Mad as hell in Cobb County - 'Immigration crime fighter' D.A. King defies critics
By Doug Monroe, CreativeLoafing.com, November 2, 2005
D.A. King snaps a red banana pepper from a bush by his front stairs and bites off half of it. "Want some lunch?" he asks, chomping away. He pulls off one for me.
He's an imposing guy - suburban casual, like a wrestler on his day off. He's got a shaved head and goes 6-foot-2, 220. He's wearing a gray sweater, black jeans and black loafers. A black kitten swoops by his legs for a quick rub every few minutes....
D.A. King is not what you would expect, especially if you saw news coverage about him paying 14 homeless people to carry signs - which King made himself - during a state Capitol protest against illegal immigrants. Some Republicans were embarrassed by the ham-handed act of paying protesters because GOP members were involved in the rally.
The AJC poked fun at King for bringing in "ringers." He came across as a kind of anti-immigrant Homer Simpson. But at least if you ask him about it, he tells the truth, which is rare these days.
"Yes, I paid them," King says. "And I'm going to pay them again."
He gave $10 each to some homeless people who hang out near the lot where he parks when he goes to the Capitol to raise hell about illegal immigration. The same people have helped him carry tracts and reprints of his columns from the Marietta Daily Journal and anti-illegal immigration websites so he could deliver them to legislators.
King, 53, is an ex-Marine who worked as an independent insurance agent and was planning, eventually, to head South. He and Sue were going to move to Sarasota. They already had their house picked out.
Then, an Hispanic family moved into the house across the street and painted it pink.
At first, he befriended his new neighbors. But people kept moving in. At times, up to 20 people lived there, he says. King counted 12 vans and cars in the yard. Neighbors called police to complain about loud parties. When the cops came, people ran from the house. King called the old Immigration and Naturalization Service, which never called back. He got his first computer and began researching the issue of illegal immigration.
It was as if he had discovered fire. He became a self-described "immigration crime fighter."
He went to protests and met Billy and Kathy Inman of Woodstock. Their 16-year-old son, Dustin, was killed in 2000 when an illegal immigrant smashed into their car in Ellijay and then fled. Kathy Inman suffered a paralyzing spinal injury.
King formed the Dustin Inman Society, one of two groups he has created to fight illegal immigration. The other is the American Resistance Foundation, an umbrella group for other organizations of like mind.
He closed his business and has used up the savings meant for the Florida move to fund his personal war.
At the Capitol rally two weeks ago, King endorsed bills sponsored by state Sen. Chip Rogers, R-Woodstock, which would deny state services to illegal immigrants. Some of the legislation would penalize employers who employ illegal immigrants. King calls them "criminal employers."
...Rogers' bill cutting off social services has the potential to stir the state's right-wing juices.
...It's clear that the American business establishment and the government have reached a perverse understanding: Employers get cheap labor, and the government looks the other way. ...
King's protest signs went after Gov. Sonny Perdue, demanding he take a stand on illegal immigration: "Sonny, pick a side. We have." King claims this is a nonpartisan issue. In fact, much of his anger is directed toward President George W. Bush for not securing the border with Mexico.
"If we don't secure our borders in a war on terror, it's a facade," King says. "Bill Clinton was impeached for far less than the president is guilty of at present."...
...Yet King insists he is neither anti-immigrant nor racist. His adopted sister is Korean and a legal immigrant.
"I don't associate with racists," he says. "This is not about race, this is about the law."...
Zamarripa dismisses King as "the Lester Maddox of immigration."
As I thought about the comparison, I remembered laughing at Maddox when I was a kid eating fried chicken at his restaurant and reading the segregationist column that he ran in the old Atlanta Journal.
I remembered my parents making fun of him. And I remembered something else about old Lester: He got elected governor.
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