7/24/09 – Fouke residents speak out on Tony Alamo

Texarkana Gazette
July 24, 2009
By: Jim Williamson

Fouke residents speak out on Alamo


Residents here say evangelist Tony Alamo must have underestimated them when he relocated his ministries to the small town located along U.S. Highway 71 in southern Miller County.

Alamo, who was recently described in national news reports as a charismatic evangelist, tried to “divide and conquer” Fouke after he was released from federal prison after serving time for income tax evasion.

He eventually learned that some ministers and residents were not impressed with his charisma. And when they learned of possible criminal acts, they cooperated with law enforcement officials.

“Tony Alamo underestimated the people of Fouke. We’re family-oriented and proud people,” Mayor Terry Purvis said. “If it wasn’t for the people of Fouke pushing hard, I don’t think this (the arrest) would ever have happened and it would have never gone to trial.”

But the image and perception of Fouke will always be linked to Tony Alamo and his ministry. When news articles are published and broadcast about him, the town will always be mentioned as the location of his headquarters.

“The people of Fouke stood up to this guy and did what they’re supposed to do. They went to authorities and took their information to law enforcement agencies. They didn’t take the law into their own hands,” Purvis said. “I think this will help the image of Fouke. It shows we don’t stand for this. We’re not going to stand for child abuse in our city. We want to make sure child abuse is eradicated from our city.”

Alamo is on trial in federal court in Texarkana on charges for sex crimes involving young girls he was allegedly “married” to.

“When we heard of the alleged crime going on, it was almost unbelievable how this could happen in society and how it could be going on so long without being detected. At times, it was too far fetched to believe the rumors going around. But then we learned it happened,” Purvis said. “I’m proud of the people in Fouke for standing up for their beliefs and conviction.”

Residents say they saw right through Alamo’s philosophy and his goal of controlling the town.

“When Tony Alamo first came to Fouke, he followed the old divide and conquer rule. He had in the back of his mind to control a lot more of Fouke. For a lack of better words, he wanted to rule over this place,” Purvis said.

Alamo was sentenced to six years in federal prison in September 1994 after he was convicted in U.S. District Court in Memphis of willful failure to file an income tax return and of knowingly filing a false return.

He also was fined $210,000 and ordered to remain on probation for a year after his release, according to court documents. When his federal sentence in the Texarkana, Texas, Federal Correctional Institution ended and he was released in December 1998. Shortly thereafter, he established his church’s headquarters in Fouke.

He started promising a new Fouke city hall on his property, he said.

The ministry donated $60,000 to build a city park, donated the money to purchase the Jaws of Life extrication equipment, and during the ice storm of 2000, Alamo rented a generator to provide electricity on an emergency basis in Fouke.

On May 13, 1999, “Alamo’s people” presented four proposals to the council to build a 60-unit motel, a truck stop, 20 three-bedroom homes and 10 two-bedroom units; eight bungalows, a retail variety store and 10 to 20 townhouses or apartments, according to a previous Gazette article.

However, some people believe the Alamo saga is a “black eye” to Fouke.

“It’s an eyesore and has given us a black eye. It’s drawn national news accounts, which is not representative of Fouke. This is a good community,” said Mike Mack, a Fouke High School counselor. “The people living at the ministry don’t associate much. Their kids don’t go to school here. It’s a compound and they have a school for their kids.”

People outside of Fouke may consider the ministry “as a weird thing such as a cult” and will associate Fouke with the ministry, Mack said.

Roger Mixon is the minister of United Pentecostal Church of Fouke. He said the opposition of the Alamo ministries wasn’t symbolic of a confrontation between religions.

“This wasn’t a battle of churches or religions. All the pastors in Fouke get along with each other. You’re known by the fruits you bear, and by watching the fruits he has shown, he was not here for the good of Fouke,” said Mixon, who is also a member of the city council. “Ministers stood up to defend the community. We can recognize a ministry and we know when someone has alleged criminal activity going on in secret ways.

“He was hiding behind the name of Christianity and the church. Christians don’t act like this.”

Mixon said the residents of Fouke banned together—in prayer and as informants.

“People here were working and praying together. They brought a whole lot more to light. The Lord said he would bring things to light. It does pay to take a stand and believe in the Lord and trust in Him. We also know to keep our eyes open and know when something needs to be done. We were cautious and knew who was living among us,” he said.

Mixon said the residents of Fouke didn’t appreciate Alamo’s tactics.

“Tony Alamo came in with his own agenda and was shoving his way through everybody here,” he said.

During a council meeting, Alamo spokesmen asked for South Circle Drive to be closed and hired guards to watch over the property.

Tony Alamo Christian Ministries was the only church in Fouke with security guards and closed a public street on South Circle Drive to restrict access to the compound.

Alamo said he hired the security company after a bullet hit a church window, according to a Texarkana Gazette article published Sept. 13, 2006.

“I think it’s becoming in vogue to be a terrorist. I felt a need for security. People blow up churches and have burned down black churches. I thought it would be good to have security instead of having people run over our flowers and at least show people we have security. That’s why we did it,” Alamo is quoted as saying.

When Mixon balked at closing South Circle Drive, Alamo verbally attacked Mixon through his ministry’s radio program.

Alamo described Mixon as a “small spoke in the wheel of the Vatican, a blind leader leading the people in a ditch, made fun of his name, called him an imp, a weasel and a Nazi.”

Mixon also said Alamo said God would get rid of Mixon.

“He (Alamo) said God was his hit man and tried to get me from talking. God told him to stand out of the way and I (God) will take care of me. He (Alamo) was sure I was going to die,” Mixon said.

Mixon suffered a major heart attack on March 4, 2007, and was treated in a Little Rock hospital. He recovered and continues to serve on the council and as a minister.

Tony Upton, who owns Big Mo’s Catfish cafe in Fouke, said Alamo hit “strong resistance.”.

“People knew he was hiding behind Christianity as a self-proclaimed prophet,” Upton said.

Brittani Mixon, daughter of the councilman and minister, works at the Jerry’s General Store. She said Fouke “is a safe place to live.”

The prosecution of Alamo shows “we care about our community,” she said.

In: 2009 - (Trial year)

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