Magazine article The Crisis

Spokane Branch Partners to Make Progress

Magazine article The Crisis

Spokane Branch Partners to Make Progress

Article excerpt

The population of Spokane,

Wash., is only 2 percent African American, but that hasn't discouraged its local NAACP, now in its 84th year.

For branch President V. Anne Smith, the size of Spokane's Black community makes the work of the NAACP even more crucial.

"With such a small population of African Americans," Smith says, "we have to work with other organizations."

For example, the branch has joined with the Spokane Police Department to combat racial profiling. In July 2000, the first official meeting between the police department and several community groups was held to address complaints of racial bias in ticketing and arrests. By mid-2001, the department was composing a policy specifically prohibiting racial profiling with the help of community members.

"The NAACP was one of the entities that pushed that first meeting that brought this all to a beginning," Police Chief Roger Bragdon says.

Last year, the Spokane NAACP joined other local organizations and the police to form the Spokane Community/Law Enforcement Change initiative. The initiative includes a committee that collects and analyzes data on racial bias and works to ensure that citizens are aware of the procedures for filing complaints of police misconduct.

"The relationship between the NAACP and the police department is better than it's ever been," says Bragdon, who praises Smith's success in maintaining dialogue among various community groups. "They call my desk if there's a problem. …

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