The New York chapter of the NAACP and the Hispanic Federation submitted a joint amicus brief this week during a court case aimed at blocking Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s controversial large sodas ban, the New York Times reported.
The ban, which was passed last September, will impose restrictions on the sizes of sugary drinks offered at New York City restaurants and small businesses and is due to take effect this March.
The lawsuit against the soda ban was filed by the American Beverage Association, the soda industry’s lobbying group.
Atlanta law firm, King & Spalding, wrote the amicus brief on behalf of the two civil rights agencies—the same agency that for years has represented Coca-Cola, a key financial contributor to many of the NAACP’s educational programs.
And former Hispanic Federation President Lillian Rodríguez López recently took a job at Coca-Cola, according to the paper.
The city’s health commissioner, Thomas Farley, said he was disappointed with the two groups’ position on the ban, noting that minority neighborhoods would be among the key beneficiaries of such a rule:
About 70 percent of black New Yorkers and 66 percent of Hispanic New Yorkers are obese or overweight, higher than the citywide average, according to a 2011 survey.
In its brief, the NAACP admitted obesity was a significant problem among blacks and Hispanics. But it urged the city to consider a more long-term, holistic approach to addressing the problem, such as through programs that encouraged physical fitness in children.
The civil rights organization also pointed to the long list of educational programs that Coca-Cola has supported in the African-American community through the years and insisted the ban would also hurt the competitiveness of minority small businesses.
“At its worst, the ban arbitrarily discriminates against citizens and small-business owners in African-American and Hispanic communities,” the brief stated.