Protesters gather outside Greenetrack

Posted by: Mark Bullock - bio | email

EUTAW, AL (WSFA) - A large crowd of protestors gathered outside Greenetrack in Greene County Wednesday night. The group, which included Greenetrack employees, government officials and supporters from the community, tried to prevent a state raid of the facility.

Earlier in the day, the Alabama Supreme Court struck down an order by Greene County Judge Eddie Hardaway, who also tried to the stop the raid.

It was the second time the Supreme Court had to overrule Hardaway. In their ruling, the justices reminded Hardaway, "compliance with an order of this court is not optional."

Alabama Public Safety Director, Col. Chris Murphy, lead Wednesday night's raid. He said he was following the Supreme Court's ruling to "re-enter the facility and re-secure the site."

Murphy said the group of protestors would not stop the Governor's Task Force on Illegal Gambling from doing its job.

"The president of Greenetrack has just told me that he is refusing to comply with the Supreme Court's order," Murphy said. "We have been ordered to re-secure the facility and we intend to do so as civilly as possible."

Witnesses on the scene told WSFA 12 News the state appeared to be increasing the number of state troopers at the facility through the night.

Greene County's state senator, Bobby Singleton, was among the protestors. He told WSFA 12 News the group hoped to prevent law enforcement officers from entering the facility.

The Governor's Task Force alleges the approximately 800 electronic bingo machines at Greenetrack violate Alabama's anti-gambling laws. Members of the Task Force are expected to inspect the machines and could possibly remove them.

Many residents of Greene County point to Greenetrack's positive impact on the community as a reason for it to stay open. Profits from the facility help pay for the county's school system, fire department, and 911 system. Greenetrack also contributes to dozens of charities.

With approximately 350 employees, Greenetrack is the largest employer and only economic engine in the area. Its general manager told employees the paychecks they received Wednesday may be their last.

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