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  • Writer's pictureDonald V. Watkins

1819 News Defends "Hit Job" on Fred "Bubba" Copeland

Updated: Nov 10

By: Donald V. Watkins

Copyrighted and Published on November 10, 2023

IMAGE: 1819 News president, CEO, and Publisher Kenneth Bryan Dawson (left) with editor-in-chief Jeff Poor (right).

An Editorial Opinion

Yesterday, Kenneth Bryan Dawson, president, CEO, and publisher of 1819 News, and Jeff Poor, 1819’s editor-in-chief, appeared together on Dawson’s podcast to defend their November 1, 2023, decision to carry out a media “hit job” on Smiths Station, Alabama mayor Fred “Bubba” Copeland (deceased). The article published that day “outed" Copeland as a cross-dresser and writer of erotic fiction.

Two days after this highly questionable and controversial 1819 News article was published, Copeland committed suicide.

For 34 minutes, Dawson and Poor meandered their way through an awkward, awful, and weak after-the-fact justification for why they carried out the “hit job” on Copeland. Obviously, with Copeland dead, he was not around to refute or comment on the one-sided version of events painted by Dawson and Poor.

Dawson and Poor did their best to imply that Bubba Copeland may have been involved in some type of illegal child porn activity. They blew plenty of smoke in that direction during their diatribe. However, neither man offered actual evidence of any criminal activity by Copeland that victimized men, women, or children.

Dawson and Poor did not produce a scintilla of evidence that Copeland's cross-dressing conduct and erotic fiction rose to the level of a viable cause of action in a civil lawsuit by any "victim" against Copeland.

Likewise, they did not identify any misconduct Copeland committed in his role as a pastor of his church.

Finally, Dawson and Poor did NOT take whatever "tip"information or investigative research they acquired on Bubba Copeland to any law enforcement agency prior to publishing their article.

Dawson Knows His Way Around the Criminal Justice System

Interestingly, Kenneth Bryan Dawson knows his way around the criminal justice system. He has been in and out of Colorado jails and prisons for 16 years on felony charges of trafficking cocaine and other illegal drugs, engaging in serial acts of theft, and attempting to murder a police informant.

The attempted murder charge arose from an April 18, 2007, incident in which Dawson, acting alone, savagely beat a man with a padlock and chain. He also tased the victim repeatedly. Dawson accused the victim of snitching on him in one of Dawson's many motor vehicle theft cases.

Years later, when discussing the same incident, Dawson claimed that another accomplice was with him when the beating incident occurred. Dawson now attributes the most violent part of the beating to his accomplice.

During the 34-minute podcast interview, Bryan Dawson (as he is known in Alabama) never mentioned his long, violent, colorful career as a drug dealer and trafficker, thief, and attempted murderer.

Jeff Poor avoided all mention of Dawson’s prolific criminal history, as well.

Throughout the podcast, Dawson and Poor held their ground and reaffirmed their self-righteous duty to serve a "morality police" function in Alabama.

The two men lobbed hypocrisy grenades at reporters and attacked national media outlets. They also avoided any mention of my article outing Dawson’s long and ugly career criminal status.

As I reported in my November 8, 2023 article, Kenneth Bryan Dawson was the “shot caller” who signed off on 1819 News' “hit job” on Bubba Copeland. I deliberately used the term “shot caller” in my article because I knew that Dawson performed this function in prison, where the term originates.

My Takeaways from 1819 News' Role in Bubba Copeland's Suicide

It's been one week since 1819 News caused Bubba Copeland’s suicide. 1819 News still has not told us what crime they believe Bubba Copeland committed. furthermore, I have seen no evidence that Copeland committed any state or federal crime.

Cross-dressing is a legally permissible activity in America, whether it is done in private or in public. Actor Tyler Perry made a very successful living out of cross-dressing. Olympian Bruce Jenner has done the same thing.

Every store in America has surveillance cameras, and the images captured on these cameras lawfully belong to the owner of the store.

Did Bubba Copeland sell any of these images to any third-party? Nobody has made this claim.

Did Copeland violate any state or federal child pornography laws with his surveillance images? Nobody has made this claim, either.

The act of writing fictional accounts of murder is a legally protected First Amendment activity in the United States. There is nothing that Bubba Copeland wrote in his private world that award-wining author James Patterson has not written and published in his Alex Cross, Michael Bennett, Women's Murder Club, Maximum Ride, Daniel X, and NYPD Red series of books, as well as many stand-alone thrillers, non-fiction, and romance novels. Patterson's books have sold more than 425 million copies. As far as we know, Bubba Copeland was not selling his works of fiction to anyone.

At some point, 1819 News needs to answer this threshold question: How was Bubba Copeland's lawful conduct worse than the documented career criminal conduct of a man who: (a) sold cocaine and other drugs to students and everybody else in Colorado, (b) stole valuable property on a serial basis, and (c) viciously beat and tased a police informant for snitching on him?

Despite the self-serving, sanctimonious testimonials that Dawson and Poor gave during the podcast, 1819 News crossed the line in "outing" Bubba Copeland. 1819 News' November 1, 2023, article caused the suicide of a man who has broken no laws. What is worse, this article was sanctioned by "Shot Caller" Kenneth Bryan Dawson, a man who has broken a litany of state felony laws.

At the end of the day, Alabama's new equivalent to the "morality police" caused a man to take his own life on November 3, 2023, and they are okay with what they did..

Parting Thoughts

Personally, I don't believe in forcing an innocent man/woman to commit suicide solely because I don't like the way he/she lives his/her personal life within an ultra-conservative political environment. In 1964, the FBI tried to force Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. to commit suicide, without success. In 1970, the FBI succeeded with its effort to force Hollywood actress Jean Seberg to commit suicide.

Thankfully, we do not live in a theocracy like Iran. As such, we do NOT need 1819 News to serve as Alabama’s version of a "morality police force." We live in America, where our rights and responsibilities are defined by law and we are protected from religious tyranny.

I cherish the First Amendment's freedom of speech as much as other Americans cherish the Second Amendment's right to bear arms. It amazes me that so many Alabamians who want to fully exercise their Second Amendment rights are so willing to curtail, restrict, or condemn another man’s exercise of his First Amendment rights.

As expected, neither Kenneth Bryan Dawson, nor Jeff Poor, apologized to the Copeland family for setting in motion the events that caused Bubba Copeland's suicide. So, I apologized for them in my article yesterday titled, ”Goodbye to Bubba." It was the right thing to do.

Finally, now that Kenneth Bryan Dawson and Jeff Poor have shown us who they really are, we should believe them and leave them. As decent human beings, we are so much better than the standard of "homicide" journalism these men proudly practice at 1819 News.

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