Barack in Boston

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By Megan Tench, Boston Globe Staff

Presidential hopeful Barack Obama made a quiet trip to Boston today for a closed-door benefit, posing for photographs with a fund-raiser with ties to the Clinton family the day after he crossed paths with his Democratic rival in Selma, Ala.

 Obama met with about 120 potential donors at the University of Massachusetts Club, many of whom worked on the campaigns of John F. Kerry in 2004 and Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick last year, according to those who attended the event, which was closed to the press.

The crowd included Alan D. Solomont, a Weston entrepreneur and philanthropist who raised eyebrows when he announced his support for the presidential campaign of the senator from Illinois. Solomont was a top fund-raiser for Kerry and has first worked with the Clinton family during the former president’s first national campaign in 1992.

On Sunday, Obama and Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York crossed campaign paths when they both paid tribute to a march by civil rights activists who were beaten by police in Selma in 1965.

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Thugs in NYPD Blue testify in Sean Bell case

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Sean Bell with fiancee and child. Bell was killed on saturday, November 25, 2006, by New York police just hours before the wedding was to take place. The plainclothes cops, who did not identify themselves, fired 50 shots at the vehicle where Bell was murd

NEW YORK (AP) — Two of five police officers involved in the 50-shot fusillade that killed an unarmed man on his wedding day appeared before a grand jury Monday.

The shooting that killed Sean Bell and wounded two of his friends prompted community outrage and questions about police tactics. The survivors claim the officers never identified themselves as police before they opened fire.

The first officer to appear, Detective Paul Headley, left the closed-door session feeling ”relieved that he had the opportunity to tell his version of events,” said his attorney, John Arlia. ”Clearly, it has been a toll on him and his family.”

Headley, 35, did not speak to reporters after testifying for more than two hours.

Officer Michael Carey, 26, arrived a short time later accompanied by Patrick Lynch, president of the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association.

”He will go in there and tell his story as a police officer and put some facts to some of the fiction that ran on the streets,” Lynch said.

The grand jury called the officers in the order of the number of shots they fired. Headley fired one round and Carey fired three. They were to be followed by Marc Cooper, who shot four times, Gescard Isnora, who fired 11 shots, and Michael Oliver, who shot 31 times.

Last week, the grand jury heard from the two survivors, Joseph Guzman, 31, and Trent Benefield, 23.

Bell, 23, was killed before dawn after his bachelor party at a topless bar where police had launched an undercover operation in response to complaints about prostitution. He was to be married later that day.

Gordon resigns as President of NAACP

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Bruce S. Gordon

NEW YORK (AP) — NAACP President Bruce S. Gordon is quitting the civil rights organization, leaving after just 19 months at the helm, he told The Associated Press on Sunday.

Gordon cited growing strain with board members over the group’s management style and future operations.

“I believe that any organization that’s going to be effective will only be effective if the board and the CEO are aligned and I don’t think we are aligned,” Gordon said. “This compromises the ability of the board to be as effective as it can be.”

Gordon said he will give up his duties before month’s end. He spoke by phone from Los Angeles, where he attended the NAACP Image Awards.

Dennis C. Hayes, general counsel of the Baltimore-based National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, is expected to serve as interim president, Gordon said. Hayes filled the same role after Kweisi Mfume resigned the presidency in 2004 after nine years.

Gordon said that while the NAACP is an advocacy organization, it needs to be more focused on service and finding solutions.

“I’m used to a CEO running an organization, with the board approving strategy and policy,” Gordon said. “But the NAACP board is very much involved.”

Gordon said he made the decision in recent weeks and told the board at its annual meeting in New York City in mid-February.

NAACP leaders were surprised by his decision and engaged in hours of discussion, he said.

“They expressed disappointment,” Gordon said. “We attempted to see whether there was a way to continue but that didn’t happen.”

Gordon sounded weary as he boarded a flight home to New York City on Sunday.

“I don’t view this as I’m right and they’re wrong. I view this as I see things one way and they see things a different way,” he said. “That misalignment between the CEO and the board is unhealthy.”

Asked about his plans after leaving the NAACP, Gordon said: “I’m going to catch my breath.”

“What I’ve clearly learned in my tenure here is that all is not well in black America, that’s for sure,” he said. “I believe I have a lot to offer. I’ve got to find a way to be engaged that optimizes what it is I bring to the table. My intention is not to disengage, but to find a different way.”

NAACP spokesman Richard McIntire declined to comment.

Gordon, 61, was a surprise pick for the NAACP’s top post. When he took over on August 1, 2005, he had no track record in traditional civil rights circles. He had spent 35 years in the telecommunications industry and retired in 2003 from his post as president of the Retail Markets Group for Verizon Corp.

Critics said he wouldn’t be a good fit for the nearly 98-year-old organization.

However, he smoothed strained relations between the NAACP and the White House, meeting with President Bush three times in less than a year. He used his corporate ties to lend quick assistance to black New Orleans residents after Hurricane Katrina. And he hired a number of key national employees whose reputations inspired staff members.

Gordon “brought a level of competence that we hadn’t had,” Julian Bond, chairman of the board, said last year.

Bond also has acknowledged that, with 64 members, the NAACP’s board of directors is large and sometimes unwieldy. But he has defended it, saying it allows a wide range of members voices to be heard.

Ronald Walters, a University of Maryland political science professor who has followed the NAACP closely for years, was surprised at the news, but added that he had suspected that Gordon may not fit in at the NAACP.

“I thought very early on that there might be a cultural conflict,” Walters said. “Somebody who came out of a corporate culture and was used to a set of agenda items and management style in one field might not have been able to make the adjustment totally to another field.”