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National civil rights group pledges to take legal action against local rival group

A legal fight is brewing over a single word.

National and state officers of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference held a news conference Friday outside St. Petersburg City Hall to announce plans for a new state chapter and legal action against a rival group.

SCLC lawyer Derrick Wimbish said the organization has formed a committee to restart a chapter in three months.

The rival group belongs to former SCLC Florida state president Sevell C. Brown III, who was voted out of the national conference in June. He then started his own civil rights group that he named the National Christian Leadership Conference. He accused SCLC leaders of financial impropriety and losing their way.

SCLC leaders from Atlanta hired local attorney James Lake to send Brown a cease-and-desist order.

"It does strike me as odd that Sevell Brown would have criticism for the SCLC and adopt a name so similar to it," Lake said Friday.

Johnathan Alpert, an attorney for Brown's new group, said he doesn't see where there could be confusion.

"If there's a similarity, it's something that they perceive," he said. "I would encourage the SCLC and all organizations to be more concerned with brotherly love than confrontation."

National civil rights group pledges to take legal action against local rival group 07/24/09 [Last modified: Friday, July 24, 2009 9:51pm]
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