Rev. Al Sharpton led a march in Suffolk County after John White was found guilty of second-degree manslaughter for shooting 17-year-old Daniel Cicciaro, Jr.White, a Black man, shot Cicciaro, who is white, after White believed a “lynch mob” was in his front yard to attack his son and rape his wife. The case involving activist Viola Plummer continued. Plummer sued City Council Speaker Christine Quinn after Quinn fired Plummer from her position as Councilmember Charles Barron’s chief of staff. The controversy stemmed from Quinn deciding to stop the renaming of four Bed-Stuy blocks after activist Sonny Abubadika Carson. The 2008 presidential race started the year off when Hillary Clinton won New Hampshire in the Democratic primaries over Barack Obama. Joe Biden dropped out of the presidential election.In the quest for justice, the Sean Bell case prepared for trial as lawyers for the three officers charged requested a change of venue, contending that potential jurors in New York City had been bombarded with biased media coverage. The motion was denied and the trial remained in Queens. President George W. Bush announced an economic stimulus package that gave American households between $800 and $1,600 in tax refunds. The state of New Jersey became the fifth state to apologize for slavery. New Jersey governor Jon Corzine vowed to increase tolls in the state by 50 percent every four years to reduce New Jersey’s $32 billion debt. Protesters voiced their outrage after an 18-year-old Black youth was beaten and arrested after taking a picture of a New York Police Department officer sleeping on the job in Brownsville, Brooklyn. Reverend Calvin O. Butts of Abyssinian Baptist Church endorsed Hillary Clinton for president. Anxiety about a recession lingered as stock markets around the world plunged as a result of the sub-prime mortgage crisis of 2007. The nation’s oldest Black sorority, Alpha Kappa Alpha, celebrated 100 years. A headquarters for Barack Obama opened in Harlem. Sen. Bill Perkins led a march celebrating the opening of the office. The editor of Golfweek Magazine was fired after placing a noose on the magazine’s front cover. The display stemmed from a comment made on the Golf Channel by an anchor who said that a “lynch mob” would attack Tiger Woods for dominating in the PGA.
Black History Month was celebrated in its 82nd year. The theme was “Carter G. Woodson and the Origins of Multiculturalism.” In Westchester an off-duty Black police officer was shot and killed by his own colleagues of the Mount Vernon Police Department. Officer Chris Ridley attempted to arrest a homeless person who had assaulted another man. Officers responding to the incident mistakenly shot Ridley. A judge honored the wishes of the attorney for the three officers charged in the shooting death of Sean Bell to have a bench trial. Rather than having jury rule on the case, Judge Arthur Cooperman was named to oversee the trial. John Edwards dropped out of the presidential race. The New York Giants won Super Bowl XLII, beating the New England Patriots 17-14.The FDA approved the sale of meat from cloned cows, goats and pigs.A march held in Harlem commemorated the 11th anniversary of the police killing of Amadou Diallo. On Super Tuesday Barack Obama beat Hillary Clinton in the “Potomac Primaries,” taking D.C., Virginia and Maryland. “The Color Purple” ended its run on Broadway after 910 regular performances. At the 50th Grammy Awards Barack Obama won Best Spoken Word Album for his book “The Audacity of Hope: Thoughts on Reclaiming the American Dream.” Big winners also included Kanye West and Herbie Hancock. Fidel Castro retired as president of Cuba after 49 years. Opening statements began in the Sean Bell trial. Actor Wesley Snipes was found guilty for failing to file income tax and sentenced to three years in prison. The trial of ex-Newark Mayor Sharpe James began. James was charged for embezzlement, bid rigging and ethics violations. Civil Rights Movement pioneer and friend to Rosa Parks, Johnnie Carr died at age 97.
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.
