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Illinois NAACP president faces calls to resign for calling migrants "savages" and rapists

Illinois NAACP leader facing pressure to resign after remarks on migrants
Illinois NAACP leader facing pressure to resign after remarks on migrants 02:45

CHICAGO (CBS) -- The leader of the Illinois chapter of the NAACP continues to face mounting pressure to step down, after disturbing remarks she made about migrants receiving state and city services recently surfaced.

Earlier this fall, during a Zoom call with other state leaders, Illinois State Conference NAACP President Teresa Haley called migrants "savages" and rapists. Her comments led to at least one former NAACP branch president to call for her dismissal.

Addressing NAACP state leadership about equity during that meeting, Haley – who is also president of the Springfield NAACP – outlined how newly arriving migrants have received services in Illinois that she said have never been offered to Black people.

"Black people have been on the streets forever and ever, and nobody cares," Haley said. "These immigrants have come over here, they've been raping people, they've been breaking into homes, they're like savages as well. They don't speak the language, and they look at us like we were crazy, because we were the only people in America who were brought over here against our wills, and we're slaves."

Former DuPage County NAACP President Patrick Watson said he was "horrified" by Haley's comments.

Watson, who released the recording of Haley's remarks, said he resigned from his post in protest of what she said, and he now is among the loudest voices calling for her resignation.

"This was an organization that was founded to combat the very things that she said. Those were things that were said about Black people," he said.

During that October meeting, Haley also said, "I'm trying not to be a n****, but you know I'm pro-Black. So it's all about us, people."

On Wednesday, Gov. JB Pritzker called Haley's comments "reprehensible."

According to Watson, those comments got little to no traction behind the scenes of the historic civil rights organization. He said he alerted NAACP's national headquarters, but no action has been taken yet.

In fact, his former branch, the DuPage County NAACP, held a vote Tuesday night to promote Haley to the national board of directors.

"Anyone who is a member there, or lends their presence to that … do you agree with the statements that President Haley gave? Because that's what they voted on last night," Watson said.

CBS 2 made numerous attempts to get in touch with Haley, who has served as Illinois NAACP president since 2015, to respond to calls for her to resign, but has not received a response.

Phones calls and emails to several NAACP branches in the Chicago area, as well as the national office, were not returned. 

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