Spokane NAACP leader cancels meeting amid furor

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Posted: Jun 14, 2015 8:34 PM
Spokane NAACP leader cancels meeting amid furor

SPOKANE, Wash. (AP) — The leader of the Spokane NAACP, Rachel Dolezal, has canceled a chapter meeting Monday where she was expected to speak about the furor sparked over her racial identity.

Her parents have said the 37-year-old activist has falsely portrayed herself as black for years.

Dolezal sent out an email Sunday canceling the monthly membership meeting "due to the need to continue discussion with regional and national NAACP leaders."

Shortly after her announcement, the head of the chapter's executive committee, Lawrence Brunley, questioned whether Dolezal had the right to arbitrarily cancel the meeting, KREM-TV in Spokane (http://is.gd/sdOyLy ) reported, quoting an email thread mailed to NAACP members.

"I don't see any language in the by-laws that empowers you, or any one member, to arbitrarily cancel/postpone tomorrow's meeting," Burnley wrote in his email Sunday.

Some are planning a demonstration Monday night calling for Dolezal to step down.

Kitara Johnson, a member of the chapter, organized an online petition calling for Dolezal to take a leave of absence.

"It's not about race, it's about integrity," she said. "If you're a leader, you have to have integrity. She clearly lacks integrity. The other piece is credibility."

Johnson said she and others plan to peacefully protest outside Monday's membership meeting, but they will not attend the meeting.

Attempts to reach Dolezal by telephone were unsuccessful Sunday.

Dolezal was elected president of the local NAACP chapter about six months ago, The Spokesman-Review reported.

The NAACP issued a statement Friday supporting Dolezal, who has been a longtime figure in Spokane's human-rights community and teaches African studies to college students.

Ruthanne Dolezal said the family's ancestry is Czech, Swedish and German, with a trace of Native American heritage. She produced a copy of her daughter's Montana birth certificate listing herself and Larry Dolezal as Rachel's parents.

The city of Spokane is investigating whether Dolezal lied about her ethnicity when she applied to be on the police board. Police on Friday said they were suspending investigations into racial-harassment complaints filed by Dolezal, including one from earlier this year in which she said she received hate mail at her office.

Dolezal had said in a statement Friday that she would address the controversy at Monday's meeting.

"As you probably know by now, there are questions and assumptions swirling in national and global news about my family, my race, my credibility, and the NAACP," her statement said. "I have discussed the situation, including personal matters, with the Executive Committee."