STATE NEWS BRIEFS FOR 10-10-19
FRANCIS, BALDWIN IN A RUNOFF FO RALEIGH MAYOR
[RALEIGH] Two former Raleigh city council people - one of whom is seeking to become the Capital city’s second African-American mayor in history - finished Tuesday’s election in a virtual dead heat with 36 percent of the vote each. Because neither black businessman Charles Francis, or white businesswoman Mary Ann Baldwin garnered at least 50% of the vote, they will runoff in November. Francis, who was once appointed to the council, fell short two years ago when he challenged incumbent Raleigh Mayor Nancy McFarlane, who announced she wouldn’t run this time. Baldwin, who served on the City Council for ten years, says she has the most experience to serve as mayor.
REPUBLICAN LEADER GOT $500,000 LOAN FROM MAN INDICTED FOR BRIBERY
[RALEIGH] Rep. David Lewis [Harnett] has admitted to borrowing $500,000 from John Gray, an indicted figure accused in the alleged plot to bribe to bribe NC Insurance Commissioner Mike Causey. It is also the same plot when former NC Republican Party Chairman Robin Hayes pled guilty to lying to the FBI. Lewis says he borrowed the money in 2018 to help his farms, putting up $1.2 million in property in collateral.He says he did not know that Gray was involved in an alleged bribery scheme.
WILL THERE BE NEW LEGISLATIVE REDISTRICTING MAPS IN TIME FOR THE 202O PRIMARIES?
[RALEIGH] A three-judge Superior Court panel that recently struck down the NC legislature’s 2017 maps as being unconstitutional partisan gerrymanders, is in the process of reviewing new maps it ordered lawmakers to redraw. However, if the judicial panel rejects them, will it assign a special master to redraw them? The question is key, because candidates for legislative offices are scheduled to file for office Dec. 2- 20th, for primaries scheduled for March 3, 2020. If new maps aren’t approved by then, North Carolina’s primaries may have to be pushed back.
NATIONAL NAACP PRES/CEO DERRICK JOHNSON WITH NCNAACP PRES. DR. T. ANTHONY SPEARMAN AT LAST WEEKEND'S NC NAACP CONVENTION IN WINSTON-SALEM [PHOTO BY IVAN CUTLER]
WHAT HAPPENS NEXT IN
By Cash Michaels
According to those who attended last weekend’s 76th Annual NC NAACP Convention in Winston-Salem, it was memorable, but for the most part, for all of the wrong reasons.
What normally and annually is an exercise for attendees in reaffirming the basic principles of the state’s oldest, and foremost civil rights organization, was instead, according to some who attended last weekend’s three-day session, a tense affair involving factions, accusations, anger and uncertainty.
So much so that Derrick Johnson, the president/CEO of the national NAACP, personally came down from his Baltimore, Md. headquarters, to address the North Carolina membership Saturday, reminding all that they were “family,” not to speak with the media, and that the enemies of equality and racial justice would like nothing better than to see the NAACP - even in North Carolina - be ripped apart, and rendered ineffective as the crucial 2020 elections approach.
The cause for all of this unbridled angst? Reverberations from troubling allegations of sexual harassment against one of the state NAACP’s former top administrators, Rev. Curtis Gatewood.
It was two weeks ago that former state chapter Youth Director Jazmyne Childs, surrounded by supporters, including former NC NAACP Pres. Rev. Dr. William Barber, held a press conference, publicly accusing Rev. Gatewood of sexually harassing her as her supervisor in 2017.
Gatewood emphatically denied her charges, but during the course of a five-month investigation of Ms. Childs’ complaint, Gatewood resigned. The investigation revealed evidence that Ms. Childs’ was telling the truth, NAACP officials say. However, despite repeated urgings by Rev. Barber and the state chapter, the national NAACP did nothing to revoke Gatewood’s membership.
The group, Elder Women of the NC NAACP, ultimately threatened to bring the controversy right to the national NAACP’s doorstep in Baltimore, forcing Pres./CEO Johnson to formally suspend Gatewood’s membership, pending a hearing.
By doing so, Gatewood, who was originally a candidate for state NAACP president opposing current President Rev. Dr. T. Anthony Spearman, was deemed ineligible to run by the national office. And as a result, the scheduled election was postponed until further notice.
