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Derail Ray Kelly--Mr. Stop, Frisk and Strip Search--from Becoming Homeland Security Chief

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(Article changed on September 12, 2013 at 09:16)

From http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Ray_Kelly_Shankbone_2010_NYC.jpg: Ray Kelly photo by Shankbone
Ray Kelly photo by Shankbone by Wikipedia

Ray Kelly photo by Shankbone by Wikipedia

Participants in the Whistleblower Summit for Civil and Human Rights have spoken out against President Barack Obama's tacit support of Ray Kelly for a top-ranking National Security Post. ACORN 8, the Federally Employed Women/Legal Education Fund (FEW/LEF), the Coalition for Change (C4C), and the NO FEAR Coalition all call upon Congress to block Kelly's nomination and/or confirmation as Chief of the Department of Homeland Security.

Ray Kelly's complicity in, and indifference to, acts of blatant retaliation border on racist misogyny and should not be condoned. All Civil Rights, Human Rights, and Women's organizations should be up in arms that President Obama would even consider Commissioner Kelly--Mr. Stop, Frisk and Strip Search--for the important post of Homeland Security Chief. Considering his record of discrimination, retaliation and intimidation against Blacks and Hispanics in New York, and against Women at the U.S. Customs Service, his ascendance to the post would be a human rights and civil liberties catastrophe.

At this point, New York City Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly holds President Obama's implicit approval to replace Janet Napolitano as head of the Department of Homeland Security. However, in displaying an unusually cavalier attitude about race and gender that Napolitano does not, he has shown himself an unworthy successor. If President Obama does nominate him as Chief of Homeland Security, Kelly's record of sexual harassment and racial discrimination will hang like an albatross around his neck.

Known for delivering mendacious arguments with aplomb, and labeling entire minority neighborhoods as communities of miscreants, Ray Kelly has also drawn the ire of Civil Rights Groups for his fervent support of "stop-and-frisk" tactics by the New York City Police. These tactics were recently declared unconstitutional as "indirect racial profiling" by a federal district court in Manhattan. Despite the court ruling, however, Commissioner Kelly continues to rationalize this despicable policy, utilizing the most tenuous of excuses. He may point out, for instance, that the New York City Police Department has one of the most racially diverse police forces in the country, but this is totally irrelevant to the fact that the department racially profiles Blacks and Hispanics as a matter of official police policy.

An independent study by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) found that, despite consuming drugs at similar rates, Blacks are four times more likely to be arrested for drug possession than Whites. But this is not the only area in which Ray Kelly has blatantly violated the civil rights and civil liberties of New York's citizens. Prior to the street harassment of innocent minorities for walking while Black or Hispanic, Kelly has also flagrantly disregarded the civil rights and liberties of women.  

In her tell-all book, "Flying While Black," whistleblower Cathy Harris describes how Ray Kelly, as head of the U.S. Customs Service, turned a blind eye to Customs Agents targeting attractive Black and Hispanic Women for rapacious strip searches and invasive x-rays under the pretext of screening for drugs-- despite the fact that minority women were statistically less likely to be carrying them.

A U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) report disclosed that Black women in particular were nine times more likely than White women who were U.S. citizens to be x-rayed after being frisked or patted down in 1998. Yet, based on x-ray results, Black women (U.S. citizens) were less likely to be found with contraband than White women (U.S. citizens).

The U.S. Customs Service under Ray Kelly was a nightmare for women, who suffered devastating violations of their basic civil liberties. They were denied phone calls and handcuffed to beds, and pregnant women were even forced to drink laxatives. Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) complainants were "Blacklisted" within the agency, and customs employees were placed on a "Hit List" and targeted for termination. In fact, Kelly fired so many whistleblowers from 1998 to 2000 that U.S. Customs Service employees called him "The Hatchet Man."

Cathy Harris recounted this abuse during the Whistleblower Summit on Capitol Hill last month. Over the last seven years, whistleblowers from across the country have descended upon Capitol Hill for an annual conference originally known as Washington Whistleblower's Week. Make it Safe Coalition members ACORN 8 and the Federally Employed Women/Legal Education Fund (FEW/LEF) co-hosted this year's Whistleblower Summit for Civil & Human Rights.

Harris told the Summit: "Ray Kelly was brought in to restore discipline and to quiet down all of the racial profiling after I blew the whistle in 1998.... Ray Kelly changed the word "strip search" to "body search" in the Personal Search Handbook, a parsimonious trick to soften the appearance of sexual harassment. He fired over 100 whistleblowers including GS-12 Supervisors from Miami, and he directed high-ranking managers to target anyone who filed an EEO complaint, while I had six pending claims. Many of these customs service managers are now conducting invasive searches of White women for the TSA--under the Department of Homeland Security."

Cloistered in his own white male/class privilege, Commissioner Kelly has never been concerned with the intricacies of racial and gender discrimination, or their intersectionality.

Matthew Fogg, National President for FEW/LEF, has recounted how dismissive Kelly was toward Maxine Waters during a forum on discrimination before the Congressional Black Caucus:

"I am retired Chief Deputy U.S. Marshal Matthew Fogg. Mr. Raymond Kelly was head of the U.S. Customs Agency in 1998 and was summoned by the Congressional Black Caucus to a Capitol Hill forum on discrimination complaints by Black federal law enforcement agents representing U.S. Customs Service, U.S. Marshal Service, FBI, DEA and ATF. The agents were asked to testify about internal personal racial issues by white colleagues while being employed in various federal agencies.

"Mr. Kelly created a public spectacle when he told Congressional Black Caucus Chair Maxine Waters that he saw no reason to return after lunch because he had more important business than hearing these agents carp about racial discrimination. Chairwoman Waters publicly admonished him before the entire Congressional Black Caucus, federal agents, press and the audience; letting Mr. Kelly know that he must return and hear the concerns of his agents.

"His caviler attitude about racial discrimination within his rank and file made it very clear about his "Modus Operandi" involving race relations. I feared for Black residents and police officers in New York when I learned that Mr. Kelly had been named the new NYPD Commissioner. The latest official report depicting widespread indisputable racial disparities in the implementation of NYPD's "stop-and-frisk" program clearly proves that his dismissive attitude on race was carried over to the NYPD. And we can rest assured that the same raciest attitude will go viral--nationally, if he becomes the Chief of Homeland Security."

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Michael McCray is a public interest advocate who combats racism and corruption in the government and other institutions which deprive individuals of their basic civil rights, human rights and constitutional liberties. McCray is co-chair of the (more...)
 

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Our chief law enforcement and security officials m... by Michael McCray on Wednesday, Sep 11, 2013 at 12:46:27 PM
Thank your for covering this critical topic. ... by Ward Jordan on Wednesday, Sep 11, 2013 at 1:29:31 PM