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THE RACE RELATIONS REPORTER
Weekly Bulletin
October 23, 2002


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NEWS OF THE WEEK

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* SUPREME COURT TO DECIDE CASE ON RACIAL BIAS IN JURY SELECTION: The U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments this past week from a black man who claims that the jury which placed him on death row in a murder case was selected on the basis of race. The black man had been convicted of killing a white desk clerk at a Holiday Inn near the Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport in 1985.

Attorneys for the state of Texas claimed that prosecutors had valid reasons for blocking potential black jurors in the case. But the defendant's lawyer said that blacks were simply excluded from the jury because prosecutors thought blacks would be more sympathetic to a member of their own race. The one black juror who was selected told prosecutors during jury selection that execution by lethal injection was too painless for murderers. He said that the state should "pour honey on them and stake them out over an ant bed."

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* YORK MAYOR ACQUITTED OF RACIAL MURDER: Charlie Robertson, who served two terms as mayor of York, Pennsylvania, and is a 23-year veteran of the city's police department, was acquitted of murder charges this past Saturday. The mayor had been charged with second-degree murder in the 1969 slaying of Lillie Belle Allen, a 27-year-old mother of two who was shot down by a mob of white youths during race riots that plagued the city for 12 days.

The mayor was accused of handing out ammunition to white youths and telling them to kill blacks after a white police officer had been killed in the riots. The mayor admitted to shouting "White Power" at a rally prior to the killing but denied handing out ammunition or ordering that anyone be killed. The prosecution had originally planned to prosecute the mayor on conspiracy charges but changed the indictment to murder when they realized the statute of limitations had run out for conspiracy.

Two other white men were convicted of second-degree murder in the case. Witnesses testified at the trial that they saw the two men fire shotgun blasts at the car in which Allen was traveling. Another witness said that one of the defendants later bragged, "I blew the nigger in half."

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* RACIAL ALLEGATIONS FLY IN LAWYER BATTLE OVER LEGAL FEES: In 2001 the New York City Patrolmen's Benevolent Association settled a civil lawsuit with Abner Louima who had been sodomized with a broom handle in the bathroom of a city police station. Some $2.9 million in legal fees has been frozen in the case due to a dispute among the lawyers who represented Louima. Louima's initial attorneys, who were replaced by Johnnie Cochran, Barry Scheck, and Peter Nuefeld, believe they are entitled to a share of the fees.

In a court hearing, it was revealed that Louima's original team of lawyers called Cochran an "Uncle Tom" and referred to the other members of Cochran's team as "Jew lawyers."

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RECENT RACIAL INCIDENTS IN THE UNITED STATES
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* NEW YORK, NEW YORK: The creative director of a New York City-based rap magazine filed a race discrimination lawsuit against the publishers. The black man says that the white publishers frequently used the word "nigger" in the office. The publishers also reportedly passed around a racist caricature of basketball star Dennis Rodman. The creative director claims that he was fired after he complained of the racist behavior. (New York Post, 10-13-02)

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* CHARLESTON, SOUTH CAROLINA: The Democratic Party in Charleston, South Carolina, is being accused of playing the race card in local school board elections. The party sent out fliers urging voters to reelect three black school board members. On the back of the fliers were the words, "Racist Republicans want to bring us back to the segregation concept, to have no blacks on the school board." (The Post and Courier, 10-15-02)

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* SEA CLIFF, NEW YORK: An interracial couple in the village of Sea Cliff, New York, has filed a racial discrimination lawsuit against the town because they say that the village denied them a permit to expand their house. The couple claims that several whites with similar plans for home expansion had their permits approved. (Newsday, 10-16-02)

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* MADISON, WISCONSIN: A black house fellow on the campus of the University of Wisconsin at Madison found the words, "Nigger sucks" written near his dormitory room. The black man also received two anonymous telephone calls telling him that he was not welcome on campus. (The Daily Cardinal, 10-17-02)

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* BLOUNTVILLE, TENNESSEE: School officials in Blountville, Tennessee, have settled a race discrimination lawsuit filed by the families of two black students. The students claimed that they were habitually harassed by four white students and that school officials and teachers knew of the harassment and took no action to stop it. According to the suit, one of the black students was choked with a chain he was wearing while the other white students taunted him with racial slurs. (Associated Press, 10-17-02)

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* BELLEVUE, NEBRASKA: A candidate for the city council in Bellevue, Nebraska, has accused her opponent of racism for his membership in the local Eagles Club. There are currently no black members of the Eagles Club. However, the local Eagles Club president told the press that he could not remember any applicant to the club ever being turned away and that blacks had been members in the past. (Omaha World-Herald, 10-18-02)

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* MARION, ILLINOIS: A federal indictment released this past week accused the late crime boss John Gotti of hiring members of the Aryan Brotherhood to kill a black inmate at the U.S. penitentiary in Marion, Illinois. The hit was never carried out. (The New York Post, 10-18-02)

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* FORT WORTH, TEXAS: Texas Democratic Senate candidate Ron Kirk accused his GOP opponent John Cornyn of trying to inject racial issues into the campaign. Cornyn accused Kirk of embracing rap music which glorifies police killing. The GOP campaign circulated an e-mail message that contained a photograph of Kirk shaking hands with Russell Simmons, CEO of Def Jam Records. (The Dallas Morning News, 10-18-02)

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* SEATTLE, WASHINGTON: A white off-duty sheriff's deputy shot and killed a black man in Seattle, Washington. The black man was sitting in a parked pickup truck. The policeman, who was not in uniform, approached the truck and told him to move it because it was blocking a private road. The officer claims that the black man pulled a handgun. Witnesses said the deputy drew his gun first and did not identify himself as a law enforcement officer. (Associated Press, 10-18-02)

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* SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA: Terrell Owens, wide receiver for the National Football League's San Francisco 49ers, claims that the NFL has singled him out for his on-field behavior because of his race. Owens had been fined by the NFL for having his shirt tail hanging out during a Monday Night Football game. During the game Owens also pulled a pen out of his sock and signed a football and gave it to a friend after he had scored a touchdown. In defending himself, Owens told reporters, "We're more expressive than the white guys. You look at the skilled players. We're the ones who get into the end zone. We get in the end zone more than they do."

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* TRACKING HATE CRIMES: For week October 13-19, the term "hate crime" appeared in the nation's major newspapers and magazines 201 times. This was down from 245 mentions of the term in the prior week.

As of October 19 the term hate crime has appeared 8,913 times this year. This is down considerably from the number of times hate crime was mentioned last year to this date. From January 1 to October 19, 2001, there were 13,415 mentions of the term hate crime.
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