The Upper Marlboro Courthouse: The Last Plantation
By Harold Bell
Fifty years ago the first Catholic President John F. Kennedy was voted into the White House and paved the way for the first Black President, Barack Obama.
Fifty years after the lunch counter sit-ins in Greensboro, North Carolina there is evidence whites don’t have a patent on racism; some of the biggest racists in America are black. You can find some of those blacks living and working in Prince Georges County, Maryland.
The President’s Attorney General, African-American Eric Holder, recently said, “When it comes to racism in America we are cowards.” As far as I am concerned that was an understatement.
The biggest cowards are black leaders. They are too busy lining their pockets and sitting on the fence waiting for the next shoe to drop. They are seldom in an offensive preventive mode. They are always on the defense and thinking only of “me, myself and I.”
In May 2004, I wrote a column in the commentary section of the Washington Post titled “Breaking the Faith / We are a people betrayed by our preachers and politicians.” In 2010 the commentary is a perfect fit for Atlanta, Georgia Bishop Eddie Long and New York Congressman Charles Rangle who are still breaking the faith.
No one should be surprised by the revelation of Jesse Jackson Jr., does “Father like Son” sound familiar?
The 2004 commentary was written as it related to the high profile local ministers who had become nothing but “Pimps in the Pulpit.” The politicians, Prince George’s County Executive, States Attorney and Police Chief also didn’t seem to have a clue.
I was quoted in the commentary saying, “Political leadership in the DC metro area was the worst I have ever seen.” The 2010 primary elections results say, “The worst is yet to come.”
In 1960, I was a Freshman at Winston-Salem State when the sit-ins first took place in Greensboro and spread to Winston-Salem.
My homeboy and partner big Al Mayor, Barney Hood (Chicago) and Lutheran Wiley (Lynchburg, Va.) and I decided to join the protesters at the F. W. Woolworth lunch counter. Our legendary Hall of Fame coach Clarence “Bighouse” Gaines warned us that if any athlete got arrested we could head for home after we got out of jail.
During the demonstration the redneck cops were so incensed you could see their veins popping out of their necks. You could tell they were looking for any excuse to kick some black ass.
Big Al wanted to go in the store but cooler heads prevailed and we stayed on the fringes of the protest. We decided not to challenge “Bighouse.” I think we were more scared of him than the cops.
It’s 2010 and hate crimes and racism remain a disturbing part of the American fabric across the country.
It has gotten so bad a recent commentary in the Wall Street Journal suggested that all black colleges be abolished! They are trying to make sure our children don’t get an education.
There is also an undercover move to impeach President Barack Obama after less than two years on the job. He has received more death threats than any sitting President in U.S. history. The threats made on his life have doubled and tripled.
It is no coincidence that Ku Klux Klan activity has spiked since President Obama took office.
The new KKK (Tea Party) has referred to “The First Lady” of these United States of America as a chimpanzee; her husband has been compared to Adolph Hitler and they want to take America back?
Take it back from whom? The last time I looked the Native Indian was still trying to rightfully claim his land that white folks “discovered” while he was living on it.
I find it very disturbing when some whites folks, like the talking heads on cable television and radio talk shows across America, will ask “When are black folks going to get over this slavery thing?” The answer is—NEVER!
Do you really think this racist plantation mentality is all a part of our imagination?
The stabbing deaths of five black men in Flint, Michigan should have been a wake-up call for Black Men in America. The stalker stabbed 18 black men in total. Those stabbings have been officially labeled “hate crimes.”
A black man who claimed he was a victim of racism by whites in a Connecticut Budweiser Beer plant went on a shooting rampage killing 5 whites before taking his own life.
There have been reports out of North and South Carolina by black truckers that white State Troopers have made them a target on the highways.
A Metro bus driver, while on his route in Cheverly, Maryland in Prince George’s County noticed a disturbing trend: The local white cops were pulling over all black drivers. During a one-month stretch he never saw a white driver pulled over. Is this a coincidence or a part of the trend?
These types of crimes against the black community have been going unreported and covered up in almost every corner of America. The media and law enforcement in Flint were accused of a cover-up, which they denied. There are still many claiming that the Rodney King beating was trick video photography.