The story has been carried all over the country, even by the extreme right-wing website, Breitbart.com, which once tried to frame a former NAACP official as a racist, with an edited videotape several years ago.
Reportedly, Rev. Gatewood has appealed his suspension, the hearing for which, at press time, had not been scheduled (though sources say a meeting concerning it has been scheduled for Saturday, Oct. 19th.)
Published reports now also state that a second female former NCNAACP member has come forward to also allege that Gatewood sexually harassed her.
It was under this cloud that the NC NAACP Convention in Winston-Salem tried to proceed as normal. But a faction of Gatewood supporters were determined to be heard, many there said.
One of the first indications of a coming rough convention took place Thursday night - the first night of the convention - at Emmanuel Baptist Church, where according to published reports and eyewitnesses, Winston-Salem police were called after an alleged “disruption” of a meeting there. Rev. John Mendez, pastor of Emmanuel Baptist, called the police, and told a local newspaper that Gerald Givens Jr., president of the Raleigh-Apex NAACP, was one of several “supporters of Gatewood” present involved.
There were no arrests, though at least nine police officers answered the call.
In a phone interview Monday evening, Givens disputed Rev. Mendez’ published account, but did confirm that he was at the church, at that meeting, and ultimately did have a nonviolent confrontation with NCNAACP Pres. Dr. Spearman about some issues, but would go no further into describing what exactly they were about.
In a statement issued to his Raleigh NAACP branch later, Givens alleged that “Within 15 minutes of my arrival, a member of the security detail attempted to physically attack me, while calling me a “boy” in the process. He made several statements indicating that he was angry about issues relating to election procedures committee.”
Givens went on that,” Later, the same member of security who threatened me earlier, then threatened one of the delegates on the floor and turmoil ensued. Law enforcement officers were called in, and the delegates who had objected to conducting business without a quorum or proper bylaws were asked to leave. All of our convention delegates witnessed these events.”
He maintains that he was not there in support of Rev. Gatewood.
On the call, Givens did allude to what has been publicly alleged by the Alamance County NAACP, where Rev. Gatewood was once president. Members of that branch alleged that Dr. Spearman “…faces allegations of financial misconduct, and that Gatewood had promised to audit the state organization if he were elected,” according to the Winston-Salem Journal.
Sources close to Dr. Spearman, however, dispute those allegations, saying that the structure of the NC NAACP hierarchy and procedures after Rev. Barber took over in 2005 from the previous president wouldn’t allow for that to happen without more than one officer involved.
Then Friday morning when the convention moved to the Marriott Hotel in downtown Winston-Salem, several police officers - both uniformed and plainclothes - were seen there to keep the peace at the convention, and for good reason.
A group of Gatewood supporters made their presence known vocally, but soon left, according to published reports.
An administrator from the national office has now been assigned to oversee the state NAACP during this turmoil. All of the conference officers will remain in place, and carry on as normal.
“I have great confidence in the national NAACP’s ability to assist the state conference to correct any deficiencies so that we can focus on our ongoing fight for justice,” Givens said.
But until a new election is held, and the Gatewood controversy has been settled once and for all, the internal conflicts of the state’s oldest civil right organization may continue to overshadow the very public social conflicts the NC NAACP prides itself on fighting.
GATEWOOD SENT OUT
“PLAN OF ACTION” TWO
DAYS AFTER ALLEGATIONS
By Cash Michaels
Did Rev. Curtis Gatewood, former NCNAACP official, and now suspended member of the civil rights organization pending appeal, send out a “plan of action”advising his followers how to distract the press from serious allegations of sexual harassment made against him, with counter claims of “…rumored …theft and/or misappropriation of NC NAACP finances…” by former Pres. Rev. William Barber?
Sources in the NC NAACP have shared an email, purportedly from Gatewood to his “Alamance Family and Justice Team,” dated Friday, Sept. 27th, time coded at 1:19 a.m..
That is the day the Alamance NAACP held an emotional press conference defending Gatewood.
The subject: “Re: Notice of Article X Against Curtis Gatewood,” a reference to Article 10 of the NAACP Bylaws and Constitution dealing with members who have been accused of wrongdoing.
