‘A setback’: Activists, others fret about Rachel Dolezal impact

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SPOKANE, Wash. (AP) — Civil rights activists worry the ruse perpetrated by former NAACP Spokane leader Rachel Dolezal will hurt their efforts in a region that has struggled with racial issues in the past.

Dolezal resigned her NAACP post this week after her parents said she was a white woman who for years posed as black.

Spokane, a city of 210,000, is 90 percent white and the major population center of the intermountain region known as the Inland Northwest. Only about 2 percent of Spokane, which is about 270 miles east of Seattle, is black.

The Aryan Nations, a neo-Nazi organization, was for decades based north of Coeur d’Alene, Idaho. The group was bankrupted in 2000 following a lawsuit pursued by the Southern Poverty Law Center, and it largely ceased to exist.

Dolezal’s estranged parents have spoken to the media about her misrepresentation.

“We are her birth parents,” her father, Lawrence Dolezal, said Friday. “We do not understand why she feels it’s necessary to misrepresent her ethnicity.”

Dolezal has said she received threatening hate mail in the past, but the Spokane Police Department told CNN’s Poppy Harlow that it dropped its investigation of the letters because of a lack of leads. The investigation was dropped before the controversy about her race became public.

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