The Capital newspaper headline blared “Federal jury exonerates Annapolis Police Officers sued for wrongful arrest” .
The federal civil rights case involved Towhee Sparrow, an African-American man, who alleged that he was called a racial slur and kicked in the head by white Annapolis police officers.
Before the folks at City Hall or at the Annapolis Police Department break open the champagne bottles, they should read the article a little closer concerning the “exonerated” Sgt. Christopher Kintop.
Please note this paragraph:
“The lawsuit took on significant racial overtones, as Kintop, Deflaco and Reese are white and Sparrow is black. The description of the man police were searching for that night was Asian or Hispanic.
This is the second time that Kintop has been named in a wrongful arrest lawsuit.
A state District Court judge found Kintop and the city liable after he changed the suspect’s race on an arrest warrant in 2007 in a domestic violence case from black to white, leading to the arrest and detention of the wrong man” .
The all-white jury, which heard this case, existed because Assistant City Attorney Gary Elson removed the only African-American that was in the jury pool.
Presumably he missed Mayor Gavin Buckley’s memo about diversity and the “One Annapolis” mantra.
Again, according to the Capital newspaper article;
“During final arguments, Sparrow’s attorney, Charles Bernstein, pointed to the medical records immediately preceding and following the events , saying they showed brain damage suffered as a result of the incident that had not been detected before. The proof is overwhelming”.
Again, according to the Capital, “It came from the kick. There is nothing else to explain the brain damage that he suffered that night” Charles Bernstein is quoted as saying.
Ironically on the same day that the all-white jury acquitted the three white Annapolis police officers, a forum on race relations was being held at the Wiley H. Bates Legacy Center.
Speaker after speaker decried both implicit and explicit racism. On the panel were a number of young African-American Annapolitans.
Their experiences with the Annapolis Police Department weren’t the same as many whites that were seated in the audience.
Conspicuously absent were elected officials and Annapolis police Chief Scott Baker.
During my brief remarks before that same audience I pointed out that my son taught me that the words “Silent and listen” have the same number of letters but mean totally different things.
The “silence” of city leaders and the police doesn’t mean that they “listen”.
Well, hear this; “exoneration” like “nolo contendere” may work in the courts, but, in the court of public opinion, it never has.
Instead of celebrating with champagne, City Officials, should be seeking reconciliation and justice, like silence and listen, they don’t mean the same thing.
Carl Snowden is a long-time Civil Rights leader in Anne Arundel County.
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