Republican Mike Cheokas Damaged His Liquor Store Black Customers

February 2020

Mike Cheokas will have to be shown that concerned Black patrons know how to go elsewhere..

Staff Reports

The children of Black patrons at Mike Cheokas’ two Americus liquor stores has suffered because of changes to the Sumter County school districts. In an unprecedented move that he coauthored with a Republican disguised as a Democrat, Freddie Powell-Sims, and House Bill 836, changed the Black school board majority to a White majority. Cheokas was voted into office as a Democrat by Blacks and Whites in Americus. At some point he decided to change to the Republican Party, sending shock waves throughout the Sumter County community.

The new school districts were made up of five single-member districts and two At-Large districts. The At-Large districts require the entire Sumter County to vote. When Rev. Mathis K. Wright and the Sumter County NAACP realized that the new Cheokas districts were unconstitutional, they filed a lawsuit in the Federal District Court.

The case was Mathis K. Wright vs Sumter County Elections Board and County Commissioners. Rev. Wright went to the Federal Court and filed the complaint “pro se”, without a lawyer. The judge asked him to return but bring a lawyer.

Rev. Wright recruited the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) to assist him in the fight for legal school districts. It took nearly four years with the County spending nearly two $million dollars in a losing effort to keep the unconstitutional Cheokas-Powell school districts. The County paid their own County attorneys and two other high-powered attorney firms from Atlanta and Washington, D.C.

Judge Louis Sands of the Federal Court in Albany, GA presided throughout the entire case. Sands waited more than two years to finalize the legal school districts when the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals told him he had to redraw the districts to be properly legal. A Hearing was held on January 13, 2020, with Matt Wright and the ACLU and the Sumter County Attorneys to agree on the new school districts. Map 3 was agreed upon which has four majority Black districts and three majority White districts. But the County has decided to appeal the new district which is their fourth time going back-and-forth to the
11th Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta, Georgia.

The attorneys from the ACLU are lead attorney, Bryan Sells, Voting Rights Specialist Laughlin McDonald, and Research Expert Fred McBride. Rev Wright said, he wants to thank the two Black County Commissioners, Clay Jones, and Thomas Jordan for not voting to repeatedly appeal the rulings by the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta, Ga.

Many Americus citizens asked our newspaper about the liquor store owner’s reason for hurting the Black community. One citizen said, “His father, Arthur Cheokas, was a real friend of the Black community because their stores were supported by so many Blacks.”

“I was very shocked that Cheokas switched to the Republican Party because Black people don’t vote Republican and he depends on Black patronage of his liquor stores. Then he had the audacity to change the school districts from a Black majority to a White majority. I guess he doesn’t think Black people will
buy their liquor from one of the three other stores in Americus,” says Dr. John Marshall, past
NAACP president.

“Well, he will have to be shown that concerned Black patrons know how to go elsewhere. You would think he would have thought about the Black hands that feed him before hurting them politically. And he has not carried Americus the two times he ran for reelection to the GA Legislature,” Marshall concludes.