Although the false arrest of Dr. Henry L. Gates has topped the news for the past two weeks, there was also news about racial discrimination in the New York Fire Department and the attack on the Bloomberg administration by the mother of P.O. Omar Edwards. The New York Police Department defines “friendly fire” as the shooting of a Black police officer in the back by a white police officer.
When a white police officer falsely arrests a person of African ancestry, the law enforcement agency and the white media start a public relations campaign to sanitize the white police officer. This usually starts with a “rent-a-Tom.” Stables are awash with them. Since supply exceeds demand, they come cheaply.
This also happened with the June 2009 assassination of P.O. Edwards in Harlem. Within hours of Edwards’ state-sponsored assassination, Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly classified his death as an accident. This means no criminal prosecution. In other words, Kelly had usurped the authority of the medical examiner’s office of New York City in addition to supplanting a local grand jury with his biased decision. The next stop will be to give the estate of Omar Edwards a big payout consistent with the three-fifths proviso of the U.S. Constitution.
In my June 4 column in this newspaper, I informed my readers that no indictment would be secured in the “friendly fire” assassination of Edwards. Compare the indictment of Plaxico Burress in Manhattan. The same modus operandi, which was employed for Edwards, had previously been employed in the assassination of Sean Bell. Death squads are running amuck in New York City.
The Patrolman’s Benevolent Association is the exclusive collective bargaining unit for police officers. While Black police officers must pay union dues to the PBA, they are, nonetheless, second-class union members. This means that their interests must yield to the interests of white police officers.
Thus, the PBA has sided with Andrew Dunton over the estate of Edwards. The estate of Edwards must fend for itself. A Black police officer has fewer constitutional rights than an African immigrant. At least a white police officer received a weak slap on the wrist for the fatal May 2003 police shooting of Ousmane Zongo.
The New York Fire Department has a dismal record for hiring Blacks. Until 1972,employment discrimination in state and local governments was not a subject for review in federal courts. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 was amended to cover local governments. The Guardians and the Vulcan Society got busy and took action against the NYPD and the NYFD respectively. Although the Uniformed Firefighters Association collects dues from all Black firefighters, it obviously has no responsibility to represent their special interests. In other words, it uses Black dues to finance white nepotism and to fight legitimate Black aspirations. This is a violation of the union’s duty of representation and also constitutes racial discrimination. The U.S. Justice Department should take a hard look at New York City. Charles Hamilton Houston took this issue of lack of union representation to the U.S. Supreme Court in 1939 and won.
Dr. Gates is not only the W.E.B. DuBois of the 21st century but he is also one of the few Blacks in the United States who enjoys the distinction of having a Black public executive in each of the federal, state and local governments. The president of the United States, the governor of Massachusetts and the mayor of Cambridge are Black.
His false arrest, however, demonstrates the lack of powerlessness of any Black person in the United States. Gates is the leading Black scholar in the United States and a friend of the president of the United States, the governor of Massachusetts and the mayor of Cambridge. His powerlessness has prompted many Blacks to denigrate the victim and to shield the perpetrator.
The common thread between Dr. Gates, Edwards and Black firefighters is the lack of political representation. For Edwards and the Black firefighters, it is also the lack of union representation. The lack of union and political representation invariably gives rise to financing and endorsing Black oppression .Blacks continue to be consumers only.
You would need a microscope to find the Blacks, Latinos and Asians in the New York Fire Department, even though whites are only one-third of the population in New York City and white firefighters are recruited from the suburbs to protect white interests in historically oppressed neighborhoods. This is an obvious conflict of interest. White flight has steered them to the suburbs.
While Blacks comprise approximately 30 percent of the city’s population, the number of Black firefighters is under 3 percent. New York City’s Equal Employment Practices Commission respectfully requested that Mayor Michael Bloomberg study if employment tests were adversely impacting on the hiring of Black fire-fighters. He refused. Do Blacks need to know anything else about Mayor Bloomberg?
To make matters worse, Mayor Michael Bloomberg has secured a sales tax increase from the New York Legislature. This regressive tax punishes the poor and enables New York City to finance employment discrimination and reduce the likelihood that children of color will secure municipal jobs. Mayoral control of schools is an aggravating factor.
While the unconstitutional confrontation between Dr. Gates and Sgt. James Crowley gave rise to racial entrapment and not racial profiling, it is without argument that racial profiling is a problem under the Bloomberg administration, which is now sheltering its racial profiling database from the public. Compare the classified files of Tawana Brawley.
Judge Sonia Sotomayor’s U.S. Second Circuit Court of Appeals has approved racial profiling in New York and the U.S. Supreme Court has endorsed reasonable suspicion in Terry v. Ohio. These decisions militate against a right of privacy for Blacks in New York. This is tantamount to slavery.
In addition, Black legislators in New York have refused to secure a bill against racial profiling. On the other hand, these same Democrats are supporting mayoral control. Similarly, the Congressional Black Caucus has failed to secure federal legislation against racial pro- filing even though it violates the Commerce Clause.
Inspired by the teachings and practices of Crispus Attucks, whites initiated the American Revolution. The rallying cry was “taxation without representation.” In a republican form of government representation is like the mortar necessary to build a brick home. Politically and legally, Blacks are building brick homes without mortar.
A long as Blacks lack legal and political representation, there will always be a Dr. Henry L. Gates, a P.O. Omar Edwards and a Plaxico Burress. Black history teaches us that legal representation is more important then political representation. Nonetheless, legal and political presence fall far short of amounting to legal and political representation. First Amendment rights must be a part of the equation.
Sept. 2: UAM resumes its weekly forums at Elks Plaza,1068 Fulton Harriet Tubman (Fulton Street) near Classon Avenue in Brooklyn. Take the C train to Franklin Avenue.
Sept.19: The historic inaugural meeting of the Freedom Party in Buffalo, which was also the site of the formation of the Free Soil Party in 1848.No political voice for Blacks exists in the United States.
Oct.10-11: Overnight bus trip and hotel lodgings to the Great Blacks in Wax Museum in Baltimore and “Nile Valley on the Potomac” field trip in Washington, D.C. For further information, call UAM at (718) 834-9034. See:www.reinstatealtonmaddox.net.