As you read the article below please keep in mind several things which make this story even more disturbing. First, Philadelphia currently has a Black Mayor, Michael A Nutter and had another mayor John F Street, a community activist and organizer who served for 8 years. This means that the website Domelights used by white Philly Cops to post up racist rantings about the people and the communities they a re supposed to serve was launched and has existed un-challenged on the watch of two African Americans leading the City of Brotherly Love. How is this possible?
For the past 8 years, Philadelphia has had two Black Police Commissioners, Sylvester Johnson and the Charles Ramseywho is highly decorated and currently oversees the department. How is racism this blatant amongst white officers tolerated on their watch? Do these men not have power or do these men not have backbone to stand up and shut things down? How was Johnson and now Ramsey able to lead officers who feel comfortable enough to embrace and exude the type of unconscionable racism described in the article? Their inability to have a zero tolerance policy put in place and acted upon when such egregious behavior occurs is a stark reminder that even though we have Black faces in high places it don’t mean a damn thing for the everyday Black person on the streets of Philly and throughout this country.
As I’m reading this story, I can’t help but think about two things. First, is a situation which took place just last week around Temple University in Philly when Professor and Fox News Commentator Marc Lamont Hill came upon some out of control officers who thought it would be funny to harass several young Black men passing through the campus by having them drop their pants in public while being detained.
Hill tweeted about the incident and described how he stood watching the officers when he himself got confronted. The officers wanted him to leave the scene. They said he was ‘hovering ‘when Hill was actually observing which he has a right to do as tax paying citizen. Perhaps the only thing that kept him from being made to drop his pants was that he let it be known he was a professor on the campus where the young men were being jammed up.
Hill tweeted about how angry he was because after the cops let the boys go they started laughing and cracking jokes about the incident. What made this more outrageous was they did this in front of Professor Hill- The message seemingly conveyed by these callous cops was; It don’t matter who the hell you are, we’ll do what we want. One has to wonder if these cops went home wrote about the incident and shared a good laugh with other white cops on the racist website Domelights.
The second thing that comes to mind, is the plight of political prisoner Mumia Abu Jamal. Year after year when his case comes up, the Philadelphia police union Fraternal order of Police #5 leads the charge to block any attempt to free him. Mumia has long talked about the insidious racism and brutality of the Philly police. The things he’s reported on prior to going to jail over 20 years ago and throughout his stay on death row have been met with skepticism, rebuke and disbelief by mainstream pundits who simply feel the police can do no wrong. Perhaps these pundits need to look at the daily, pervasive racist commentary on Domelights from these White officers serving a city with a majority population of people of color and has Black leadership which is more than unnerving. One can then ask how much worse and in your face were these racist attitudes under white leadership, especially when Mumia was free and having to deal with well known racist Police Commissioners like Frank Rizzo. One can only imagine it was even worse.
Lastly one has to ask, how is such conduct tolerated by the Fraternal Order of Police. You go to their website and you see they are alerting their members to upcoming contract hearings on July 24th. I didn’t see anything telling their officers to fall back and set a good example for other officers by not tolearting racism. The FOP want a new contract when they have pretty much remained silent and not reined in their members? Pay attentions folks and lets see how this plays out.
In closing I will say this.. yesterday we had a huge debate on my website and facebook pages about whether or not President Obama was doing enough to address racial issues that are impacting Black folks daily. Many felt like he was on the case. Others felt like he was falling short. One of the main sticking points in our debate were these increasing incidents of police terror that are happening from Oakland to Mississippi to Houston to Trenton, NJ with Wise Intelligent to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania with Hip Hop pioneer and X-Clan member Paradise Gray. It was not lost on me that earlier this week President Obama went out of his way to offer prayer and praise to officers who were shot and seriously injured in the line of duty while chasing down suspects in Jersey City, New Jersey. He offered prayer and praise to slain officers in Pittsburgh a couple of months ago and he offered prayer and praise to the 4 officers slain in Oakland back in March. These things he should do.
