Bingo March Leads To Capitol Steps

Posted by Bryan Henry  -  bio | email


It was by far not the largest crowd to march up Dexter Avenue in downtown Montgomery.

Still, one-by-one along with a familiar spiritual refrain, this group of around 60 or so made it clear where they stand on bingo and the mere right to vote on it in Alabama.

"Let us vote!" one man shouted.

Critics of gambling in any form believe it is immoral. Governor Bob Riley even called the recent legislative proposal, the so-called 'Sweet Home Alabama' bill that would have given Alabamians a chance to vote on it, the 'most corrupt piece of legislation' he's ever seen in his political career.

The Alabama Senate just voted down a measure that would have allowed debate on the issue in the senate. There are rumblings, however, that another more simplified proposal is in the works.

The governor has repeatedly said he is merely enforcing the law. The Reverend Jesse Jackson, on the other hand, says he still doesn't understand the moral argument.

"I've  not seen 'thou shalt not bingo.' You have bingo in churches and it's a form of entertainment," said Rev. Jackson.

The march was sprinkled with signs blaming Governor Riley for taking away their jobs and at least one poster was not very complimentary of the state's first lady, Patsy Riley. The placard had a picture of Mrs. Riley with a red mark drawn over her face.

Jim Gartland brought along 'Pappy,' a greyhound he says used to race at Victoryland in Macon County. It was Gartland's way of driving home another point in this highly charged issue.

"I don't think people realized when Victoryland shut down, another 600 (dog owners) lives were affected. You're also talking about veterinarians who treat these animals and these animals were born to run," said Gartland.

When the march ended at the capitol steps, the rally took on more of a revival tone with one man singing 'Amazing Grace.'

The people who showed up say they see this rally as something very personal. It goes far beyond bingo.

"We need jobs, we need jobs,!" said another man.

"America is not driven by your agenda, America is not driven by your religion," Rev. Jackson intoned from the podium on the steps.

Supporters of bingo acknowledge rallies like the one today may or may not make a difference, but they do believe they've taken the first step in making their voices heard.

Organizers are planning another rally Tuesday at noon on the capitol steps.

©2010 WSFA. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.