Arizona’s NAACP president is facing a charge of misdemeanor assault against another top executive of the organization — a criminal case stemming from one of the same incidents provided as grounds for an earlier court order to stop harassment.

Ann Hart, president of the Maricopa County NAACP, said state President Charles Fanniel on June 24 grabbed her arm hard enough to cause bruising, according to Phoenix police Sgt. Jonathan Howard. The confrontation occurred at a community meeting in south Phoenix.

Hart and Fanniel had argued prior to the incident, over a topic Fanniel had wanted addressed at the meeting. Howard said three separate witnesses corroborated Hart’s report that Fanniel grabbed her arm.

Howard said it was undetermined at the time of the incident whether Hart wanted to follow through with prosecution. A few days later, officers started an investigation.

An injunction against harassment was issued July 14 in Phoenix Municipal Court and the criminal case was filed July 28. 

The June 24 confrontation was one of five incidents that Hart alleges against Fanniel in a separate claim of harassment. Both of the cases are proceeding through Phoenix Municipal Court.


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Fanniel says Hart’s claims are false. In a written response to the court, he accused her of lying in order to deflect from his criticism of her actions as chapter president.

Hart’s petition for an injunction, which was upheld by a Phoenix judge this month, lays out harassment claims against Fanniel dating back to December.

In one instance, she said he backed her up against her car and screamed for her to “back off.” In another instance, she claimed he came to her office and threatened her with “boorish” behavior, and in another he threw a report at her.

Hart goes into detail when describing the most serious allegation, the June 24 incident that served as a basis for the criminal charge.

Hart wrote that Fanniel screamed at her “in an intimidating manner” before staring her down “in a demonic state” for about two minutes, court records said.

Hart said she was “extremely frightened” and “feared for my life” after the incident, according to court records.

After the meeting adjourned, Hart alleged that Fanniel harassed and followed her as she attempted to leave the lobby of the South Mountain Senior Center at 212 E. Alta Vista Road.

Hart said Fanniel grabbed her by her upper left arm, which she said left multiple bruises on her arm, court records said.

In a July 17 letter to the court, Fanniel called the allegations a “blatant lie” and claimed Hart’s bruise was self-inflicted. Fanniel added that he was not in the presence of Hart on three of the dates listed on Hart’s petition.

“Her whole entire purpose is to try and defame and destroy my character,” he wrote.

In an Aug. 1 hearing on the court order, Fanniel said he never touched Hart on the day of the meeting. He said he had attended the meeting to discuss a complaint about the removal of the NAACP treasurer.

The court order prohibits Fanniel from going into or near Hart’s home, workplace or the community recreation center where the alleged incident occurred.

The charge is the second time in recent history that Maricopa County’s NAACP has been ensnared in controversy. 

Hart’s predecessor, Don Harris, resigned in February 2016 after he was caught on a Phoenix New Times reporter’s recording making lewd comments about a female television reporter. Hart was tapped as the branch’s president after Harris’ ouster. 

The Arizona Republic was unable to reach Fanniel or Hart for comment on Tuesday. 

A hearing on the criminal complaint is scheduled for Aug. 22 in Phoenix Municipal Court. 


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