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70 years later, the story repeats

ELINOR R.TATUM | 4/12/2011, 4:38 p.m.
70 years later, the story repeats

There is an old axiom that all Black people look alike. So whether you are a stockbroker, a police officer, a shoe salesman or a car thief, if you are Black, you are all the same person.

So with this logic in mind, is a Black Man or even a man or color ever safe in America? The answer is a resounding NO.

Forget about the shootings of unarmed immigrants by police. Forget about the cases of sodomy at the hands of the police. Forget about the vigilantes that go after young Black men. Forget about all of that because that is endemic of the bigger problem. All Black men look alike, even if they are police officers. I find it curious that in the history of the NYPD and Black officers, not once from my information has a Black cop ever shot a white cop because they thought they were a suspect, yet several Black cops have been killed by white officers who assumed that they were doing something criminal.

In 1940, John A. Holt, Jr. was shot dead by a white police officer in Harlem. He was the first Black officer in New York killed by another officer. Officer Eric Hernandez was killed by another officer during a brawl at a restaurant in the Bronx in 2006.

In 1994, Desmond Robinson, a transit officer, was shot and injured by another officer. And just last week Omar Edwards, while chasing a suspect, was shot down in the prime of his life by another white officer.

It seems as though we have come so far, yet in the blink of an eye, we are still seen as predators. I continuously go back to the infamous memo sent out by the head of a prominent advertising agency who later had to apologize to Black radio station owners for the memo, which warned against advertising with Black stations because "advertisers should want prospects, not suspects."

We go back into the files of the New York Amsterdam News from 1940,where we see the editorials and stories about the killing of John Holt (see insert). The issues have not changed. Black men--Black police officers--are still being killed for no good reason.

I concur with Congressman Rangel, Rev. Al Sharpton and all the other leaders in the community when they call for an investigation from the attorney general. In Rangel's words, "The tragic shooting of Officer Omar Edwards highlights the need for additional training of our police officers...I am calling on Attorney General Eric Holder to review the problems in the New York City Police Department when Black officers are killed by whites, which too often is the case."