banquet rooms, and many other rooms which Terrence Roberts advertises and rents out to groups and private individuals for all types of things from private parties to business seminars. Terrence Roberts claims that he is a pastor and that the Gathering Place/Sidetrack Coffeehouse is a “church,” yet all kinds of groups and individuals rent space there for private parties, business meetings, movie showings, and all kinds of meetings and things that have absolutely nothing to do with church. However, all of his proceeds are tax-free, because he claims it as a church. The Sidetrack Coffeehouse, which also serves food, has “suggested donations” but Terrence told someone what to put in the “donation” box one day, after they had put in less than the suggested donation (because they were poor). So much for the “suggested” part. (Looks like a tax dodge to us.)
 Lt. Sharpe has since been promoted: he is now Captain Sharpe. This is a common tactic used by government and law enforcement to reward those who harm “whistleblowers” in order to keep corruption/crime of the people in power from being exposed.
 Eugenics: the study of or belief in the possibility of improving the qualities of the human species or a human population, esp. by such means as discouraging reproduction by persons having genetic defects or presumed to have inheritable undesirable traits, or encouraging reproduction by persons presumed to have inheritable desirable traits.
Note: Eugenics was a popular theory in the early twentieth century but is no longer taken seriously, primarily because of the horrors of the eugenic efforts of the Nazi regime in Germany.
 Speaking of the pastors, there will be more about this on our website in the future, such as the story of Wayne Edwards, who is the head of the Lauderdale Baptist Association. Steve McDonald is by far not the only pastor who has attacked Pastor Demers.
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