NAACP threatens legal action in Memphis City Council appointment controversy

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. — The Memphis branch of the NAACP is speaking out on the controversy surrounding three vacant seats on city council.

Leadership says legal action is possible and are questioning whether race is playing a key role of keeping one candidate out of District 1, leading four council members to walk out in protest.

"We are concerned that there is an attempt to put a person in district one who may not understand the needs of the community that he or she will represent," said Deidre Malone, president of the Memphis branch NAACP.

"If you don't call it what it is and deal with it, racism that is, we as a society will never move past it."

Malone took aim at how city council members have voted to fill the vacant district one seat which is majority African American.

"We are concerned that there is an attempt to put a person into district one that may not understand the needs of the community that he or she will represent. "

Four African American council members walked out of the council session earlier this month after voting deadlocked between a white candidate, Lonnie Treadaway, and Rhonda Logan, an African American woman.

Treadway has since withdrawn, but the NAACP contends the votes were there to put Logan in the seat.

"If we are going by the premise that Ms. Logan received six votes each time and is the only person who received the majority number of votes out of city council members present, she should be appointed to the district one seat. I think my math is correct."

Malone is calling for a special election to fill not only the District o1 seat, but two other vacant seats.

She accused the council of gerrymandering. That accusation drew harsh response from the city council's attorney, Allan Wade.

"The NAACP says, 'We're concerned there's going to be gerrymandering, they're going to be loading up the council with all white members.' You know that's BS, to be frank about it," Wade said.

For Martavius Jones, one of the council members who walked out, the question remains: Who is in the majority?

"We need a definitive answer on whether it's going to take seven to fill the vacancy, or six," he said.

Wade says his reading is that it takes six votes, at the moment, to appoint a District 1 representative.

"It is a majority of the members who have been duly elected and sworn," Wade said. "We presently only have 10 city council members that have been duly elected and sworn. A majority of 10 is six."


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