Gatewood was recently suspended as an NAACP member by the national office pending his appeal hearing, which, as of press time earlier this week, had not been scheduled.
It was Wednesday, Sept. 25th, when Jazmyne Childs, former state NAACP Youth Director, tearfully told the press about how Gatewood, her supervisor in 2017, allegedly sexually harassed her to the point of her quitting her position.
On Thursday, Sept. 26th, the national NAACP formally suspended Gatewood from membership, thus denying him his candidacy to run against current state NAACP Pres. Rev. Dr. T. Anthony Spearman when the state convention convened Oct. 3-5 in Winston-Salem.
That evening on his Facebook page, Gatewood reiterated that “the allegations are totally false.” He then went after Rev.Barber personally, accusing him of “unlawfully” sharing an internal personnel report (the investigative report confirming Ms. Childs’ allegations) with the media, but not with him, the accused.
Gatewood went on allege that Barber “…seem[ed] to have long envied the love the people of North Carolina have had for me.” Gatewood continued to rant about Rev. Barber, saying, “His actions are those more of Judas than Jesus. He had already committed crucifixion in 2017. Now here he is in 2019 trying to stop God’s miraculous resurrection. But what God has for me; He has for me.”
Rev. Barber was made aware of his former colleague’s berating words, but refused to comment, saying it would detract from the main issue - the alleged sexual harassment of a former female NCNAACP employee.
Barber did deny, however, any allegation of fiscal mismanagement, saying that systems were put in place during his administration that would prevent that from happening.
The next day, on Friday, Sept 27th, a press conference in Burlington was called by the Alamance County NAACP, where members, and Gatewood’s daughter, Desmera, blasted Rev. Spearman and Rev. Barber, asking why two-year-old allegations were being re-litigated right before the elections.
Per the email from Rev. Curtis Gatewood earlier that Friday, he wrote, “Here’s a short term plan of action that I will attempt. Wherever you can assist or join me in this demand, please do.”
He then went on to state that he “…will send an immediate request for a hearing” before the Oct. 5th NCNAACP election. If the matter can’t be resolved before Oct. 5th, Gatewood “…will request a special election between [him] and Rev. T. Anthony Spearman upon being cleared of Article  allegations and membership restored.”
Gatewood says that in preparation for his hearing, he is requesting “…an official and complete copy of the internal investigative report which was shown and exposed in media reports, but never shown to Gatewood.
He also wanted a “written statement from the NC NAACP officers and/or Executive Committee members who never received the internal report being exposed to media.”
And lastly, “…a date of the last audit conducted to inspect the fiscal responsibility/accounting of the NC NAACP finances. This is necessary because it is rumored that theft and/or misappropriation of NC NAACP finances over the past 5 years are what drove the unusually aggressive efforts of the former NC NAACP president and the current treasurer to have Gatewood removed from membership of an organization and denied the privilege to seek office despite being declared “eligible” by both the state and national NAACP. Fiscal responsibility and an audit of finances was a part of the Gatewood campaign platform.”
Rev. Gatewood concluded with, ‘If anyone would like to share this plan at the press conference tomorrow in my absence, feel free. Meanwhile, my heart and thanks go out [to] such a brilliant team.”
Your brother in the spirit of justice, Rev. Curtis E. Gatewood.
Rev. Gatewood was asked by email by this reporter to confirm that he, indeed, sent this email, but at prestige Monday evening , did not respond.
In an Oct. 2nd story by the Associated Press, following reports of a second female former NCNAACP’er - this time a former 17-year-old intern from 2014 - coming forward to accuse Rev. Curtis Gatewood of sexual harassment, he issued a statement saying he was “deeply sorry”for the way his actions were perceived.
“While denying any kind of sexual assault or intentional sexual harassment,’ the AP story continued, he wrote that he didn’t “deny the feelings of my accusers.”
‘While I know I had no sexual intentions toward my accusers, the thought that either woman even felt slightly uncomfortable in the workplace is unfortunate.”
The AP reported that the young girl’s mother was told in 2014 that Gatewood allegedly had been linked to another complaint even then.