(ATLANTA, GA, 8/12/2022) – The Georgia chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-Georgia) today welcomed a Federal Settlement Agreement between Mcintosh County, Georgia, and a group of Gullah Geechee residents of Sapelo Island.
The settlement provides damages of $2,000,000 and addresses the lack of facilities and services provided to Sapelo Island by Mcintosh County and improper tax assessments of Hogg Hummock properties, home to the last intact Georgia Sea island Gullah Geechee communities in the U.S.
It comes after years of legal proceedings to secure fire protection, emergency medical services, trash removal/receptacles, and road maintenance, services not provided by McIntosh County despite receiving taxes from Sapelo Island residents.
For Background, See:
Additionally, the settlement establishes a three-year tax freeze demanded by the plaintiffs as the gentrification of Sapelo Island has led to higher property tax assessments, which threatens the displacement of the historically excluded Gullah Geechee community landowners.
SEE: Sapelo Islanders Have Survived Persecution And Slavery. Can They Survive Tourism?
The settlement includes damages and fees of $2,000,000 for the plaintiffs.
Sapelo Island organizer and resident Mr. Reginald Hall said:
“We welcome the terms of the settlement, but (…) it is the first step towards asserting that Sapelo Island Gullah Geechee residents deserve a higher quality of life, will not tolerate abuse and will hold authorities accountable if laws, federal compliance, and human/civil rights are being violated.”
“Our family has a second breath. The settlement is allowing our people to see we are serious about our survival and will give up life and limb to create the opportunity for survival throughout the next 10 generations on Sapelo Island. We want the diaspora to know we are out here and are willing to share our map as a model for certain forms of justice through civil rights litigation.”
The community notes that threats to their survival continue to exist and they will persist in seeking permanent property tax relief solutions for Gullah Geechee peoples and properties and true representation and decision-making control inside of the Sapelo Island Heritage Authority by legislative means.
The community also wishes to hold Mcintosh County accountable for public corruption and to recover 702 acres on the northern end of the Island that the State of Georgia has claimed.
In a statement, CAIR-Georgia Legal and Policy Director Javeria Jamil said:
“This settlement is a testament to the commitment of the Hogg Hummock community to secure their survival and preserve their history. CAIR-Georgia stands by the Sapelo Island residents, the Gullah Geechee community, and the descendants of Bilali Muhammed in Georgia, as they assert their rights.”
“Much more remains to be done to ensure true representation, justice, and equality for Sapelo Island residents. CAIR-Georgia is committed to uplifting the voices of Sapelo Island and advocating for their civil rights.”
CAIR’s mission is to protect civil rights, enhance understanding of Islam, promote justice, and empower American Muslims.
La misión de CAIR es proteger las libertades civiles, mejorar la comprensión del Islam, promover la justicia, y empoderar a los musulmanes en los Estados Unidos.