Jun 8, 2017

A follow up letter to Humboldt media from local NAACP media coordinator


I am the Media Coordinator of the Eureka Branch of the NAACP. As one of the members of the executive board, I'd like to clarify a few things. In the wake of the recent murder of HSU student, David Josiah Lawson, the presence of vitriolic speech has become most prevalent on some of our local media outlets. The majority of the executive board collectively drafted a letter asking media organizations to examine and possibly change their policies related to the comment sections on their websites, social media pages, etc.
This letter was in no way suggesting censorship of our citizens. Additionally, our stance is not to infringe on anyone's 1st Amendment rights. The letter simply suggests that the moderators of the local media sites use care in monitoring of the comments section. Our branch president, Liz Smith, stated on a local blogger's website she did not agree with the body of the letter. She also expressed she felt recent correspondence from our 1st vice president, Donn Peterson, asked for her resignation. Donn Peterson's personal letter to President Smith was not suggesting she resign, but instead expressed continued support. President Smith has not communicated with members of the executive board in several weeks. Our records reflect attempts to schedule meetings over the last two months, all to no avail. The executive board will continue to be of service to the region, despite the absence of our president. According to the national NAACP bylaws for local units, the role of the vice president is:

To perform all the duties of the President during periods of absence or  disability.  In  case of more than one Vice-President, they will be designated as first, second, third, etc. and shall perform their duties according to their numerical rank. (2014 Bylaws for Units - page 33)

With that, our 1st vice president, Donn Peterson, offers a supplemental statement here:

My name is Donn Peterson and I am an officer with the Eureka Branch of the NAACP. The letter itself was discussed in public meetings and was a collaboration of the thoughts and ideas shared in those meetings by members and visitors alike. I signed the letter on behalf of the organization and, if the signature was illegible, I accept responsibility for that. The letter does not call for censorship, nor does the NAACP. That’s clear despite the contrived interpretations represented here and elsewhere. What the letter does call for is ownership of what appears on our Humboldt County local media websites. When people post comments that marginalize members of our community, that matters and it is a reflection of our community whether we like it or not, whether we agree with it or not. The stewards of those sites should be held accountable for what appears on them. The fact that one local media outlet suspended public comment in the wake of the Lawson homicide is indicative of at least a loose sense of that responsibility. For those of you who feel it’s your “right” to spew anonymously at the conclusion of news stories and that the request of the NAACP to exercise responsibility in that practice somehow constitutes a violation of free speech, I would ask you to go to the Los Angeles Times, the San Francisco Chronicle, the New York Times, or any other respected publication. None seems to be experiencing a contravention of their first amendment rights by excluding such practices and it’s noteworthy that the NAACP did not in any way suggest regulation of journalistic freedom.
On a personal note…
I own what I say, refuse to lurk in anonymity, enjoy dialogue and differing points of view, and would love to see you and talk about… whatever. I’ll even buy the coffee.
If you are reading this, I am inviting you to figuratively walk in someone else’s shoes just for a moment. Imagine your loved one going to a place where they are ostensibly welcome, but only tolerated in practice. Someplace where they are less than 2% of the overall population and made to know it. Imagine what it might feel like to get looks, be followed around stores, have slurs shouted from passing cars, be exposed to bigoted comments in the same media outlets they too rely upon for access to local news, and generally experience disparate treatment (at best), outright animosity (the norm), or even targeted violence. Imagine how you might feel if your loved one was blamed and somehow held responsible for the treatment they received. Imagine your son, daughter, brother, or sister describing that to you. If you can imagine that, then perhaps you can begin to understand the experience of others here in Humboldt County… that this is their experience. Every. Single. Day.
Now, imagine that same dynamic, only allies abound. Where people proactively get involved in matters of disparity, inequity, and injustice. Imagine how differently you would feel if your loved one was in a place where those undeserved experiences were aberrations and not the norm… how good it would feel when people stood up for your son, daughter, brother, or sister, making sure they were treated fairly and no differently than anyone else.
I recently watched someone shouting racial slurs at a group of citizens gathered in the wake of the Lawson homicide. It disgusted me that a white man felt the privilege and sense of entitlement to walk past that diverse and peaceful crowd saying the vile things that he did. I was proud to confront him and stand up for what’s right. I am inviting you to get involved. I acknowledge my privilege and do not mean to co-opt or inappropriately describe the experience of others. No doubt my words will evoke ire with some and they would rather I shut up. My hope though is that the vast majority will get it and join with one another in demonstrating that we are better collectively than how we have recently and historically shown up. I challenge the people of Humboldt County to wake up, step up, show up, and speak up.