This brings me to the Prince George’s County State’s Attorney Office. I was a recent victim of what I consider a hate crime and cover-up in Bowie, Maryland. Prince George’ County is considered one of the most affluent and educated black counties in America. There are million dollar homes (highest foreclosure rate in the state) scattered around the County but the high crime rate has owners scared to journey out after dark. The once showcase Bowie Town Center Mall has become a haven for strong armed robbery and other acts of violence.
I hope residents are not feeling any safer because the recent election of Sheriff brings back the same black Police Chief who was on watch when Ronnie White was found murdered in his jail cell—-Melvin High.
He retired with no resolution after the murder and now he is back as the sheriff!
Despite the financial and educational makeup of Prince George’s County, that did not stop a white man, 68-year-old Robert Arrial from stalking and attacking me with a wooden club. The attack took place at my residence Pin Oak Village. This is a senior citizens complex where there has been a code of silence since the attack. There were no security cameras or physical security posted on the site.
The unprovoked attack took place on Friday June 25, 2010. It was like something out of the Twilight Zone. I was left fighting for my life.
On Monday, June 28, 2010, after writing and turning in a full report to the rental office (Humphrey Management Company) I traveled to the Upper Marlboro Courthouse and filed assault and stalking charges against Mr. Arrial. On Tuesday, June 29, 2010 he brought counter-charges against me.
Three months later the charges against me were dropped and a week later my charges against him were dropped without explanation!
It was then I knew for sure I had been victimized twice, first by my white attacker and now the States Attorney’s office. There was little surprised of the outcome by my friends in the legal and law-enforcement community. This was considered “business as usual” when it came to the States Attorney’s office.
I was advised to return to the Upper Marlboro Courthouse to seek a Protective Order against Mr. Arrial. On September 9th I completed the required paper work and waited to see a judge to approve the order.
I was ushered into the courtroom of Judge Robert Wilson Heffron. I was given the opportunity to watch him in action as he heard the cases of two young black women. They were also seeking Protected Orders alleging domestic violence against loved ones.
Judge Heffron listened patiently to the young women and offered what seem like fatherly advice. He referred to both ladies as Ms. and referred them to “The House of Ruth” for counseling. I was impressed with his compassion and thoughtful guidance.
I was then called and sworn-in to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. The judge then asked me why should he grant me a “Protective Order” against Mr. Arrial?
I explained to the judge Mr. Arrial had attacked me on Friday June 25, 2010 with a wooden club at my residence in Bowie. The attack was unprovoked and I didn’t know my attacker except that he lived in my building.
Judge Heffron was shaking his head in amazement while he looked at my paperwork and listened to my story. He finally said, “Mr. Bell, I have some bad news; time has expired for your request for a ‘Protective Order.’
“You had 30 days after the attack to file the complaint. This attack took place on June 25th and today’s date is September 9th over two months after the attack.
“Mr. Bell, if you had come into my courtroom before the expiration date I would have granted you a ‘Protective Order’ without hesitation. You still have a re-course; you can reopen this case.
“I am going to refer you back to the State’s Attorney’s office to Ms. Mary Brennan and let her know I referred you. Good luck.”
Judge Heffron was the first professional I encountered in my now three month odyssey to the Upper Marlboro Courthouse. He seems to be a no-nonsense but fair judge in every sense of the word. He was a breath of fresh air in what continues to be a very hostile and unfriendly environment for blacks.
I followed Judge Heffron’s advice and returned to the States Attorney’s Office and spoke to Ms. Brennan. She said, “This case has been dismissed but I will turn over your file to Mr. Michael Glynn and he will contact you.” She gave me a contact number for Mr. Glynn.
I started calling Mr. Glynn on September 9 and left several messages without a response. This is also known as business-as-usual as it relates to Glenn Ivey’s office.
I would later e-mail Ms. Brennan two weeks later as a follow-up and asked why there had been no response from Mr. Glynn. On Tuesday September 21st I received the following e-mail from her office.
