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Phoenix-area NAACP head won’t let ‘errant comment’ undo progress in community

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LISTEN: Don Harris - EXCLUSIVE AUDIO

PHOENIX — The head of the Maricopa County chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People said he would not let a sexist comment undo all the good he has done for the Valley.

“I’ve done a lot of good in this community, and I’m not going to have that good set aside by a stupid, errant comment by myself,” Don Harris told KTAR News 92.3 FM’s Mac & Gaydos on Thursday.

Harris, speaking to a Phoenix New Times reporter on Wednesday following a press conference at the embattled Desert Vista High School, allegedly said “nice t*ts” in regards to Channel 12 reporter Monique Griego.

The comment was caught on tape, which can be heard on the New Times’ website.

Harris has not tried to dodge questions about the comment, instead admitting that it was “an egregious error.”

“I didn’t know I was being recorded, but I wouldn’t lie about it,” he told Mac & Gaydos. “If somebody called the next day and said ‘Did you say that?’ I would have said ‘yes.’ I don’t lie.”

While he doesn’t plan to meet with Griego personally, Harris said he plans to apologize to her in a private manner.

He said neither she nor Channel 12 has attempted to reach out to him. However, he could not be sure, as he had been in court Thursday and was unable to answer his phone.

The station released a statement Wednesday as the media began to pick up the story.

“As a news organization, my editorial team will treat this story as we would any other story: with a fair, unbiased approach as a part of our normal news gathering,” the statement read. “12 News supports Monique Griego and all of our reporters and photojournalists who cover the people and issues of Arizona for you every day.”

Harris said the local NAACP board will meet to discuss his fate Monday and told the Arizona Republic he had offered to resign his leadership post.

“I will do what’s best for my organization,” he said.

However, Harris does not feel the comment should affect his status in the community or hurt his credibility.

“I can help this community like I’ve helped them for the last 60 years or so,” he said, claiming to have helped a black teen get back into school and a black track coach reinstated within the last 10 days.

Harris claimed he has the support of numerous African-American clergy members who have offered to publicly support him.

Harris, who also said he supports women’s rights, said he is unsure how long the incident would be a talking point.

“I was being flippant and I shouldn’t have been,” he said. “How many ways do you want to go around the daisy pole and say that?”

Harris went to the school to discuss a photo depicting six students lined up spelling out a racial slur on T-shirts. The photo has gained notoriety across the country over the past week and has also sparked discussion about race issues at the school.

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