I’m not necessarily saying Congressman Chaka Fattah is guilty and I’m not necessarily saying he’s not guilty. But what I am saying is that I don’t trust the federal (or state) criminal so-called justice system as far as I can spit. And neither should any other Black person.
Remember this is the same justice system that refused to prosecute Ronald Reagan for masterminding the Iran/Contra and wholesale crack-supplying crimes from 1985-1987, George W. Bush for lying in 2003 about weapons of mass destruction and causing more than one million unnecessary wartime deaths of Iraqis and about 4,500 Americans and also for helping his Halliburton/Blackwater friends to get no-bid contracts that transformed his friends from millionaires to billionaires, George Zimmerman for violating the civil rights of Trayvon Martin by murdering him because of his race, and N.Y. Police Officer Daniel Pantaleo and Ferguson Police Officer Darren Wilson, respectively, for doing the same thing to Eric Garner and Michael Brown. These are just a few of the thousands of reasons why the system is not worthy of our trust.
And before I address the injustice of Congressman Fattah’s arrest and trial, I must mention the person who led the prosecution. He is none other than Zane David Memeger, the actual U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania and alleged member of the African-American race.
I say “alleged” because while he aggressively went after this Black elected official in Philadelphia — who has undeniably done great work for his constituency since 1995 — Memeger cowardly and repeatedly ignored racist police brutality and other racist police criminality in Philadelphia. And I know this personally because I called, faxed, and sent letters to him requesting the prosecution of cops who were unarguably guilty because they were videotaped and confessed! I contacted him on August 12, 2009 by way of a detailed three-page letter concerning the seven white cops who were on a TV news broadcast viciously beating three unarmed and innocent Black men on May 5, 2008 at Second and Pike streets. He completely ignored my letter. I also contacted him on May 20, 2010 by way of a detailed four-page letter concerning Sgt. Robert Ralston, the white cop who shot himself in Overbrook on April 5, 2010 but lied by blaming an “unknown Black man wearing cornrows” and later confessed after being confronted with irrefutable evidence. Memeger completely ignored that letter, too.
Also, U.S. Attorney Memeger in April 2014 refused to prosecute the gang of white narcotics officers who robbed and terrorized more than 20 different Latino and Korean neighborhood stores in 2007 by thuggishly taking at gunpoint more than $15,000, food, cigarettes, and other merchandise. How do we know? It’s because much of it was on one of the store’s back-up video systems that the cops didn’t see while they were cutting the wires to the video monitors they could see. How could any justice-seeking Black or Brown or Yellow person trust that guy?
Back to the Congressman.
First of all, he was over-charged and excessively charged by the federal prosecutors, meaning that there were too many charges and they were too extreme. Consider this: “Racketeering” laws were designed to punish corrupt and brutal organizations like the Mafia, not some politician allegedly conspiring with a few co-workers who have pristine records. “Money laundering” laws were designed to punish big-time drug dealers and organized crime gangsters, not 9-5 type bosses and their office workers. “Bank fraud” laws and “wire/mail fraud” laws were designed to punish wealthy white-collar criminals, not middle-class and upper middle-class taxpayers. “False statement” laws were designed to punish perjurious-type liars, not evasive or even misleading individuals. Despite my position here, reasonable people can disagree on the validity or invalidity of the charges against the Congressman.
But they can’t disagree on his effectiveness and commitment to his Black constituents. For example, many people don’t know that when Avenging The Ancestors Coalition (a group which I co-founded in 2002) was trying to get support for its Slavery Memorial/President’s House project to honor the nine enslaved Black folks owned by President George Washington at America’s first “White House” at Sixth and Market streets, Congressman Fattah was the first local, state, or federal elected official to provide support. He did it by securing an amendment to the Interior Department’s budget that required the National Park Service to develop plans for the Slavery Memorial/President’s House, and it included an “appropriate commemoration” of those nine. Moreover, in 2005, he got $3.6 million allocated to this historic project.
Also, when Heeding Cheyney’s Call (a group of which I am a member) held a press conference on September 23, 2013, which was the 33rd anniversary of the first lawsuit filed on September 23, 1980 to save the oldest Black institution of higher learning in America from racist attacks by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Congressman Fattah stood with us and assigned his office staff to zealously assist us in the successful battle to save and enhance Cheyney.
The bottom line is that Congressman Fattah might not be perfect (just as the rest of us are not), but his proven good has far outweighed his alleged bad. And besides, who you gonna trust more — a Black fighter for our people or a white government that tries to destroy our people?
The words from David Walker’s Appeal, written in 1829, and the words of Christopher James Perry Sr., founder of the Tribune in 1884, are the inspiration for my “Freedom’s Journal” columns. In order to honor that pivotal nationalist abolitionist and that pioneering newspaper giant, as well as to inspire today’s Tribune readers, each column ends with Walker and Perry’s combined quote — along with my inserted voice — as follows: I ask all Blacks “to procure a copy of this … (weekly column) for it is designed … particularly for them” so they can “make progress … against (racist) injustice.”