Justice Coalition refuses to comply with NAACP ‘Cease & Desist’ threatsBy Cash Michaels, Peacemaker Senior Contributor / October 7, 2022
The “servant leader” of the Justice Coalition USA, a growing group of concerned NAACP members, has staunchly refused to comply with a stern “cease and desist” letter from the national president/CEO of the NAACP, warning it to stop all pronouncements and activities “…detrimental to the Association.”
Rev. Dr. Cardes H. Brown Jr., an NAACP Life member, veteran civil rights activist, and servant leader of Justice Coalition USA, says Derrick Johnson, the national president/CEO of the NAACP, has refused to meet with the group regarding what they charge is the disenfranchisement of elderly NAACP members by instituting an “Election Buddy” system for the upcoming NAACP branch elections across North Carolina.
Brown sent a Sept. 12th letter on Justice Coalition USA letterhead to Johnson at the NAACP Baltimore headquarters inviting him to meet via Zoom, and giving him three dates from which to choose.
“It is our sincere hope that you will make an effort to meet with us to provide clarity and answer the questions necessary for us to participate in one of the most basic human rights in democracy-voting,” stated Brown’s letter. “We are reaching out to you to try and avoid seeking other remedies to meet our request.”
If the tone of Rev. Brown’s letter was somewhat conciliatory, Derrick Johnson’s Sept. 23rd “cease and desist” response was anything but.
“You have engaged in repeated inimical conduct that is not in accord with the principles of the Association,” the second paragraph of Johnson’s response letter lashed. “More specifically, you have utilized your leadership position in the Justice Coalition to undermine and discredit the National NAACP and the North Carolina State Conference NAACP. In that capacity, you have engaged in conduct that is detrimental to the Association.”
Johnson’s “cease and desist” letter repeatedly accuses Rev. Brown and Justice USA of making “false statements,” warning that “Article X, Section 2 of the Bylaws for Units of the NAACP states that “[t]he Board of Directors, upon satisfactory evidence that an officer or member of the Association…is guilty of conduct not in accord with the principles, aims and purposes of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People…or guilty of conduct inimical to the best interests of…the Association may order suspension, expulsion or other disciplinary action against such officer or member, after a full hearing if requested by the respondent in accord with the provisions of this Constitution.”
Johnson then charges that Rev. Brown and Justice Coalition USA “…are dedicated to disparaging the National NAACP and the North Carolina State Conference.” He continues that Justice USA, through its website is falsely promoting itself as “…a coalition of NAACP members seeking redress of issues of the NAACP National Organization illegally taking over Branches and State Organizations and to address the apparent corruption existing under the current national leadership.”
Johnson went on to charge that Justice USA “…falsely accused the National NAACP of “voter suppression” and “ineptitude in carrying out the [October 23rd, 2021 executive committee] election.” The letter mentions the coalition’s accusations against the nationally appointed administrator Gloria Sweet-Love, whom the coalition has accused “of engaging in “unconstitutional conduct” in overseeing that controversial election that saw the removal of then-NC NAACP Rev. Dr. T. Anthony Spearman.
After listing other charges, Johnson’s letter states, “The National NAACP hereby demands that you immediately cease-and-desist making disparaging and defamatory statements against the National NAACP, the NAACP national leadership, the National NAACP staff, the North Carolina State Conference NAACP, and/or the North Carolina State Conference NAACP leadership,” adding that it demanded the removal of all writings and materials detrimental to the national NAACP or Derrick Johnson personally from the Justice USA website, and confirm doing so to the NAACP general counsel by Friday, Sept. 23rd.
“Failure to comply with this cease-and-desist letter may result in suspension, expulsion or other disciplinary action,” Derrick Johnson’s terse letter concludes.
On Sept. 23rd, Dr. Brown replied by certified letter, “First, you do not have the authority to regulate or dictate the activities of the Justice Coalition USA.”
“Secondly, you cannot restrict my criticism of the NAACP as my freedom of speech is a constitutional right protected by the First Amendment of the United States.”
Brown reminded Johnson that his original Sept. 12th letter was an invitation to discuss “…my objections to the upcoming branch elections by electronic means and to discuss the financial information of the NAACP Empowerment Programs, Inc., a 501(c)(3), registered in New York, and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, Inc., a 501(c)(4), registered in Delaware.” Rev. Brown further notes that Derrick Johnson’s response, “…requesting that I “cease and desist” is retaliatory to my request and is “inimical” to the best interests of the NAACP.”
Brown ended his response with, “I will not cease and desist from objecting to an electronic election process that will disenfranchise elderly members who are not electronically savvy and members who cannot afford the internet and do not have access to the internet. This practice is not in accord with the purpose of the NAACP.”
At press time, there was no response from national NAACP Pres./CEO Derrick Johnson to Justice Coalition USA Servant Leader Rev. Dr. Cardes Brown’s reply.