Please feel free to publish this additional correspondence to offer clarity in the matter. Thanking you in advance. 


Lorna L. Bryant
Eureka Branch of the NAACP


  1. Again, they seem to think the actions of a very few people speak for the actions of all of Humboldt. that is called stereotyping. why won't they acknowledge the bad behavior of "their" side. Four black guys jumping one white guy for no reason other than they felt he disrespected by him asking about a lost phone is not ok anywhere.

  2. FUUCK the NAACP

  3. Not to mention the local NAACP skirt responsibility when it comes to vitriol and racial slurs towards others. Fuck the police is okay by them. But, the above comment is not. They cite select publications as New York Times suited to their agenda as respected. These respected media are fake news, retracting their spins daily. Outside the pettiness of jealous local media local organization and local people in denial, nationally blogs are considered a part of media and just as legit. National networks refer to be as a fellow reporter. Local blogger is not incorrect but the term used by some locally, when previously court watcher/reporter was used by more professional media, is more out of an attempt to be dismissive of me than the fact that I use blogger to host my site. That's the cost of independent reporting. Even if I had a dot. com website, they would find some other reason to nit pick. People are starting to see locally and nationally, what media sources can be trusted.

    1. I believe that Donn Peterson is a Police Chief, so not sure if "Fuck the Police" is an accurate label.

    2. http://www2.humboldt.edu/police/chiefs-page

      The Fuck the Police reference is from court testimony in the preliminary hearing of the case.

  4. John Once again thank you for your coverage on this issue involving out community and the local citizens, not just the out of area HSU students!

    I am copying and will paste my response here, to this NAACP press release that I put on the Lost Coast Outpost.

    I am wondering if the Eureka Branch of the NAACP will censor the self appointed spokesperson for the other side of this issue Tina Sampay??

    A quick google search, shows exactly how Tina Sampay likes to spew her venomous writings/ attitude.

    My response below to the LOCO comment page on this issue.....

    Well with the NAACP wanting censorship in the local media, will they muzzle the self appointed spokesperson for the other side - Tina Sampay/ Slauson Girl?

    In watching the video of her protest at Uniontown shopping center, as seen at time mark - 7:18 in the attached video link.


    It definitely shows Tina Sampay extorting/ coercing actions for support for her side of this issue by her wanting the hostages to call the Humboldt County D.A.'s Office, in order to release the Citizens of Humboldt that her protesters were holding hostage in the parking lot.

    Plus her inflammatory writings on this issue in Bay Area persons of color publications equating this area having a 'George Zimmerman' in our community.


    If you want equality you may want to look at those inciting the public outrage over the actions due to out of the area under age HSU students being intoxicated at late night parties....

  5. I don't quite understand how the Chief of Police at HSU can also be now the President of the NAACP. Wouldn't that be a conflict of interest? He was hugely involved in investigating the Josiah Lawson killing. I mean how are other officers supposed to support him if he is leadership for the NAACP? Also, Donn is white. I don't think he even has the minimal qualifications to be involved in the NAACP. This would make a good story about whether or not this is a huge conflict of interest.

    1. Clearly you have no idea about the origins of the NAACP. Try looking it up to see who started it. You can be white and be part of the NAACP. Also, no, he is not "investigating" the case.

    2. This comment has been removed by the author.

    3. Peterson is the chief of police at HSU. They responded to the crime scene to assist the night of the party. So he is involved in the investigating of this case. Regardless of who started the local NAACP chapter or any NAACP chapter, this is the 21st century. Either advocate for rights for all people of color like Liz Smith or form your own group. The local chapter also has Humboldt County Counsel Jeffrey Blanck as a member, again, in a position of authority, where numerous conflicts of interest can occur. Has the local NAACP advocated this vigorously for all local people of color. Most of the people stirring up things seem to be from places, other than Humboldt County.