Then-Councilmember Hakeem Brown, who is a Black man in his mid-40s, listens to a speaker out of frame from the dais of the Vallejo City Council chambers. Brown, who is in sharp focus, is wearing glasses and a hoodie, and sports a closely-cropped beard. His colleagues, who are out of focus, are seen behind him. A "City of Vallejo" sign is partially visible on the wall.
Then-Councilmember Hakeem Brown (right) seen at a Vallejo City Council meeting on Sept. 13, 2022. Credit: Brian L. Frank / Special to Open Vallejo

Former Vallejo councilmember and convicted domestic abuser Hakeem Brown has been illegitimately attempting to run the Vallejo chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, according to a letter sent to Brown Wednesday by Rick L. Callender, the president of the NAACP’s California/Hawaii State Conference.  

“It has come to my attention that you are alleging that you are the President of the Vallejo Branch,” Callender wrote. “On behalf of the CA/HI State Conference NAACP you are hereby directed to stop publicizing yourself as Branch President, or taking any action that the bylaws does not afford you as a Vice-President of the Branch.” 

Brown began promoting himself as the leader of the Vallejo NAACP chapter following the death of then-president Jimmie Jackson in January. On Feb. 26, the branch published an official statement by Brown, labeling himself “President,” urging the city council to adopt a controversial agreement with Vallejo’s police union. But the former councilmember was never supposed to take over the chapter, according to Callender. 

Instead, Vallejo NAACP official Patricia Hunter was “duly and properly elected” second-in-command prior to Jackson’s death, making her the organization’s legitimate successor, Callender stated.

Brown did not respond to requests for comment. Callender declined to comment.

A screenshot from the page of Hakeem Brown that reads, "Hakeem Brown is in Vallejo, CA," with the status update, "Started New Job at NAACP Vallejo Branch January 2023 – President"

Screenshot / Open Vallejo

Credit: Screenshot / Open Vallejo

The day before Callender sent the letter, Brown published a message on Facebook representing himself as the organization’s leader and alleging that prior to his death, Jackson had “appointed me, as his then, sitting, Vice President as Acting President.”

In his Facebook post, Brown claimed that Hunter, along with Vallejo NAACP Secretary Lynda Daniels and Education Chair Hazel Wilson, had led a “coup attempt” to remove Brown from his “position as President of the Vallejo NAACP due to the changes made under my leadership and my questions about the Vallejo NAACP finances.”

Brown alleged that Hunter had expressed concerns over $250,000 which, Brown wrote, Hunter told him had “disappeared from the books.” Brown said Hunter suggested an audit of the organization’s finances, but that Hunter had failed to find an auditor to conduct it. 

Wilson, Hunter and Daniels did not respond to requests or could not be reached for comment. 

The former councilmember also claimed that he found some “concerning anomalies” when reviewing the organization’s annual financial report, including the status of a $10,000 donation and expenses he deemed suspicious.

A 2015 Internal Revenue Service determination letter appears to show that an entity named “National Association for the Advancement of Colored People 1081 Vallejo NAACP” is registered as its “own individual tax-exempt” organization under Internal Revenue Code 501(c)(4), a type of entity required to produce tax returns and register with the Secretary of State. Open Vallejo conducted searches for the Vallejo NAACP’s financial records on online portals for the IRS, the California Secretary of State, the state Franchise Tax Board, and the California Department of Justice, and found no evidence that the organization filed tax returns or other paperwork.

The national headquarters of the NAACP did not respond to a request for comment. 

In his Tuesday Facebook post, Brown wrote that he had been attempting to have control of the NAACP’s bank account turned over to him, Hunter, Treasurer Richard Fisher, and the branch’s new assistant treasurer and assistant secretary. 

“I asked Secretary Daniels to freeze all spending until we switched signatories and asked that she execute that immediately,” Brown wrote. 

Brown ended his Tuesday post by calling for a branch meeting for the next day, and attached several slides reiterating his legitimacy as president of the organization. He stamped each slide “NAACP Vallejo.”

In his letter, Callender took exception to Brown’s use of the NAACP name. 

“Under our Bylaws and Constitution you do not have the authorization to the NAACP trademark in the fashion which you are currently using it,” Callender wrote in his letter the next day. “As such, I am requesting that you immediately stop.”

Laurence Du Sault is Open Vallejo’s senior writer and editor focused on technical publications and investigations.