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Entries in NAACP (10)

Sunday
Jul142013

George Zimmerman Prosecution Petition Overwhelms NAACP Website

NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images(SANFORD, Fla.) -- An NAACP petition calling for a federal prosecution of George Zimmerman collected 225,000 signatures in the hours after he was acquitted of killing Trayvon Martin Saturday night, but the effort was temporarily cut short when the site crashed under the heavy traffic.

The rush to add to the petition -- which had more than 350,000 signatures by noon Sunday -- was match by the outpouring of anger on social media.

Protests, which police had feared could turn violent, were muted, but the rhetoric was impassioned and often framed around the issue of race. Zimmerman, 29, is a white Hispanic and Martin, 17, was black.

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg issued a statement that put the onus on gun laws.

"Sadly, all the facts in this tragic case will probably never be known. But one fact has long been crystal clear: 'shoot first' laws like those in Florida can inspire dangerous vigilantism and protect those who act recklessly with guns," Bloomberg said. "Such laws – drafted by gun lobby extremists in Washington – encourage deadly confrontations by enabling people to shoot first and argue 'justifiable homicide' later."

Immediately after Saturday night's acquittal, the NAACP said it was "outraged" by the Florida jury's verdict and called on the Justice Department to prosecute Martin for civil rights violations.

The civil rights organization also posted a petition on their site calling for the prosecution.

"The most fundamental of civil rights -- the right to life – was violated the night George Zimmerman stalked and then took the life of Trayvon Martin," the petition read. "We ask that the Department of Justice file civil rights charges against Mr. Zimmerman for this egregious violation. Please address the travesties of the tragic death of Trayvon Martin by acting today."

Zimmerman shot and killed Martin in Sanford, Fla., on Feb. 26, 2012. Zimmerman, 29, maintains he shot Martin, 17, in self-defense, while the state argued that Zimmerman "profiled" Martin and concluded he was a criminal.

NAACP spokesman Derek Turner told ABCNews.com that the petition garnered approximately 225,000 signatures between the hours of 11 p.m. Saturday and 3 a.m. Sunday.

Sometime overnight, the NAACP's website crashed, Turner said, because of "too many viewers and too many hits."

The NAACP's website was still inaccessible as of this morning, and Turner said the organization is working to get it back up and running. He did not know how long the website had been down, but he was last able to access it around 2:30 a.m. Sunday, he said.

The same petition was also made available on MoveOn.org in partnership with the NAACP early Sunday morning. It gained more than 130,000 supporters by noon Sunday.

"Our members, like so many Americans, are outraged at the verdict. Justice has not been served. The facts are clear: a 17-year-old boy is dead because George Zimmerman shot him. This is a sad day for our country and our justice system," MoveOn.org Civic Action executive director Anna Galland said in a statement.

An investigation had previously been opened by the Justice Department, and the department said Saturday night, "The department continues to evaluate the evidence generated during the federal investigation, as well as the evidence and testimony from the state trial."

ABC News anchor Dan Abrams said it is unlikely the civil rights division will file charges against Zimmerman "because they can't win."

"There will be a federal investigation. They will publicly discuss it. The civil rights division will not file.” Abrams said. “They won't win, and they know that."

Police departments across south Florida had been braced for possible violence in response to the acquittal, but while reaction in social media has been heated the handful of protests in San Francisco, Los Angeles and Atlanta were muted and peaceful.

Benjamin Crump, a lawyer for the Martin family, acknowledged the disappointment of Trayvon Martin's supporters, but he urged them not to resort to violence.

"For Trayvon to rest in peace, we must all be peaceful," Crump said.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Sunday
Jul142013

Outraged NAACP Wants Feds to Prosecute George Zimmerman

Gary W. Green-Pool/Getty Images(SANFORD, Fla.) -- The NAACP was "outraged" over the not-guilty verdict in the George Zimmerman murder trial and called on the Department of Justice to prosecute Zimmerman for shooting Trayvon Martin.

"We are outraged and heartbroken over [Saturday’s] verdict," NAACP President Benjamin Jealous said in a statement.

"We will pursue civil rights charges with the Department of Justice, we will continue to fight for the removal of Stand Your Ground laws in every state, and we will not rest until racial profiling in all its forms is outlawed," Jealous said.

A civil rights probe had previously been opened by the Department of Justice and a spokeswoman said the department would continue to "evaluate the evidence generated during the federal investigation, as well as the evidence and testimony from the state trial."

