Saturday, April 05, 2008

Another Day; Another Noose.

The Coast Guard is investigating the March 27, 2008 discovery of a noose aboard a 110-foot patrol boat CGC Nantucket, in South Florida. This small cutter carries a 15 man complement. This is the latest in a series of such incidents to plague the Coast Guard, a small military service about the size of the New York police department.

The crew of the CGC Nantucket found the noose tied into the end of a line attached to a Stokes Litter — a basket used to lift injured people into helicopters — while the litter was stowed, said Coast Guard spokesman CMDR Jeff Carter. He said officials don’t know yet whether the noose represented a threat or if it was just someone practicing knots.

That is a bit hard to believe considering the attention nooses have received in the media recently. One state, Connecticut, the home of the Coast Guard Academy, has taken legislative action to declare the placing of a noose a hate crime.

It is a bit ironic that the Stokes Litter used to rescue the physically impaired, is in the care and custody of someone so mentally impaired that they would spend their spare time fashioning the most reviled hate symbol of the modern era, and then put it in a conspicuous place where it would eventually be found. It is not reassuring to think that some mentally deranged social psychopath who has committed the equivalent of a hate crime in Connecticut, is a member in good standing of an elite Coast Guard Search and Rescue Unit.

This particular knot, the noose, has quickly become the favorite practice knot of Coast Guard seamen in the 21st Century. It probably has nothing to do with the fact that so many Coast Guardsmen come from the Deep South. This is a sad commentary on not only the Coast Guard but the whole human race at this point in human history. We have split the atom, mapped the human gnome, cracked the DNA mystery, and miniaturized the micro-processor chip; but, we have yet to tame the tongue or change the human heart.

After the failure of the CGIS, NCIS and the FBI to find any suspects in the noose incidents onboard the CGC Eagle and at the Coast Guard Academy in the summer of 2007CMDR Carter was quick to point out that the Coast Guard “takes this very seriously.”

This will surely be a slam-dunk. The ship has only a 15 man crew. They should crack this case and be home in time for dinner. No future officers are involved, and we normally crucify the small fry, anyway.

An outside investigator has joined with 7th Coast Guard District Commander in looking into the incident, CMDR Carter said. Perhaps this outside investigator has more to bring to the table than the platoon of CGIS, NCIS, and FBI that labored so valiantly but to no avail at the Academy until March 2008. Perhaps he is a former Northwest Canadian Mountie. They always get their man. Or, hopefully some one like P. D. James’ Inspector Adam Dalgleish, or Hercule Perot or Inspector Cluseau could crack this caper. My all time favorites are Sherlock Holmes, Sergeant Joe Friday, and Sam Spade; followed closely by Charlie Chan, Bulldog Drummond, and Boston Blackie. Alas, these Baby Boomer crime fighters may be a little over the hill. This new breed of Coast Guard noose knotter is too smart and has too much backup. All of his peers are watching his back. The good guys are in retreat.

This noose was discovered only two weeks after CGIS, NCIS and FBI at the Coast Guard Academy, had conducted the most extensive investigation in the history of the Coast Guard trying to find another noose-man. They said they could not determine who had left a noose in a Black cadet’s seabag aboard the Coast Guard Academy training ship, CGC Eagle in July. They also could not determined who left one in August 2007 on the office floor of a white female Coast Guard Academy instructor who conducted race relations training.

The Coast Guard Academy should hire the same Private Investigating firm that investigated the Formal Complaint of Discrimination filed by Webster Smith. They did an excellent job. It is too bad the Coast Guard's Dept of Homeland Security Civil Rights staff was not educated enough in the law and regulations of Civil Rights to put the Findings of Fact to good use. It was almost as tragic as giving a loaded gun to a three year old child to play with. It was a very dangerous situation. Someone is going to kill someone or himself. In the Case of Webster Smith, it was Webster Smith who was killed. Then the Civil Rights staff pleaded ignorance of the law.

CMDR Carter said the incidents have given the Coast Guard a “heightened awareness” that led to the reporting of the noose aboard the CGC Nantucket. Apparently, without that heightened awareness, this incident would have been kept a tightly held Coast Guard secret.

