Listen Siblings, I come in peace,
” . . . What you seen wasn’t no dust of changes rising. It was the dust of sameness settling.” — Sterling Plumpp
On April 19, 1989, some White man brutally raped some White woman in New York’s Central Park but didn’t tell anybody. That’s a real problem for White folk; which for some reason became a serious problem for our folk. Before the evidence was examined, seven youth (either Black or Latino), between 14 and 16-years-old, were awaiting trial for this rape. Alton H. Maddox, Jr. got his client released from the sham. Another alleged suspect plead guilty. The other five lost in court. Years later, the White rapist admitted his guilt. The youth who wrongfully spent time in prison never received recompensation; though the City Council is predominately non-White. Sister Dallas relates the Central Park incident to the historical trend of “White folk got a problem so Black folk got a problem” in an article that invokes Richard Wright’s observation on the injustice system. She finishes with a familiar call. Read intently. Subscribe, share, love.
Bigger Than The “Central Park 7”
By Dallas Newton
Injustices inflicted against African-Americans or people of color are symptoms of a White ideology and culture. The unfortunate victims have fallen prey to a “justice” system infested with racism and bigotry. Even in the face of indicators that clearly should raise questions as to the guilt of the accused, the police will continue to use tactics designed to coerce a confession.
To make matters worse for the “alleged suspects,” the media’s biased coverage through the use of language and one sided reporting in favor of the police stirs up bigotry and race hatred. Stereotypes that many Whites hold about Blacks which lie just below the surface are tapped into and are manifested in some sort of backlash.
Given the institutional racism of the “justice” system, the response from the Black community is often inadequate to save the “alleged suspects.” Black lawyer organizations do not come forward to challenge the legalities of the case; thus heightening the risk Black lawyers take in representing the “alleged suspect”. Prominent members of the Black community also refuse to challenge the police; instead offering their prayers and support to the non-African “alleged victims.”
Unfortunately, institutional racism in the “justice” system and the response from the African-American community is like a script that has been played out since the turn of the 20th century. In 1940 Richard Wright in his preface to “Native Son” details how the script is played out:
…A crime wave is sweeping a city and citizens are clamoring for
police action. Squad cars cruise the Black Belt and grab the first
Negro boy who seems to be unattached and homeless. He is held
for perhaps a week without charge or bail, without the privilege of
communicating with anyone, including his own relatives. After a few
days this boy “confesses” anything that he is asked to confess….
The “Central Park 7” is just one of the many recent cases that were adjudicated according to the script that is reserved for Black boys. Following a horrific rape and beating of an investment broker in Central Park on April 19, 1989, seven young African and Latino boys between 14 and 16-years-old were rounded up and indicted by a grand jury that was instructed by white law enforcement agents. (See: Alton Maddox, Blacks Pen History and Whites Write His Story?)
Representing one of the accused boys, Michael Briscoe, Attorney Alton Maddox was able to secure a release through his legal acumen. Another accused boy plead guilty in court.
“Although the suspects (except Salaam) had confessed on videotape in the presence of a parent or guardian, they retracted their statements within weeks, claiming that they had been intimidated, lied to, and coerced into making false confessions. The detectives had indeed used ruses to convince the suspects to confess, with Salaam confessing to having been present only after he was told that fingerprints were found on the victim’s clothing. While the confessions themselves were videotaped , the hours of interrogation that preceded the confessions were not.”(Wikipedia)
The case against the five boys was non-existent without the “confessions”. There was no physical evidence against them and details they gave were inconsistent. They didn’t even know each other.
However, all five boys were convicted in 1990, receiving lengthy prison sentences. The question has been raised as to why it was so easy for people to believe these boys committed this crime with only flimsy confessions. The answer can be found in the stereotypes held by the larger White society concerning minority teens.
The mass media gave credence to these stereotypes by referring to the accused as “wolfpacks” and “beasts”. Donald Trump even took out full-page ads calling for the death penalty. The mayor at the time, Ed Koch, called them animals and likened it to the crime of the century. David Dinkins, an African-American, who would become the mayor in 1990 joined in the chorus of the mainstream media, calling the boys a “wolfpack”. Other Black “leaders” were holding prayer-ins for the “rape victim”.
However, what resonates most from this particular injustice directed against Black boys using the same script is the lack of knowledge on the parts of parents and young boys concerning their rights and the lack of concerted organizations in the Black community to offset the intimidation of organized corrupt law enforcement.
In addition we must support our African American attorneys who try to give us true legal representation. The attorneys who represented these young men were subsequently disbarred or suspended. This happens when there is a lack of vigilance on our part at all times.
In conclusion, it is observed that in 1989 the same historical scenario plays out when a crime of rape has been perpetrated against a White woman. The description Richard Wright details in 1940 is descriptive of what happened to the “Central Park 7”, fifty years later; It is a wakeup call that nothing has changed, particularly for us as African Americans. Unless we ORGANIZE for justice, the same script will continue to be used on our Black youth when they are confronted by an organized, racist criminal justice system.