Local NAACP Wants To Help Other Branches In Training Dispute

CLEVELAND (AP) - The Cleveland chapter of the NAACP has asked a federal judge to allow it to represent other local branches in a dispute over leadership training required by the group's national office.

At issue is mandated training for chapter leaders on rules and procedures of the civil rights organization.

The Cleveland chapter's request to represent other local branches on the issue is pending before U.S. District Court Judge Donald C. Nugent in Cleveland.

Last year the Baltimore national office of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People ousted George Forbes as president of the Cleveland chapter for failing to attend required training seminars. The NAACP later expelled 16 of 33 local board members for the same reason.

The Cleveland chapter won a court order barring the expulsions pending court hearings.

The national office said it has no intention of backing down.

"We're going to let the courts make their decision," said Famebridge Payne, a spokeswoman for the national board.

In its lawsuit, the Cleveland chapter contends that the punishment for missing the seminars is unfairly harsh and violates the NAACP's constitution by not allowing appeals. Forbes said he missed the training seminars because of treatments for prostate cancer.

He said the Cleveland chapter has received numerous calls from branches seeking advice because their leaders were also expelled.

He said it made sense to include them in a lawsuit against the national board.

(Copyright 2002 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)