Those who have been on the receiving end of nooses for years do not need to have their awareness heightened or their sensitivity raised. They don’t need to go to Civil rights Training. Their basic human nature and ordinary sense of civic decency would lead them to report such incidents and to join in the search for the malefactor.

Coast Guard Commandant Adm. Thad Allen visited the Coast Guard Academy in October 2007 and told the cadets that he wouldn’t stand for “symbols of racism” in the Coast Guard.

(Feb 24, 2009)Independent Audit Finds USCG Office of Civil Rights Incompetent.

Employees in the Coast Guard’s Office of Civil Rights (OCR) do not have the skills or up-to-date training to handle many of the service’s cases and formal discrimination complaints are not adequately handled, according to an independent report presented to the Coast Guard on February 5.

Terri Dickerson, the office’s director, requested an independent review April 25, 2008, less than one month after an investigation by the Coast Guard Investigative Service, Naval Criminal Investigative Service and the FBI failed to determine who left nooses for a Black Coast Guard Academy cadet and an officer conducting race-relations training in the summer of 2007.

At the same time, an unofficial Coast Guard blog was posting regularly about the office and the director’s alleged inefficiencies, reducing morale among employees and casting OCR in a negative light, according to the report.

The findings are “deeply disturbing and completely unacceptable,” Cummings, D-Md., wrote in a letter to Commandant ADM Thad Allen. Cummings, the chairman of the House subcommittee on the Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation, said he plans to call a hearing in April to further discuss the report.

“The findings of this report demand decisive and comprehensive action to correct what appear to be a number of significant shortfalls in the administration,” he wrote.

The Coast Guard retained Booz Allen Hamilton, a consulting firm with offices throughout the country, to review the entire civil rights program in September 2008, according to a letter from Dickerson to the Department of Homeland Security’s Equal Employment Opportunity Programs.

Coast Guard spokesman Cmdr. Ron LaBrec said the service is thankful for the feedback and is conducting a thorough review of the report and its recommendations.

“The [DHS] Office of Civil Rights and Liberties periodically conducts assessments on its civil rights components and the [OCR] director wanted to do this report now with the ongoing modernization initiative to look across the board and improve the practices in the office and address any allegations that were coming out of blogs or even internal discussions. We take allegations of mistreating [privacy issues] seriously,” LaBrec said.

According to the report, the Coast Guardsmen assigned to ORC often come in with little civil rights experience and serve two-year tours, and “often they leave their post just as they are becoming oriented to the position.” The other Coast Guardsmen in the office are on collateral duty, with the same limited backgrounds, according to the report.

Although training is available, the report said, many employees have not completed the legislatively mandated initial or refresher training. In some instances training was behind up to five years.

“Some staff members lack the requisite skills, abilities, and training to effectively perform the duties of their positions, thereby diminishing effectiveness of the divisions/teams,” according to the report.

LaBrec said the “decentralized” structure led to the delinquency in training and the Coast Guard is looking to “standardize” and “improve” its training program. There are 22 full-time positions within OCR, five of which are military, but that likely is not enough to sufficiently handle the additional responsibilities related to the increased caseload, according to the report.

Although Booz Allen acknowledges that some of the recommendations listed in the report cannot be accomplished with the office’s $788,459 budget, OCR’s Web site says the recommendations are under review and lists some that have either already been completed or can be accomplished in the near future.

Those include:

• Restructuring the office to “optimize the use of our military personnel” and take advantage of existing training and resources.

• Analyze the workload to ensure statutory and non-statutory obligations are being met.

LaBrec said it is too early to determine what recommendations would require additional funding or how much additional money would be needed to accomplish those goals.

“The review reaffirmed many positive aspects of the Coast Guard civil rights program. The report also makes clear there is work ahead,” Dickerson wrote in Thursday’s Alcoast. “Foremost, consistent with past similar studies, the BAH team found we must restructure the [equal employment opportunity] function, and secondarily, shore up our equal employment opportunity/equal opportunity product lines so that they more optimally support our civil rights service providers and work force.”

LaBrec also said the 58 formal civil rights complains OCR received in fiscal year 2007, roughly one per 1,000 people, shows the office is doing some things right, since several of the other DHS departments have a much higher number of civil rights complaints per capita.

