NAACP serves ably as a watchdog
As a member of the Americus-Sumter branch of the NAACP - and an executive officer of that organization - I was disturbed when I read Ken Garner's "staff opinion" piece in the Americus Times-Recorder several weeks ago.
First, contrary to Mr. Garner's conjecture - legal opinion has been sought on Americus Police Chief Michael Yates' attempt to discredit Craig Walker by gathering information via the Georgia Crime Investigations Center. That legal opinion may yet result in a lawsuit challenging Yates and the City of Americus.
Second, in my 10 years as an NAACP board member, I have never known the organization to have "wielded influence" - as Mr. Garner terms it - with any law enforcement agency in our community. The NAACP has been very visible and persistent, though, in challenging law enforcement misconduct. The NAACP filed numerous complaints with the Americus Police Department when Charlie Whitehead was chief of police; it filed complaints and spoke publicly against the regime of former Sumter County Sheriff Randy Howard. It continues to monitor the city police department and county sheriff's office under the leadership of Michael Yates and Bob Ingle.
Third, the NAACP is not "engaged in a campaign to destroy racial harmony in Americus." To the contrary, the NAACP is the one African American-led organization in our community that diligently monitors our institutions with an eye toward racial injustice and discrimination. The local NAACP presently has a two-foot high stack of written complaints from Sumter County residents who allege racial discrimination at the workplace, racial profiling by law enforcement officials, racial tracking by school authorities and hate crimes. Racial harmony in Americus-Sumter County has historically been destroyed by those white folks in positions of power who maintain segregated schools, have access to private property and the banks, who control the criminal justice system, and who erect the hate symbol that is the Confederate St. Andrew's Cross at the entrances to our town. The NAACP serves ably as a watchdog and stands ready to challenge racism wherever it rears its ugly head. It seeks to undo racism, not foment racial animosity, as Mr. Garner would want us to believe.
I invite anyone who is genuinely interested in the work of the Americus-Sumter County NAACP to come by the office to learn more about the organization, or attend the branch's regular monthly meeting.
John Cole Vodicka