Gov. Paterson: Please Do The Right Thing And Pardon John White

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There is a Black political fear factor that few in office attempt to cross.

The fear of a Black Police Chief, for example, to try fire racially-abusive White officers; the fear of Black elected officials to be seen as spending too much time trying to solve problems unique to the community.

We have a  Black governor who may fear pardoning an unjustly incarcerated Black man. This fear is based on insecurities manifested by White backers and voters who don't want their candidate to remind them that he's Black.
Outgoing New York Governor David Paterson has one high-profile clear cut case. The case of a man who was awaken from his sleep on August 9, 2002 at around 11pm by his teenage son who told him some angry White teens had gathered outside of his home shouting threats and expletives.

Just imagine waking to such a nightmare; a group of White youths coming from a party and no-doubt inebriated enough to choose not to go home, but to instead go looking for trouble. John White leapt out of his bed, found his loaded Beretta and confronted what he described later as a "lynch-mob."

Usually a father just displaying a holstered gun would prompt such an invading party to sober up and remember their own home addresses. Instead, we are told, they flung threats and racial epithets at John White. One lunging youth, 17-year-old Daniel Cicciaros, would never go home again.
White was at first sentenced to 5 to 15 years almost a year and a half later. A judge gave him 2 to 4 years on March 19, 2008 based on his having no prior arrest and his record of honesty. He was unsuccessful in his appeals.

The prevailing reasoning is that he should have called 911 on the date in question. According to attorney and activist Alton Maddox, co-founder of the Freedom Party and United African Movement (UAM): "Since John White is a descendant of enslaved Africans, he forgot his place in society when he attempted to protect his family from a lynch mob which had threatened to do bodily harm to him and his family in general. The all-White mob also threatened to rape his wife--White policemen have never sided with Black victims against a White mob."

John White's family history is laced with this type of old-Southern treatment. Once many of these Black families moved up north, after a while, some of them began measuring success by how White their neighbors are. You reach a political albatross if your Black politician begins measuring success by how White his or her policies are.

When it comes to prominent pardons, Douglass Wilder is the only one of the four Black governors that I know of to date, that pardoned a convict, when he released a well-known high school basketball star named Allen Iverson. He was just five months into a 15-year-sentence for assaulting a woman in a bowling alley. While a president can only pardon offenses recognized by federal law, a governor can grant pardons under state law.

Nationally, so far President Obama has pardoned nine people. Some may
consider that a lot--not compared to his predecessor George W. Bush, who
commuted or rescinded 200; and Bill Clinton's 459.

I am urging Governor Paterson during the remaining days he has left to grant John White, a family man who protected his family if ever there was any, the pardon he deserves. While some may say 2 to 4 years is not long, the facts and circumstances dictate that he never should have been convicted.
Chris Stevenson is a syndicated columnist. See or follow him on and Facebook

"Speaking Truth To Power."

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