Special to the NNPA from the Milwaukee Community Journal –
The Milwaukee County District Attorney’s office announced it has cleared the Milwaukee Branch NAACP of any criminal wrongdoing.
The District Attorney’s investigation was the result of accusations made by a small group of members and office seekers.
They reportedly accused the Milwaukee branch’s leadership of thievery, malfeasance, and of literally operating a criminal enterprise from the offices of the local branch.
A press statement by the Milwaukee branch said the District Attorney (DA) found no evidence of the aforementioned allegations. The DA’s findings mirror findings of an earlier investigation by the NAACP’s national office that also found no wrongdoing by the local branch.
Nevertheless, the allegations—many of which were unsubstantiated—have taken their toll on the local branches operations.
The Milwaukee branch has experienced a decrease in contributions totaling $200,000, as a result of what local NAACP officials called a “smear campaign.”
Despite the allegations and investigations, branch President Jerry Ann Hamilton said the Milwaukee branch never stopped working toward accomplishing the NAACP’s duel mission of ensuring equal opportunities and eliminating racial hatred.
“We are hopeful, but not entirely confident, this will bring an end to this bitter, relentless, and at times very personal smear campaign,” Hamilton said in a press statement.
First elected branch president in 1998, Hamilton, along with members of her family involved in the organization, have been at the center of the ongoing controversy that has cast a cloud over the organization. She is stepping down at the end of her current term after branch elections are held November 20.
Wendell Harris, Milwaukee NAACP first vice president and one of two candidates to replace Hamilton, said the local branch is fortunate to have the unwavering support of dedicated volunteers.
“We have been able to achieve civil rights victories in an atmosphere where many organizations would not have been able to keep their doors open,” Harris said. “We persevered. This is a testament to the strength, character, and loyalty of our volunteers.”
Harris noted the branch’s recent success in helping to defeat the MPS takeover plan, assisting with the 2010 Census, and in reopening the investigation of the bar owner who burned a statue of President Barack Obama inside her establishment.
“The mission of the NAACP must continue uninterrupted,” Hamilton said. “Despite the smear campaign, the current administration pledges to work diligently with the next administration, whomever it may be, to ensure a smooth transition so as not to cause a disruption of NAACP activities.
“The NAACP is larger than any petty squabble by disgruntled members,” Hamilton said.