Archive for February, 2011

Only In America

Posted in Barack Obama, Black America, Black Interests on February 17, 2011 by Gary Johnson

By Raynard Jackson

Last year I wrote a column about how President Obama totally disrespected Black America (during Black History Month of all times) and there was no outcry from within our community.  You can read that column at:

http://www.facebook.com/?ref=logo#!/note.php?note_id=310879525974

Now, you have the same thing happening again, of course during Black History Month.  This time the offender is the illustrious Washington Post (WP) newspaper.  They are supposed to be one of the top newspapers in the country, so this makes their offense even more egregious.

Next Wednesday, the WP will be hosting a town hall meeting in Prince George’s County, Maryland.  For those who live outside of this area, this is the wealthiest Black county in America.

This is how the Washington Post is advertising the event:  “Please join The Washington Post for an informative panel discussion, “Behind the Headlines: A Discussion on Race and the Recession in Metro Washington.” The panel will cover the recession’s impact on local black families and will look at how economic policies in Washington have affected African Americans.  The forum will also look at the first of three groundbreaking public opinion polls on issues facing the black community, conducted by The Washington Post, the Kaiser Family Foundation and Harvard University.

Washington Post nationally syndicated personal finance columnist Michelle Singletary will moderate the discussion, and panelists will include Julianne Malveaux, a noted economist and educator; Cecilia Rouse, a member of the White House Council of Economic Advisers; Rep. Emanuel Cleaver, chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus; Michael A. Fletcher, a Washington Post national economics reporter; the Rev. Al Sharpton, president of the National Action Network; and Jeff Johnson, a political commentator on the nationally syndicated “Tom Joyner Morning Show.”

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/metro/special/behindtheheadlines.html

So, you might ask, what is the issue I have with the WP?  Just as I questioned President Obama’s choice of people to meet with him in the white house last year about the high unemployment rate within the Black community, I have the same thoughts about the WP.

The moderator of the panel is a journalist, followed by a radical leftist economist, another liberal economist, a preacher/politician, a journalist, another preacher/politician, and finally, a political commentator.  You have got to be joking!

Prince George’s County is home to some of the most successful Black businessmen in the U.S. and not one has been invited to participate.  Five of the seven panelists are known Democrats (with Singletary and Fletcher having no known public political affiliation).

Is there any particular reason why the WP conveniently decided not to have any Black Republicans on the panel? Of course it could not be because they are biased.  The Post would never travel down that path, would they?  Of course they would and they have!

For all practical purposes, this will be an unpaid political commercial for the Obama reelection campaign.  The panelists (with the exception of 2) all are in agreement with most of Obama’s approach to the economy.  So, how can you have a serious discussion with people who already agree with each other?

It should not be surprising that 5 of the 7 panelists have ties to the Obama administration (formal or informal).  One of the constant criticisms of President Obama is that he has no one around him from the private sector.

None of these panelists have ever created a job, so what is it that they have to say that is relevant?

The last thing the Black community needs is another theoretical discussion. Even socialism works in a ‘theoretical’ world.   I can tell you everything that will be said next week and I won’t even be there.

At what point are Blacks going to rise up against this insulting pandering?  With all the super successful people in this town, the WP couldn’t find any businessmen to talk about these issues?  Why did they not invite any educators, like the dean of Howard University’s Business school, Dr. Barron Harvey?

After this event, then what?  Blacks will go there to hear all the usual arguments: racism, Republican budget cuts, Bush created the problems, etc.

So, I challenge the Washington Post to underwrite a town hall meeting that I will put together to deal with these issues in a more serious manner.  I will moderate the panel and assemble a group of panelist who will offer real world solutions to these problems.

I don’t expect the Post to respond to my challenge; for to do so would be admitting they made a huge mistake.

In the immortal words of the Godfather of Soul, James Brown, “like a dull knife—just ain’t cutting it; you just talking loud and saying nothing.”

