SCLC will not recognize Michael Vick at convention

ATLANTA -- Michael Vick won't be recognized by the Southern Christian Leadership Conference at its convention this week after all.

"There is no award, there is no honor for Mike Vick," SCLC spokesman David Stokes said Tuesday.

Last week, SCLC President Charles Steele told The Associated Press the group was discussing how the embattled Atlanta Falcons quarterback would be acknowledged at the five-day event.

The SCLC had reached out to Vick through his mother to invite him to the convention. The group was told he cannot travel outside of Virginia, where he has pleaded not guilty to charges of sponsoring a dogfighting operation.

Steele had said his group was "in support of Michael as a human being. ... Right now, he's feeling discarded, ostracized by people who are rushing to judgment. It's our responsibility to save him."

Stokes was not aware of any mention of "recognition" for the player and said Vick would not be part of the convention.

"The president said in last week's press conference that the SCLC supports him because everyone is innocent until proven guilty," he said.

An attempt to leave a message on Steele' cell phone was unsuccessful because his voicemail box was full.

State Rep. Tyrone Brooks of Atlanta, once an aide to Martin Luther King Jr. in the SCLC, said he told Steele last week that the Vick case was a distraction.

"I just don't think it should be discussed at the convention or as part of the black agenda," Brooks said when reached on his cell phone Tuesday. "I'm not trying to make it an issue. I just don't think it ought to be out there."

Instead, Brooks said, the SCLC should concentrate on such issues as violence and the incarceration of young black people across the country.

"To talk about a superstar athlete who's got millions and millions in the bank, with the resources available to put together a defense team ... we're mixing up our priorities to the extent that it causes confusion," he said.

Also last week, Atlanta and Georgia leaders of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People asked the public and corporate sponsors to withhold judgment on the case until Vick can be tried in court.

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