Allen told Coast Guard Academy cadets and faculty in October 2007 that racial bigotry will not be accepted and goes against the service’s ethos and humanitarian mission. In August 2008, he released a service-wide message outlining plans to improve diversity throughout the service.

As part of the new initiative, every flag officer and senior executive service member is required to attend one diversity conference a year and they are expected to build relationships with minority-based “institutions of higher education.”

The first noose, which garnered national attention, was left in the bag of a Black cadet in July 2007 onboard the Coast Guard cutter Eagle. The second was found in August on the office floor of a white female officer who had been conducting race relations training.

(Meanwhile, Back on the Reservation, The Justice Department Reports:)
ALEXANDRIA, La., Aug 15, 2008 /PRNewswire-USNewswire via COMTEX/ -- Grace Chung Becker, Acting Assistant Attorney General for the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division, and Donald W. Washington, U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Louisiana, today announced that Jeremiah Munsen, 19, of Pineville, La., was sentenced to four months in prison for his role in using nooses to threaten marchers who participated in the "Jena Six" civil rights rally. In addition to the four-month prison term, Munsen received one year of supervised release and 125 hours of community service.
On Sept. 20, 2007, in an incident that garnered national media attention, Munsen and another person allegedly attached the nooses to the back of a pickup truck and repeatedly drove slowly and menacingly past a large group of African American individuals who had gathered at a bus depot in Alexandria, La., after attending the civil rights rally in Jena.
The defendant pleaded guilty April 25, 2008, admitting that he displayed two large, life-sized nooses from the back of his pickup truck with the intent to frighten and intimidate the demonstrators. He and the other person with him hung the nooses in a manner so as to be clearly visible to the gathered demonstrators, and Munsen then drove past the group two or three times while the other person glared out the window at the demonstrators. Munsen further admitted that he and the other person had previously discussed the Ku Klux Klan and how they thought the Klan would have responded to the rally in Jena, and he acknowledged that the Jena Six rally followed extensive public discussion regarding, among other things, the history of racial lynchings in the United States and the perception that a noose, when displayed in a racial context, constituted a symbol of racial violence.
"The defendant used a threatening and offensive tactic to intimidate peaceful civil rights marchers who were in Louisiana to rally against racial intolerance," said Acting Assistant Attorney General Grace Chung Becker. "The Civil Rights Division will continue to vigorously pursue racially motivated threats that violate federal law."
"The defendant committed a federal hate crime by using a powerful symbol of hate to intimidate a group of interstate travelers because of their race," said U.S Attorney Donald W. Washington. "It is a violation of federal law to intimidate, oppress, injure or threaten people because of their race and because those people are exercising and enjoying rights guaranteed and protected by the laws and Constitution of the United States. Our civil rights laws protect the civil rights of all Americans, and they emphasize the reality that we are all members of one particular race -- the human race."
The Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Alexandria Police Department investigated this case, which was prosecuted jointly by the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice and the U.S. Attorney's Office.
SOURCE U.S. Department of Justice


A Louisiana teenager who used nooses to intimidate black civil rights demonstrators was sentenced Friday to four months in federal prison.

Jeremiah Munsen, 19, of Colfax, had nooses hanging from the back of his pickup truck when he drove past people who had attended a massive civil rights march in Jena last September, according to federal prosecutors.

Munsen had faced up to a year in prison after he pleaded guilty in April to a misdemeanor charge of interfering with the marchers’ federally protected right to travel.

U.S. District Judge Dee Drell in Alexandria also sentenced Munsen to 125 hours of community service and one year of supervised release following his prison term, according to Assistant U.S. Attorney William Flanagan.

Munsen was sentenced on the same day that an anti-noose law took effect in Louisiana. The new law makes it a state crime, punishable by up to one year in prison, to try to intimidate someone with a hangman’s noose, a Deep South symbol of racial hatred.

The marchers were waiting in Alexandria for a bus home to Tennessee after protesting the criminal cases against six black teenagers charged with beating a white student at Jena High School in 2006.

A 16-year-old passenger in Munsen’s truck also was arrested, but Flanagan said he couldn’t comment on juvenile proceedings.

