By Bill Britt
Alabama Political Reporter
Close to twelve hundred people filled Troy University’s Davis Theatre to watch the Montgomery premiere of Atticus v. The Architect last Sunday. The Alabama Political Reporter and The Voice of Alabama Politics sponsored the event because it was banned by the Capri Theater due to pressure from Leura Canary and her husband, BCA’s chieftain, Billy.
Our news organization is dedicated to the First Amendment and all that it stands for, even as politicians continue to lie with impunity by chanting a tired refrain of “Fake News.”
The First Amendment reads as follows: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”
Some of Montgomery’s power elites worked to abridge freedom of speech because it cast them in a negative light. Ironically, the Canarys’ actions ensured that even more people would see Atticus v. The Architect, as the Capri Theatre doesn’t have twelve hundred seats.
The film, produced and directed by Steve Wimberley, paints a very dark and detailed picture of the federal prosecution of former Gov. Don Siegelman, The Canarys are alleged to have played a significant role in framing Siegelman. What the movie portrays is a political prosecution acted out on a grand scale. According to the film’s narrative, Karl Rove, “The Architect,” in conjunction with former Gov. Bob Riley, his son Rob and a small cast of other characters set out to destroy Siegelman.
APR and The V did not present the movie to re-adjudicate Siegelman’s trial, at which he was found guilty. Our mission, as always, is to bring information to light so that people can see all sides of an argument and decide for themselves. By all appearances, much of the evidence reported in Atticus v. The Architect was known, but certain key elements were left out of the jury trial as well as the appeals process. Especially illuminating was the role of President Barack Obama’s attorney general, Eric Holder, and his ties to Rove and Canary.
Filmmaker Wimberley said he wanted the audience to leave angry because of the injustice perpetrated by a few rogue agents bent on consolidating power in the Heart of Dixie. Siegelman said he was motivated to see that this could never happen to another individual.
Before APR’s four-year battle to expose former Speaker of the House Mike Hubbard for the crook he is, it would have been difficult to believe a cabal of ruthless political operatives could have construed such a sweeping conspiracy. However, having investigated Hubbard, Riley and Canary, it now not only seems possible; it is almost certainly probable.
The Riley machine, as exposed during Hubbard’s trial, is a finely tuned coterie of smart individuals dedicated to power and money. Hubbard was the weak-link that damaged the Riley brand and left Billy Canary hanging on to his job at BCA by a very thin thread.
From Citizen for a Better Alabama’s, participation in the bingo wars to the many deals Hubbard pushed through the state legislature to benefit the Rileys and Canarys, there is ample evidence to suspect many other nefarious deeds were carried out by this cell of self-serving agents.
Siegelman is no Atticus Finch, but despite the title of the film, it is a compelling documentary that weaves an all too familiar web of corruption seemingly inherent in our state.
As Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall wrote, “If the First Amendment means anything, it means that a state has no business telling a man, sitting alone in his house, what books he may read or what films he may watch.”
But that is exactly what the Canarys attempted to do, but a few individuals banded together to make sure that our constitutional rights were upheld.
No-one has the right to tell the people of our state what they can see, hear or think. In this case, our state motto prevailed. “We dare defend our rights,” as enshrined in our state’s Great Seal, means many things to many people. Far too often it has meant trampling on the rights of others.
It is often the worst people who rage against a free press and free speech.
One writer said the following, “It is the press, above all, which wages a positively fanatical and slanderous struggle, tearing down everything which can be regarded as a support of national independence, cultural elevation, and the economic independence of the nation.”
It is our prayer that we at APR will faithfully stand for free speech and a free press even while the shouts of fake news and oppression of symbolic protest is under siege at the highest levels of government. Here, for once in our state, those who fought for censorship failed.
Atticus v. The Architect, for us at APR and The V, was never about the subject of the documentary but about the substance of our beliefs in freedom.
The above quote is from Adolf Hitler’s Mein Kampf. Read it sometime. It sounds a lot like what we hear today.