Two activist groups in San Diego that ostensibly hold similar views have found themselves at odds over what one charges is the other's racially motivated refusal to seat people of color on its board of directors.
Pastor Jared Moten of Ebenezer Baptist Church and the vice president of the local National Action Network chapter, says that the Peace Resource Center of San Diego is ignoring its guiding principles of "nonviolence, tolerance, compassion, and respect for diversity."
"They recently held an open meeting where they elected four diverse individuals to a board that has been non-diverse previously," Moten said. "Upon receiving that slate of candidates, [current board president Betsy Bekken] disallowed it.
"We're outraged. An organization of such magnitude has to be transparent and has to be diverse. How can you possibly talk about peace when everybody sitting on that board does not look like the people most in need of peace?"
According to a release sent out by the National Action Network ginning up support for a rally outside a planned board meeting on December 6 to push for acceptance of the election result, Peace Resource Center program director Dr. Darwin Fishman "and other people of color, both employees and board members, have experienced numerous racist incidents" in recent months.
"This incident we're talking about here [rejection of the election results] speaks volumes in and of itself," Moten responded when asked to provide examples of the cited incidents. "How can you be qualified to be a staff member of the organization but not a board member?"
Dr. Fishman made similar claims weeks before the most recent board election, stating that at one point a meeting was held excluding non-white members and asking for a mediation process to resolve the issues.
Bekken countered at that time, denying the white-only meeting allegation and stating that it was instead the other side that had refused mediation offers. The Peace Resource Center did not respond to a request for comment from the Reader.
At the scheduled meeting time provided by the National Action Network, Moten and a handful of supporters found themselves in a darkened parking lot outside the Peace Resource Center, doors to the meeting room locked.
Moten said he'd received word a few minutes earlier that the meeting had been abruptly canceled, ostensibly to avoid a conflict with the expected protesters. He says that, absent any movement from the parties, his group will be back again next week.