Raynard Jackson is president & CEO of Raynard Jackson & Associates, LLC., a D.C.-public relations/government affairs firm.  He is also a contributing editor for ExcellStyle Magazine (www.excellstyle.com) & U.S. Africa Magazine (www.usafricaonline.com).

Book release date:  Spring 2011

Raynard Jackson has been named to Talkers Magazine’s “Frontier Fifty.” The “Frontier Fifty” is a selection of Outstanding Talk Media Webcasters.

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Are We Bold Enough To Protect Our Children?

Posted in Black Interests, Fatherhood, Women's Interests with tags , on February 16, 2011 by Gary Johnson

By David Miller

In the past few months, bullying or the victimization of some of our youngest citizens, has dominated national headlines.  You can hardly pick up a newspaper or turn on the evening news without hearing about a bullying incident. Interpersonal violence perpetrated by school-age children and youth has led to a rash of suicides, homicides and non-fatal injuries. The phenomenon of bullying supersedes race, class, and religion and has become a pervasive issue in the lives of children, families, teachers, and school administrators. For many children and their parents, bullying is a nightmare — one that forces many families to seek legal action, relocate to a new school district, or move to another state in extreme cases. In many situations, parents exhaust all avenues to protect their children; however, there is a great need for schools to become more accountable for the bullying that occurs in their hallways and classrooms.

Just last month 13-year-old Nadin Khoury was hung from a fence in Upper Darby, a Philadelphia suburb, after being savagely beaten and kicked. Khoury, a young man from Liberia, was thrust among the ranks of thousands of children who are bullied and assaulted daily in public and private schools across the United States. In all, seven boys ranging in ages 13 – 17 were arrested and charged with kidnapping and a host of other offenses as a result of the incident. To add insult to injury, the boys videotaped their heinous exploits.

While the incident didn’t happen on school grounds, it is essential that schools play a larger role in creating safe environments in and outside their buildings. Many would argue over the issue of whether a school can be held liable for incidents involving children that don’t occur on school grounds. While this is certainly debatable, the reality is parents expect a much higher degree of safety for their children.

Bullying and the senseless loss of precious life has become a national epidemic. Many kids who are bullied eventually stand up for themselves, fight back, and the bullying stops. Some bullied kids involve their parents and school officials to get the problem resolved. Sadly, Carl Joseph Walker-Hoover, an impressionable 11-year-old student at New Leadership Charter School in Springfield, Mass, hung himself in 2009 after enduring repeated bullying at school. Despite his mother’s gallant efforts to intervene, young Carl was verbally abused on a daily basis. He was subjected to sexual slurs, taunted and called derogatory names. Seeing no relief in sight, Carl tragically took his own life.

Whether you are a young child who’s now attending a public or private school in the United States, or whether you are an adult who finished school years ago, can you even begin to imagine what life was like for Carl? And can you imagine how Nadin must feel now that his savage beating has thrust him into the center of a national crisis in this country?

Conservative estimates and self-reporting data from youth suggest that nearly two out of three bully victims, or 66 percent, were bullied once or twice during the school year, while one in five, or 20 percent, were bullied once or twice a month. Likewise, that same data suggests that one in 10 were bullied daily or at least several times a week. That is unconscionable in a society that prides itself on Democracy and whose Declaration of Independence states, in part, “…All men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

The above-mentioned estimates underscore the critical need for greater partnerships among schools, parents, law enforcement and mental health professionals to address the emotional and physical impact of interpersonal violence.

So I go back to Carl and Nadin. What could the schools and the larger community have done to ensure those two young men were safe in and out of school?

That question lies at the heart of any meaningful discussion about addressing school bullying. The nation has held endless Congressional hearings and policy briefings on bullying, but I maintain that is hardly enough. A new conversation that places children’s safety at the forefront must emerge. It must emerge now!

The incidents involving Nadin and Carl should awaken the consciousness of our nation and prompt us to begin raising critical concerns about schools, communities, and the safety of our children. It is amazing to me that in 2011 a large percentage of our children are often victimized in and around the one place – outside of their homes – that should be their oasis. While many schools are doing exemplary work to address bullying and the problems it spawns, and while some of those same schools are also addressing anti-social behaviors, the sad reality is many schools are failing to provide adequate protection for our children.

