|Cry for Justice and Justice at Last!|
A REASON FOR BEING: The Syl Harris StoryThe first time a judge was successfully sued for a civil right violation
On Tuesday, September 11, 2001, America was shaken like it has never been before. The destruction of the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center and that of the Pentagon ignited a shock wave throughout America and the world.
Since that apocalyptic day, America has been bombarded, day and night, with incessant network news coverage of this tragedy. It has been reported continuously that one of the residual outgrowths of this tragedy is a profound sense of bonding and unity among the people of New York and all people of America. Flags, Flags, Flags .Old Glory is hanging from homes, cars, hotels, trains, boats and planes.
However, one of the most poignant outgrowths of that terrorizing day is the immediate declaration of racial profiling of Arab-Americans and other people of color. Such was the case when Susan Smith of South Carolina said her two sons were taken by a black man during a carjacking that did not happen. In a rush to judgment, African American males were immediately racially profiled. They and their families throughout the Boston area were brutalized by police officers and scorned by city officials only to later find out that Susan Smith had rolled her car into a lake with her sons in it. The same racial profiling and brutality of African Americans occurred in the Charles Stewart Case in Boston where he said an African-American male shot him and his wife after they came from a Lamaze class for his pregnant wife . only to find out later that Mr. Stewart shot and killed his wife. Unfortunately, these are just a few of hundreds of incidents in the annals of America to which Africa Americans have been unjustly subjected.
Yet, there was no unanimous hue and cry for racial profiling after Timothy McVeigh, a white male, terrorized and blew up the federal building in Oklahoma City, killing 168 and injuring over 500. There was no fear by America of white males between the ages of 25 to 35 years aboard airplanes, buses or trains. Young white males were allowed to move freely in the society without the threat of brutality or possible incarceration.
In spite of being continually racially profiled and discriminated against daily, African Americans have shown throughout history that they truly love America. They have served in every theater of war, including our current war with Afghanistan, they have never spied for another country against America. They have represented America with their extraordinary talents in athletics, music, entertainment, and all other professions to which they are allowed entrance and a means to flourish. They have done America proud in the myriad of medals theyve received in the Olympics. Yes, African Americans have proven that they love America.
In his book, A REASON FOR BEING: The Syl Harris Story, Sylvester Harris too was subjected to racial profiling and discrimination as a child and as a teenager in the Mid-West . As a young African American male, he was recruited by the mayor and other city officials to join the Racine Police Department in Racine, Wisconsin due to his outstanding work in the community. With much ambivalence, he agreed to join the department with the hope of correcting those injustices to which he and others in the community had been subjected. During those years on the department, he arrested people involved in attempted fire bombings, assisted people at fire scenes, automobile accident scenes, etc. He arrested gang members and felons. He has been under gunfire and a victim of a stabbing incident. He has saved lives. He did a great job in the community he vowed to served but was never called a hero by his constituents nor by the people he served. As a matter of fact, he was castigated and declared infamous. He was repeatedly denied promotions. Upon finally being promoted to Lieutenant with the power delegated to him by the chief of police to investigate police brutality complaints, etc. he was despised by many of the police officers and officials. He was finally, through a conspiracy of the district attorneys office, a judge and some police officers, falsely indicted on one felony and two misdemeanor charges. Their intentions were to get him off the department and possibly into prison. He wanted justice for all people; they wanted things to remain the same with little regard for justice. The conspiracy was unveiled, the charges against him were dismissed and Mr. Harris subsequently sued the judge and district attorney in federal court. He won a landmark case against the judge Harris vs. Harvey, 605 Federal 2d 330. The first time a judge was successfully sued for a civil rights violation. During those hours of darkness, he saw a light in the tunnel when an all-white jury of his peers gave him his hero status a status he so deserved through their rescue and vindication of him from a powerful system. A system that attempted, but subsequently failed, to destroy his reason for being.
ALEX HALEY SAID: "Your book, viewed clinically, as a professional writer myself, is powerful, no doubt about it!" Back to Book Press Page