WASHINGTON (FinalCall.com) – An end to corruption in the federal government and attacks on government whistle-blowers who expose government wrong-doing, should be considered an important “civil rights” movement in the 21st Century, a group of federal workers and legislators insisted at the Capitol Dec. 13.
Rep. Albert Wynn (D-Md.) promised to push for legislation which will beef up anti-discrimination laws that apply to federal agencies. At issue: the No Fear Act of 2002, which has been ineffective in protecting non-White workers because it has not penalized those who are found guilty of discrimination.
“It has not worked as well as we had hoped. The bill needs more teeth,” said Mr. Wynn at the Capitol Hill press conference, according to published reports. The event was described as a rally: “Enough is Enough!” by its organizer, the No Fear Coalition.
The Coalition began as “The No Fear 7,”originally seven federal employees and supporters who experienced discrimination in various government agencies and brought the Notification and Federal Employee Anti-Discrimination and Retaliation (No FEAR) Act into being in 2002.
“Enough is enough, because too many Black people are hurting in the federal government,” Dr. Marsha Coleman-Adebayo, Chair of the No Fear Coalition told The Final Call. “They are scared to speak out, many of them are scared to speak out, when they see injustice, and those of us who do speak out, are essentially decapitated. The retaliation is absolutely swift and it’s horrendous. So, the Enough is Enough campaign is our attempt to really educate the American people about the kind of campaign that’s being waged against truth-tellers,” she continued.
There are “loopholes” in the No Fear Act which have allowed racial discrimination to continue unpunished in the federal government, according to Dr. Coleman-Adebayo, who works at the Environmental Protection Agency, where she won a sex-race-discrimination settlement from her agency.
The government is not keeping reliable statistics on the amount of discrimination complaints within the federal agencies, she said at the press conference. In addition, since the law was passed, no federal managers have been fired or disciplined, for racial discrimination, and that the government should in fact criminalize it.
Mr. Wynn said that federal agencies are not conducting sufficient “diversity training.” While the most famous federal government whistle-blowers are White, the vast majority of those who expose government wrong-doing, are Black, said Dr. Coleman-Adebayo.
“In reality, African Americans comprise a very large number of people who take the risk of actually exposing corruption, exposing all kinds of misuse of government funds, exposing human experiments that are taking place in the Black community by federal agencies, exposing environmental injustice,” she said in the interview.
Matthew Fogg, is a U.S. marshal since 1978, who insists he has been harassed by co-workers and managers for filing racial-discrimination complaints. Mr. Fogg’s suit against the federal government and the Marshall Service is scheduled for trial in mid-January.
The new bill would be co-sponsored by Rep. John Conyers Jr., (D-Mich.), who is set to chair the House Judiciary Committee in the new Congress, and Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.), a veteran civil rights activist.
The No Fear Coalition harshly criticized the Office of Personnel Management because of draft regulations that OPM proposed allowing federal managers to orally reprimand those who have violated anti-discrimination laws, instead of requiring written disciplinary actions or firings.
“Because there are so many who are being impoverished by the failure to implement ‘No Fear I,’ we are here to insist that there be a No Fear II,” the Rev. Walter Fauntroy, a former aide to the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King and former Congressional Delegate from the District of Columbia said at the press conference.
“The President should not stop at the resignation of Department of Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld,” Dr. Coleman-Adebayo said in a statement. “Every head of a federal agency violating civil rights laws by harassing the leadership of the No Fear Coalition should be asked to resign.” Even attorneys are afraid of losing their licenses if they champion the cause of whistle-blowers and civil rights, the No Fear Coalition argues.