Norwalk NAACP to choose between lawyer, law breaker

Former Norwalk firefighter Andre Williams, left;
Former Norwalk firefighter Andre Williams, left; Attorney Darnell Crosland, right.

NORWALK, Conn. – Norwalk NAACP President Darnell Crosland is being challenged for re-election to his post by First Vice President Andre Williams, who caused a stir in May by calling for the resignation of Norwalk Fire Chief Denis McCarthy, which the NAACP disavowed.

Williams, who has had several brushes with the law – including one felony conviction – was nominated to challenge Crosland for the presidency by Brenda Penn-Williams at Tuesday’s NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People) meeting, a source said. Once nominated, Williams needed three signatures to validate his nomination, which he got by reaching out to the audience. Penn-Williams was one of the people who signed the paper, the source said.

Crosland confirmed this account, calling it, “A move that is certainly not in the best interest of the branch, and will result in people who do not have the branch’s best interest at heart speaking for the branch via their vote.  In my opinion, that block of votes is tantamount to one vote – Brenda’s.”

The source called it a one-woman attempt to defeat Crosland, saying that she has vowed to sign up many new or inactive members so they can vote for Williams.

Williams and Penn-Williams declined to comment.

The presidency is the only office for which there is competition, the source said. Secretary Jill Griffin is stepping down; Greg Burnett is the only person running for the position.

The election is scheduled from 5 to 9 p.m. Nov. 13 at Calvary Baptist Church. Crosland said he is “urging all members from the mayor down the line to come vote.  This is a very important election and we need full participation.”

“Darnell makes a good showing for the branch, with his background and knowledge and the way he carries himself,” Griffin said. “Andre is a nice person, he is well known in the community. I don’t know. I don’t like to talk negatively about people, so in my eyes Darnell would be the person who should stick with running the branch.”

Crosland, a Democrat and an attorney, is also running for probate judge in an attempt to unseat Republican Ralph DePanfilis.

Williams contacted Nancy On Norwalk in May to say that the NAACP was calling for McCarthy to resign. He provided a letter on an NAACP letterhead, which Crosland later said was not authorized for release. Crosland said Williams might be removed from office, but an executive board meeting was held and the matter was resolved.

Williams has had several run-ins with police. He was arrested in July in Bridgeport and charged with illegal operation of a motor vehicle under the influence of alcohol or drugs, failure to drive in proper lane and operate/tow unregistered motor vehicle, according to the state’s judicial website. His next court date is Oct. 21.

He was arrested in April 2012 and found guilty in July 2013 of operating a motor vehicle under suspension, the website states. In 2011 he was found guilty of operating a motor vehicle under suspension, reckless driving and engaging police in pursuit. He was found guilty in 2008 of larceny third degree, a felony. The sentence was suspended.

Williams was a Norwalk firefighter but was dismissed in 2009 after failing to complete required rehabilitation after a series of incidents.

“Andre’s record speaks for itself, and if he prevails, we, the branch, need not ask for whom the dog barks, for it barks for thee,” Crosland said. “Brenda Penn-Williams is behind this entire nomination; she in my opinion has not exercised good judgment and she is solely responsible for what is going on.  I pray that she learns to put the branch over her personal vendettas.”


18 responses to “Norwalk NAACP to choose between lawyer, law breaker”

  1. Norewalk Lifer

    Before anyone comments, just remember, the Republicans had their own ousting moment in the form of the registar of voters and the head of the RTC; and insofar as a personal vendetta is concerned, it has no place in a national organization like the NAACP.

    If the challenger is not equipped to lead, then the challenger should not lead.

    Norwalk Lifer

  2. Casey Smith

    “Andre’s record speaks for itself”. Yes, it does and if that bell tolls, all of Norwalk will hear it.

  3. Taypayer

    I think mr crosland is running scare if it have to stoop this low

  4. Oldtimer

    There is no doubt Crosland is much better qualified. Williams may mean well, but hardly qualified.

  5. michael foley

    Unseat Anthony DePanfilis

  6. The Deal

    The current Norwalk chapter of the NAACP is considered a dog with bark and no bite and until it accomplishes something significant it will continue as such.

  7. Appalled

    It is interesting to hear an African American criminal defense attorney, who currently serves as the president of a civil rights organization, and is campaigning to become the next Norwalk Judge of Probate finds it logical and appropriate to discourage civil rights voters fro voting for the existing 1st Vice President of that civil rights organization, on the basis of a past criminal offense.
    Worse yet, it was never an issue until challenged for the position of President through a Democratic process.
    Is that logic suitable for a person in ANY civil rights leadership position, or in making Probate Court decisions?
    Frankly, I wouldn’t want that person to represent anyone in court, if they would hold their past offenses over their head and deem anyone unfit to ever serve the public, despite currently doing so under that person’s leadership! It is clear that questionable ethics are at play here for sure.
    As a member in good standing of the Norwalk branch of the NAACP, I WILL BE VOTING FOR mR. wILLIAMS

  8. Taxpayer

    Mr. Crosland you got to be kidding this is how you CRY when thing don’t go your way NAACP PLEASE GET YOU A NEW PRESIDENT, YOU CURRENTLY HAVE A CRY BABY AT THE HELM

  9. Ms Ruby McPherson

    Well maybe the young Black Men who have did there time will finally get a chance to get hired and keep their jobs. Although its suppose to be companies that hire ex-felons, some will for a week and then fine away to dismiss that person. Other than one company no agency or social agency can tell me or give me a list of company that get funded to even hire an ex=felon, someone should give them a chance, especially the ones that try to take care of there family.

