Berkeley NAACP Apologizes for ‘Kill African Americans’ Comment

KNTV (San Francisco), February 27, 2008

OAKLAND, Calif.—More than a week after police shot and killed a 51-year-old Berkeley grandmother, the head of the local NAACP chapter is facing a firestorm of criticism over comments its president made about the city’s police officers.

In a letter sent to the Berkeley Daily Planet Newspaper and purportedly speaking on behalf of the Berkeley branch of the NAACP, the group’s president vented his anger at police over the Feb. 16 death of Anita Gay, NBC11’s Ethan Harp reported.

In the letter, Jackson claims, “it is apparent that the only thing in the mind of a Berkeley police officer is to kill, especially any African-American that they can.”

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“For someone to say that, it just floors you,” said detective Shira Warren, the head of the Berkeley Black Police Officers Association.

She rejects any suggestion of rampant racism in the department. “I think it’s disheartening that somebody seemingly respected in the community, on the national board at that, would use such an opportunity to be insensitive.”

The NAACP branch has strongly distanced itself from the statement.

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Group members said they would consider holding a meeting to examine whether Jackson should be removed from his position as president.

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Police told Harp that while there are questions to be answered with respect to the shooting, they do not have any overriding concerns about racism at the department.

That view is shared by the head of the Berkeley Police Association union and the Berkeley Black Police Officers Association, Harp reported.

The heads of both groups are African-American, Harp reported.

The name of the officer who shot Gay still has not been officially released but a police spokesperson confirmed that officer is himself African-American.

Jackson has not returned NBC11 calls asking for comment.

The woman shot and killed on Feb. 16, Anita Gay, was African-American.

Others in the local NAACP chapter have reportedly apologized for Jackson’s comments.

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