I have provided your letter to Mr. Ivey. Please note that I did talk with Mr. Glynn the day that you came in, which I believe was September 9, and provided him with your paperwork. I did speak with Mr. Glynn again today, gave him your letter and email, and asked him to please call you by close of business tomorrow.
Mary K. Brennan
Chief, District Court Division
State’s Attorney’s Office
Courthouse, Suite M3404
Upper Marlboro MD, 20772
The following night around 11:00 pm there was an e-mail from Mr. Glynn and it read as follows:
I apologize for calling late tonight. I did leave a message with my office number. I will be out of the office the remainder of the week. I am available to meet with you the afternoon of September 28 or September 29, 2010. I will be checking my email while I am out.
On Wednesday September 29, 2010 ninety days after the attack I find myself back on this Merry-Go-Round to the Upper Marlboro Courthouse to meet with Assistant State’s Attorney Michael O. Glynn III.
He apologized for the delay in getting back to me and his excuse was legit, his son had just under gone emergency eye surgery.
The meeting with Mr. Glynn got off to a shaky start when I made him aware I was wearing “Two Hats” one as a victim and the other as an Investigative Reporter.
He became rather defensive and started to rattle off his accomplishments since he has been working in the States Attorney’s office (7 years) and his many encounters with members of the media—so bring it on.
His only request was that I spell his name correctly and he gave me one of his business card. He also said “You can Google me on the Internet.”
I responded in kind, “You can type in my name and find me there also.” After these battle grounds were established we were able to move forward to some extent.
My first question, “Why was my case dismissed and why was it dismissed without contacting me?”
The conversation that followed was like talking to Baseball Hall of Fame player Yogi Berra.
Yogi usually left baseball reporters scratching their heads after interviews trying to figure out what he had just said. For example; “It ain’t over until it is over.”
Mr. Glynn first blamed the dismissal on Michael Kelly who was the first staff member of his office I met with. It was Mr. Kelley after reading the charges made by Mr. Arrial said “I am recommending dismissal. This man has a mental problem, blaming voices he heard coming out of your apartment for his attack on you and admitting he followed you out of the building.”
In that same breath Mr. Glynn took the blame for dismissing the charges and in the next breath blamed the States Attorney Glenn Ivey. Yogi would have loved Mr. Glynn.
In the next breath he says. “If the case is to be re-opened there would be a need for another investigation conducted by me. We will also need to interview your witnesses.”
My question, “Why is there another investigation needed and who dropped the ball in the first investigation?”
Talking about a waste of taxpayer’s money and no regard for human life—this is it. The best way to describe the actions taken by Glenn Ivey and his staff as it relates to this case would be like someone standing on a roof top looking down and urinating on you and telling you “Don’t worry it is just rain.”
In Mr. Arrial’s own written words to the States Attorney’s office he blamed the attack on “voices” he heard coming from my apartment for six months and admitted following me out of the complex.
Should I understand that Mr. Glynn wants me to wait around for another investigation while my attacker walks around outside of my door listening for “voices” so that he can attack me again?
Black folks are always pointing fingers at white folks for too many of our problems but “The Buck” in my case should have stopped in the Upper Marlboro Courthouse at the door of States Attorney’s Glenn Ivey.
The HNICs in the Upper Marlboro Court House are all in black face.
Judge William Missouri just retired and Mr. Ivey’s time in office has expired. Neither one can say, “I left my office a better place then I found it.”
Judge Missouri and I grew up in the same NE Washington, DC community and we both attended Spingarn High School together. He has participated in my Kids In Trouble, Inc., Youth Violence Conferences.
In the black community Judge Missouri is known as “The Hanging Judge” and that is a sad legacy for a black judge to leave behind as a member of a court of law in the United States of America. (Thurgood Marshall must be turning over in his grave).
Judge Missouri’s co-workers at the Post Office and Spingarn alumni are at a lost as to how he forgot who he is and where he came from. The burning question is how does a black man from NE DC become a part of the “Just-Us” mentality?
On Friday October 1, 2010, someone gave him a going away party and an estimated 700 people paid $75 a head to celebrate his tenure on the bench! I will guarantee that most of the problems in the black community could be found at that gathering pretending all is right with the world.
