Group sues SCLC over annual convention in Fla.

Eight people are asking a judge to block any actions the Southern Christian Leadership Council takes at its annual meeting this week, and to rule that the SCLC leader who lost his post earlier this year should still have it.

Their complaint filed Tuesday in Fulton County Superior Court asks a judge to declare any official business conducted during the SCLC's annual meeting in Florida later this week "null and void." They allege that moving the convention from August to July violates SCLC by-laws and are seeking an emergency hearing.

They also asked the court to declare Isaac Newton Farris Jr. the current "and lawful" president and CEO.

Farris, 50, was ousted earlier this year just a few months after he assumed the presidency of the organization co-founded by his uncle, the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.

Those seeking the court action include former and current SCLC chapter leaders, said Trina Baynes, founder and president of the Henry County chapter. "We hold the position that the executive committee continues to unilaterally make decisions that are detrimental to the mission of the organization and its financial solvency," she said.

Maynard Eaton, a spokesman for the Atlanta-based SCLC, said the organization would have a comment about the complaint "once we look at it and digest it. It is just unfortunate that people want to keep chipping away at a legendary organization."

The complaint comes as the organization is trying to regain its footing. In recent years it has been plagued by infighting and financial troubles.

The SCLC recently named a civil rights veteran, the Rev. C.T. Vivian, as interim president and a businessman and former Alabama state senator, Charles Steele Jr., as CEO.

Steele said his goals include improving the SCLC's finances. "As much as we love the church, SCLC is not the church," he said at a previous news conference. "Although we have Christian principles, it is a business and we have to run it like a business."

The SCLC plans to hold its annual meeting Thursday through Saturday near Sanford, Fla. where a neighborhood watch volunteer shot and killed Trayvon Martin, a black teenager who was unarmed. The SCLC plans to give information about its national presidential search committee and to launch its national voter education initiative, said Damien Conners, SCLC executive director.

It will hold workshops and panel discussions on justice and voter issues and the "stand your ground" laws the Martin case have spotlighted. The SCLC also plans to hold a march and rally against Florida's purging of voter rolls and in support of Martin's parents.