NYPD Confidential - An Inside Look at the New York Police Department
Home Page
All Columns
Contact Leonard Levitt
Search this site

Reality check on Rudy video

December 1, 1997

This column erred last week when it described Mayor Rudolph Giuliani as the equal of Al Sharpton in exploiting the fissures between the city's ethnic and racial groups.

The mayor, it turns out, is in a class by himself.

Let's re-examine last month's police brutality hearing, held by eight black and Hispanic members of Congress, which the mayor turned into a referendum on anti-Semitism by linking the remarks of someone named Askia Shakur to the old civil rights warhorse and leader of the 1990 boycott of a Korean grocery store in Brooklyn, Sonny Carson.

Carson made no anti-Semitic remarks at the hearing and was not within earshot when Shakur railed that "Jews are beating blacks to death . . . They've been getting away with murder." But this didn't deter City Hall from distributing to Jewish officials an artfully spliced videotape of Shakur's and Carson's remarks that could rival Oliver Stone in revising history.

In it, Carson refers to the police as "pigs," and says he "used to throw ash cans off the roof at police." But contrary to what this column also reported, Carson never mentions Jews and says nothing that can be construed as anti-Semitic.

And although the Giuliani-spliced tape shows Shakur speaking directly after Carson, as in a tag-team tandem, their remarks at the hearing actually came three hours apart. Shakur spoke at 12:30 p.m., says Ron Daniels of the Center for Constitutional Rights, which organized the program. Carson, he says, spoke around 4 p.m.

Contrast that with what Giuliani said of the hearing:

"To have members of Congress sit there and have a witness say that Jews beat blacks and not object to it, to refer to Sonny Carson in words of praise and invite him as a witness says to me . . . members of Congress were too afraid to stand up to anti-Semitism."

Let no one confuse Carson with Little Lord Fauntleroy. He and Shakur sat together during the hearing's morning session, which Shakur continually interrupted. In an interview last week, the now white-bearded 61-year-old Carson, who served 1 to 3 years in Dannemora for kidnaping, said he'd met Shakur there. Shakur says he did 10 years there in solitary.

"He is a Vietnam veteran with two Purple Hearts," Carson said of Shakur. "He is one of those people the war destroyed.

"We have to respect him no matter what he says but he is not part of our group, and I had no idea what he would say at the hearing. The idea that I could control someone who spent 10 years in prison is ridiculous."

Printable versionRidiculous or not, Giuliani, better than most, knows the political mileage to be gained by tying a non-entity like Shakur to the once-notorious Carson. In 1989, in his first crack at running for mayor, Giuliani trailed David Dinkins by some 50 percentage points as late as Oct. 12, when this newspaper revealed a secret $9,500 Dinkins campaign payment to something called "The Committee to Honor Black Heroes."

When the dust settled, the committee was revealed to be headed by Carson, and Giuliani had closed to a virtual tie with Dinkins by Election Day.

Take four. With 13 of the 16 cops he indicted from the 48th Precinct already acquitted, Bronx District Attorney Robert Johnson announced last week he'll try ex-48th Precinct cop John Lowe a fourth time on a misdemeanor charge.

Acting Bronx State Supreme Court Justice John Collins vacated Lowe's original misdemeanor conviction because of a prosecutorial error, and two subsequent trials resulted in hung juries.

Johnson told Lowe's attorney he'll drop the charge if Lowe - dismissed from the NYPD over an unrelated matter he claims resulted from his Bronx indictment - agrees to drop his court fight for reinstatement.

Lowe, who says he's broke, is also seeking "18B" or indigent status so that the city will pick up his legal fees. Johnson opposes that, although he didn't oppose indigent status for his star witness, the admittedly corrupt 48th Precinct cop Richard Rivera, who's still drawing his annual $48,000 police paycheck.

Hail to the chief. Jules Martin, one of the NYPD's three black chiefs, is retiring to become director of security at New York University. Such is the NYPD's paucity of high-ranking black officers that Martin is one of only 10 blacks above the rank of captain, nearly half of whom are in the Housing bureau. (The number of Hispanic officers above the rank of captain is even smaller.)

A 29-year veteran, with a master's and a law degree, Martin, 51, becomes one of only a handful of blacks in the metropolitan area to land a major private security position, yet another area in which blacks are underrepresented.

« Back to top

Email Leonard Levitt at llevitt@nypdconfidential.com

© 1997 Newsday, Inc. Reprinted with permission.