Finally, at the end of the day, parents must continue to be their children’s first line of defense. Greater communication between parents and children is needed to attack the vicious problem of bullying. We also need a better system to monitor the daily challenges our children face in school. There’s no doubt the statistics I cited earlier in this commentary are alarming; however, the unfortunate truth is many more bullying incidents go unreported because children are too ashamed or afraid to disclose them. They don’t report these egregious incidents because, in some cases, they don’t have sober, responsible adults in their lives in whom they can confide in and who  will know how to immediately step in to help rectify the problem. This speaks volumes about the need for adults to “step up” and become better parents and better advocates for children.

If we don’t wrap our arms around this problem and truly begin to address bullying today, then the vulnerable children we are failing to protect now will be vulnerable adults within the next 20 years..It’s time to wake up, America. Bullying has gotten out of control. The time for action – whether you’re a parent or not – is now.

David Miller is Co-Founder and Chief Visionary Officer of Urban Leadership Institute, a social enterprise based in Baltimore.

Miller is also the Co-Founder of the Raising Him Alone Campaign, an effort to support single mothers who are raising male children.

The Bridge: Black History—Cops And The People

Posted in Black America, Black Interests, The Bridge - Darryl James with tags on February 15, 2011 by Gary Johnson

By Darryl James

America is a funny land.

Not funny as in “ha ha,” but funny as in strange.

So strange that even though cops have historically been at odds with Blacks, people try to pretend that there is something else going on in a so-called justice system that sometimes seems like it persecutes just us.

But anyone who has lived in a poor neighborhood with their eyes and mind open realizes that the “Thin Blue Line,” is typically erected between the “haves” and the “have nots,” frequently doling out abuse to the “have nots.”

And, the “have nots” don’t always get their day in court when there is abuse, which is why periodically, the people speak in the loudest voice possible—riots.

Perhaps no city has the reputation for rioting that Los Angeles has earned. And some of its policies with regard to policing ostensibly add fuel to the fire.

Recently, the Los Angeles Police Commission made a radical change in policy, now withholding the names of officers involved in shootings, as well as incidents in which cops use fists, flashlights, batons or other objects to subdue suspects.

What this portends is a severe threat to police accountability in an environment where police are a severe threat to citizens who pay cop salaries through taxes. This is of great concern because of the enduring friction between officers of the law and people of color.

According to Rev. Cecil “Chip” Murray, “when you have the ‘haves’ and the ‘have-nots,’ the police powers are meant to keep the haves having and that forces the have-nots to have-not.”

Henry “Kee Kee” Watson, one of a group now known as The LA Four in the beating of Reginald Denny, said that people might act shocked, but “it’s no secret that Black people have no love for police. People try to act like it’s a secret that police have no love for poor people, especially poor Blacks.

“People also tried to say that King’s beating was an isolated incident,” Watson added.  “The only thing isolated was that it was caught on tape.  But we know that in South Central, that’s business as usual.”

And it is business as usual, from Amadou D’iallo in New York City to Timothy Thomas in Cincinnati, Ohio and countless Black men and women in between, as well as throughout American history.

On August 11, 1965, a Los Angeles police officer in the Watts area of South Central Los Angeles stopped a twenty-one year old Black man on suspicion of driving under the influence of alcohol.  When a crowd gathered, the officer called backup.  The second officer on the scene lost his temper and struck members of the crowd with his baton.

One version of the story has the crowd rebelling against the officers on the spot, and yet another version has the crowd diverting the officers while the young man escapes to his mother’s home.  When the police go to arrest him, they get into an altercation with the mother and the neighborhood erupts in a rebellion against the police.

Whichever version is correct, rumors of a clear incident of police brutality spread throughout the city and a full-scale rebellion ensued.