Zimmerman shot and killed Martin in Sanford, Fla. on Feb. 26, 2012. Zimmerman, 29, maintains he shot Martin, 17, in self-defense, while the state argued that Zimmerman "profiled" Martin and concluded he was a criminal.

The case took on racial overtones after police declined to charge Zimmerman, who is white and Hispanic. Martin was black.

Police in Florida had braced for the verdict, but there was no outburst of violence.

Sanford Police Department Investigator Ronny Neal said it was "very quiet."

"We have people patrolling right now, nothing different than usual. Nothing out of the ordinary," he said. In Miami and other south Florida cities, police created places for people to peacefully protest, monitoring social media and urging people to remain calm.

Benjamin Crump, a lawyer for the Martin family, acknowledged the disappointment of Trayvon Martin's supporters, but he urged them not to resort to violence.

"For Trayvon to rest in peace, we must all be peaceful," Crump said.

Hundreds of demonstrators wiped away tears and expressed disbelief outside of the Seminole County Courthouse in Sanford after the jury's verdict was read Saturday night.

A woman named Barbara told ABC News she had traveled from Georgia to be outside the courthouse for the verdict.

"I just thought we were going to get some kind of justice," she said, calling it a "cruel system."
Martin's parents were not in the courtroom when the verdict was read, however his father, Tracy Martin, tweeted after that he was "brokenhearted."

"Even though I am broken hearted my faith is unshattered I WILL ALWAYS LOVE MY BABY TRAY," Martin wrote.

"Thanks to everyone who are with us and who will be with us so we together can make sure that this doesn't happen again," he said.

Rev. Jesse Jackson tweeted that the "American legal system has once again failed justice," but urged his followers to "avoid violence."

"We are saddened and disappointed by this decision. It is a pattern involving young black men that is too often repeating itself," Jackson wrote.

"Avoid violence, it will lead to more tragedies," he wrote. "Find a way for self construction not deconstruction in this time of despair."

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Friday
Jan112013

Tyler Perry, Al Sharpton, NAACP Offer $100K Reward in Florida Missing Persons Cases

Jason Merritt/Getty Images(NAPLES, Fla.) -- What happened to Terrance Williams and Felipe Santos nearly a decade ago? For years, there have been whispers in Naples, Fla., about the men and the last person they were seen with, a police officer who said he dropped off the two men at separate convenience stores.

On Thursday, movie mogul Tyler Perry, the Rev. Al Sharpton and NAACP president Ben Jealous announced as much as $100,000 in rewards for information on the cases.

"This is injustice," said Perry, who throughout a news conference in Naples clutched the hand of Williams' mother.

"I don't think this is about race or social status as much as it is about, no matter who we are, we should be outraged that this is happening in America in 2013," he added, according to video recordings of the event.

Seconds after Perry offered his reward, a man in the audience interrupted, approaching the podium to claim he had information pertinent to the case and feared for his life, according to video of the event.

"Be here for my safety," said the man, sobbing.

Perry said local law enforcement assured him that it will do everything possible to protect people who speak out, adding, "The world is watching."

 

"Just like this man has come forward. I am sure there are others," Sharpton told the crowd of about 150 people.

Later, Collier County authorities spoke with the man to determine if he had any relevant information.

Santos, 23 at the time of his disappearance in October 2003, vanished following a road incident, where Santos was arrested for driving without proper documentation, Naples Daily News reports.

According to the newspaper, Cpl. Steven Calkins of Collier County Sheriff's Office wrote in a memo that he had dropped Santos off at a nearby convenience store instead of making the arrest.

Three months later, Williams, then 27, who had recently moved from Tennessee to Florida, pulled his vehicle over after experiencing car trouble, the Naples Daily News reported. He was spotted by Calkins near a North Naples cemetery.

Calkins later told investigators that he took Williams to a nearby convenience store, where he let him off and never saw him again, the newspaper reports.

Calkins, a 17-year law enforcement veteran, was questioned and fired in 2004 after failing a polygraph test and giving inconsistent statements about his encounter with Williams, according to the Naples Daily News. His patrol car was tested for blood and signs of struggle, but nothing was found.

On Thursday, the Collier County Sheriff's Office said it had not spoken to Calkins since he was fired.

ABC News' attempts to reach Calkins by phone were unsuccessful.

In 2006, Calkins denied wrongdoing and called it "very bad luck" that he was the last person seen with the missing men, according to the Naples Daily News.

