DA, police investigate

Santa Claus. Frosty. The Grinch. Chief Black Thunderbird.

All four were represented in the Brunswick Christmas parade, but only one could end up in court for doing so.

Stephen Kelley, district attorney for the Brunswick Judicial Circuit, said Monday he may seek to prosecute the United Nuwaubian Nation of Moors who marched in the parade Saturday handing out literature and asking spectators about the guilt or innocence of their leader, Malachi York.

And the Brunswick Police Department is investigating the group for giving children documents containing profanity.

York, known as Chief Black Thunderbird in the religious sect, will face federal charges of child molestation and avoiding financial reporting requirements in the U.S. District Court in Brunswick on Jan. 5, 2004. The trial was moved from Macon due to pre-trial publicity.

According to the Downtown Development Authority, the parade’s organizer, the group did not properly identify itself when it applied to participate.

“They said they were a Masons group, a Shriners group,” said Meredith Hanak, DDA executive director. “We had no reason to question them as we wouldn’t any other group like that. This may lead to making the parade only open to locals.

“There were people who were offended.”

Kelley, who saw members of the group handing out literature at Wal-Mart, has no jurisdiction in the federal case but could prosecute the group for lying to the development authority.

“I might look into prosecuting them for submitting false information to a government, which is a felony,” he said.

The Nuwaubian delegation in the parade included depictions of the Egyptian pharaoh Rameses, participants wearing bird and cow masks, and a group of mummies carrying parasols.

Mayor Brad Brown was in the parade and said a document entitled “Medical Records Don’t Lie” contained profanity and was distributed along the parade route and given to children.

“Our local police are dealing with it,” he said. “They started getting complaints on Saturday, and so did I. Hopefully we can do something about this.”

One thing that could happen is the trial being moved out of Brunswick. Kelley said a federal court judge could see the Nuwaubian’s actions as polluting the jury pool and decide to change the trial venue again.

Contacted by The News this morning, the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Macon, which is prosecuting the case, would not comment on the group’s parade actions. A spokesperson did say the information could be used during a pre-trial conference set for Dec. 16 in Macon.

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