In the 1990’s in Los Angeles, African Americans were still at odds with the police force, which viewed them as a group to be dealt with, not as part of the population to be protected and served.

“Racial Profiling” is simply too mild a term for the wonton search and seizures; the regular practice of making citizens of color lay face down on the concrete and the physical abuse that was occurring with regularity during routing traffic stops across the nation.

The local gangs, the Crips and the Bloods, had begun efforts to create a truce to quell the rampant violence over gang territories, often defined by drug sales.  Some say those efforts were being thwarted by police, creating more friction between cops and people of color in an environment of fear and hatred of police.

In March of 1991, four police officers pursue Rodney Glen King on a alternating high speed and low speed chase, eventually apprehending him and summarily beating him savagely, while more than twenty other officers stood watching.  The beating is captured on videotape.

All charges against King are ultimately dismissed and the “real” Trial of the Century (the magnitude of O.J. Simpson’s trial pales ridiculously in comparison) begins–Sergeant Stacey Koon and Officers Laurence Powell, Timothy Wind and Theodore Briseno stand trial for felony assault and related charges to the King beating.

Warren Christopher, who was the vice chair of the McCone Commission in 1965, is appointed by then-Mayor of Los Angeles, Tom Bradley to lead an independent commission on the Los Angeles Police Department.

In July of 1991, the Christopher Commission reports the systematic use of excessive force and racial harassment in LAPD, calling for police reform and the resignation of Chief Darryl Gates, who announces that he will retire the following year.

Under the LA Police Commission’s current policy, the Christopher Commission would have been limited in what they could have shared with the public. The public would have been limited in their response and involvement for change.

On April 29, 1992, an all-white jury in Simi Valley finds all four officers “not guilty” of any crimes in the beating of Rodney King.

Los Angeles erupts in rapidly widespread protests, riots, fires, looting and mayhem.

Days later, forty-two people are dead, five thousand have been arrested and the city has more than one billion dollars in damage.

For many of the people who were burning and looting, the event was simply opportunistic.  For Blacks, the uprising actually was targeted and specific.

Bo Taylor, founder of Unity One, which organized a gang truce in Los Angeles between the Bloods and the Crips prior to the 1992 Riots, asserts that there was truth to the rumor of a planned war between the police and the gangs under the newly-formed truce.

“It was all organized,” said Taylor. “It wasn’t just a bunch of people freaking out–at least for Blacks. The police say to hell with the community and feel like that’s not their concern.  They want to talk about police morale and community policing, but people are not stupid.”

Many police officers, including Officer Bruce Stallworth, who was assigned to the Southwest Division of the Los Angeles police Department, (which encompasses Florence and Normandie) will admit that there are difficulties between police and people in impoverished areas.

“The most important thing that would have stopped the riots is if the police had had a better relationship with the community,” said Stallworth. “The only way you can get a better relationship is if the people trust the police.”

“We must build a police department that not only protects,” said Hahn, “but also respects every community in Los Angeles led by a Police Commission that understands its role as an overseer of the Department.”

The debates go back and forth and go from police brutality to people asking the question: “Why tear up your own neighborhood?”

Public Enemy’s Chuck D answers: “If you ain’t controlling the commerce in your neighborhood, or the education, and at the same time the police ain’t yours-they protect and serve the property owners and that’s not you–then of course a (man or woman) will say “F— it.  I’m going to rip up the closest thing to my face.”

The police are provided anonymity when involved in acts of violence against citizens, yet when citizens are involved in violent crimes, their names are a part of public record.

Are police officers above the law?

Of course the answer is no, but when criminal police officers are given preferential treatment over criminal citizens, the rift between cops and the people will become more obvious and serve as the root of further problems.

Darryl James is an award-winning author of the powerful new anthology “Notes From The Edge.” James’ stage play, “Love In A Day,” opens in Los Angeles this Spring. View previous installments of this column at http://www.bridgecolumn.proboards36.com. Reach James at djames@theblackgendergap.com.

