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Board of NAACP removes president of Arundel chapter

The board of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People has ousted the president of the Anne Arundel chapter of the organization amid members' complaints about his lack of leadership.

Though his removal rests on a technicality - he missed more than three consecutive branch meetings, a violation of the organization's constitution - Wayne Jearld has long clashed with fellow NAACP chapter members.

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National board member Don Cash Sr. of Columbia said yesterday that he did not recall anyone at the meeting two weeks ago voting to keep Jearld.

"There have been ongoing problems at the branch for some period of time," Cash said.

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Reached by phone last night, Jearld accused longtime members of the county's chapter, including Gerald Stansbury, former branch president and current head of the Maryland NAACP, of conspiring against him even before he assumed the presidency slightly more than a year ago, drumming up false charges that he was divisive and later that he failed to attend meetings. Jearld said members adjourned several scheduled meetings, only to reconvene them after he left.

"I never had a chance," he said. "They talk about my personality being abrasive and disgraceful. That is a bunch of crap."

Jearld said he received word of his removal over the weekend from Stansbury. Jearld said he has not heard from the national branch about his ouster, but he said he deserved an explanation. He also said he plans to maintain his membership in the chapter.

Word of Jearld's ouster prompted a "Hallelujah" from Cynthia A. Carter, a former Annapolis alderwoman.

"You can't be in these elected positions and not be able to work with the people who put you there," said Carter, a once-active chapter member who said she stopped attending meetings because of Jearld's behavior. "He disrespected people. He hollered. ... It was just terrible."

Jerald, 59, a self-employed consultant for higher-education institutions, moved from Baltimore to Anne Arundel County to run for the position in 2006. He said he signed up 150 new members on the eve of the election, and those votes were crucial in his victory. He assumed office a month early because of infighting within the local branch, he said.

As president, Jearld pledged to expand black business opportunities, preserve the cultural legacy of historically black communities near downtown Annapolis and boost membership from 350 to 3,000, the 64-year-old chapter's size in its heyday in the 1980s and early 1990s.

But by August, three of the 19 committee members he had appointed had resigned, and the chapter's executive committee asked the national office to begin impeachment proceedings. Members said his abrasiveness and temper had stalled the chapter's progress by harming its relationship with other organizations.

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Some executive committee members said the chapter's work was hurt by Jearld's public denunciations of the work and mission of RESPECT Foundation, a prominent Anne Arundel County coalition of black groups and leaders.

"He was a rather divisive leader and clearly was against the organization," said John Wilson, a life member and executive director of the RESPECT Foundation. "I think the NAACP has an important and historic role, and that was being impacted by the leadership of Wayne Jearld."

The national office declined to remove Jearld; instead, in October it ordered him and the board members who wanted him out to attend mediation. Board members appealed the decision.

"Since Mr. Jearld took office, the hostility, disrespect, and blatant disregard for policies and procedures that he has presented have been to the extreme," the Nov. 7 letter reads, adding, "Mr. Jearld should have been suspended at the very least."

The letter detailed other infractions, including documentation of his absences from monthly meetings since August, when he stayed for 15 minutes, was "hostile and disruptive" and launched a "tirade" against former state NAACP President Jenkins Odoms Jr. The letter also alleged Jearld withdrew $1,250 in unapproved funds from the chapter.

kelly.brewington@baltsun.com. ruma.kumar@baltsun.com

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Sun reporter Phillip McGowan contributed to this article.


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