Sunday, April 21, 2002

Local NAACP won't join dispute

National organization mandates observer role in racial-profiling case

By Dan Klepal
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Cincinnati's chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People will not become a party to the historic racial-profiling lawsuit settlement between the Cincinnati Police Department, the Cincinnati Black United Front and the American Civil Liberties Union.

        The NAACP's national organization denied permission Saturday for the local chapter to join the process.

        Instead, the national organization believes “the branch can be most helpful in monitoring police conduct as an observer, while supporting in spirit the plaintiffs and the Friends of the Collaborative.”

        Local NAACP President Norma Holt Davis said she expects her organization to be active “in a number of ways,” but said it was too early to say exactly how.

        “It's very important to have organizations and people who care deeply about the community involved, to keep the parties moving forward,” Ms. Holt Davis said.

        It was actually the local chapter's second request to join the lawsuit.

        It wanted to join the lawsuit soon after the suit was filed last year, and received permission to do so. But by that time, the parties to the lawsuit had agreed to place a freeze on adding any new parties.

        “This is a very different stage of the proceedings, and the national organization thinks we can best serve as an observer,” Ms. Holt Davis said.

        A clause in the collaborative agreement, reached April 3, allows the NAACP and the Urban League to join the plaintiff class of the lawsuit within 30 days.

        The settlement came after the ACLU and Black United Front sued alleging decades of racial bias and harassment by the Cincinnati Police Department.

        Instead of arguing the case as a lawsuit, the parties agreed to devise a community problem-solving approach that will be monitored by a federal judge.


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