The Bridge: Black History and the Black Image

Posted in Black America, Black Interests, Black Men, The Bridge - Darryl James with tags on February 10, 2011 by Gary Johnson


Darryl James

For far too many African descendants in America, our collective image is taken for granted.

Many of us facilitate and even welcome the denigration of our image, not realizing the importance of such a possession.

When a people are viewed in a negative light, progressing is more difficult.

As an individual, one can pretend that negative images of Blacks in television and film are irrelevant. But as a group, those of us who are aware realize that public policy is determined, arrests and convictions are made and hiring practices formed based on perceptions.

When it comes to race, image is everything.

Blacks ought to be serious about the business of protecting our image.

Unfortunately, Blacks are the only group that takes its image for granted, and shockingly, some of the most vicious assaults on the Black image have come from our own community.

From Lincoln Perry (Stepinfetchit’s real name) to Tyler Perry and all of the negative image promoting House Niggers in between, many Blacks have embraced and promoted negative images of their own people for a punchline and a paycheck.

Cooning pays, even though the race is ultimately given the bill.

In the movie Hollywood Shuffle, film maker Robert Townsend attempted to deal with Blacks who play demeaning roles in films just to get paid.  Townsend’s character admonished the “sellouts” with the tagline: “There is always work at the post office.”

That statement is very true indeed.  The defending line for every demeaning role in the history of film, from Hattie McDaniels all the way to the new “Blaxploitation” era of today is that for many Black actors, these are the only roles available. Yet, no one has ever been forced to take a demeaning role in film, or to work for wages not to scale and in fact, there have been Blacks participating in the independent side of film for a very long time.

It is weak to claim that demeaning roles are all that is available, and it is particularly weak when the option of making our own films has been available for a long time.

It is nearly insane to self-denigrate our image today, when there are a plethora of us making power moves in front of and behind the camera.

For all the ranting and raving I do about Black-owned businesses and how integration hurt us in many ways, I always get confused looks and questions from the people who have no idea that we were making things happen in a real way when we had real Black communities with real Black commerce.

One such shining example was a Black man from Metropolis, Illinois named Oscar Micheaux, who in 1919, made his own full-length feature film from his novel called “The Homesteader.” He was the first African-American to do so, and served as inspiration for Townsend, as well as Spike Lee, John Singleton and Will Smith, among other filmmakers.

The son of former slaves, Micheaux worked in Chicago as a shoe shine boy while pursuing his dream of being a writer, moving to South Dakota, where he penned several novels, formed his own publishing company and sold copies of his books door to door.

Please read carefully, because while this story is nearly obscure, it should serve as inspiration for every Black person in America today with a dream.

During Micheaux’s era, most of the films made were silent, and for the most part, Blacks were silent as well as invisible, save for the buck-dancing, shuffling, demeaning images of self-effacing actors such as Hattie McDaniel and Lincoln Perry, also known as Stepin’ Fetchit.

Our very relationship with film was initiated with the early “classic,” Birth Of A Nation. The “talkies” ushered in the era of Blacks as weak buffoons and idiots or manly mammies when most of the actors were dark-skinned Negroes who continuously bucked their eyes for outlandish comedic and demeaning effect.

Actor Ving Rhames, Keenan Ivory Wayans and other confused Negroes have been outspoken about calling Stepin’ Fetchit a hero, claiming that the shuffling, foolish actor from the early days of film opened doors for today’s Black actors.  What doors were opened by an embarrassment who claimed his fame by bucking his eyes out of his head in childlike fear, by poking his bottom lip out, by stooping his head, or by speaking in a slow, dull-witted cartoonish voice, designed to provide comedy relief to racists?

There were real doors opened for Blacks, but they came in the form of high quality films with Blacks as protagonists in respectable roles, written by a Black man named Oscar Micheaux.

Micheaux understood the film game and as an entrepreneur, knew that he would have to start his own film company in order to get his stories to the silver screen.  He did just that and launched a successful film business with more than forty-three movies to his credit.

