Roy Innis announced yesterday that he has been reelected chairman and director of the troubled Congress of Racial Equality, at the same time lashing out at his critics who he said have created a "crisis" in CORE's operations.
The announcement comes at a crucial time for the 36-year-old civil rights group, which in recent years has come under repeated investigation for alleged fund-raising abuses.
Innis' own leadership has also been challenged recently by former CORE members and officials who charge that he has mishandled the organization and turned it into "an ugly mockery of its former self."
Innis strongly disputed those charges yesterday, calling his critics "criminals" and "conspirators" who have created a crisis that could, among other things, derail a possible $40 million investment by Arab businessmen in New York City's black neightborhoods.
"Very frankly, the deal is in serious trouble," Innis said about the reported Arab investment plan. "These guys [investors] are not about to get involved in that kind of confusion."
Innis' chief critics are James Farmer, CORE's founder, and Floyd McKissick, who served as national director of the organization until Innis took over in 1968.
Last month, Farmer and McKissick held a New York press conference to excoriate Innis for the way he is running the organization and to announce that they are calling a convention in Atlanta in November to "either approve or remove him."
Innis said yesterday that such a convention would be illegal and that he and his supporters would file suit against Farmer and McKissick to prevent them from meeting under the CORE name.
How can they call a convention?" Innis demanded. "Can the ex-president of a corporation call a meeting of the board of that corporation?"
In a strongly worded attack, Innis, at a press conference here yesterday, accused Farmer and McKissick of dealing with "a bunch of common criminals" whose only interests are to defraud the organization zand to halt its growth.
Specifically, he accused two former CORE West Coast officials, Charles Cook and Marvin Peay, of engagin in check-writing and fund-raising schemes to steal from CORE. He said that Farmer and McKissick were aware of the alleged actions by Peay and Cook.
Neither Peay nor Cook could be reached for comment yesterday. Los Angeles police officials said they could not immediately find any records of fraud allegations against the two men.
Farmer, who now serves as executive director of the Washington based Coalition of American Public Employes, laughed when a reporter relayed the charges by Innis.
"Did he say that?" Farmer said, "Well, well."
Innis, however, was not laughing. He said he made his allegations to the Los Angeles police, but that he is now convinced that the city's police officials are "aiding and abetting" Peay and Cook and others in the alleged fraud.
"We have affidavits from (CORE members) who were told by LAPD that 'CORE always takes care of its own people. Why are they calling on us?'" he said.
Innis also said Los Angeles police officials have shown little interest in investigating alleged break-ins at CORE offices and theft of the organization's records.
"When we go to the coast, I will give the LAPD an ultimatum to protect CORE people," he said in an interview with a reporter. "If they do not, I will solve the problem myself," he said without elaborating.
Innis said he was "elected as national chairman and reelected national director" of the organization at a CORE convention last week, held in "the spartan, but tranquil environment of Camp Tecumseh in Pittstown, New Jersey."
A press release issued at yesterday's conference said the convention delegates "by rousing accalamation, endorsed enthusiastically the programs and actions by Roy Innis."