Holyoke firefighter Timothy Leary apologizes for racial slur in letter to Greater Springfield NAACP President Rev. Talbert Swan, Mayor Alex Morse

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Holyoke Mayor Alex B. Morse, left, and the Rev. Talbert W. Swan II, president of the Greater Springfield NAACP. ((FILE PHOTOS))

HOLYOKE — In a letter addressed to Mayor Alex B. Morse and Rev. Talbert W. Swan II, president of the Greater Springfield chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, Timothy Leary apologized for his comments in a 2012 video.

The provisional Fire Department lieutenant made racially insensitive remarks regarding City Councilor Anthony Soto while off duty, speaking with owner of Hampshire Towing William Johnson in his South Hadley office.

The video came to light in February. On Aug. 8, Leary said he agreed to meet with the NAACP and Morse regarding his remarks.

Below is the full text of the letter, dated Sept. 26: Read more…



Saying Ferguson ‘could happen’ in Holyoke, Springfield, Talbert Swan calls for special commissions

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Police handcuff a protester after rushing the crowd to arrest him on West Florissant Avenue in Ferguson, Mo. early Wednesday, Aug. 20, 2014. On Aug. 9, 2014, a white police officer fatally shot Michael Brown, an unarmed black 18-year old, in the St. Louis suburb. (ASSOCIATED PRESS)
By Anne-Gerard Flynn | aflynn@repub.com
on August 20, 2014

SPRINGFIELD — Saying that the civil unrest that has followed the fatal shooting of an unarmed black teen by a white police officer in the St. Louis suburb of Ferguson “could happen” in Springfield and Holyoke, the Rev. Talbert W. Swan II, president of the Greater Springfield NAACP, has requested that the mayors of these two cities establish special commissions to address issues that could prove to be “a powder keg.”

“Holyoke and Springfield are two urban centers that have a large population of persons of color,” Swan said. “They are also two cities with a sordid history around police-community relationships. These are two ingredients with potential for civil unrest.”

“What I am looking for,” Swan added, “is a commission that would address a myriad of issues that have led to problems. What has gone on before is the establishment of committees that addressed vary specific issues, or addressed those issues once the problems came to life. The commission I want would work year round, and would see problems before they come.” Read more…



Hampden district attorney candidates field questions at NAACP forum in Springfield

by Stephanie Barry

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The Greater Springfield NAACP sponsored a debate between the Hampden district attorney candidates at Springfield Technical Community College on Tuesday evening in Springfield. Here Talbert Swan II introduces the candidates. From left is Swan, debate moderator Laura Hutchinson, and candidates Shawn Allyn, Hal Etkin, Anthony Gulluni and Brett Vottero. (The Republican photo by / Dave Roback)

SPRINGFIELD – The four Democratic candidates for Hampden district attorney worked to bring their messages to the public during a forum hosted by the local NAACP chapter on Tuesday.

The forum included questions from a three-member panel. It hit topics including prison overcrowding, police brutality and marijuana prosecutions, while audience members followed up with queries about recalcitrant witnesses and diversity.

It was the fourth public forum for candidates Shawn Allyn, a Holyoke attorney; Hal Etkin, a lawyer from Longmeadow; assistant prosecutor Anthony Gulluni, of Springfield; and former longtime prosecutor Brett Vottero, also of Springfield. The event at Springfield Technical Community College drew by far the largest crowd of all the forums and featured the most detailed questions to date. Read more…



Real Talk: In violent times, Pastor Talbert Swan II calls on his community to stop waiting for reforms.

By Tom Vannah

advocatestory17972After a busy morning in his office at the Springfield chapter of the NAACP, a haircut and a quick lunch with his 19-year-old son, Rev. Talbert Swan II walks down Hampden Street in Springfield, headed for the broadcast studio of WGBY, the local PBS station. There, Swan will tape a segment of Connecting Point, an issues-based program hosted by Aliz Koletas and Jim Madigan. Swan has been asked to join Springfield Police Detective Sean Condon and Armando Olivares, a 20-year-old Springfield resident who was acquitted last year in the fatal shooting of Reality Shabazz Walker, in a discussion of a topic that has occupied a lot of his attention, not just recently, but over the course of more than three decades of social activism and Christian ministry: violence in Springfield.

In fact, on this particular Tuesday afternoon in June, Swan finds himself still embroiled in a controversy he set off the week before, when he delivered a pointed message about the recent spate of street violence in the city—violence that, over the course of a few weeks, came in the form of a number of drive-by shootings, some in broad daylight and near public parks filled with people—that resulted in three deaths and many serious injuries. Read more…



Michael Dunn Florida murder case: Local NAACP President Talbert Swan II decries justice system following mistrial

By Peter Goonan, The Republican
on February 17, 2014

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The Rev. Talbert W. Swan II (File photo / The Republican)

SPRINGFIELD — A partial mistrial in a Florida murder case for the shooting death of teenager Jordan Davis marks another example of failed justice involving a young black victim, according to the Rev. Talbert W. Swan II, president of the Greater Springfield chapter of the NAACP.

In a prepared statement released this week, Swan wrote that news of a mistrial on a first-degree murder charge against Michael Dunn left him saddened by the loss of life and angry at the justice system.

“The failure to convict Michael Dunn of murder only highlights the perceived value of black life and reinforces the stereotypes, which justify racial animus against Black males, their disenfranchisement, abuse, brutalization and mass incarceration,” Swan wrote. “It further sends a clear message that murdering a black male can be justified simply on the basis of him being a black male.”

The judge declared the mistrial after jurors reported they were deadlocked on the first-degree murder charge. However, Dunn was convicted on four charges, including three counts of attempted second-degree murder that could bring a long jail sentence. State prosecutors said they will again pursue the murder charge at a second trial. Read more…



Branch President Speaks with WGBY’s Jim Madigan on Branch Priorities

Watch Connecting Point 5/30/2013 on PBS. See more from Connecting Point.



NAACP Freedom Fund Dinner



Greater Springfield NAACP annual banquet focuses on voter rights, need to increase minimum wage

By Suzanne McLaughlin, The Republican
on May 18, 2013

tswan ruth lovingAGAWAM – About 400 people attended the annual membership banquet of the Greater Springfield chapter of the NAACP Thursday night at Chez Josef.

The Rev. Talbert W. Swan II said that since he was elected president of the NAACP in June, 2011, the membership has increased.

“We have revitalized the brand,” he said. “We are alive and well.”

Speakers at the annual dinner focused on threats to voter rights and the need to make the minimum wage “a living wage.”

“Voters in Massachusetts are fortunate,” Swan said. He said there are efforts in other parts of the country to require photo identification to vote. Read more…



NAACP Statement on Concerns with Springfield Fire Department/Proposal to Change Ordinance

NAACP Statement on Fire Commissioner Ordinance Change



NAACP President Reaches Out to Casino Operators

WFSB Channel 3

SPRINGFIELD, MA (WSHM) – The Springfield branch of the NAACP is calling for operators vying to place a casino in the city to provide fair participation of all aspects of casino employment for residents of color. The branch reached out to all four casino operators interested in Springfield and scheduled meetings with two of them. The first meeting was held Thursday with MGM Resorts. “Our communities are hurting and we want to make sure that any type of investment to the tune of [$800 million] to $900 million that is going to produce the level of opportunity that this will that those communities have an opportunity to fairly participate,” said Springfield NAACP President Rev. Talbert Swan. Read more…