Micheaux’s film business was just that–a business. He hired all of the actors, made the movies and even handled his own distribution to the seven hundred-plus Black theatres in existence in the nation at that time.  Do I have to repeat that there were more than seven hundred Black theatres in existence before integration?

There are a number of actors and actresses who are doing very good work on television and in film, holding the line and refusing to denigrate our image for a paycheck and fifteen minutes of fame.

Today, generations after Oscar Micheaux’s revolution in film making, it makes no sense for anyone to say that they are taking a demeaning role because there is nothing else, or that they have to avoid their dream because it is simply unavailable.  Micheaux was not a rich man, but he was able to accomplish his dreams by relying on resources found within his own community.

In order to generate funding for his films, Micheaux began shopping the concept of an all-Black film to the Black theatres and asking for payment in advance, which he would use to make the film.

Micheaux wanted to make Black films with positive roles for Black actors.  Think about that the next time you are in front of the television when the new House Niggers make everyone laugh on television or when the latest film featuring Blacks over-exaggerating their own behavior for a punch line rolls through Hollywood for a belly laugh at us.

If we were controlling our own images, we would not have to worry about what anyone thinks about us.  We would be the heroes as well as the villains, the lovers as well as the thieves and defining those roles ourselves.  Further, the good roles wouldn’t be relegated to a handful of shining Black princes and princesses who refuse to clown their race for a punch line and a paycheck.

If we wish to move beyond our present, we have only to revisit our past. Let’s make Black history a part of the Black future.

Darryl James is an award-winning author of the powerful new anthology “Notes From The Edge.” James’ stage play, “Love In A Day,” opens in Los Angeles this Spring. View previous installments of this column at http://www.bridgecolumn.proboards36.com. Reach James at djames@theblackgendergap.com.

CHARLIE WILSON PERFORMS FOR U.S. TROOPS IN IRAQ

Posted in Black America, Black Links, Black Men, Music and Video Releases with tags , , on February 10, 2011 by Gary Johnson


(February 10, 2011 – Los Angeles, CA) – Grammy nominated Jive Records recording artist Charlie Wilson is set to make his third trip to Iraq and Kuwait to perform for United States Troops in the region in mid-February, 2011.

In addition to performing concerts during his tour, Wilson has created a micro site and is inviting the public to post messages of love and support to the troops.  “Our troops are away from home and family and I thought this would be a good way to bring them personal messages from home.  You can leave a message for a loved one serving our country or just a message of thanks for all the sacrifices our troops are making for our country. It’s important that we let them know that we respect and support them”

The public can log onto http://www.jiverecords.com/YouAreForTheTroops/ to post their messages.  Wilson will be sharing these messages with the troops at each base he visits.

Ronald Reagan: A Better Friend of Blacks than Obama?

Posted in Barack Obama, Black America, Black Interests, Black Men, Politics with tags , on February 7, 2011 by Gary Johnson

By George E. Curry (Posted By The Editors | January 28th, 2011)

There they go again. First, conservatives ranging from anti-affirmative action foe Ward Connerly, to combative talk show host Glenn Beck, claimed to be acting in the spirit of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. as they sought to dismantle everything he fought for. Now, one of Reagan’s sons has made the outlandish assertion that Reagan was a better friend of African-Americans than the nation’s first black president.

These people have no shame.

In an article that appeared on FoxNews.com the day we observe Dr. King’s birthday as a federal holiday, Michael Reagan wrote, “…The past two years have made one thing clear: Ronald Reagan was a far better friend to black Americans than Barack Obama has been.”

And he didn’t stop there.

Instead of Bill Clinton being known as the first black president, the younger Reagan wrote, “Well, I could make an even stronger case for my father, Ronald Reagan, as ‘our first black president.’” He said he could make such a case, but in deference to Obama, he decided he wouldn’t.

Click here to read more.

George E. Curry, former editor-in-chief of Emerge magazine and the NNPA News Service, is a keynote speaker, moderator, and media coach. He can be reached through his Web site, www.georgecurry.com You can also follow him at www.twitter.com/currygeorge.

