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Bitterness Unabated on Eve of NAACP Chapter’s Election

Times Staff Writer

As the vitriolic campaign for the presidency of the Los Angeles NAACP chapter entered its final hours Saturday, incumbent Anthony M. Essex lashed out at his opponent, attorney Joseph H. Duff, accusing him of slander and of damaging the organization’s reputation.

Essex, who at 31 is the youngest person ever to head the NAACP chapter, charged that Duff is “not dealing with items of substance, but choosing to focus on past events in my life that are . . . totally unrelated to my ability to run the NAACP.”

Essex and his lawyer, Clifton W. Albright, said Duff’s supporters had distorted Essex’s professional history by claiming he was fired from a position as a loan officer at Founders Savings & Loan because of a series of dubious loans.

‘Conflict With Management’

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Essex said he left the saving and loan because of a “conflict with management” and then sued his employer for wrongful termination. Duff’s allegations were derived from a countersuit filed by Founders, according to Essex.

Albright said he is considering filing a defamation suit because of the “false light placed on these issues by Mr. Duff, since he knew of the true facts.”

Duff, 43, who gained prominence through his work in the Los Angeles school desegregation case, denied spreading false information about Essex.

“The material I based my research on came from the public records, Essex’s own words and a review of the court file,” Duff said.

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Some NAACP members have described the election as a generational contest between those, like Duff, who want the 66-year-old organization to focus on such traditional civil rights issues as school desegregation, job discrimination and fair housing, and others, like Essex, who want to move into such areas as gang violence, police misconduct and the closing of trauma centers.

Members of the 6,000-member chapter of the National Assn. for the Advancement of Colored People will vote today from noon to 6 p.m. at Hamilton United Methodist Church, 6330 S. Figueroa St.


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