LA NAACP to Return Money Donated by Sterling; Lifetime Award to be Rescinded

The organization announced Sunday it would not honor Clippers owner Donald Sterling at a May awards event

The president of the Los Angeles NAACP confirmed during a news conference Monday that Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling will no longer receive a lifetime achievement award next month and that money donated by the embattled owner will be returned.

The news conference came a day after the organization's interim president told NBC's "Meet the Press" that Sterling would not be honored at an awards gala in Los Angeles next month. Sterling was set to be awarded a lifetime achievement award by the Los Angeles chapter of the NAACP on May 15.

The NAACP also called for a previous award given to the 80-year-old Sterling, who has owned the team since 1981, to be rescinded.

"The revelation that Mr. Sterling may have made comments in a phone conversation that was reminiscent of the ugly time in American history that contained elements of segregation and racial discrimination demands that the Los Angeles NAACP intention to honor Mr. Sterling for a lifetime body of work must be withdrawn and the donation that he has given to the Los Angeles NAACP will be returned," said Leon Jenkins, president of LA chapter. "There is a personal, economic and social price that Mr. Sterling must pay for his attempt to turn back the clock on race relations."

The announcements followed the release of audio obtained by TMZ Sports on which a man who TMZ identifies as Sterling tells his girlfriend that he doesn't want her to be seen in public with black people. NBC News has not been able to authenticate the audio tape and a similar recording released by Deadspin that Deadspin claims is an extended version of the conversation.

The comments in the recording were made after Sterling’s girlfriend posted a photo with Magic Johnson on her Instagram account, TMZ reported.

The comments led to calls for an investigation into the audio. Sacramento Mayor and special adviser to the National Basketball Player's Association Kevin Johnson said Monday that players are calling for the most "severe sanction possible," if the league investigation verifies that the comments were made by Sterling.

Jenkins was asked how detrimental he considered Sterling's alleged remarks.

"On a scale of one to ten? Eleven," he said. "It goes back to a segregation system and a time that nobody in America is proud of."

Sterling was chosen to receive the award because of his long history of donating to minority charities and giving game tickets to inner city children, Jenkins said. The NAACP has honored Sterling several times in the past.

Jenkins did not provide details regarding how much money Sterling has donated to the LA NAACP.

The NBA plans to conduct a news conference Tuesday about the investigation.

Andy Roeser, Clippers president, released the following statement:  "Mr. Sterling is emphatic that what is reflected on that recording is not consistent with, nor does it reflect his views, beliefs or feelings. It is the antithesis of who he is, what he believes and how he has lived his life."

The head of a Southern California contractors union said the comments is an issue that is just beginning to boil.

"To the fans and the people that have tickets and little children and kids like that, I wouldn't bring them to the game tomorrow," said Drexel Johnson Mohammad of the Young Black Contractors Association. "Because this thing is so tense right now it might even be civil unrest."

NBC4's John Cádiz Klemack contributed to this report.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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