Perry's $100,000 in rewards broke down into four separate $25,000 offers, according to a news release by the Collier County Sheriff's Office. The four $25,000 rewards were for information leading to the locations of either Santos or Williams, or convictions in either case.

Collier County Sheriff Kevin Rambosk said he was pleased to have Perry raising awareness of the cases.

"We need the right piece of new information," Rambosk said in a news release. "We are hopeful that Tyler Perry's involvement will not only keep Terrance and Felipe in the public eye, but also prompt someone to step forward with the information we need.

"We are asking anyone who may have information to please contact us," he added. "Every tip, no matter how small or seemingly insignificant, is important."

"The only way to turn a cold case into a live case is turn up the heat," said Jealous. "The NAACP has not forgotten about Mr. Williams, Mr. Santos and this deputy who remains of interest."

Sharpton said Perry sparked his interest when he called him to question why civil rights leaders weren't dealing with missing-persons cases. In 2011, nearly 680,000 people were reported missing by the National Crime Information Center, and 34 percent were African American although the group makes up only 13 percent of the population.

"This kind of issue requires all of us black, white, Latino, Asian, rich and poor to come together," said Sharpton of the now-multi-agency investigation into the men's disappearances.

The FBI, the U.S. Attorney's Office, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement and the Florida State Attorney's Office also were involved in the investigation, the sheriff's office said.

"I'll never give up," said Marcia Roberts, Williams' mother, who held the hands of Perry often throughout the news conference and called Perry a godsend.

"Terrance has four children," she said. "I have to have answers. I demand to have answers."

After nine years, she hoped the renewed interest helps thaw her son's cold case.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Sunday
May202012

NAACP Board Votes in Support of Same-Sex Marriage

Mario Tama/Getty Images(MIAMI) -- The NAACP made waves on Saturday evening when its board of directors voted to support same-sex marriage, releasing a statement that "civil marriage is a civil right and a matter of civil law" and citing the 14th Amendment of the United States Constitution as a reason for backing marriage equality.

"The mission of the NAACP has always been to ensure the political, social and economic equality of all people," said Roslyn M. Brock, chairman of the NAACP's board of directors, in a statement. "We have and will oppose efforts to codify discrimination into law."

"The NAACP's support for marriage equality is deeply rooted in the Fourteenth Amendment of the United States Constitution and equal protection of all people," said Benjamin Todd Jealous, president and CEO of the NAACP, in a statement.

The announcement from the civil rights organization arrived on the heels of President Barack Obama's own recent statement in support of same-sex marriage in the U.S.

The African-American community has been slow to warm to the idea of same-sex marriage, but the NAACP's statement on Saturday, when paired with recent endorsements by President Obama and rapper Jay-Z, could indicate that the tide in the black community is flowing in the direction of marriage equality.

In an ABC News/Washington Post poll following President Obama's announcement of his support for same-sex marriage, 54 percent of African-Americans agreed with him. But in similar polls in mid-2011 and early 2012, just 41 percent of African-Americans took the same stance.

Prior to issuing the blanket statement in support of marriage equality, the NAACP had opposed legislation that would prevent same-sex marriage, including California's Proposition 8 and North Carolina's Amendment 1.

NAACP made its proclamation from a Miami, Fla.-based gathering of its board of directors, where only two board members expressed opposition to same-sex marriage, according to a tweet from NAACP senior vice president for development Maxim Thorne.

The Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation issued a glowing statement following NAACP's announcement, saying, "We applaud President Ben Jealous and the NAACP Board of Directors for their leadership on this issue."

GLAAD President Herndon Graddick said in a statement: "Across races, faith traditions, and political persuasions, a majority of our culture recognizes that denying gay couples the chance at happiness that comes with being married is unfair and un-American."

Newark, N.J., Mayor Cory Booker also tweeted his support of the NAACP's position, writing, "'Arc of the universe is long but it bends toward justice' RT @dawnnozziwitter: It's on NAACP website under press release WOOHOO! About time!"

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Sep212011

Troy Davis Execution Incites Outrage, Protests

The Rev. Al Sharpton speaks to the media while leading a group of demonstrators calling for Georgia state officials to halt the scheduled execution of convicted cop killer Troy Davis at the Georgia Diagnostic and Classification Prison in Jackson, Georgia, on September 21, 2011. ERIK S. LESSER/AFP/Getty Images(ATLANTA) -- Hip hop stars used Twitter on Wednesday to urge their fans to protest and the NAACP has scheduled a news conference in an effort halt this evening's execution of convicted Georgia cop killer Troy Davis.