In response to the Sean Bell verdict, Congressmembers from around the country came to New York to discuss possible federal government involvement in the case. House Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers led a town hall meeting with testimonies from Al Sharpton, NAACP New York State President Hazel Dukes and others. Barack Obama won the North Carolina and Oregon Democratic primaries. The city’s highest ranking Black police chief, Douglas Zeigler, became a victim of racial profiling when he was mistakenly stopped at gunpoint and ordered to get out of his vehicle by two white officers. Zeigler served as the head of Community Affairs Bureau. In response to the Sean Bell verdict, Rev. Al Sharpton led a citywide protest where thousands of citizens participated in an act of civil disobedience. Protesters attempted to slow down rush-hour traffic by blocking bridges. Hundreds of people were arrested, including Sharpton himself, Councilmember Charles Barron and Rev. Herbert Daughtry. Benjamin Jealous was tapped to be the new president of the NAACP and became the youngest person to ever lead the organization at age 35. Gov. David Paterson signed a bill that made displaying a noose in New York State a Class E felony. Four police officers in Philadelphia were fired after kicking and dragging three Black male suspects after a high-speed chase. TV news cameras caught the incident. Racial tensions rose in Crown Heights as a slew of incidents occurred between Blacks and Hasidic Jews.
The Brooklyn Bridge celebrated 125 years. Gov. David Paterson pardoned Slick Rick. Blues icon Bo Diddley died at age 79. Barack Obama took the first step toward history when he secured the 2008 U.S. Democratic Party presidential nomination. He became the first African-American presumptive presidential candidate for a major political party. As summer got into full swing, a spike in violent crimes riddled the city, including shootings. Hotspots included Harlem, Crown Heights and Far Rockaway. Sharpton led a march in Harlem to bring awareness about the problem. Jazz organist Jimmy McGriff died at age 72 in New Jersey. The NYPD announced that officers would carry Taser guns on their belts. Former Assemblymember Diane Gordon was sentenced to two to six years in prison for felony bribe taking, along with other charges. Mayor Michael Bloomberg attempted to close Off-Track Betting, which would have left 1,500 people jobless. Gov. Paterson stepped in and announced that the state would assume both assets and liabilities of OTB. At the 62nd Annual Tony Awards, “In the Heights” earned eight awards, including Best Musical. “Passing Strange” won Best Book of a Musical. Journalist Tim Russert died at age 58. Brooklyn-born David Paterson completed his first 100 days as governor of the State of New York. Columbia University professor Madonna Constantine was fired for alleged plagiarism. Constantine previously made headlines in 2007 after a noose was found on her office door. Radio personality Don Imus was under fire again for making racial comments about a Black NFL player being arrested.
The City Council passed a $59 billion budget for the 2008-09 fiscal year. The budget received harsh criticism because of city programs that got cuts, including summer youth jobs, senior services and the closing of several community centers. As a result of budget cuts in the city, crime began to increase among youth who had more free time in the summer. Several shootings took place across the city and a large number of those killed were teenagers. CNN premiered its documentary “Black in America” with mixed reviews. Sharpton threatened to disrupt the 2008 MLB All-Star Game at Yankee Stadium by holding another civil disobedience protest but cancelled. A Brooklyn judge dropped the case against Black attorneys Michael and Evelyn Warren. The Warrens became victims of police brutality in June 2007 when they were assaulted and arrested in Brooklyn by an officer after they tried to stop police officers from beating a man. The AFL-CIO endorsed Barack Obama. NFL player for the San Diego Chargers, Terrence Kiel, was killed in a car crash at age 28.Gov.David Paterson appointed Paul T. Williams to head the Dormitory Authority of the State of New York. Williams was the former president of One Hundred Black Men, Inc. of New York City. The Grace Tabernacle Christian Center and the church community were put in a state of shock and sadness following news that the Rev. Timothy Wright, his wife Betty and 14-year-old grandson D.J. got into a car accident. Timothy Wright survived the accident with serious injuries but his grandson and beloved wife died in the crash. Esmin Green, 49, died on the floor of Kings County Hospital after she was left unattended for 24 hours. The incident was caught on security cameras and her family sued the hospital for $25 million. Public relations icon Patricia L. Tobin died at age 65. Mayor Michael Bloomberg reformulated the standard for poverty in the city. To be classified as poverty-stricken, a family of four had to make less than $26,138 annually. This raised the poverty rate in the city by 23 percent. The NAACP held its 99th annual convention in Cincinnati, Ohio. Barack Obama addressed the delegates in the convention. A grand jury decided not to indict NYPD Officer Sean Sawyer for the shooting death of Jayson Tirado. Sawyer, who was off-duty, shot Tirado, claiming self-defense during a road rage incident. Reports surfaced that longtime Harlem Congressman Charlie Rangel had more than one rent-stabilized apartment in Lennox Terrance. He was using one of the apartments as a campaign office and later gave it up. National Black Theater executive director Barbara Ann Teer died at age 71. Her funeral and processional attracted thousands of mourners. Two white NYPD officers from the 25th Precinct allegedly put a Black baby doll head on their car’s antenna and drove around Harlem, vexing the community. A man who attempted to take a picture of the doll head with his camera phone said the officers snatched off the doll head before he could take the picture. Actor and dancer Andrea Edwin Smith died at age 41.
