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#3584: Juan Gonzalez, NY Daily News (fwd)




From: Janet Higbie <higbiej@nytimes.com>


                New Woes Seen 
                As Just Reward 

                  On the streets of Harlem, central
                    Brooklyn and the South Bronx,
                wherever black and brown New
                Yorkers gathered to marvel at the
                sudden collapse of Mayor Giuliani's
                personal life and political career, the
                name that kept coming up was Patrick Dorismond.

                "You don't mess with Haitians," one
                African-American told me. "They'll put that voodoo
                on you."

                Dorismond was the unarmed Haitian-American guard
                shot to death outside a midtown bar in March by
                narcotics detectives who mistakenly took him for a
                drug dealer.

                The dead man's character was then assassinated by
                Giuliani and Police Commissioner Howard Safir.
                Instead of apologizing to his mother and family, they
                had the nerve to blame Dorismond for his own death.
                He dared to lunge at the cops, Giuliani insisted.

                                Giuliani and Safir even dug up
                                Dorismond's juvenile record,
                                one that had been ordered
                                sealed by a judge, then handed
                                it out to the press in an effort
                                to paint him as some walking
                                time bomb.

                                They then leaked portions of a
                                toxicology report on
                                Dorismond that showed he had
                small traces of marijuana in his body, as if a little pot
                in your system can turn you into a wild aggressor.

                These were acts of such uncommon disrespect for
                the dead and for a victim's grieving family that no
                Haitian in this city will ever forget them.

                Little wonder that many callers this week to WLIB,
                the major talk-radio station for the black community,
                kept mentioning Dorismond and kept insisting that
                Giuliani's sudden health and family problems are due
                to what Haitians call un travail  or as we say in
                Spanish, un trabajo.

                Author and journalist Jill Nelson was sitting in at the
                station for popular host Mark Riley on Wednesday.
                That was just after Giuliani announced that his
                marriage was breaking up and before the mayor's
                wife had revealed that her husband's current girlfriend
                was not the only girlfriend.

                Nelson doggedly tried to keep the discussion off the
                occult and on the political high road.

                "But callers weren't having it," said Bill Lynch, the
                show's producer.

                One caller after another suggested a curse had been
                put on the mayor.

                Back in Dorismond's old Brooklyn neighborhood,
                Haitians would only smile when asked about voodoo.

                "I don't know if a work was done," said the owner of
                one botanica on Flatbush Ave. "These things can be
                done, all kinds of things. Giuliani stepped on too
                many people."

                The botanica owner, who asked that his name not be
                mentioned, was once a taxi driver.

                "Giuliani drove many of us out of business," he said.
                "He kept after us with his police, and we couldn't
                make a living."

                In Haiti, of course, voodoo is not considered some
                crazy cult, but a legitimate religion. Its followers have
                practically subsumed themselves within the Catholic
                Church, using church saints as symbols for voodoo's
                loas, or spirits.

                People visit Haitian serviteurs or houngans, as they
                are called, to get the help of loas to bring back a
                straying spouse or lover, to cure an ailing relative, to
                get a better job, to win a case coming up in court or
                just to hit the lottery.

                In rare instances, they use the darker side of voodoo,
                known as petro, to ask the spirits to send evil back to
                those who have hurt or killed a person.

                "To do a work, you only need the dead body itself,"
                the botanica man insisted. "The clothes of the dead
                man are enough."

                The talk is that during the burial of Dorismond, a
                travail was done on Giuliani, Safir and several of the
                cops involved in the incident.

                Some Haitian leaders smile knowingly at the mention
                of voodoo, but others, like Lionel Legros, who
                helped organize the big Haitian march from Brooklyn
                to City Hall, call it a distraction that only reinforces
                stereotypes about Haitians.

                "Sickness can happen to anybody," Legros said of
                Giuliani's newly discovered prostate cancer. "I don't
                wish that on him. We wanted to end his political life,
                not his physical life."

                Voodoo or not, Giuliani, a mayor who once
                swaggered with arrogance before all the poor and
                powerless of this town, who thought himself so
                invincible he paraded around with his girlfriends while
                ignoring his wife, that Giuliani is now feeling more
                fragile than he ever imagined.

                In some quarters of this city, he gets the same kind of
                sympathy that he once gave to others.