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NAACP suspends Wright

ALBANY, Ga. -- Ousted Albany-Dougherty NAACP chapter President William Wright said Friday the national civil rights organization is in danger of becoming "the very thing it is fighting."

Wright made the comment Friday in reaction to a story published on the albanyherald.com website late Thursday announcing that the NAACP had suspended his membership. National NAACP President/CEO Benjamin Jealous informed Wright of the organization's decision in a letter dated Sept. 30. A copy of that letter was obtained by The Herald late Thursday.

"I'm really not sure what action will be taken at this juncture because I have not been contacted," Wright said. "Maybe they sent (the letter) to my attorney, but I haven't gotten anything from the NAACP. Any future action I take will be predicated on what we get from them.

"I really have no idea how the NAACP could do this; it's so out of character for the organization. I think they've got to be mindful of the fact that when someone or some group fights the vestiges of discrimination, the victim can become the very thing it is fighting."

In his letter to Wright, Jealous listed three "actions" taken by Wright as president of the local NAACP chapter that put the national organization in "danger of irreparable harm."

Jealous said Wright misrepresented himself as an agent of the organization after being notified of his removal (as president); had failed to adhere to a directive of the National Board of Directors -- Article X, Section 2(a) of the organization's constitution -- by holding improper branch meetings, including a Sept. 19 meeting to elect a nominating committee; and had failed to surrender NAACP monies and property as directed.

The Rev. Gill Ford, who serves as national director of the NAACP's Unit Capacity Building, said Friday Wright would have an opportunity to file a written notice of appeal requesting a hearing on his suspension.

"This is an internal matter, so I cannot make a comment at this time," Ford said in a phone conversation Friday from his Baltimore office. "Mr. Wright will have an opportunity for a hearing before a panel of the national board."

Wright and the Georgia State Area NAACP Conference have been at odds over chapter dues for years. Wright told The Herald last month when Jealous informed him that he and other officers of the local chapter were being removed that the state's method of collecting dues was unfair.

He noted at the time that chapters were being asked to pay fees based on the population of cities where they were located as opposed to membership in the chapters.

"It's not right that the Albany chapter should have to pay the same fees as the Atlanta, DeKalb and some of the other larger state chapters," he said.

When Marvin Jones replaced Wright as Albany-Dougherty chapter president in 2006, the local chapter reportedly made its dues payments on time. But that action reportedly stopped when Wright resumed the presidency in 2008.

"I guess (this latest action) is a continuation of what's been going on for a while now," Wright said Friday. "I'll know more about this when (Jealous) officially notifies me and I have an opportunity to talk about it with my attorney."

Jealous said in his letter that Wright must "cease and desist from acting or holding yourself out as a member of the NAACP."