2008 YEAR OF CHANGE
Cyril Josh Barker | 4/12/2011, 4:35 p.m.
Two Staten Island police officers were charged with first-degree unlawful imprisonment for driving a Black teen into a wooded area and leaving him alone in his underwear after arresting him for throwing eggs on Halloween. Lisa Thornton was sworn in as a judge for the State Superior Court in New Jersey. She is the second Black judge to be named in Monmouth County. Rock drummer Buddy Miles died at age 60.A small bomb exploded at the military recruitment station in Times Square. No injures were reported. New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer announced he would step down after he was linked to a prostitution ring. Lt. Gov. David Paterson was promoted, making him the state's first Black governor. He also became the first legally blind governor of New York. Barack Obama won the Mississippi primaries. The City Planning Commission approved the 125th Street rezoning. John White of Long Island was sentenced to two to four years in prison for the accidental shooting death of the 17-year-old who he thought was coming to harm his son. Four people were killed and 17 were injured after a construction crane fell on a residential building on the Upper East Side. Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer expressed his outrage over Building Department safety. Barack Obama condemned his affiliation with his former pastor, Rev. Jeremiah Wright. The pastor made controversial remarks regarding race that Obama felt would hurt his campaign. Mayor Michael Bloomberg proposed a plan to reduce traffic congestion in the city by charging an $8 toll for drivers who go below 60th Street in Manhattan. Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick was indicted with felony charges that included perjury and obstruction of justice. The charges stemmed from Kilpatrick lying on the stand in a court case about his alleged affair with his former chief of staff, Christine Beatty. Their affair was uncovered in a series of text messages they exchanged. H&R Block, along with other tax companies, was investigated by the New York State Human Rights Division. The state agency claimed that the companies, was targeting communities of color to buy overpriced refund anticipation loans during the tax season. Actor and director Ivan Dixon died at age 76.
City Council members voted 30-20 in favor of congestion pricing proposed by Mayor Bloomberg. Joe Guzman, one of the victims injured during the Sean Bell shooting, took the stand as the trial heated up. Rev.Al Sharpton commemorated the 40th anniversary of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. by leading a march in Memphis, Tenn., where King was assassinated. The congestion pricing bill was shot down in the State Assembly, not even making it to the Senate. Harlem advocate Gloria Thomas died at 59. Questions lingered in the City Council, as it was uncovered that millions of dollars over time had been tucked away in a "slush fund." The money was slated for fake city organizations. GM announced it would stop production of some of its large vehicles. The move led to massive layoffs and trouble in the auto industry. Assembly-member Diane Gordon lost her political seat after she was convicted of charges that included bribery. Former Newark Mayor Sharpe James was found guilty on federal corruption charges that included fraud and tax evasion. The waiting game for a verdict began as the Sean Bell trial reached an end. The city agreed to pay $21 million to Black and Latino employees who filed a class-action lawsuit against the Parks Department for discriminatory practices. Protesters made a human chain on 125th Street in outrage over the city's plan to rezone the historic thoroughfare. Pope Benedict XVI made his first visit to the United States. The Pope held a mass in Yankee Stadium for an audience of 57,000 and visited the World Trade Center site. Laurence Fishburn returned to Broadway in the one-man show "Thurgood" about the U.S. Supreme Court's first Black judge. A group of Jewish men attacked a Black man after he and a Jewish man exchanged aggressive stares in Crown Heights, Brooklyn. The incident re-ignited racial tension in the neighborhood between Blacks and Hasidic Jews. Former school principal and wife of City Councilmember Charles Barron, Inez Barron, declared her candidacy for New York State Assembly after disgraced Assemblymember Diane Gordon left the seat vacant. Florida became the sixth state to apologize for slavery. The officers charged in the killing of Sean Bell, Giscard Isnora, Michael Oliver and Michael Cooer, were acquitted on all charges. Judge Arthur Cooperman ruled the verdict in a bench trial.