- The Washington Times - Monday, September 15, 2003

The national office of the NAACP has removed the president of the Richmond branch, citing the threat of “irreparable harm” if Allen C. Barrett remained in charge.

NAACP President Kweisi Mfume sent a two-page letter dated Aug. 19, 2003, ordering Mr. Barrett to “cease and desist from action or holding yourself out as president of the Richmond branch.”

Notice of the letter was first reported last week by the Richmond Free Press, a local weekly newspaper in the capital.

“This action is taken to protect the NAACP from the danger of irreparable harm,” Mr. Mfume reportedly wrote Mr. Barrett in the letter obtained by the Richmond Free Press.

Few people are talking about what happened or why, but Mr. Barrett raised the ire of the national office when he asked the Richmond commonwealth’s attorney to investigate the finances of the Richmond branch.

Mr. Mfume reportedly cited this as the prime reason for removing Mr. Barrett.

Spokesmen for the Virginia branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, as well as the organization’s headquarters in Baltimore, declined to comment.

“As a matter of policy, we handle all matters such as this internally,” said Sheila Douglas, press secretary for the national office of the NAACP.

The Virginia State Conference office referred all calls to the Richmond branch, which did not return repeated messages left on voice mail seeking comment.

Mr. Barrett became president of the Richmond NAACP in January. Two months later, a complaint was filed on behalf of 20 members of the Richmond branch asking for Mr. Barrett’s removal because, they claimed, he had not filed proper procedures as outlined in the organization’s constitution.

After an investigation by the Internal Affairs Committee of the Virginia State Conference of the NAACP, it was recommended that Mr. Barrett be terminated. Mr. Barrett filed a complaint with the national office, saying there was no evidence of wrongdoing.

The Richmond Free Press reported, however, that Mr. Mfume’s decision to terminate Mr. Barrett was separate and unrelated to the investigation by the Internal Affairs Committee.

Under NAACP rules, Mr. Barrett has the opportunity to appeal the decision to the national office.

This is not the first time the president of the Richmond branch has been at odds with the national organization.

In 1996, Norvell K. Richardson resigned as president after three board members went to the national organization to get him removed because they did not like his support of a proposal calling for citywide election of the mayor. The proposal failed, and the Richmond City Council still elects the mayor from among its members.

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