Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Michael Nelson Sr. wins Cleveland NAACP branch presidency over retired judge Sara Harper and calls for indictments by the grand jury hearing the case of the White Cleveland cops that gunned down 12-year-old Tamir Rice.... Some dues paying Cleveland NAACP members say that they were not even apprised of the branch election that only drew some 47 people and not enough candidates to fill elected seats on the executive board.... Nelson speaks to Cleveland Urban News.Com, Ohio's leader in Black digital news, on his win, and said that he will work to "rebuild our membership and reestablish our partnerships with the community"....By Editor Kathy Wray Coleman

Newly elected Cleveland NAACP President Michael Nelson Sr. 
james hardiman.jpg - 4.86 Kb

Pictured are newly elected Cleveland NAACP first vice president James Hardiman (wearing turtleneck sweater), former Cleveland NAACP president the Rev. Hilton Smith (in red tie), former Cleveland NAACP first vice president the Rev. Dr. E. Theophilus Caviness  (in red bow-tie), former Cleveland NAACP Third Vice President Sara J. Harper, who lost a bid for branch president against Nelson on Oct 26,  and George Forbes, a former longtime Cleveland NAACP president and former Cleveland City Council president 

By Kathy Wray Coleman, editor-in-chief, Cleveland Urban News. Com and the Cleveland Urban News.Com Blog, Ohio's Most Read Online Black Newspaper and Newspaper Blog. Tel: 216-659-0473. Email: Coleman is a 22-year political, legal and investigative journalist who trained for 17 years, and under six different editors, including Connie Harper, at the Call and Post Newspaper in Cleveland, Ohio.  ( / ( 

CLEVELAND URBAN NEWS.COM- CLEVELAND, Ohio- After shutting down the election of branch officers for the Cleveland NAACP last year amid infighting and violations of elections rules, national leaders monitored an election at the regular meeting in Cleveland Monday evening with Michael Nelson Sr., a local criminal defense attorney and an attorney representing the Cleveland NACCP, winning the branch presidency over Sara J. Harper, formerly the third vice president and a retired Ohio Eighth District Court of Appeals judge.

Asked by Cleveland Urban News.Com during an interview after the election what he intends to do to help Black people as president of the local chapter of the nation's most prominent Civil Rights organization, Nelson said that "we have to rebuild our membership and reestablish our partnerships with the community."

Tamir Rice
An outspoken former Cleveland mayoral candidate who led a failed effort this year for a ballot initiative to seek to recall three-term Black mayor Frank Jackson, Nelson also called for county grand jury indictments of the two White Cleveland cops involved in the shooting death last November of 12-year-old Tamir Rice.

The grand jury began hearing evidence in the Rice case this week and Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Tim McGinty, who is White and has maintained a cozy relationship with Cleveland NAACP officials and branch attorneys no matter what he does to Black people, stalled the case for nearly a year. The county prosecutor, who is up for reelection next year, is under fire from community activists and the Black community for allegedly tainting the grand jury process with handpicked experts designed to shield the cops that killed Tamir, who was Black, from criminal charges.

Several local NAACP members complained to Cleveland Urban News.Com that they did not receive the 10 day notice in the mail for the election, which drew roughly 47 members, the lowest turnout in decades. And when members shut out of the election called both local and national headquarters ahead of time to request data on the election, they were denied information, they say.

And no information on the Cleveland NAACP election is on the group's online website, another indication, sources said, of potential efforts to compromise the local election of officers.

Nelson 66, beat Harper, 89 and still with a keen mind, by a landslide, though election officials, courting the mainstream media, would not release exact election numbers to Cleveland Urban News.Com, Ohio's leader in Black digital news.

Harper, a former branch president decades ago who was nominated by Marcia McCoy, could not be reached for comment.

Former branch president the Rev Hilton Smith, a vice president for community affairs at Turner Construction Company in Cleveland and an associate pastor at the Greater Abyssinia Baptist Church in Cleveland whose name was submitted last year by the nominating committee before the election process was shut down, did not seek reelection to a two year term he won in 2012.

Smith replaced George L. Forbes, a former longtime Cleveland City Council president who relinquished the volunteer job after 20 years.

James Hardiman, a former interim branch president and also a Cleveland attorney who has represented the organization for decades, including relative to the now defunct Cleveland schools desegregation case dubbed Reed v. Rhodes, was elected first vice president, and ran unopposed for the seat held by the Rev Dr. E. Theophilus Caviness, senior pastor of Greater Abyssinia and the executive director of the greater Cleveland chapter of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference.

Arlene Anderson and Amos Mahsua  were reelected secretary and treasurer respectively.

Bennie Bonnano, Richard Peery, Wil Tarter and Beverly Wright, most of whom are Nelson allies, were elected to serve as members at large on the executive board, hardly enough to fill the seats on the 19-member executive committee up for grabs by election.

Second and third vice presidents and the assistant treasurer will be decided after provisional votes by the NAACP national offices because those offices are in question, sources said.  ( / (