by Alton H. Maddox, Jr.
Because of the slave codes before the ratification of the Thirteenth Amendment and, afterwards, the integrationist goals of Blacks, it was typically unheard of for Blacks to be practicing racial isolationism. This would actually mean that these Blacks were actually seeking to do for self. Dependence has been and still is our number one problem. Blacks must end their addiction to whites.
Doing for self actually militates against the false image that whites have created for Blacks. Slavery and, later, welfare have caused Blacks to be addicted to whites. Blacks, therefore, must fear the absence of whites. Thus, whites become an integral and influential part of the lives of Blacks.
United African Movement was formed on August 17, 1988 in honor of Marcus Garvey. Every organization should have a revered ancestor as a spiritual mentor. To move forward, we must also be influenced by our past. Except for “Negroes”, all civilized groups are led by the dead. Negroes are led by the living. This is necessary when you have no knowledge of the past.
Two years after its formation, the membership of UAM had shaken off its addiction to whites like a heroin addict would marginalize and finally end his or her addiction to heroin. Consequently, the membership assembled at P.S. 258 in Brooklyn and decided that it should exercise First Amendment rights despite the dictum in Dred Scott.
The First Amendment provides for free speech, free assembly and a free press. Free speech includes political speech. Free assembly allows a group to decide its own associates. Free press includes the right to publish and criticize without any government-sponsored retaliation.
UAM was established because its leadership and especially its chairperson, Alton Maddox, believed that Blacks had a right to not only criticize whites but also to imprison them. Maddox had done it with Michael Stewart and, afterwards, in Howard Beach and Bensonhurst. Any Black lawyer who had done so was happy to be only disbarred.
When UAM assembled in the fall of 1990, it decided that it should strictly embrace the teachings of Malcolm X who called for Blacks to solve their problems among themselves and not to allow others to speak for us like the NAACP. Dr. Carter G. Woodson said that if you control a man’s thinking you control his actions. This is happening with “pacifists” in New York.
The Giuliani administration and Minoo Southgate, an “Iranian Jew”, challenged this practice of racial isolation in 1994. They were shocked that a Black organization would author its “Declaration of Independence”. An administrative agency, after listening to arguments, had to rule that UAM was a safe haven for Blacks. This ruling only applies to UAM, however.
By 1998, UAM was defending Tawana Brawley who had been raped by six white men including Steven Pagones and Harry Crist, Jr. It was unusual for a Black organization to be defending a Black girl who had been raped by white men. After 400 years of slavery, a Black organization should know better. Black selected officials wanted no part of Tawana Brawley.
New York retaliated by seeking an indictment against the “minister” and disbarment proceedings against the “two attorneys”. New York also aided Pagones in initiating a civil proceeding against the three men for seditious libel despite the ruling in New York Times v. Sullivan et. al. Alabama had subjected Dr. Martin L, King, et. al. to seditious libel in New York Times v. Sullivan et. al. The Supreme Court rejected it in that case, however.
New York had previously subjected Cong. Adam Clayton Powell, Jr to seditious libel for accusing the New York Police Department of corruption. This action deprived the residents of Harlem representation for more than a decade. There was no attorney who would speak out against New York and this colonial practice.
Seditious libel in this country dates back to the Sedition Act of 1798. In a seditious libel trial, truth is no defense. Justice S. Barrett Hickman instructed the jury in Pagones v. Maddox Mason, Sharpton and Brawley that truth was no defense. This is slave law. Blacks still had no right in 1997 to accuse a white person of committing a crime. This includes Cong. Powell and Dr. King.
In most criminal trials today, judges mix slave law with current law in giving tainted jury instructions against Black defendants. This aids the prison-industrial complex. The last attorney to speak out against this practice was summarily disbarred on May 21, 1990 in New York by the use of a bill of attainder. No one would dare to speak out against this illegal disbarment.
In addition to a lack of free assembly for Blacks in New York, there is also a lack of a free press. Black journalists are non-existent in New York City. The print and audio media for the Black community typically uses wire services. Advocacy journalism is banned. This is a far cry from the Freedom’s Journal in 1827 or the Memphis Free Speech in 1889.
Bill Tatum, as publisher of the New York Amsterdam News, practiced advocacy journalism. He took up a cause and he wrote about it weekly in his newspaper. An example of a cause was “Koch Must Go”. Tatum stayed on Mayor Ed Koch every week until he was removed from Gracie Mansion. This can only happen when a newspaper is not in bed with a mayor and a governor.
UAM and “Friends of Like It Is” provide the only semblance of a “free press” in the New York area and it is distributed through e-mails. The only other semblance of “free press” is “Community Cop”. It can be seen only on some public access channels in the five boroughs of New York City. Free press in New York City for Blacks is hanging on by its fingernails.
“Community Cop” is a public affairs program for Blacks but it is restricted to public access channels. Commercial television stations are required to furnish public affairs programs but they refuse to present Black-oriented public affairs programs. Public access channels depend on support from cable companies. Commercial television stations are getting away scot-free in marginalizing Black communities.