(c) TheDefendersOnline.com

January 28, 2011

BLACK HISTORY MONTH: SALUTE AND TRIBUTE TO EARL K. BELL

Posted in Black Interests, Black Men with tags on February 6, 2011 by Gary Johnson

Dorothy Gilliam
UPHILL CLIMB
WASHINGTON POST
MONDAY APRIL 2, 1984

“I’m coming up on the rough side of the mountain,” declares a popular gospel song.  That theme of struggle and survival could well be the motto of a veteran Metropolitan Police Department sergeant named Earl K. Bell.  His career has been punctuated by ups and downs:  First his superiors’ commendations, and then what he saw as their unofficial censure.  “His only problem,” said one of his friends on the force, “see that he was too honest.”

But three weeks ago the vicissitubes of his career were put on hold—-perhaps forever.  Sgt. Bell, 44, had a new fight: a struggle for his life.  Driving to work March 14, his car hit an ice patch on the Southern Avenue and Suitland Parkway SE overpass bridge and his vehicle careened into a sixteen wheeler cargo truck traveling in the opposite direction.  They cut him out of the car and rushed him to Greater SE Hospital.  His entire chest was smashed, his legs were lifeless andhe was suffereing from internal bleeding with a clot on his brain.  Surgeons operated for six hours and one called it the most traumatized case he had seen.

While Bell lay fighting for his life, the corridor outside his hospital was decked with so much brass that it looked like a top level meeting of the city’s police force.  Police Chief Maurice Turner visited a half times; Assistant Chief Marty Tapscott and Deputy Chief Rodell M. Catoe and dozens of police officers also came.  They thronged the visitor’s lounge and brought food to Bell’s family.

“It was unbelievable,” said Bell’s brother Harold, host of radio station WYCB’s ‘Inside Sports.’

“The people at the hospital were trying to figure out who he was.  The top brass might not have always liked him but they respected him.  It was a heck of a time to rally around.  I appreciated it, but I said to one, where you when he needed you?”

Where were Bell’s superiors when he needed them seems to be a matter of interpretation.  Bell’s friends feel he was penalized for not “playing the game.”  Police officials disagree.

Bell started out in his own neighborhood in far Northeast then worked in upper northwest where he was promoted to sergeant.  It was at 6001 Georgia Avenue (the Fourth District) that he got involved in a celebrated local case.  In 1978, Bell was one of two officers who complained to their superiors that fellow officer Tommy C. Musgrove allegedly had beaten a man while he was in custody at the police station on a disorderly conduct charge.  The man reported the alleged beating, a grand jury returned an indictment against the officer who was sentenced to a year in jail.

In a retrial, however, he was found innocent.  In recent months the deaths of several men in police custody have brought increased scrutiny to the use of force by police officers.  But in 1978 the indictments and conviction of a city police officer as a result of brutality was unusual.

“Ever since that incident they turned Bell up one side and down the other,” said Goldie Johnson, President of the Metropolitan Washington Wives Association.  “When he saw officers abusing citizens’ rights, he began to report it.”

Sgt. Irving Downs of the Sixth District recalls that Bell once blew the whistle on a group of officers assigned to apprehend stolen autos and bogus license tags who were harassing people by taking legitimate tags off cars.

“He didn’t go along with it…..he got the foot beat and was told to keep quiet but he wouldn’t.  His principles was stronger then the job,” said downs.

Police spokesmen say they don’t know of Bell getting any assignment that was not one sergeants are normally required to perform.  The spokesmen added that there are many police officers who stop bad things from happening.

Bell’s 14 years on the force have been marked by continued fighting for his beliefs.  At the time of the accident, he had been transferred again after an alleged dispute with a lieutenant.

Doctors are guardedly optimistic about Bell’s recovery but whether he will ever return to police work is in question.  His friends and family say the sergeant is still climbing up the rough side of the mountain.  Only now, they add, he has broadened his motto to include another line from the song.  It goes:  “I’m holding onto God’s unchanging hand.”

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