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LA head of NAACP resigns

SHERRYLYN CLARKE, [email protected]

LA head of NAACP resigns

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LOS ANGELES (AP) – The president of the Los Angeles chapter of the NAACP has resigned following outrage over a decision he later reversed to give Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling an award for promoting civil rights.
Leon Jenkins was to honour Sterling later this month but rescinded that offer Monday after a recording of racist statements by the real-estate mogul was made public last weekend.
In a letter to the national leader of the nation’s oldest civil rights organisation, Jenkins wrote that he resigned Thursday “to separate the Los Angeles NAACP [National Association for the Advancement of Coloured People] and the NAACP from the negative exposure I have caused”.
Jenkins also has had legal problems that came into focus this week. He has been banned for years from practicing law in California because of allegations that include corruption.
A telephone message and email seeking comment after business hours from the NAACP Los Angeles chapter were not immediately returned.
Even before the recording, the decision to give Sterling a “lifetime achievement award” May 15 at the 100th anniversary celebration of the Los Angeles chapter was questioned by some civil rights activists, who cited allegations of discrimination in Sterling’s past.
The United States Justice Department sued Sterling in August 2006, alleging housing discrimination in the Koreatown area of Los Angeles. In November 2009, Sterling agreed to pay $2.7 million to settle allegations that he refused to rent apartments to Hispanics and blacks.
Also in 2009, the year after Jenkins was first elected president in Los Angeles, the chapter first honoured Sterling with a similar achievement award.
Jenkins said Sterling had been selected owing to his history of donating to minority charities and giving game tickets to inner-city children. The Donald T. Sterling Charitable Foundation gave $5 000 to the NAACP’s Los Angeles chapter in 2010, according to tax records. There were no further NAACP contributions in subsequent years for which records were available.
After the recording of Sterling having a private conversation with a woman became public, Jenkins backtracked.
“There is a personal, economic and social price that Mr Sterling must pay for his attempt to turn back the clock on race relations,” he said Monday.
On Tuesday, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver banned Sterling from the league for life, fined the real estate magnate $2.5 million, and said he wanted the league’s board of governors to make Sterling sell the team.