Celebrating a KKK Leader's Birthday Was Just the Start of Alabama Lawmaker's Problems

GOP state Rep. Will Dismukes has had a rough few weeks.
Cover: Booking photo of Alabama state Rep. Will Dismukes courtesy of Montgomery County Jail

It’s been a tough couple of weeks for Alabama lawmaker Will Dismukes: First, he was caught celebrating the birthday of dead white supremacists the same weekend civil rights legend John Lewis died. Then he was forced to step down from his post as a pastor for a local church. And now, he’s been accused of lifting thousands of dollars from a local business that used to employ him.

The Montgomery County DA’s office on Thursday accused Dismukes, a Republican state rep since November 2018, of committing first-degree theft while he was working for Weiss Commercial Flooring. Though the total amount he stole was not revealed, DA Daryl Bailey implied that the pol stole thousands from the small business between 2016 and 2018.


“The warrant is signed for an amount exceeding $2,500. I will tell you the alleged amount is a lot more than that,” Bailey told reporters Thursday. 

The investigation into Dismukes’ theft began in May, according to the district attorney’s office, after a complaint from the owners of the business.

“After countless hours of investigation, which consisted of witness interviews, obtaining bank records and gathering other evidence, a decision was made by myself and prosecutors in my office, along with these investigators, that probable cause existed that a crime had been committed,” Bailey said.

Dismukes, 30, turned himself in to authorities shortly after the announcement and was released on $5,000 bail. His attorney, Trey Norman, called the accusations politically motivated, according to the Alabama Daily News.

“If I worked for someone and they had accused me of taking money, I wouldn’t expect four years to go by before anybody said anything to me," said Norman. 

Dismukes first found himself in some trouble on July 25 after he posted a photo of himself on Facebook giving a speech at an annual birthday celebration of Nathan Bedford Forrest, a former general of the Confederate army and the first Grand Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan. 

The celebration happened to fall on the same day many other lawmakers in Alabama were celebrating the life and legacy of the late civil rights leader, Georgia congressman, and native Alabamian, John Lewis.

Local leaders condemned his appearance, with Democrats calling for Dismukes’ resignation. Though he resisted leaving office, he eventually stepped down from his post as leader of the Pleasant Hill Baptist Church in Prattville in late July.

Dismukes has not yet commented directly on the theft case, but if found guilty, it will bring his ambitions as a politician to an end. Anyone convicted of a felony crime in Alabama is automatically removed from office. Alabama’s Republican Gov. Kay Ivey said she fully supports Dismukes’ removal if he’s found guilty.

“Everyone is innocent until proven guilty, and this is a process that will need to play out,” Ivey said in a statement released Thursday. “However, if true, it is disappointing when a public official, elected with the confidence of the people, abuses that trust. I support the letter of the law, and no one is above it – especially those in public office.”

Cover: Booking photo of Alabama state Rep. Will Dismukes courtesy of Montgomery County Jail