Ex-Newark Mayor Sharpe James was sentenced to 27 months in prison. Harlem business owner Sikulu Shange was evicted from his store, the Record Shack, after nearly 40 years in business. The United House of Prayer for All People, the building’s owner, did not renew his lease. The 2008 Summer Olympic Games took place in Beijing, China. The United States won 36 gold medals. Sharpton appeared in court on charges for his civil disobedience protest after the Sean Bell verdict. Nelson Mandela turned 90.The 34th annual Harlem Week was held. Jazz saxophonist Johnny Griffin died at age 80. Harlem double-dutch league founder David Walker died. Police shot and killed 20-year-old Darryl Battle in his Brooklyn home. Officers claimed they felt they were in danger when Battle allegedly threatened them with a kitchen knife. Monsignor Wallace Harris was removed from his position after allegations surfaced that he sexually abused two minors 20 years ago. Longtime activist Marquez Claxton announced that he would run for City Council in 2009 for the 31st District in Queens. Gov. David Paterson announced that the state would cut funding for his new $2.6 billion savings plan if passed by the Legislature. The governor aimed to reduce spending on Medicaid, and raise tuition for CUNY and SUNY students. In a tragic weekend, soul legend Isaac Hayes, 65, and comedian Bernie Mack, 50, died within one day of each other’s passing. The city of Detroit called for disgraced Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick to resign after he violated his probation. Former City Councilmember Stanley
E. Michaels died at age 75.The Democratic National Convention was held in Denver, Colo. Barack Obama and Joe Biden were declared the Democratic president and vice president nominees. Four white men were arrested in Denver for allegedly plotting an assassination against Obama. The third anniversary of Hurricane Katrina was commemorated. The second annual African Day Parade brought out thousands of spectators in Harlem. Venus and Serena Williams won both of their matches at the U.S. Open. Hurricanes Gustav and Hannah caused 628 deaths in the United States, Cuba, Haiti, the Dominican Republic and Jamaica.
