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#4994: Re: #4780: The Haitian press and the police (fwd)

From: Haitian Times <publisher@flashcom.net>

Simidor, just one little correction. The Haitian Times missed two weeks of
that ad because of our ineptness. We lost a good chunck of money on that
account. By the way, our ad is for sale and we will sell it to anyone, but
our editorial content is not and we will not sell it to no one.


garry pierre-pierre
publisher Haitian Times

----- Original Message -----
From: "Bob Corbett" <corbetre@webster.edu>
To: "Haiti mailing list" <haiti@lists.webster.edu>
Sent: Wednesday, August 30, 2000 5:47 PM
Subject: #4780: The Haitian press and the police (fwd)

> From: karioka9@cs.com
> Opportunity or Sellout?
> For two straight weeks now, the Haitian press in New York
(Haiti-Observateur, Haiti-Progrès, Haitian Times) have each carried a full
page ad praising the New York City Police Department for its friendship and
protection to the black community. Dubbed as "Mission Possible," this charm
operation is also carried out in the Latino press and in Caribbean and
African-American newspapers.
> The first problem with those ads is that they are a lie. The face of the
law in our communities is a surly white cop in uniform, or an aggressive
squad of white detectives in plain clothes. The smiling black or Latino cop
in the children's playground is a figment of the imagination or a projection
from the white suburbs. The inner city neighborhoods, where the majority of
Haitians live, are patrolled like a war zone by the police, like an occupied
territory where they can only prevail with brute force. Racial profiling,
beatings, and macho hassling of black youth are the name of the game. New
York City once had a black police commissioner and it didn't change any of
this. Adding a few more dark faces to the police force is just more window
dressing. Call it a snow job or a Jenny Jones makeover, it's a very thin
veneer over a brutal reality and an even crueler policy.
> Still the police in New York are facing some serious problems, which they
hope to pave over with this latest expenditure. Community revulsion over the
perverse broomstick torture of Abner Louima, the non-guilty verdict in the
Diallo case, and the killing of Patrick Dorismond, have made the city's
streets uncomfortable for the police. The forced resignation of Howard
Safir, police commissioner and sidekick to Mayor Giuliani, and his
replacement by Bernard Kerik, an alleged former bodyguard and chauffeur to
Mr. Giuliani, have only added to the malaise. The new commissioner has gone
to black churches, asking the community to "give him a chance." A chance for
what? Some feel that the primary incentive behind this "Mission Possible"
campaign is an attempt to avert a threatened Federal oversight of the New
York City police. But why should the police change their ways when they can
just change their image?
> Subservience to the Police
> Even when money is not changing hands, there is a very servile attitude
toward the police and toward City Hall, among so-called Haitian community
leaders. The list is quite long: Rev. Nicholas' embrace of Giuliani and
Safir after the broom stick torture of his "nephew" Louima; Monsignor
Rolland Darbouze's organization of a church committee to adorn the 67th
precinct with a flower garden, in the wake of that same incident;
Haiti-Observateur's ostentatious relationship with Giuliani and the police;
WLIB's Moment Creole's proud association with Haitian cops who have built
their career by informing on community activists and organizations; the
National Coalition for Haitian Rights' insistence on teaching the Haitian
community how to talk and to behave with the police, as if the problem was
with the community and not the other way. These are only some instances of a
disturbing obeisance to the police and to an oppressive power structure in
> Three years ago on this day, thousands of outraged Haitians marched on
City Hall in the aftermath of the Louima incident. On their way back across
the Brooklyn Bridge, the police ambushed a substantial group of protesters
and arrested over 100 people. Alerted by witnesses at the scene, an ad-hoc
group of organizers decided to hold an emergency protest in front of the
90th precinct where those people were being detained. But when the
organizers contacted Radio Soleil d'Haiti to get the word out, station
manager Ricot Dupuy explained, in his best official voice, that he had just
conducted an interview with Detective Serge Pierre-Louis. His station would
not support any rally for "the crowd of provocateurs who attacked the police
on the bridge." A job well done, Detective Pierre-Louis; I wish I could say
the same about Ricot the journalist.
> The case of Haiti-Progrès
> Some might say it is unfair to hold the Haitian or the minority press to
higher standards than the mainstream media is. The notion of fairness and
accuracy in advertising and in reporting the news is dead and forgotten when
it comes to the mainstream media and the Haitian right-wing press. But what
about Haiti-Progrès, "le journal qui offre une alternative," which had
played a significant role up to this point in the fight against police
brutality in New York City? As a sometime contributor to its pages, I feel
somewhat betrayed by CEO Ben Dupuy's greedy decision to eat at the police
trough. Small newspapers, at least on the books, are always on the verge of
economic collapse. But it's not just the money. Mr. Dupuy holds morality in
contempt as a bourgeois concept. Both as a publisher and as a political
operative, he is notorious for the ability to switch sides on issues without
so much as a warning or goodbye to his former allies, often leaving the
editorial staff of t!
> !
> he newspaper with no other option but to walk. So far, it is true, the
paper has managed to survive those autocratic mood swings, and to limp along
an increasingly mediocre path.
> At this point, the loud chorus of "I told you so," from those who have
watched with horror Haiti-Progrès' cynical alliance with alleged dope fiends
within the Lavalas spectrum, makes it difficult not to throw the baby away
with the bath water. Still, the Haitian community must hold Haiti-Progrès to
its claim of being a progressive alternative. There are a number of things
the newspaper can and must do, if indeed the decision to run the police ads
was just a case of crass money-grabbing opportunism rather than an editorial
sellout. The first step is a serious self-criticism on its editorial page,
followed by a period when the paper would open its pages for thoroughgoing
criticism. No one I know believes this will ever happen, but pointing out
the line of principle to a wayward ally is always an obligation, even if not
a pleasant one.
> Daniel Simidor
> Aug. 29, 2000