Davis' attorneys have launched a series of last-ditch efforts just hours before he is scheduled to receive a lethal injection for the 1989 murder of Savannah cop Mark MacPhail.

A Georgia board of pardons and paroles Wednesday rejected Davis' offer to take a lie detector test, and his attorney Brian Kammer submitted a petition to the county where the jail is located to block the execution, although it is unclear whether the jail has any jurisdiction.

Davis, 42, is scheduled to be executed at 7 p.m. He has refused the option of a final meal. His lawyers said he will spend his remaining hours with friends, family, and supporters instead.

He has spent 22 years on death row and in recent years support for his plea of innocence has grown as several witnesses recanted their testimony that he fired the shot that killed MacPhail. His impending execution has brought those efforts to a head.

In the 24 hours before his scheduled death, a flurry of messages on Twitter using the hashtags #TroyDavis and #TooMuchDoubt showed thousands of supporters of Davis who were intent on flooding the Jackson District Attorney's office, Georgia Judge Penny Freezeman's office, and the U.S. Attorney General's office with phone calls and emails to beg for a stay on the execution.

Some users accused Twitter of blocking the topic from trending on Tuesday, though a representative from Twitter told ABC News there was no such action taken. The hashtags were trending Wednesday in cities around the U.S. as well as Germany, the U.K., Sweden, and France. Many Tweets called the case a symbol of a return to Jim Crow laws and racial inequalities in the justice system.

Big Boi, a member of the group Outkast, tweeted to his followers to go to the Georgia state prison in Jackson to protest the decision. The Roots' Questlove tweeted a similar message.

A press conference held by the NAACP and the Revs. Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson will call for intervention to save Davis. The NAACP has not made it clear whether they will appeal to President Obama for help.

Amnesty International, which has been fighting on behalf of Davis, encouraged supporters to attend a vigil at the church across the street from the prison and a protest and asked participants to wear a black armband and write on it, "Not in my name!"

Others who have voiced support for Davis include former president Jimmy Carter, the pope and a former FBI director.

Davis's execution has been stayed four times for appeals since his conviction in 1989, and the Supreme Court gave him a rare chance to prove his innocence last year, but rejected his plea.

A Georgia board of pardons and paroles rejected Davis's plea for clemency on Tuesday.

The parole board said Wednesday that it will not reconsider its decision and the execution will go forward.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Jul212011

Civil Rights Leaders Urge Obama to Resist Deep Cuts to Safety Net Programs

Official White House Photo by Pete Souza(WASHINGTON) -- Leaders of the nation’s oldest and largest civil rights groups visited the White House Thursday to urge President Obama to resist budget cuts that would disproportionately impact the most vulnerable Americans.

“We came away from the discussion with a real view that the president understands fundamentally that deep budget cuts to safety net programs and programs that affect the urban community would be counterproductive, not only for our communities, but for the nation at large,” the president of the National Urban League, Marc Morial, told reporters at the White House.

“We cannot balance the budget by making deep cuts in Medicare or Medicaid or Social Security or Pell Grants. We have to preserve those vital structures,” NAACP President Ben Jealous added.

The two said they left their Oval Office meeting with the president confident that Obama understands such cuts would be harmful.

Morial said the president nodded his head in agreement when they told him that “no step should be taken that’s going to cost this nation jobs. No step should be taken that’s going to force vulnerable Americans to pay the cost of a deficit reduction plan.”

Morial and Jealous also shared with the president their ideas for addressing the jobs crisis and the high African-American unemployment rate, which is currently 16.2 percent.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Monday
Jun132011

Conn. Mom, Accused of Stealing Son's Education, Arrested on Drug Charges

Creatas/Thinkstock(BRIDGEPORT, Conn.) -- Tanya McDowell, the Connecticut woman charged with stealing her son's education after sending him to a school allegedly outside of her district, was arraigned on drug charges Monday.

McDowell, 33, is being held on $200,000 bond. She was arrested Friday after she allegedly sold crack cocaine and marijuana to undercover officers.

McDowell's arrest came three days after she participated in an education reform rally with Rev. Al Sharpton that was organized by the NAACP. In April, McDowell was charged with first-degree grand larceny and conspiracy for allegedly stealing $15,686 in educational services from Norwalk Public Schools because she sent her six-year-old son to Brookside Elementary School, a school allegedly outside of her district.

Sharpton told ABC News that his appearance at the rally was not in response to McDowell's case and that he is not familiar with the intricacies of her case.