Glenn Ivey is the overseer of the States Attorney’s Office in Prince George’s County Maryland. Shortly into his first term he requested a meeting with me. The request came about after he read a commentary written by me in the editorial section of the Washington Post.
I discovered that members of his staff were “double dipping” (working other jobs) and working fulltime for him. He didn’t have a clue.
In June 2004, I took a group of Kids In Trouble Inc., volunteers to Mr. Ivey’s office where we met and discussed solutions to overcome youth violence in the County. This is 2010 and there has been no follow-up to our meeting. Mr. Ivey didn’t even have the professional courtesy to say thanks or no thanks.
One of his former employees who was in that two hour meeting confirmed my suspicions on how clueless Mr. Ivey was and still is. He said, “Glenn is a decent guy but he is in over his head.” That former staff member has since gone back into uniform in law enforcement. He says, ‘I had to leave it was all about Integrity.’
Mr. Ivey’s out going track record still proves he is clueless. On his watch Ronnie White who was being held as a suspect in the hit and run death of a County police officer was found murdered in his jail cell with a broken neck.
He never received his day in court. There were at least four officers who had access to Mr. White, three years later no one has been charged.
The State’s Attorney’s office (Glenn Ivey) and the Prince George’s County Police Department (Melvin High) claimed suicide but the Coroner’s office determined the Ku Klux Klan act was a homicide. Ronnie White’s killer is still on the job.
Is Prince Georges County still the, “Mississippi Burning and the home of Vigilante Justice?”
This is the same County that the Civil Rights Division of the Justice Department had an ongoing probe of civil rights violations against the police department for over two decades.
The States Attorney’s Office was a big part of the problem and little has changed. When it came to brutalizing black people the Prince George’s County Police Department was second only to the LAPD (Los Angele Police Department).
Glenn Ivey’s has no credibility to run for any other public office in the County. This takes me back to 2006 when he was in perfect position to become County Executive but he let Jack Johnson con him out of running against him. He promised Mr. Ivey he would throw his support behind him in 2010.
Like a true politician Jack Johnson lied and doubled crossed Mr. Ivey and threw his support behind Sheriff Michael Jackson and the County got the “best of the worst,” Rushern Baker as its next County Executive.
Now looking for any political hole to run in Mr. Ivey had thoughts of running against Congresswoman Donna Edwards for her District 4 Seat. Someone pulled his coattail and told him he had a snowball’s chance in hell of winning and he backed off.
Mr. Ivey will show up at some big law firm to continue his charade as a lawyer. I now understand why William Shakespeare once exclaimed, “Kill all the lawyers.”
How could they forget the three little girls blown up in an Alabama church, the Kennedy brothers, Medgar Evers, Martin and Malcolm all assassinated for taking a stand against racism in our community and in America?
During my back and forth travels to the Upper Marlboro Courthouse for the past three months I had an eyewitness view of the system at its worst. They have made being black and poor a crime in this courthouse.
You can visit the courthouse on any given day Monday thru Friday and go from the first floor to the forth and never see a white person in trouble! I would swear I had entered a “Time Machine” and it had taken me back to the slave market in the 16th or 17th century.
I stopped by the DC Superior Court to ask my judge friend to dissect the proceedings in the Upper Marlboro Courthouse. He said, “It sounds like the right hand does not know what the left hand is doing or they are playing some kind of game with you.” After meeting with Mr. Glynn I came away thinking that the judge’s early assessment was right on the one.
This scene was beginning to look, sound and smell like “double jeopardy” out of the State’s Attorney’s Office. This scene in the black community is known as the “run-around.”
The most disturbing part of this frightening story is that the attacker is still a neighbor who lives on the same floor as I do. What is there to prevent Mr. Arrial from hearing those same “voices” and attacking me or a member of my family again? In the meantime, the State’s Attorney’s office plays Russian roulette and kick-ball with my life!
With all due respect to Ms. Mary Brennan and Mr. Michael Glynn (the jury still out on him), they bring the number to a total of two and a half professionals I have met in Upper Marlboro. There is definitely a communication problem in this system.
