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What was billed as a public meeting to discuss allegations against NAACP San Diego branch president Francine Maxwell turned into a hostile confrontation this week, as members of the local Black community stood by their suspended leader.
Alphonso Braggs, who has been installed by the national NAACP board as the administrator of the San Diego branch, decided that most of the items listed on a public agenda would instead be discussed in closed session.
The decision was met with anger and confusion as dozens of people who logged on to the virtual meeting were forced to wait three hours for the public session to begin.
Once the open meeting began, Braggs was tight-lipped.
“The business of the association that the executive committee needed to meet and discuss needed to have been in total executive session,” he told the online gathering. “That’s why I directed it to be as such.”
The Tuesday night meeting was prompted by a national NAACP order earlier this month suspending Maxwell from her presidency. No public reason was given for the decision, beyond a statement indicating that Maxwell had failed to comply with organization rules.
Maxwell also refused to add Braggs as a signatory on the San Diego NAACP bank account — a decision that was ratified by the local executive board again this week. The executive committee did vote to remove Maxwell from the account due to her suspension.
On Wednesday, Maxwell declined to speak about the reasons for her suspension, but said she has appealed the decision and is waiting to hear back from the national NAACP as to when her appeal will be heard.
Maxwell, who is also the local chair of the group Black Men and Women United, said she spent much of Wednesday taking calls from local NAACP members regarding the Tuesday night meeting. She said she apologized to them for what happened at the meeting, and reassured them she’s fighting the suspension.
“I would never give up on our city,” Maxwell said over the phone Wednesday.
She added that the message she shared with members was: “We’re going to get through this. Hang in there.”
Community members were clear in their support for Maxwell, who was widely credited with improving the San Diego NAACP chapter.
“You haven’t been able to give us any answers to anything,” activist Aeiramique Glass Blake told Braggs. “You guys have been very disorganized, and I’m not talking about locally. I’m talking specifically about you.
“Before Ms. Francine, this NAACP was falling apart. And she brought it together,” Glass Blake said.
Attorney Regina V. Evans said the San Diego NAACP branch is being unfairly targeted by the state and national organizations.
“The state office and the national office have walked into our city and have disrupted our funding, disrupted our ability to do what really matters for Black folks — and no one seems to care,” she said.
“This chapter should have had an opportunity to respond prior to any actions being taken,” Evans said.
Maxwell expressed appreciation for the support Wednesday, saying she felt she earned it by working hard for local members. “That was reciprocated because they are my equals,”she said. “We are in this together.”
Brian Bonner, who was named acting San Diego branch president after Maxwell was suspended, said the local NAACP members have yet to be told why she was displaced.
“That is the big mystery for all of us,” Bonner said. “There (are) some bits and pieces that we know, but we have not had access to the full file as to what caused the national board to take the action it did.”
Leonard J. Thompson III, an executive board member speaking near the end of meeting, said he supports the suspended local leader.
“I stand with Francine Maxwell,” he said. “I still feel that it is because she is an alpha female, she’s very direct and she’s very thorough, that she’s being ostracized at this point.”
The NAACP was organized in 1909 and is the nation’s oldest civil-rights organization. The San Diego chapter dates to 1919.
This content was originally published here.