The board of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference has asked a judge to order an opposing faction of the civil rights group to stop claiming they are in leadership positions.
The lawsuit filed late Monday also asks a judge to restore signature rights to the SCLC bank accounts so staff can be paid and the return of more than $12,240 taken from the organization to pay a lawyer to represent the splinter group.
Both factions had board meetings on Monday and Tuesday.
Both groups insist they are they are the official ruling body.
And, most of the time, information from the two factions is in conflict.
A group led by Raleigh Trammell, the ousted SCLC chairman, and Spicer Gordon, the former treasurer, met in Eutaw, Ala. They said almost 30 board members out of 52 attended.
At the same time, the faction that voted Trammell and Gordon out more than a week ago met at West Hunter Street Baptist Church in southwest Atlanta. They said more than half the 44 board members attended.
The two groups not only disagree on who is in charge, they also disagree over how many people are on the board — one claims 52 and the other 44 — and who is on it.
The SCLC has had many internal yet public struggles since its founding in 1957. Rev. Bernice King, the daughter of one SCLC founder, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., was elected president in October but has not taken office or said anything publicly about the fight. She is expected to be installed at the national meeting this summer.
The rancorous split began forming last summer when a former board member raised concerns about SCLC expenditures. In December, several board members asked Trammell, of Dayton, Ohio, and Gordon, of Eutaw, to step aside pending the outcome of an internal investigation into suspected financial improprieties.
According to documents obtained by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Trammell and Gordon may have diverted $569,000 of SCLC funds to themselves or to their individual projects. That is why some board members wanted to two men removed.
Trammell and Gordon filed a suit in December, claiming the board had voted to remove them in an improper vote taken over the telephone. Fulton Judge Alford Dempsey agreed, saying the telephone meeting did not comply with the SCLC constitution.
Dempsey gave Trammell and his backers control of SCLC bank accounts and the office on Auburn Avenue in Atlanta.