In a court filing last month, prosecutors said Munsen cooperated with investigators and asked Drell to impose a sentence that reflected his “substantial assistance.”

The Rev. Al Sharpton, who helped organize the march in Jena, said in a statement earlier this year that he applauded federal prosecutors for charging Munsen with a hate crime.

Munsen’s attorney, Billy Guin Jr, had no comment.

Thurgood Marshall did more to improve the life of the damned, the dispossessed, and the downtroddened tha any other attorney in the 20th century. He fought for the underdog in American society as an attorney and as a justice of the U. S. Supreme Court.

As chief counsel for the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund for over 25 years, he fought Jim Crow segregation in the snake pits and hell holes of the solid South. He won 29 of 32 cases he argued before the Supreme Court; and, he should have won all of them. In a perfect and just world, he would have. His record of successful cases before the high court stands today unparalleled in American judicial history. President Lyndon baines Johnson appointed him to the Supreme Court in 1967 where he served for 34 years.

When he traveled in the South, Thurgood Marshall never confronted "Jim Crow" headon; that is, he never sat in railway stations or lunch counters reserved "for whites only". However, in forays down South he could not always avoid person danger. In 1946 in Columbia, Tennessee, along with other defense counsels, he drove 200 miles round-trip daily from Nashville,TN to the trial in Colunbia,TN. There was no safe place for a Black lawyer to stay in Columbia, TN. At one point police officers picked him up and took him alone in their car, and charged him with drunk driving. Carl Rowan wrote a detailed newspaper article about how the police tried to lead Attorney Thurgood Marshall to the banks of a nearby river where a lynch mob had a noose hanging from a tree, ready to lynch him. Brave armed Black citizens came to his rescue. A courageous white magistrate smelled his breath and proclaimed him sober and he was able to return to Nashvill. (Crusaders in the Courts, by Jack Greenberg, 1994, Basic Books, Harper Collins, p. 31,32)

In the Jim Crow segregated South, he was so revered in Black America that people mostly spoke of him in whispered tones. He is easily the most important American of this century. He rose from an humble birth to a position higher than any Black American before him. He built his reputation slowly in jerkwater southern towns where he was outnumbered but never outmatched and never outgunned in the legal arena. In virtually every case he was fighting for the right against a twisted white justice system administered by southern judges and sheriffs who had few second thoughts about beating in black heads.

Thurgood Marshall was the only Black leader in America during the Civil Rights era who could say that he defeated segregation where it really counted; that was, in the courts. He legal strategy was based on the U. S. Constitution. He forced civil and constitutional rights to be extended equally to the poorest and blackest American citizens as well as poor whites. The Reverend Doctor Martin Luther King would never have won his first victory, the Montgomery, Alabama bus boycott, if Thurgood Marshall and his legal team had not first won a Supreme Court ruling outlawing segregation on the city buses. Battles were fought in the streets, but the victories were won in the courts.

Also, it was Thurgood Marshall who argued the case of Brown v. Bd of Education before the Supreme Court. This case ended segregation in public schools.

Thomas G. Krattenmaker, a constitutional law professor at Georgetown University Law Center, said it best. He said, "when I think of great American lawyers, I think of Thurgood Marshall,, Abe Lincoln and Daniel Webster. In the 20th Century only Earl Warren approaches Thurgood Marshall. Marshall is certainly the most important American lawyer of the 20th Century."

Drew Days, a former law professor at Yale University Law School, said that "Thurgood Marshall was the living embodiment of how far we as Americans have come on the major concern in our history-race- and how far we still have to go. He was the conscience of this nation. In the law, he remains our supreme conscience."
(Thurgood Marshall, Justice For All, by R. Goldman and D. Gallen, 1992 bt Caroll & Graf Publishers, Inc, Ny,Ny, 141,142.)



Blogger ichbinalj said...

Why so many nooses in such a small service?
"The greatest mystery of all is the human heart, and that is the mystery with which all good novelists are concerned."
P D James.

5:05 PM  
Blogger ichbinalj said...