Hurricane Ike caused devastation and 107 deaths in the United States, Cuba, the Dominican Republic and Haiti. As Election Day neared, qualified voters scrambled to register. A record number of Black people and first-time voters registered. Brooklyn celebrated the 41st annual West Indian Day Parade. Thousands of New Yorkers participated in the Susan G. Komen 5K Race for the Cure in Central Park, including staffers from the New York Amsterdam News. The three-mile walk/run supported breast cancer research. Voters turned out to cast their ballots in local primary elections that included congressional, Senate and Assembly positions. Victorious wins included Inez Barron, Ed Towns, Kevin Parker and William Boyland. Americans paused to remember those who lost their lives on the seventh anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks. Reports surfaced that Rep. Charlie Rangel failed to report income from a rental property in the Dominican Republic. Rangel owned up to his mistake and agreed to pay back taxes. Calls for Rangel to give up his congressional seat did not faze him, as he was also the chairman of the House of Ways and Means Committee. Disgraced Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick resigned after pleading guilty to two felony charges and admitted to lying under oath. As a result, he was sentenced to four months in prison. Crisis began on Wall Street when Barclays announced it would buy the struggling global financial services firm Lehman Brothers for $2 billion after the federal government denied a bailout. The move saved 9,000 jobs but was the start of a major financial meltdown in America. The U.S. government bailed out mortgage buyers Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac in an effort to save the housing market. The U.S. Senate passed the Till Bill, named after the 1955 murder victim Emmett Till. The bill established a cold case unit with the Justice Department to open up unsolved crimes during the civil rights era. Ex-Newark Mayor Sharpe James reported to prison to begin his two-year sentence. As a result of the Wall Street meltdown, Mayor Bloomberg announced, the city agencies would have to cut $500 million from their budgets. The 39th annual African-American Day Parade was celebrated in Harlem. However, festivities were tainted when the NYPD clashed with the New Black Panther Party along the parade route. The outburst caused several arrests. Harlem Hospital broke ground on a new patient pavilion. The $319 million project is scheduled for completion by 2011. Motown song-writer and record producer Norman Whitfield died at age 67. Journalist Nancy Hicks Maynard died at age 61.
Mayor Bloomberg announced that he wanted to extend term limits. The economic crisis motivated him to propose the idea because of his expertise in finances. The idea outraged several politicians while many supported him. At the same time, Bloomberg started a campaign to keep city schools under his control. President George W. Bush created a $700 billion Treasury fund to purchase failing bank assets when he signed the revised Emergency Economic Stabilization Act into law. Police killed 35-year-old Inman Morales after he climbed the ledge of his building. In an effort to get him down, officers Tasered the mentally disturbed man, stunning him and causing him to fall to his death. Barack Obama and John McCain met for their final debate at Hofstra University. Women’s and children’s advocate Elinor Guggenheimer died at age 96. Sharpton and nine other people were found guilty for their participation in the civil disobedience protest in reaction to the Sean Bell verdict. Sharpton and the others were sentenced to time served and fined $95.Comedian Rudy Ray Moore died at age 81. New York State reached its voter registration deadline. The Rev. Al Sharpton turned 54. In Chicago, Minister Louis Farrakhan commemorated the 13th anniversary of the Million Man March. Collin Powell endorsed Barack Obama. Two white men in Texas allegedly tied up 24-year-old Brandon McClelland, a Black man, and dragged his body attached to the back of their truck. Police found his body mutilated and dismembered. Scandal broke out when the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN) became the root of an alleged voter registration scam. Investigators claimed the organization filled out phony voter registration forms. Four Tops lead singer Levi Stubbs died at age 72. Tragedy hit Academy Award-winning actress Jennifer Hudson when her mother, brother and seven-year-old nephew were shot and killed in Chicago. Police named Hudson’s brother-in-law, William Balfour, as a prime suspect.
