Group Apologizes for LA Leader’s Remarks Following Simpson Verdict
WASHINGTON (AP) _ The National Organization for Women apologized Wednesday for what it called racially insensitive remarks by the group’s top Los Angeles official following the O.J. Simpson verdict.
NOW President Patricia Ireland told a news conference the group’s board of directors voted last weekend to censure Tammy Bruce, the Los Angeles NOW president. Ireland said such an action was unprecedented during her tenure as a national officer starting in 1981.
``I deeply regret that Tammy Bruce ... has made public statements that clearly violate NOW’s commitment to stopping racism,″ Ireland said.
One example cited by NOW quoted transcripts from a ``Nightline″ segment the day after the verdict in which Bruce said, ``What we need to teach our children is ... not about racism, but is about violence against women.″
Bruce replied in a statement she was baffled and disappointed by the response of the national organization.
``In the aftermath of the Simpson trial, Los Angeles NOW and NOW chapters and leaders throughout the country have worked to maintain a national dialogue on the epidemic of domestic violence,″ Bruce said.
``We know, as do most NOW members and Americans in general that domestic violence, and all violence against women, is color blind; that speaking on the horrors of domestic violence does not make one a racist, and that by not speaking against this epidemic is abandoning thousands of women who are (at) risk in this country, including women of color.″
Simpson was acquitted Oct. 3 of murdering his ex-wife Nicole and her friend Ronald Goldman. Prosecutors introduced evidence at his trial that he subjected his wife to physical abuse.
Ireland said that NOW has a strong national campaign to stop violence against women.
``However, we have a problem when one of our leaders pollutes our message with statements that leave the widespread perception that domestic violence is more important than racism on NOW’s agenda,″ she added.
Another example cited by NOW was an Oct. 11 statement by Bruce that her message to Simpson was, ``You are not welcome here, you are not welcome in this country, you are not welcome on our airwaves, you are not welcome in our culture.″
The NOW statement also referred to a Nov. 17 Associated Press story about Bruce’s refusal to appear via satellite on a Philadelphia TV talk show. The host of the show, AM Philadelphia, opened the segment on which she was to have appeared by reading comments that coordinating producer Amy Willen said Bruce had made.
``I don’t have time to argue with a bunch of black women; we’ve moved beyond that,″ Bruce was quoted as having said.
Bruce told the AP at the time that not all of the words in the comments attributed to her were accurate and that many had been taken out of context. She added that she believed her comments were actually anti-racist.