Anonymous said:
I'm not defending Ms. Terri Dickerson, the Coast Guard Civil Rights Officer, but there is plenty of blame at the Academy to go around! The Academy has a Civil Rights Officer, next in that chain is the headquarters Area Director, Jerry Jones. How come their names are never mentioned? In the case of the most recent incident I believe that the 7th District Civil Rights Officer, Peter Flanigan, then whoever is standing in for Stephanie Credle at Atlantic Area. Why did this even have to reach the press?

My God, the Nantucket only has a 15 man crew! It seems to me that somebody should have been able to resolve this at a lower level. Mr. Flanigan and the Equal Opportunity Specialist there are ex-Army...maybe that's the Army way? Come to think of it the Civil Rights Officer at the Academy is ex-Army too! So is Mr. Jones! So was Stephanie Credle...hmm is there a pattern? I'll let the readers figure that out.

5:55 PM  
Blogger ichbinalj said...

On 23 May 2008 the military’s top officer told members of the Naval Academy’s Class of 2008 that they should not be afraid to question authority and that they should be prepared to leave the service if they feel they cannot carry out orders.

“Few things are more vital to an organization than someone who has the moral courage to question the direction in which the organization is headed and then the strength of character to support whatever decision is made,” Joint Chiefs Chairman Adm. Mike Mullen told 1,037 graduates Friday at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium. “That is real loyalty.”
He said military officers are also obligated to tell the American people, both directly and through their civilian leadership, what kind of military the nation needs, pointing out that military and civilian leaders are currently debating how the military should prepare itself for current wars and for future ones.

5:20 PM  
Blogger ichbinalj said...

Frostbitten said:
Seems to me that somebody in senior leadership would actually come out and say to the members of the Coast Guard, "This is against the rules, it is against our core values and if you get caught doing this you will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the UCMJ or other laws as may be applicable"!

So, with that in mind, has anybody in senior leadership come out and said this? Did anybody write or amend any policy or create some kind of documented rule against this particular thing? I've seen a lot of discussion, but I'm not sure I'm aware of anybody actually coming out and saying to all Coasties "this ain't right and don't do it"! ? (8/06/2008)

6:37 AM  
Blogger ichbinalj said...

ALEXANDRIA, La., Aug 15, 2008 /PRNewswire-USNewswire via COMTEX/ -- Grace Chung Becker, Acting Assistant Attorney General for the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division, and Donald W. Washington, U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Louisiana, today announced that Jeremiah Munsen, 19, of Pineville, La., was sentenced to four months in prison for his role in using nooses to threaten marchers who participated in the "Jena Six" civil rights rally. In addition to the four-month prison term, Munsen received one year of supervised release and 125 hours of community service.
On Sept. 20, 2007, in an incident that garnered national media attention, Munsen and another person allegedly attached the nooses to the back of a pickup truck and repeatedly drove slowly and menacingly past a large group of African American individuals who had gathered at a bus depot in Alexandria, La., after attending the civil rights rally in Jena.
The defendant pleaded guilty April 25, 2008, admitting that he displayed two large, life-sized nooses from the back of his pickup truck with the intent to frighten and intimidate the demonstrators.

7:00 PM  
Blogger ichbinalj said...

Attorneys for former Coast Guard Academy cadet Webster Smith have filed a brief and a petition for review and appeal of his court-martial with the Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces. (Aug 2008). This is the last level of appeal before the U S Supreme Court.

2:25 PM  
Blogger ichbinalj said...

HARTFORD, Conn. (9/29/08) If a person tries to intimidate
someone by hanging a noose, he or she could face
criminal penalties in Connecticut. A law making it a
crime to display nooses will takes effect Wednesday, 1 October.

The law was passed after five nooses were discovered
in the state last year. In summer 2007, someone left
nooses for a Black Coast Guard Academy cadet and an
officer conducting race relations training at the United States Coast Guard Academy, New

Three nooses were found in West Hartford last fall. In
July, a Bridgeport judge presiding over a murder trial
dismissed an entire jury after the drawing of a noose
was found in the deliberation room.

Gov. M. Jodi Rell said they are symbols of racism. The
state's hate crimes law already includes similar
language for cross burnings.

Halloween or theatrical displays are allowed under the
law but people caught using a noose to threaten or
intimidate could face up to five years in prison, Rell

8:29 AM  

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