AMPed Up

Wendell Griffen laments wave of ‘white supremacy’ that he believes took Trump to White House

Judge Wendell Griffen (right) speaks with a supporter at Mr. Griffen’s election watch party in May 2008 in Little Rock. (AP file photo by Mike Wintroath)

Election a bad day for United States, judge says

Donald Trump surfed to the White House on a wave of “white supremacy” that bodes ill for the United States, says Judge Wendell Griffen, who presides in Division 5 of the Sixth Judicial Circuit in Little Rock.

Mr. Trump’s popularity was built on undercurrents from the Tea Party and sovereign citizen movements that preceded his campaign for president, Mr. Griffen says.

Wendell Griffen

Wendell Griffen

“White nationalism and white male supremacy never left this country,” Mr. Griffen said in a telephone interview with AMP the day after the election. It is a “fallacy … that somehow the nation had moved on beyond the hatefulness, the fearfulness, the misogyny.”

Mr. Griffen sees a parallel between the era of “separate but equal” and now. The election of Mr. Trump “means the end of the brief dawn of progress in civil liberty witnessed during the Obama presidency, the same way the election of Rutherford B. Hayes in 1876 marked the end of Reconstruction,” he wrote on his blog.

The Trump presidency could be a death knell for the state’s largest school district in its current form, Mr. Griffen said. “Donald Trump doesn’t care about the fact that there has been a takeover of the Little Rock School District by the forces of white supremacy,” he said, referring to the state board of education’s 2015 takeover of the LRSD.

The aim of those now in control is to expand public charter schools within the LRSD, which would severely weaken the district’s public schools, he said.

A “free-market” approach in public education aligns with Mr. Trump’s natural instincts, he said. “This guy’s philosophy is, ‘If I can make a deal, I can make anything run.’ … His principle is, ‘If I can make money off it, basically it’s good, no matter if it’s fair, no matter if it’s just.’”

To preserve local control of the LRSD and avoid the “destruction of democracy of education in America,” Mr. Griffen suggests that residents of Little Rock speak out about their desire to control the future of their school district.



For more perspective on the racial dynamics surrounding Donald Trump’s ascendancy, read the AMP interview with Harrison-based KKK leader Tom Robb.

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