Brooklyn resident Michael Mineo claimed that he was sodomized when three NYPD officers assaulted him after he was caught smoking marijuana in a subway station. The officers pled not guilty when they were indicted by a grand jury. Mineo’s medical records, along with witness accounts, proved an attack took place. Gov. Paterson broke the news to New Yorkers that the Wall Street crisis had caused the state to go into the largest budget deficit in history. The state faced a $1.5 billion shortfall for the current fiscal year. The City Council passed a bill that extended term limits to three terms in a 29-22 vote. City Comptroller Bill Thompson states the he will definetly run for mayor. The Dormitory Authority of the State of New York held the 23rd annual Minority, Women and Small Business Conference in Albany. The theme was “Making the Right Connections … A Networking Event.” Writer and journalist Clayton Riley died at age 73. Barack Obama made history when he was elected America’s 44th–and the first Black–president of the United States. Revelers took to the streets in celebration on election night across the city and nation after flooding the polls. On the state level, Inez Barron won State Assembly for the 40th District and Rep. Charlie Rangel was re-elected. The Amsterdam News sold a record number of its Election Day newspaper. The MTA announced plans to increase fares in 2009. The proposed fare would increase a single ride from $2 to $2.25. The NYPD shot 21-year-old Dwayne David and 22-year-old Keyshawn Forde in Brooklyn. Officers claimed the two aimed guns at them after hearing gunshots when a club let out. Witnesses reported not seeing any weapons on the two men. Political consultant and education lobbyist Terence Tolbert died at age 44. Miriam Makeba, better known as “Mama Africa,” died at age 74. Michelle and President-elect Barack Obama prepared for their transition to the White House when they met with President George Bush and First Lady Laura Bush in Washington. The New York Urban League hosted the 22nd annual HBCU Fair at Riverbank State Park. The event drew thousands of high school students from the tri-state area. The U.S. Senate held a hearing on the automotive crisis. The heads of Chrysler, Ford and GM explained why they needed $25 billion to avoid bankruptcy. President- elect Barack Obama began making cabinet appointments. The FDNY mourned the death of probationary firefighter Jamel M. Sears, 33, who died after collapsing during a training exercise. Sharpton led a march and candlelight vigil for the two-year anniversary of the police killing of Sean Bell. Lawyers and family members met with the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District in hopes of bringing federal civil rights charges against the NYPD. Abyssinian Baptist Church celebrated its 200th anniversary. Harlem celebrated the 100th birthday of the late Adam Clayton Powell. Harlem youth mentor Cynthia Kirkpatrick died at age 42.The New York City Coalition Against Hunger reported that 1.3 million New Yorkers, including 400,000 children, suffered from hunger. The report also revealed a higher demand for food pantries and soup kitchens because of the dwindling economy. Terrorist attacks in Mumbai, India, killed 164 people and injured 250. Hip-hop artist MC Breed died at age 37. New York Giants player Plaxico Burress was charged with criminal possession of a handgun after he shot himself in the leg in a Manhattan nightclub. Riots in Jos, Nigeria, killed 381 and injured 300.
In the stock market, the Dow dropped 680 points, the fourth worst drop in history. Folk singer and civil rights activist Odetta died at age 78. President-elect Barack Obama appointed former rival Hillary Clinton as secretary of state. Gov. David Paterson must choose a replacement to fill her seat in the Senate. Several candidates, including Carolyn Kennedy, were suggested for the job. Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich was arrested by the FBI for allegations of “pay for play” for Obama’s vacant senate seat to the highest bidder. Rioting broke out across Greece after police killed a 15- year-old boy. MTA bus driver Edwin Thomas was stabbed to death after he refused to give a passenger a transfer in Brooklyn. Assemblymember-elect Inez Barron held two community inauguration ceremonies. The NYPD announced that new recruits were being trained to use M4 machine guns in response to the terrorist attacks in Mumbai, India. In an exclusive interview with the Amsterdam News, police spokesperson Paul Brown said that, despite reports, new recruits would definitely not be getting the machine guns for New Year’s Eve patrol. The third annual Big Apple Classic took place at Madison Square Garden. The officer convicted in the 1997 torture of Abner Louima, Justin Volpe, wanted President Bush to give him a pardon or reduce his 30-year prison sentence. To deal with the state’s $15 billion deficit, Gov. Paterson informed New Yorkers that he will tax things like beer, sugary sodas, movie tickets and even music downloads. Bronx Borough President Aldofo Carrion was tapped by President-elect Barack Obama to head the White House Office of Urban Policy. An Iraqi journalist threw a shoe at President Bush during a press conference in Iraq. Mayor Bloomberg announced that city services and 500 city jobs would be cut to help New York City’s budget problem. The FDNY and NYPD were slated to get a reduction in services that included a reduced police academy intake and eliminating some firehouses’ overnight operations. President Bush announced that he approved a bailout plan that would give GM and Chrysler $17.4 billion. Singer and actress Eartha Kitt died on Christmas Day at age 81.