JACKSON, MS (WLBT) - Dozens of commanders and officers of VFW posts across the state, from Tupelo to Ocean Springs, converged at the War Memorial building in Jackson Saturday morning. But they had no intention of standing outside.
National officers were inside, conducting a hearing with Louis Tanksley, who's accused of acting as commander when he was never officially named commander. But the officers outside have been denied entry.
"It appears to the members of this state that national is running these proceedings without even complying with their own bylaws," says Bill Perkins, Senior Vice Commander, Post 3036, Hattiesburg. "They are violating not only our constitutional right, but also VFW national bylaws state there will be no secret meetings, no secret hearings."
They held a letter from the Acting Department Commander, B.J. Lott, inviting them to the hearing.
Lott was there, but because the higher-ups chose to close the hearing, his hands were tied.
Lott says the violations of the bylaws go even further. "The Commander-In-Chief stated there would not be a challenge of the panel," he says.
"We were talking to Tanksley's attorney," says Ron Eriksen, Commander, Post 5699 Ocean Springs. He told us he recused himself because he took a sworn oath to uphold the constitution, and they're violating every bit of the constitution in there."
What's their recourse? The members will have to appeal to the National Administration after the hearings, then hope for the best.
"We're not gonna say anything or have a vote, but we at least wanna be in there, hear it. We think it's our right," says Charles Quick, officer from Collins.