PRESS RELEASE MARCH 2, 2000 FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CITY OF SEATTLE, SEATTLE SCHOOLS, AND OTHERS SUED
BY AFRICAN AMERICAN HERATIGE MUSEUM AND CUTURAL
SEATTLE–Seattle Mayor Paul Schell was again taken aback and surprised when he was served with a suit last Tuesday afternoon, filed by Omari Tahir Garret of the African American Heritage Museum and Cultural Center (AAHM&CC) and Muhammad Shabazz Farrakhan.
Schell was among many named in the suit, which alleges that he was instrumental in overlooking and allowing the misappropriation of city funds by another defendant, Bob Flowers (senior vice president of Washington Mutual Saving Bank). The suit also alleges that the other named parties—James Fearn, former chair of the Museum, Bob
Luciano, Bill Southern (of Seattle Public Schools), John Richmond (property manager, Seattle public Schools), Jan Kumasaka (Seattle Public Schools), Steve Sheppard (Seattle Dept. of Neighborhoods), Jim Diers (director, Dept. of Neighborhoods), Seattle Public Schools, and the City of Seattle, violated the rights of the current board members of the Museum under the first, fourth, fifth, sixth, ninth, and 14th Amendments to the Constitution through the collaborative efforts in keeping the museum from becoming a reality and misappropriation of Museum funds.
The suit, filed in the Superior Court of Washington, also alleges that the Seattle School Board made a commitment to sell the Coleman School building to the legally constituted board of the AAHM&CC, and then backed out of the commitment. In response to this and other allegations
in the suit, the Executive Committee of Seattle Schools called a closed meeting on March 1st at 4pm, to discuss the property and legal matters pertaining to litigation. During the Regular Legislative Session, the Committee refused to give a report to the public, when an inquiry came from a Seattle resident about what had been discussed in the closed session and the lawsuit. He was abruptly told be the School Board President, “We do not take questions…”.
More broad and encompassing allegations in the suit reference discrimination on that basis of the religion of Museum Board members and of the African American community in general, denial of public records to Museum Board members, interference with constitutional rights, unequal treatment under the law, unlawful denial of the sale of property, and cultural deprivation of African Americans through “sabotage”, while most every other ethnic group in Seattle has a cultural center to call their own.
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