OAKLAND, Calif. (KGO) -- Activists are calling on the NAACP to take a hard look at the local Oakland branch. They claim the Oakland chapter is not aligned with the city's values and it's time to "break the silence."
"The Oakland branch is currently using its position to hijack the legacy of the historic organization, and using it as a weapon - a weapon! - against their opposition," says Doug Blacksher, a host of the Black Business Roundtable podcast and community activist.
Blacksher is one of the signatories of a letter sent to the national NAACP president about the Oakland branch. The letter states, "Our leadership is reverting to lies, fear-mongering and the 'tough-on-crime' rhetoric that has targeted African Americans throughout our entire history in this county, evoking stereotypical narratives of Black criminality."
"Four hundred years. Now we have our own people part of that!" says Blacksher, who was one of five community members who took part in a news conference Tuesday morning, to address their concerns.
The group claims the Oakland chapter is not representative of Oakland's values or diversity. Instead, aligning itself with right-wing interests over progressive causes. They point to the recall of Alameda County District Attorney Pamela Price, and "supporting legislation that defunds public education in favor of tax breaks" for big business.
"The NAACP is really a class-based organization. And that's really the problem," says Cathy Leonard, an Oakland native and community activist. "So, we have come here today to demand that they make a reverse on all of their positions, except for the bringing back of Chief Armstrong."
The group singled out two men: Former Alameda County Assistant District Attorney Terry Wiley, who lost to D.A. Price. And, former Oakland City Councilmember Loren Taylor, who lost to Mayor Sheng Thao.
"These people are the losers. They lost the election. And now they are running the local chapter," says Walter Riley, a civil rights attorney.
In a statement to ABC7 News, Terry Wiley, who is a member of the Oakland chapter of the NAACP, writes: "I have no comment to accusations that are intended to distract everyone's attention from the rising number of retail thefts, robberies, carjackings, murders, business closures, and overall lawlessness that has everyone feeling unsafe in the City of Oakland."
The group is asking to work with the national NAACP to make sure the Oakland chapter is aligned with the national charter.
"There has been complete silence from this particular chapter when it comes to issues that affect Oaklanders, especially Black Oaklanders, like displacement and homelessness," says Chaney Turner, an Oakland Native, who also spoke.
Loren Taylor refutes claims that the local chapter has been silent on big issues. He says they are calling for accountability and comprehensive solutions.
"Regardless if I am in City Hall with a title, or outside of City Hall as an everyday citizen, I am committed to making sure that Oakland continues to grow and thrive. Yes, that means, we have to lean into our progressive values, that I espouse as a life-long democrat," says Taylor. "But at the same time, it also means we have to bring the structure and systems that are necessary in order to keep people safe."
The Oakland chapter of the NAACP did not return requests for comment.
If you're on the ABC7 News app, click here to watch live