After the end of “public affairs programming” under “Like It Is” and the beginning of “arts and entertainment” under “Here and Now” which supplanted “Like It Is”, the New York Amsterdam News should have started beating its war drums especially since Black journalists are banned from “Here and Now”. Les Payne, Herb Boyd and Milton Alamadi would regularly appear on “Like It Is”. This is not the case on “Here and Now”.
“Here and Now” should take a page out of the 2012 Presidential debates. All three of those debates were moderated by journalists. In addition, journalists were engaged in post analysis discourse. No true public affairs programs would resort to employing political novices rather than seasoned journalists. WABC-TV is playing Black people cheap.
Commercial radio and television in the tri-state area widely and freely practices censorship. Although it harms the listening audience, only “Friends of Like It Is” has raised this constitutional violation as an issue before the FCC. Blacks in the tri-state area refuse to finance their own liberation. Censorship keeps listeners out of the reach of free speech and protects the status quo.
Citizenship which was not defined in 1787 in the U.S. Constitution because it was clearly understood that citizenship was limited to white males. Because Black men took to the battlefield during the Civil War and became the decisive factor in saving the Union, this country had to put uncommon law citizenship on the table. All “immigrants” today owe a debt of gratitude to Black men for their second-class citizenship.
Today, the real indicators for citizenship are the exercise of rights under the First and Second amendments. This means the rights to both “ballots” and “bullets”. In this regard, the right to vote is being tightened and the right to guns in Black hands is a taboo. With no “bullet”, there is no “ballot”.
In 1989, it was white law enforcement agents who drafted the indictment accusing seven young Black and Latino youth of raping Patricia Meili, a white woman in Central Park on April 19, 1989. Unlike Tawana Brawley, the media insisted that the white woman’s name remain anonymous.
New York State Attorney General Robert Abrams had publicized in October 1988 that Rev. Al Sharpton would be indicted soon and C. Vernon Mason and I would be disbarred for accusing six white men of raping Tawana Brawley. Unfortunately, most Blacks in New York have amnesia about slave law and its application to 1989. It is still illegal for any Black man to accuse a white man of any crime.
Yesterday, the Daily News wrote an article entitled: “Wolf Pack Blowback: New film stirs up hell of Central Pk. jogger case”. The film is titled, “The Central Park Five”. It will open in Manhattan on November 23. It has already played the Chicago International Film Festival, a premiere in Cannes and showings in Toronto and Telluride.
None of the attorneys who are currently suing New York City would touch these young men with a ten-foot pole in 1989. Rev. Herbert Daughtry, Charles Barron and the December 12th Movement refused to help these young men in 1989 and in 1990. They sided with David N. Dinkins who referred to these innocent young men as a “wolf pack”. This encouraged Donald Trump to seek the death penalty through newspaper ads.
Only the United African Movement would come to the aid of these young men. UAM established a bail fund which by December 1989 had accumulated enough funds to secure the release of these young men from prison while awaiting trial in adult court. This allowed these young men to be reunited with their families.
In the end, five young men would be convicted of rape after trial. One young man entered a plea of guilty. Charges against the seventh young man were dismissed. I represented this young man against all odds. To say the “Central Park 5” is a case of fuzzy math.
It is undisputed that seven young men were falsely arrested and wrongfully prosecuted. This is enough for all seven young men to have claims against New York City. All of them were harmed by the illegal actions of the New York Police Department and the Manhattan district attorney’s office.
The “Central Park 5” reference amounts to damage control. Three Black attorneys including myself were disbarred. This is the standard punishment when a Black attorney uses his law license to protect a Black client from false charges by a white woman.
Black attorneys should know to stay in their place. A fourth Black attorney, who only had a short stint in the “Central Park 7”, was only suspended from the practice law. If every Black attorney in New York had the temerity to file a notice of appearance in Manhattan Supreme Court in 1989, law enforcement agents would have run for the tall grass.
During the nearly two decades that I gave pro bono representation to the Black community and to Black clients, no one ever offered me one cent. The representation was not free, however. I had to pay for all legal costs. This is unprecedented. If I were white, this would be a matter of considerable interest and praise. No attorney in American jurisprudence has ever emulated this record. I was cut out of the “Central Park 5”.
Against this backdrop, I defied legal history and my career would make mincemeat of “To Kill a Mockingbird”. When a Black lawyer has either sent white persons to prison or has consistently questioned the testimony of white women who had implicated Black males, his or her fate would be sealed. This was my plight.
My role in the “Central Park 7” had to be eliminated and history had to be revised to destroy the image of a Black attorney consistently questioning white authority. You would think that UAM’s current membership would take immediate action to preserve the memories and legacies of those members who assumed vanguard positions in the “Central Park 7”. They are now unable to speak for themselves.
In 1989, I almost single-handedly had to stop whites from completing a rout of the “Central Park 7”. My role is still the same in 2012 except that I must also stop whites now from rewriting our history. In the meantime, Blacks have the luxury of being spectators and critics as an expense to history. Something is wrong with this picture.
Too honest for the White Press and too black for much of today’s Black Press; bullet columnist Alton Maddox upsets the same people and status quo as he did as an uncompromising Defense Attorney. He is also a founding member of the Freedom Party. Please sign his Petition to save “Like It Is.” Contact him at c/o UAM P.O. BOX 35 BRONX, NY 10471