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A NC police chief's 'little black book'

And the book didn’t have rent girls or boys in it. This is a timely story, now that we are thinking about Dr. King’s efforts in civil rights.

A good old boy police chief in Greensboro, NC thought it was a cool idea to target black officers for investigation, form a clandestine unit to do so, and keep a cute little “black book”/dossier on them that he didn’t bother to tell city officials about.

Do you think he might have thought that he was doing something a tad wrong? (Greensboro News & Record):


Former police Chief David Wray misled city leaders when he covered up the actions of a “secret police” unit that targeted black officers for unfair internal investigation, Greensboro officials said.

Part of the cover-up included the hiding of a “black book” that contained photos of at least 19 African American officers, officials said late Tuesday. The book was eventually recovered by investigators probing allegations of misconduct within the Greensboro Police Department.

And a black lieutenant whose claims of racism triggered seven months of controversy in the department returns to work today, his record cleared of unfounded criminal charges.

City Manager Mitchell Johnson disclosed during a news conference partial findings of an internal probe into actions Wray and the Greensboro police Special Intelligence Section took. He did so after a unanimous vote by the City Council to make the information public. Johnson described the “black book” as a police lineup used by Special Intelligence, but he provided few details about its exact use by the five-officer squad.

The “investigation” cost the taxpayers $70,000, money that could have been better spent actually fighting crime instead of providing Wray with a personal witch hunt squad on the black officers working for him.

It turns out that he violated North Carolina’s Personnel Privacy Act and may have inappropriately negotiated with the Greensboro Police Officers Association with this little stunt.

Wray hasn’t been available for comment — what a shock.

***

Greensboro doesn’t have a pretty history when it comes to race relations. After all, the F.W. Woolworth’s lunch counter sit-in occured there on Feb. 1, 1960, and sadly, as recently as 1979, there was an awful, violent incident involving the Klan and neo-Nazis. (Facing South):

In Greensboro, North Carolina, on Nov. 3, 1979, Ku Klux Klan and American Nazi Party members attacked a “Death to the Klan” march organized by the Communist Workers’ Party, shooting five marchers to death and wounding ten. Greensboro police had been escorting the march, but left for lunch shortly before the killings. More than a dozen men were arrested and charged with murder, but, stunningly, both a 1980 state murder trial and a 1984 federal civil rights trial resulted in acquittals.

The Nazis, Klansmen, and the city of Greensboro were finally found liable for one of the deaths in a civil lawsuit; but a sense of injustice and unfinished business and suspicions of police involvement have roiled the community ever since.

As a result, The Greensboro Truth and Reconciliation Commission was formed, an independent body gathered to examine “the context, causes, sequence and consequence of the events of November 3, 1979 for the purpose of healing transformation for the community.”

You can find transcripts of first-hand testimonies and recollections to the Commission on the site, as well as listen to the News & Record’s podcast of the first public hearing.

UPDATE: Wray attempts some piss-poor poor damage control.

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Pam Spaulding

Pam Spaulding