When the Scottsboro Boys were falsely arrested, prosecuted and convicted in Scottsboro, Ala., there were no Black “citizens” in Alabama in 1931. The three branches of government were off-limits to Blacks. No Black suspect could be prosecuted as a “citizen.” The Scottsboro Boys were not even given the protections of prisoners of war under the Geneva Conventions.

Instead, they were prosecuted as enemy combatants, despite the 14th Amendment. Blacks learned in the Slaughterhouse Cases that any rights they enjoyed had to be found in state law. This would be like telling the chickens that the foxes would protect them. Black rights are still being defined by the Ku Klux Klan.

If you fast-forward the Scottsboro Boys to the Central Park Boys, little was learned from the illegal prosecutions of the Scottsboro Nine. There are still no federal protections for Black suspects or Black lawyers. All of the Harlem youths who were falsely arrested were also falsely convicted of “wilding,” at the very least. Five boys were wrongfully convicted of raping a white woman under a penal law imported from South Africa.

Although Manhattan District Attorney Robert Morgenthau admitted on NY1 recently that his office had made a mistake in prosecuting the Black and Latino youths in the Central Park case, his admission has not triggered the filing of an accusatory instrument against his office.

New York Penal Law 15.20 provides in part: “A person is not relieved of criminal liability for conduct because he engages in such conduct under a mistaken belief of fact…”The New York Legislature must also define a prosecutorial agency as a “person.” A criminal defendant is not relieved of criminal liability even if he or she had made a good-faith mistake. On the other hand, a law enforcement official is excused of criminal liability if he or she had made a good-faith mistake in enforcing the law.

This disparity in treatment does not square with the 14th Amendment, however. The U.S. Supreme Court elevates law enforcement officials over the U.S. Constitution. State-sponsored law enforcement officials are able to run roughshod over the Constitution. Mr. Morgenthau is unable to argue that it was a good-faith mistake since his office knew or should have known that the boys were innocent. DNA results had exonerated them of any connection to the April 19,1989,crime scene in Central Park.

These results were unimportant to law enforcement officials. This official indifference was expected of law enforcement officials acting under state law. When a white woman is raped, any Black man’s blood will satisfy the thirst of white supremacists. Apparently, U.S. District Judge Deborah Batts has not heard of Mr. Morgenthau’s admission, since she is still giving deference to the prosecutor’s right to benefit from qualified immunity. Unless a civil rights plaintiff can prove a bad-faith prosecution, the civil rights complaint must fall.

If the Central Park plaintiffs had been playing on a level playing field, these young men would already have some money in their pockets. The Bronx Supreme Court recently ruled that a wrongfully con- victed defendant who had been imprisoned for nine months was entitled to a $1.5 million settlement by New York City.

The New York Legislature, which honored Barry Slotnick for representing Bernard Goetz, should have gotten off its hind parts by now and enacted some remedial legislation to curb police and judicial excesses in the areas of arrests, racial profiling, interrogations, torture, judicial assignments and compensation for wrongful arrests and convictions. Twenty years have gone by and it is still business as usual. Judiciary Law 90 controls the discipline of attorneys. Thus, the New York Legislature is responsible for attorney discipline. The New York Legislature usurped this authority when it initiated an unprecedented, retaliatory, disciplinary complaint against Alton Maddox. It did not help that Maddox was a pro bono attorney in the Central Park case.

Colin Moore, the late Robert Burns and Joseph Mack were also attorneys in the Central Park case. They were all disciplined. Maddox, Moore and Burns were disbarred. Maddox was disbarred without a hearing. Mack was suspended for a definite period. Since George B. Vashon became the first Black attorney in New York on Jan. 10, 1848, every outspoken attorney in New York ever since has either been disciplined or exiled for competently and zealously representing Black people. The first Black attorney disbarred in New York for being outspoken was Aaron Alpeoria Bradley in the 1850s before he was sent to a federal stockade for advocating reparations. He had already left New York for Georgia, where he continued to practice law and became an elected official in the Georgia Senate. This lack of zealous representation should be a matter of great concern to the New York Legislature, if it were operating with a full deck, since disciplinary proceedings have had a chilling effect on Black legal representation. Instead, this legislative body is widening the door for the prison-industrial complex. Intentional infliction of emotional distress arises when the state wrongfully prosecutes a child to destroy the parent-child relationship, kidnaps the child and places him or her in a concentration camp to cause great emotional pain and suffering. To make matters worse, three of the boys lost a parent and another parent fled the household.

Lawyers were also not immune from emotional distress. Burns died soon after his disbarment. Moore suffered a serious stroke. On May 21, 2009, Maddox will have been unlawfully disbarred from the practice of law for 19 years. Living without income is stressful and an emotional harm.

When Sen. Barack Obama heard that Durham District Attorney Michael Nifong had withheld exculpatory evidence from the three Duke lacrosse players accused of raping a Black female, he immediately demanded a Justice Department investigation and Nifong’s disbarment. He succeeded.

Mr. Obama believed that the civil rights of these lacrosse players had been violated, even though none of them had suffered imprisonment. He was acting at the behest of Cong. Walter Jones, a right-wing Republican who could not stomach a white prosecutor prosecuting three white boys for being accused of raping a Black woman.

Nobody has heard a peep from Mr. Obama about Tawana Brawley or the Central Park “Six.” They are victims of glaring civil rights violations. To this day, no jury has found that these lacrosse players were innocent. There is a difference between withholding exculpatory evidence and intentionally putting innocent people behind bars for long periods of time.

Mr. Obama cannot be mistaken for City Councilman Charles Barron. A principled person will do the right thing and let the chips fall where they may. Mr. Obama is a Chicago politician who is now residing in the White House. He is neither a Malcolm X nor a Dr. Martin L. King, Jr. Black people have been bamboozled once again.

The City Council can adequately compensate these Cen- tral Park “Six” only after it holds extensive hearings. There must be a public record about what happened on April 19, 1989, and afterwards, to make sure it must never hap- pen again. Federal, state and local governments owe us an explanation. In the meantime, write in Charles Barron for NYC mayor in September 2009.

May 27: UAM Weekly Forum at Elks Plaza, 1068 Harriet Tubman (Fulton Street) near Classon Avenue in Brooklyn at 7:30 p.m. Take the “C” train to Franklin Avenue. Two blocks to Elks Plaza. Admission is free. Dr. Leonard Jeffries will be the keynote speaker.

May 22-25: UAM’s bus trip to the Gullah Festival in historic Beaufort, S.C. July 5-August 1: Freedom Retreat for Boys and Girls for children ages 7-15 in the Catskill Mountains. Call UAM at (718) 834-9034 for further information. Among other things, there will be an overnight bus trip to the Harriet Tubman House, an exploration of the Underground Railroad and a day-trip to Syracuse University. This is the only African-centered, sleep-away summer retreat in the nation.

See: www.reinstatealtonmaddox.net.