A Halloween party last fall in Sacramento has irked the NAACP, which is demanding an apology from the organization whose office was site of the soiree – which happens to be the state Judicial Council.
A story including photos of the party and the reaction to it were published Tuesday by San Francisco television station KGO. The story by KGO reporter Dan Noyes states: “The photos of that party and the (Judicial) council’s handling of black history month are raising complaints of racial bias in this important group, charged with ensuring fair access to the courts.”
The costume party featured a group of people portraying characters and in costumes resembling those from the hit series “Orange is the New Black,” which depicts life in prison for a diverse group of people. The costumes included prison garb, wigs and makeup that darkened many of the participants.
The KGO story quoted 20-year Judicial Council employee Michael Roosevelt, who objected to the costume depiction.
“Here you’ve got the image of people who work for and support the courts who are dressed in prison garb, darkening their faces, depicting a prison setting where disproportionately those people who are incarcerated are people of color,” Roosevelt said.
Photos from the party that appeared on the Internet were taken down, and the Judicial Council released a statement saying that the supervisor of the people involved was told to ensure that employees use good judgment.
The president of the San Francisco chapter of the NAACP, the Rev. Amos Brown, was not mollified, however, and told KGO, “We will call for an apology.”
The Black History Month brouhaha came when Judicial Council brass pulled funding for a proposed celebration focusing on contributions made by the Black Panther Party, which was a polarizing and controversial organization.
“The reaction to the theme was that the council could not support that theme,” Roosevelt was quoted as saying by KGO.
Shauna Gillespie-Ford, a member of the Black History Month planning committee, called the council’s action “racist.”