Victory At Last: Fired Moorish Employees Win Trial Against New York City

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[On The Spot]

Justice Later Is Better Than Never

There is proof, the Most High is alive and well and will always take the time to care for his Children here "on earth, as it is in Heaven."   
Yesterday a group of New York Correction Officers who were terminated from the department were made whole the very day they were terminated – 15 years ago, one week before Christmas.   
This case has come 360 degrees since it started and when I first wrote about it in The Black Star News. This past many years have been rough on these seven Members of Service (MOS) and their families.  There are many more correction employees who have yet to see justice come to their door.  
It is very clear, when your employer suspends or terminates anyone seven days before Christmas that it's intended as a direct attack on the family.   
Attorney Irene Thomas worked on this case for 13 years almost nonstop, representing at least 13 correction department employees at one point; many fell on hard times and could not afford to stay on the lawsuit and too many went home to Glory.  
Attorney Thomas knew she was in a war with New York City taking these MOS's case to trial: Correction Officers Hassan Abdullah; Alberto Rivera Bey; Pedro Rivera Bey Sr.; and, Captain Oba Hassan Wat Bey.
Attorney David Schlacher has been on the case for five years representing: Correction Officers Edward Ebanks; Herbert Hinnant; and, Michael Nichols.  
These MOS’ were awarded back pay and damages.  We wish them and their families well.
I have been exposing wrongdoing for the past 20 years and was not going to miss testifying in this historic case no matter how it turned out. The city’s attorney chose to attack me on my style of reporting when I wrote a series of articles under the banner "scandal at correction."   
He asked: “You write critical articles on the Department of Correction?”  My response to him was that I wrote the truth about the Department of Correction.
Before each of my articles was published in The Black Star News, I would contact the department's Public Information Officer Thomas Antenen for comment: and each time he would say, “No comment.”
I have a feeling that even with the lack of response from the department, then Commissioner Bernard Kerik, was getting my inquiries about: the racism in the DOC; whether the IRS had filed a complaint against anyone in the DOC to instigate the mass termination of employees allegedly on tax violations; and, why he did not respond to my memoranda which contained detailed information about wrongful activity within the department:  
Kerik must have been briefed since in his book "The Lost Son," he wrote: “Every morning and again each afternoon, the Toms come into my office to brief me on what reporters are sniffing around in.”  A reference to the individuals handling media inquiries.
The city’s attorneys now come 16 years later, claiming my articles were "critical." They have the facts wrong – my articles were not critical – the behavior from Kerik’s office on down was.
Not a single one of my articles have been refuted by the department or the city.  This lawsuit is not the end of what took place more than 15 years ago, but the beginning.
Commissioner Kerik destroyed many lives and I will not stop documenting the travesty and injustice until every correction employee is made whole.  
At that time in city government, New York City under Mayor Rudolph Giuliani’s leadership was so corrupt that no one believed these correction officers would find lawyers that would take their case, believe what they were saying, and expect to win against an agency that has over 500 Corporation Counsel attorneys to defend it.   
“It was like David and Goliath, they had everything and we had nothing,” says attorney Irene Thomas.
“They also used about twelve different attorneys on this case,” adds attorney Schlacher.   
Each time the city put a new attorney on the case, they would go back to the court to ask for more time, which is one of the reasons this case took about 16 years to see the light of justice.
My first article under the "scandal at correction" series was published on September 28, 2000, in the Black Star News.  It exposed the case of Kamau Bey, a Moorish American employee with 15 years on the job.  
He was ordered to the Department of Correction headquarters located then at 60 Hudson Street on December 2, 1997.  At the end of his midnight tour at the Manhattan courts he was accosted by four Correction Officers dressed in riot gear --  bulletproof vests, helmets, and carrying high-powered shotguns-- who made him strip out of his shirt, pants, shoes, underwear, socks and of course, dignity and self-respect.  
Ironically, Kamau Bey had trained one of the officers who ordered him to strip; the humiliation took place doors away from former Commissioner Kerik’s office.
Kamau Bey has since changed his name because of what he was put through being Moorish American. He was not one of the plaintiffs in this case and could not be reached for comment.
It was a time such as now.  New Yorkers were crowding the stores buying presents, decorating windows and the front of houses with lights – just getting ready for the holiday season.  
But the city was racially polarized and divided when Giuliani took City Hall and began to cut civil service titles to the bone starting with Health and Hospital employees who were mostly African- and Latino- Americans.   
There is a saying, “If the head is corrupt, the body will be corrupt as well.” It was a time when those tasked with enforcing the law were being and acting lawless.
The Members of Service were charged with stealing city time and city property. Over 2,000 employees were allegedly not paying taxes on their income – but many of these MOS were not suspended, charged or arrested and they went on to have a Merry Christmas and to later retire in good standing.
The alleged tax issue raised concern from the mayor’s office and different agencies began conducting investigations.  The investigations covered a number of civil service departments: police, correction, sanitation, fire department, to name a few.
Scores of employees, but mostly from correction, were then arrested.
As the rest of the city was going about their business getting ready for Christmas parties, on December 3, 1998, approximately 22 MOS were identified as belonging to the Moorish Nation, and were then labeled a “Black separatist group," then rounded up and suspended.   
This lead to their guns, shields and identification cards being confiscated. They were treated like runaway slaves.
Some of these MOS were non-uniformed members.  They filed documents requesting to be exempt from taxation – however, the DOC did not process their paperwork.     
The city used the Office of Administration Trial and Hearings (OATH), headed by former Chief Judge Rose Luttan Rubin, to get rid of these and many more MOS using the most ambiguous charge in its arsenal "Conduct unbecoming an officer" because it is a winnable charge.  Now how corrupt is that?  Judge Rubin showed an interest in this case when she appeared at many hearings and at this trial; OATH is supposed to be an impartial tribunal.   
Another area DOC used to target employees is the Health Management Division (HMD), but that is altogether another story.    
“These officers will surely be fired,” Giuliani said in a press conference.
This statement was made by the city’s Chief Executive Officer without affording these members any type of due process, which trespassed against their rights.   
It was this jury who listened to testimony and reviewed the physical evidence and came back with a verdict knowing something was wrong in city government and charging former Commissioners of the Department of Correction Kerik, and William Fraser, with violating these employees' rights along with Department of Investigation's (DOI) Michael Caruso.
Remember the mayor's own hypocrisy while appearing to be cracking down on all lawlessness in the city, yet finding it  
acceptable to move his girlfriend into Gracie Mansion while his wife and children slept down the hall?
With this "conduct becoming an officer"?  But at that time, who was going to tell Giuliani anything?
On December 3, 1997, the affected officers were suspended, blocking them from receiving the holiday pay and uniform allowance.  A year later, December 18, 1998, they were terminated a week before Christmas; tell me this is not evil.
Even before I started writing about this gross injustice, I used to hand out fliers in 1997 calling for a federal intervention.
This week's verdict proves the correction department needs to be investigated by an agency with full subpoena power to review everything that went on under the Mayor Giuliani and Commissioner Kerik era.   
I called the correction union president, Norman Seabrook for comment and was informed the union’s telephones are not receiving calls.   
However, Mr. Seabrook did return my call but it went into my voicemail and I was unable to reach him before press time.
Stay tuned this is not over.
Contact Winkfield if you have a major corruption story. (646) 387-8964; or, On The Spot, Post Office Box 230149, Queens County 11423;,or; or
(212) 481-7745.  Together we can get the justice everyone just talks about.   
“Speaking Truth To Empower.”

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