Pubdate: Thu, 8 Jul 2010
Source: Los Angeles Times (CA)
Page: AA4
Copyright: 2010 Los Angeles Times
Author: Patrick McGreevy
Cited: California NAACP
Referenced: Targeting Blacks for Marijuana
Bookmark: (Cannabis - California)


More than 20 African American religious and community leaders called 
Wednesday for Alice Huffman to resign as president of the California 
State Conference of the NAACP after she and her organization endorsed 
a ballot measure that would legalize marijuana in the state.

Bishop Ron Allen and other members of the International Faith-Based 
Coalition said Proposition 19 on the November ballot would hurt 
African Americans, and he criticized Huffman's backing of the measure.

"Why would the state NAACP advocate for blacks to stay high?" Allen 
said at a Capitol news conference. "It's going to cause crime to go 
up. There will be more drug babies."

Huffman said she would not step down, and she fired back at her 
critics during a later conference call with reporters that included 
African American leaders from throughout the nation who support her position.

"Prop. 19 is about eliminating enforcement practices that are 
targeting and creating a permanent underclass of citizens, of African 
Americans, caught in a criminal justice system while other people, a 
more privileged class, go free," Huffman said.

She cited a recent report by the Drug Policy Alliance, which supports 
legalization of marijuana. African Americans represent less than 7% 
of the population but 22% of marijuana arrests, according to Stephen 
Gutwillig, state director of the alliance.

Huffman also read a statement from Julian Bond, former chairman of 
the national NAACP, in which he congratulated her for her stand on 

"It seems to me that you and the California NAACP are as right as you 
can be," the statement said. "The war on drugs is an absolute 
failure. It targets black people."

Allen suggested that Huffman's position is influenced by financial 
considerations - in particular, perhaps, by money the national NAACP 
receives from billionaire George Soros' Open Society Institute. Soros 
helped finance the successful campaign to legalize medical use of 
marijuana in California.

Huffman said her group "has not received a penny" of the more than 
$700,000 given to the national organization. 
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MAP posted-by: Richard Lake