  10. Future Lawyer

    I am a high school student listening to this battle, and I believe that Attorney Crosland is best fit for the presidency. I came to this conclusion by using something called impact analysis, in other words, looking at the outcomes of both potential presidents and determining which one is better. With that being said, if you guys vote Andre Williams to into office, it will associate this branch with a drunk driver as its president, meaning you support all drunk drivers and the effects they can have on a community. And that will have the branch get a lot of bad publicity and will ultimately lead to the depletion of the branch. More over, Andre Williams doesn’t have as many connections will lots of big ticket people as Attorney Crosland does. Now if you look at Attorney Crosland here is what you see: If we elect him as president we get good publicity because he is a lawyer and looks out for the black community. He is a positive influence in the minds and eyes of kids like me, unlike Mr. Williams. Because Mr.Crosland gets good publicity, it will allow more money flow into the branch, and because of his connections, it will expand the branch turning it into a new, better direction. In closing, if you do the math, Attorney Crosland comes out on top because of his job and his connections.
    Secondly, I would like to clear the air for a second, Mr. Crosland is not saying Mr.Willams isn’t fit because of past criminal record, he is saying he is unfit because if CURRENT criminal case. I took it upon myself to look up Mr.Williams and saw he has a court date on the 21st of October, so unless you are terribly confused Ms/ Mr. Appalled, past means already happened and is over, this matter is obviously not over, nor has it passed. With that being said Ms/Mr. Appalled, I am, in fact, appalled that you would vote for a man with CURRENT NOT PAST criminal matters, that could send the branch into a downward spiral.
    Lastly, voting for Andre Williams shows that you don’t care about this branch. To vote for a man that has criminal charges in effect right now, shows that you don’t care about what this branch’s name is associated with. You don’t care if, whenever you go to a function, people talk bad about the branch saying that you guys have a criminal as your president. That means you come to the meetings to have your name associated with an NAACP, nothing more, that’s all your want.
    Also, Mr/Ms. Taxpayer, you are sadly mistaken. Attorney Crosland is not running scared, and yes scared is spelled with a “d” since it is past tense, unlike Mr. Williams’ criminal case. He is simply putting all the card on the table for the body to consider. He is doing a good deed to the branch, he is letting the body know that if you guys vote Mr. Williams into office, the branch is in jeopardy of losing the president in the middle of his term, and nobody that cares about the branch would want that. With that being said, before you shout that he is scared, make sure you are 100% sure he is and have reason to back it up. Also, how is Attorney Crosland not getting his way, you comment makes absolutely makes no sense once so ever. Moreover, Attorney Crosland doesn’t cry, he leads an austere practice and life, and if you ever thought that he cries, again, you are sadly and pathetically mistaken. Attorney Crosland is a fighter, and if you bring it to him he will go 0 to 100 real quick, so tread lightly.


    @future lawyer. What? You’re insinuating that a person doesn’t deserve a second chance, and if they get that chance they’ll fail?

  12. Sjur Soleng

    Future lawyer….

  13. Kathleen Montgomery

    Future lawyer, you make some excellent points. Thanks for your cogent view.

  14. Future lawyer

    @appalled, You must not understand the definition of a second chance, so let me clear it up for you, a second chance is when some body has DONE it and CLOSED it. Mr. Williams has not closed his DUI CASE, he has a court date on the 21st. With that being said, this is not a matter of giving Mr. Williams a second chance, it is a matter of not letting the head of your branch create a name for the branch that nobody wants. Simple and plain.
    And thank you Kathleen Montgomery

  15. RU4REEL

    @future lawyer, second chance pertaining to judicial proceedings and clearing up a DUI charge of course. So once his case is cleared Mr. Williams will then be okay to become president of the branch, correct?
    Sounds fair enough, if cleared there won’t be anything to prevent him from becoming president, unless of course he doesn’t receive enough votes.
    If he becomes president the second chance will actually be happening and Mr. Williams will have the opportunity to do good with the second chance, which we all hope for, not just for him but anyone who gets a second chance, agreed?

  16. Anonymous

    RU4REEL: 2nd chance? He’s only been in trouble once? Try a google search….

  17. RU4REEL

    Is there a number on how many chances a person should get in life?
    True, I won’t need Google, enough has been said about Mr. Williams past already, those cases have been settled as far as we know, as mentioned in a prior post. Besides, my point was if the DUI is settled can he be the President?
    My understanding is Mr. Williams is doing good work for the community as First Vice President of the NAACP, just ask Mr. Crosland for confirmation.
    So it may be that this chance taken on a person will turn out well for our community.
    Opportunity sometimes is all you need, we all need to put away the Haterade and hope he is successful, win or lose.

  18. Jimmie

    Nancy I just posted this on Facebook to prove a point and it’s no a personal attack on anyone.

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