Members of the Anne Arundel County chapter of the NAACP moved closer to ousting the group's leader last night, circulating a petition at the monthly meeting asking for his resignation.
Already faced with a no-confidence vote by the chapter's executive committee, Wayne Jearld, in office since January, has previously vowed to hang on to the post for the rest of his two-year term.
In a letter drafted last week, members of the executive committee listed more than a dozen examples of Jearld pointedly criticizing board members and other community leaders. Three committee members he had appointed have resigned. The committee contended that the chapter's ties with other nonprofits have been damaged.
Jearld declined to comment on the move to oust him before last night's meeting, which he did not attend.
"I voted to have him removed, and he was someone who I thought the world of and helped to get elected," said George Phelps, a lifetime member and executive committee member of the county chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.
"I thought he would be the man to carry the mission on, but so many things happened," Phelps said. "To be president of NAACP you have to be a people person, you have to care about people, and he just didn't do the right things in dealing with the people."
The petition circulated last night needs 20 signatures to start impeachment proceedings. The group collected 35 signatures last night.
The petition is to be forwarded to the national office, which could call for a hearing, move to oust Jearld or reprimand him - or do nothing. It could take from 30 days to a couple of months for the national office to respond.
Nationally, the civil rights organization continues to struggle, and it recently announced a 40 percent reduction at its Baltimore headquarters. Regional offices will also be shuttered to cover three years of budget shortfalls.
Gerald Stansbury, immediate past president of the county chapter, said last night that the recent turmoil locally won't keep the group from doing the work that it has been doing since 1944.
The Anne Arundel County chapter has about 350 members.
"We are going to bounce right back," Stansbury said. "We have some strong workers and a community that is strong, and we are up there with the best branches."