NEW YORK (FinalCall.com) – Officials at Columbia University and the NYPD’s hate crimes unit say they are investigating the hanging of a noose on the office door of a Black female professor on Oct. 9.
The noose was found on the door of Teachers College professor Madonna Constantine who teaches a class on racial justice and has written several books on the topic, according to her online faculty biography.
The suspected hate crime comes less than two weeks after the appearance at Columbia University by Iranian President Dr. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, and the discovery afterwards of racist and Islamophobic graffiti at the same Teachers College, ranked the best graduate school education program in the nation.
Columbia University students staged a demonstration on the night of Oct. 9, chanting, “Not in my school!”
On the morning of Sept. 28, a janitor found a noose inside a locker room used by police officers at the Village of Hempstead police station in Long Island. Half of the officers serving on the Hempstead Police Department are people of color, 40 percent of which are Black, according to officials.
The New York daily Newsday recently reported that the U.S. Department of Justice and the Nassau County District Attorney’s office have created a joint task force to investigate the incident.
News reports indicate there is suspicion that the target of the noose was newly appointed deputy chief, Willie Dixon. At a press conference held on Sept. 29, Mr. Dixon, a 27-year police veteran, stated that he would not be intimidated: “The hangman’s noose is the ultimate symbol of disgust if you know American history, especially if you are Black.”
On Sept. 20, Brooklyn Councilman Charles Barron, speaking to the hundreds that had gathered at Brooklyn’s Borough Hall, opened his speech with: “Welcome to Jena, New York.”
Councilman Barron shared what happened to a young Black man in Oceanside, Long Island, who was arrested on assault charges after he was assaulted by a gang of Whites. Aloysius Staton, 24, could face up to 25 years in jail if convicted, according to Marc Claxton of 100 Blacks in Law Enforcement Who Care.
The councilman then explained that on Sept. 11, a group of White men allegedly attacked several Borough of Manhattan Community College (BMCC) Black basketball players and their coach.
“So, we don’t have to go to Jena to be brutalized,” Councilman Barron observed.
At a press conference on Sept. 19, BMCC coach Chester Mapp, 49, told reporters he had never witnessed the racism displayed as he did that day. “I’ve been all over this country playing sports, but never in my born days have I seen the kind of racism I witnessed right here in New York City,” Mr. Mapp stressed.
Several players had left practice and as they walked passed a bar, a group of White men shouted “n—-rs” and “this is what slavery feels like.” According to the young Black men, someone in the crowd threw a bottle at them.
The young men say as they proceeded to their subway station they were jumped by “six” of the Whites. Marquis Scott, 18, the son of a New York City policewoman, said he was knocked to the ground and stomped. “When the police arrived they immediately handcuffed me,” Mr. Scott said. He was charged with misdemeanor assault, his attorney Benita Zelman told The Final Call.
“I am the victim and I get arrested,” Mr. Scott stated at the press conference.
Ms. Zelman explained that the initial police reports did not mention that the “n” word was used, which would make it a “bias crime.”
“It is outrageous that these young men and their coach were victims of a hate crime and the police wanted to sweep it under the rug,” commented Ms. Zelman.
Councilman Leroy Comrie (D-Queens), the deputy speaker of the council sent out a press release on Sept. 26, calling for the Manhattan District Attorney to drop the charges against Mr. Scott. In addition, he said, “As a New Yorker, I am appalled that such an attack would occur on the streets of New York City, much less on Sept. 11.”
Ms. Zelman has since informed The Final Call that the NYPD has charged the Whites with a hate crime, which is a felony. “What is outrageous is that the district attorney’s office has yet to indict them on the hate crime charge, and issue orders of protection against the White males, who also attend BMCC,” Ms. Zelman said. She added that her client, Mr. Scott, is suing the police for assault. Calls to the Manhattan district attorney’s office were not returned.
“Clearly, once again, the mindset of the NYPD is that all African American males are predisposed to be criminals,” Councilman Comrie told The Final Call.
“I think what has happened is that in New York we have had a protracted period without any really meaningful organizational push to address the issues of racism, but Jena has forced us to confront it head-on,” Mr. Claxton said.