"My position is this young man, the son, should be treated like any other kid if their parent didn't live in the district," Sharpton said. "We don't play politics with the boy. If this mother is unfit to be a mother, it doesn't solve what happens to the boy."

McDowell claims that she registered her son in Brookside despite not being a resident there because she was homeless at the time and floating between a shelter, a friend's apartment in Norwalk and a home in Bridgeport when she registered her son for school.

Under federal law, children can continue to attend classes in a school district where they began their education if the family was homeless.

Her story became fuel for education activists, sparking reform rallies and garnering national attention. The Connecticut chapter of the NAACP, which flocked to McDowell's support in April, would not comment on the drug charges.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Apr262011

NAACP Backs Conn. Woman Arrested for Illegally Enrolling Son in School

George Doyle/Stockbyte(NORWALK, Conn.) -- The NAACP is stepping in to help Tanya McDowell, the Connecticut mother arrested for allegedly sending her son to a school outside of her district.

McDowell will be arraigned Wednesday on charges that she stole educational services from Norwalk Public Schools by allegedly lying about her home address.

Tanya McDowell, 33, was arrested April 15 and charged with first-degree grand larceny for allegedly stealing $15,686 in educational services from Norwalk Public Schools. Her six-year-old son was enrolled in Brookside Elementary School in Norwalk, Conn., from September of last year until January of this year.

"The NAACP doesn't like that they're trying to attack somebody who's poor and doesn't have a good support system," said Scot X. Esdaile, president of the Connecticut State Conference of the NAACP. "This is discrimination."

McDowell claims that she's homeless and was floating between a homeless shelter, a friend's apartment in Norwalk and a home in Bridgeport when she registered her son for school. McDowell registered her son under her babysitter's address in Norwalk.

Under federal law, children can continue to attend classes in a school district where they began their education if the family was homeless.

Norwalk Mayor Richard A. Moccia refused to talk to ABC News but defended the arrest to other media outlets.

"This woman never claimed she was homeless, never told us she was homeless, was using an illegal address in a public housing complex, has a checkered past and despite all the protestation that she's concerned about her son, if she had done things right, this would have never happened," Moccia told the Norwalk Patch.

Authorities were alerted to the alleged illegal enrollment when McDowell testified at an eviction hearing for her babysitter, Ana Rebecca Marquez, in January.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio 

Saturday
Feb122011

Thousands March in NAACP Rally Against 'Neighborhood Schools'

Photo Courtesy - ABC News/WTVD Raleigh(RALEIGH, N.C.) -- Thousands of demonstrators hit the streets of Raleigh, N.C., on Saturday in a march for student diversity.

Activists from the NAACP, along with members from over 90 other organizations joined in the march to the North Carolina State Legislature Building as part of the annual Historic Thousands on Jones Street (HKonJ) event.

The NAACP says the demonstration serves as a protest against a decision by the Wake County School Board to implement 'neighborhood schools.' Those against the idea say such a move will create resegregation in schools.

“People here want one county, they want one state, they want one country,” said NAACP President Benjamin Jealous. “We intend to fight with them until we get that.”

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Oct212010

NAACP Report Claims Tea Party Gives Platform to Racists, Bigots 

Photo Courtesy - National Association for the Advancement of Colored People(BALTIMORE) -- A controversial new report about the Tea Party alleges that white power groups and militias have tried to infiltrate the movement in order to “push these protesters toward a more self-conscious and ideological white supremacy.”

The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People released the findings of the study called “Tea Party Nationalism,” funded in part by the liberal-backed Firedoll Foundation and written by white nationalism experts Devin Burghart and Leonard Zeskind.

According to Judson Phillips, founder of the Tea Party Nation, the report is nothing more than a “liberal smear,” given that the more organized facets of the movement have repudiated racism.  There are also questions about the timing of the report’s release, with the midterm elections less than two weeks away.

Burghart and Zeskind focused more on fringe Tea Party groups online and low-level county chapters, where allegations of racism have cropped up.  They also cited five members in particular, including one former Tea Party official with ties to anti-Semitic or white nationalist groups.

NAACP President Ben Jealous said that his group’s support of the findings was not meant to attack the Tea Party as a whole but to simply repudiate any racists who may try to associate themselves with the movement.  Jealous called most Tea Party supporters “sincere, principled people of good will.”

"Tea Party Nationalism" also claims that a large number of Tea Party backers are 'birthers,' who believe that President Obama was born outside the U.S., and therefore wasn't eligible to run for the White House.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio







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