At the same time, when is our President going to put out of control police on notice and offer solace to people brutalized by renegade cops? When is he going to instruct his Attorney General Eric Holder to draft a plan of action to hold police accountable and make sure that there will be zero tolerance for abuse and racist behavior as demonstrated by the white officers on Philly’s police force.
President Obama gave lots of money in his stimulus package for police-Perhaps he needs to take some of that money bback and treat the polce the way he treated the car companies. Let them know they don’t get any money until they start doing right by the American people.
Something to Ponder…
Black Philadelphia police sue over message board, say it’s racist
(CNN) — A group of black Philadelphia police officers filed a federal lawsuit Thursday against their department, alleging an online forum geared toward city police is “infested with racist, white supremacist and anti-African-American content.”
The suit alleges white officers post on and moderate the privately operated site, Domelights.com, both on and off the job.
Domelights’ users “often joke about the racially offensive commentary on the site … or will mention them in front of black police officers,” thus creating “a racially hostile work environment,” according to lawyers for the all-black Guardian Civic League, the lead plaintiff in the suit.
A look at the site’s forums Friday for racist comments found several possibilities.
Reads one: “In urban areas, it seems [African-Americans] living on welfare in paid for housing is ingrained in their culture as well as fighting. … Kids, along with adults can’t speak proper English or spell at a 3rd grade level, but they can sing among “theyselves” the lyrics to a rap song.”
Said another Domelights user of an African-American woman: “She is a classic example of that exact non tax paying, no car insurance driving, bad weave wearing, all the whitey’s are racist black women.”
The site’s tagline is “the voice of the good guys.”
“Every time African-Americans do or say something in our city, we get this backlash of cops who think they’re anonymous on this Web site — just racist, nasty, hurtful things about what we do,” said Rochelle Bilal, the president of the Guardian Civic League and a 23-year veteran of the force.
The league’s attorney said other black officers echo Bilal’s statement.
“We’ve heard the same story over and over again, which is that [African-American officers] witness in the workplace Domelights being used and discussed [in a racial manner],” said Brian Mildenberg, whose firm is also representing a Philadelphia day camp that recently gained national attention when its mostly black campers were turned away from a swim club.
He said it was “a gift from the heavens in a way that the two things happened at once.”
While Mildenberg and Bilal said they had been monitoring the 10-year-old Web site for years, the pool incident did seem to play into the timing of the lawsuit.
“When they said something about our pretty, brown, young, innocent children and called them monkeys because they wanted to go swimming, that was enough,” Bilal said.
She may have been referring to this comment posted on Domelights: “Maybe the people who work for a living didn’t want to swim with a bunch of ghetto monkey faces.”
The lawsuit also highlights comments made on Domelights by the site’s founder and administrator, a sergeant in the Philadelphiapolice force who goes by the online handle “McQ.”
A statement from McQ that Mildenberg described as “racially abusive commentary” reads, “Blacks and other minorities frequently don’t have the resources that white people have. Consequently, blacks may not be able to keep their vehicles inspected, registered, and roadworthy.”
McQ is also listed as a defendant in the lawsuit. Asked why McQ bears responsibility for the racist remarks of his site’s anonymous commenters, Mildenberg said it was because “he started it.”
The person known as McQ did not respond to a request for comment, but posted a message on the site citing the lawsuit. McQ wrote that the suit may cause the Web site to be suspended, but added his statement was not an admission of wrongdoing.
“I categorically deny any wrongdoing on my part,” the message reads. “I did not make racist posts. I did not maintain the Web site on city time.”
Ideally, Mildenberg said, his clients would like to see the site shut down. Failing that, they want Philadelphia police officers to be prohibited from posting comments on the site, particularly during working hours.
The plaintiffs in the class-action suit also are seeking unspecified financial damages available under the Civil Rights Act for Philadelphia’s 2,300 African-American police officers, according to Mildenberg.
Shelley Smith, Philadelphia’s city solicitor, said. “The lawsuit is about a private Web site. It’s not a police department Web site. It’s not operated or overseen by the police department. The allegations against the city and police department are misplaced.”