My community experiences have carried me from the “Outhouse to the White House” but I never forgot that I am still black and this is America. This encounter with Prince George’s County State’s Attorney’s office proves I had the right mind set.
The affluent and rich residents of Prince George’s County should clearly understand comedian Chris Rock’s bold statement defining wealth in America. He said, “If Bill Gates had Oprah Winfrey’s money he would commit suicide.”
The black money in Prince George’s County is what some white folks would call “Nigger rich!” I have worked side by side with law-enforcement (DC, PG, DEA and FBI) for most of my 40+ years in the community, two of my three brothers worked in law-enforcement (U. S. Marshall and DC Police Department). I have known “Good Cops and Bad Cops” up close and personal.
I have also known personally “Good Chiefs of Police and Bad Chiefs of Police.”
I was the first media and community personality to encourage sitting judges to join me in the community to work with at-risk children, which means I have known, “Good Judges and Bad Judges.
I watched as the State’s Attorney’s Office and a bad judge in Upper Marlboro sentence my friend Perrin Carr to five years in jail for defending his life against his drug abusing son. Perrin had never been in trouble with the law and he was a businessman in good standing in Prince George’s County (Carr Carpets, Inc.).
His son who was no stranger to law-enforcement and was high on drugs the day he decided to attack his father on the job with a hatchet. His father pulled a gun he kept for protection at work never thinking one day he would need it to protect himself from his own son. He fired the gun and hit his son in the arm, the son lost the arm.
Perrin Carr died in the Hagerstown jail two years later from botched prostate cancer surgery–Justice & Justice-Us.
The judges I worked with in the community were all sitting judges on the DC Superior Court. They included, Chief Judge Harold Green, the honorable Luke C. Moore, Harry T. Alexander, Ted Newman, Henry Kennedy Jr., Eugene Hamilton, Paul Webber and now Federal Judge Alex Williams. With the exception of Judge Heffron I have not seen a good judge lately.
We are sitting in the year of 2010 long after blacks and whites were fire hosed and bitten by dogs; some whites along with blacks were hung from trees and were called “Nigger Lovers” fighting for our civil rights. I don’t think they gave their lives to have black men like Glenn Ivey and Judge William Missouri trample on those rights.
How they forget the three little girls blown up in an Alabama church, the Kennedy brothers, Medgar Evers, Martin and Malcolm all assassinated for taking a stand against racism in our community and in America?
The court system was broken when Mr. Ivey came in and it remains broken as he heads out the door.
During his tenure he has done absolutely nothing to improve it. He is now considered a “Lame Duck” in the world of politics. He gives ducks a bad name.
It is rumored that Angela Alsobrooks is his hand picked protégé so we can expect more of the same!
I have worked in most war zones here in the metro area with at-risk children for the past 40+ years. Those war zones have included, Shaw/Cardozo, Mount Pleasant, Potomac Gardens, Barry Farms, Simple City, Ridge Road, Parkside/Mayfair and Homer Avenue in Prince Georges County.
There have been guns pointed in my face and threats made on my life and I have walked away to live another day.
I moved to what I thought was a safer environment only to discover a racist white man who attacked me because he heard “voices.” I was thinking, since I have been a law abiding citizen I filed assault charges against my attacker only to have the States Attorney’s office dismiss them without an explanation!
In September 2010, we still have black men like Glenn Ivey walking around with bend backs and kissing any jackass that they can find.
Mr. Ivey, are you scared to die? I hope you don’t call this living and if you do—-you are already dead and just don’t know it.
The shortcomings and non-compassionate leadership found in this system can mean and has meant life or death in our community.
Albert Einstein once said, “The world is a dangerous place not because of those who do evil, but because of those who look on and do absolutely nothing.” Albert, meet Glenn Ivey. Stay tuned!
Harold Bell is the Godfather of Sports Talk radio and television. Throughout the mid-sixties, seventies and eighties, Harold embarked upon a relatively new medium–sports talk radio with classic interviews with athletes and sports celebrities. The show and format became wildly popular. Who better than Harold Bell to put together classic interviews with his legendary celebrity friends.