By Ruben Vives and David Zahniser Los Angeles Times
LOS ANGELES — The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People announced Sunday that Donald Sterling will not receive an honor amid controversy over a recording said to be of the Los Angeles Clippers team owner making racist remarks.
The Los Angeles chapter of the NAACP had been scheduled to give Sterling the group’s lifetime achievement award at its May 15 banquet.
“He is not receiving a lifetime achievement award from the NAACP,” Lorraine Miller, NAACP interim vice president, told NBC’s “Meet the Press.”
Also, on Twitter, the NAACP announced Sterling “will not be receiving a lifetime achievement award from the LA Branch of the NAACP.”
At the banquet, the NAACP chapter also planned to give its first “person of the year” awards to Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti and the Rev. Al Sharpton, according to the organization’s website.
Garcetti’s spokesman had said Saturday that the mayor was going to talk to the NAACP about the honor.
“In light of recent events, we will be discussing this event with the Los Angeles NAACP,” Garcetti spokesman Yusef Robb had said.
The comments that TMZ attributed to Sterling prompted ire among civil rights activists.
Earl Ofari Hutchinson, president of the Los Angeles Urban Policy Roundtable, and a coalition of civil rights leaders demanded that Sterling apologize for “blatantly racist remarks he reportedly made about African-Americans. “Sterling’s racist digs at African-Americans is no surprise.”
Hutchinson added: “Black players have made his fortune with the Clippers and for him to disparage African-Americans is beyond reprehensible. It demands a public apology, a Clipper fan protest and NBA official censure.”
The Clippers have released a statement saying that the team does not know if the man recorded is Sterling but that the comments do not reflect Sterling’s “views, beliefs or feelings.”
Garcetti said through a spokesman Saturday that he condemns the “statements and sentiments” attributed to Sterling. Los Angeles City Councilman Bernard C. Parks, who represents a portion of South Los Angeles, went further, saying the council should take a formal position denouncing the remarks and demanding action from the NBA.
The NBA said it is conducting an investigation.
Sterling is known for his various charity events that have benefited organizations that help the needy, including nonprofits serving the local Latino and African-American communities.
But there have also been accusations against him. He has strongly denied he is biased toward anyone and has pointed to his charitable work.
A Los Angeles County Superior Court jury rejected NBA great Elgin Baylor’s wrongful-termination lawsuit against the Clippers. Baylor claimed he was harassed and subjected to age discrimination leading to his 2008 departure after 22 years as a Clippers executive.
When Baylor filed the suit in February 2009, he alleged that a racist culture existed at the Clippers. Baylor called it a “plantation mentality” in a deposition and alleged that Sterling rejected a coaching candidate, Jim Brewer, because he was black. But Baylor in 2011 dropped the race allegations from his suit.
Sterling and his wife, Rochelle, agreed to pay a record settlement of more than $2.7 million regarding allegations that they discriminated against African-Americans, Latinos and families with children at scores of apartment buildings they own in and around Los Angeles.
The settlement was the largest ever obtained by the Justice Department in a housing discrimination case involving apartment rentals, officials said. Under the agreement, the Sterlings’ insurers would pay $2.625 million to a fund for people who were allegedly harmed by their discriminatory practices, officials said. Sterling’s attorney at the time said his client denied any wrongdoing and didn’t discriminate.