Pubdate: Sat, 11 May 2002
Source: Baltimore Sun (MD)
Copyright: 2002 The Baltimore Sun, a Times Mirror Newspaper.
Author: Darrell Chambers, David J. Ghee


In his May 3 column, Dan Rodricks writes that City Solicitor Thurman W. 
Zollicoffer Jr. owes the Police Department an apology for his actions on 
behalf of his sister and nephew ("Zollicoffer owes police apology for his 
remarks"). But Mr. Zollicoffer doesn't owe any more of an apology than he 
has already given.

Mr. Rodricks gets the small picture - a city official should not get 
between a relative and the police, especially when the city official 
represents the police in civil matters.

However, Mr. Rodricks completely missed the big picture: What were the 
police doing inside a home where they were not wanted without a search warrant?

It is impossible to overstate the importance of a search warrant in this 
instance. It isn't a document that allows police already inside a home to 
search that home. A warrant is the means by which the police may cross the 
threshold of a home, enter and search it.

Mr. Rodricks writes: "Utterances made in heat often reveal something that 
lies within a person's psyche and belief systems. Utterances made in heat 
have ended the careers of a lot of otherwise well-meaning people."

But Mr. Zollicoffer's utterances simply revealed the frustration many black 
men in this country feel because of encounters with police, who sometimes 
come off like the Gestapo.

His attitude, his frustration, is a direct result of police policies and 
procedures that do things such as stop every black male near a bus stop to 
catch a rapist.

I'll conclude with a query: Where else in this great nation can a homeowner 
expect to have his or her home invaded by armed men with no right to be on 
the premises? Answer: Every inner-city in this nation.

Thank goodness the suburbs, where the majority of the drug dealing and drug 
use takes place, are still safe.

Darrell Chambers


The Sun's news articles, Dan Rodricks' column "Zollicoffer owes police 
apology for his remarks" (May 3) and the letter "Mayor shouldn't back the 
city solicitor" (May 3) have implied that the city solicitor was seeking 
preferential treatment for his nephew.

But freedom from illegal search and seizure is a right guaranteed to all of 
us, and it seems to me that all Thurman W. Zollicoffer Jr. was pushing for 
was the proper administration of the legal process.

What my white brethren seem unable to comprehend is that the elections of 
some black officials and African-Americans winning a couple Oscars and the 
Masters in no way change the way most less-well-off blacks are treated by 
those who control the society.

Let me correct one part of that statement - poor white people understand. 
In certain parts of the city (Hampden, Pigtown), they experience the same 
arrogant disregard for their rights that blacks do.

The difference for us is that improved socioeconomic status does not mean 
increased respect from law enforcement.

Few, if any, black males who live in metropolitan areas have not 
experienced rudeness and disregard for their rights by police officers. We 
are all suspects because of our skin color, and most of us have no one with 
authority or influence to ensure that we are treated correctly.

Maybe Mr. Zollicoffer should have been less contentious in the way he did 
what he did.

But as far as I know, being competent, confident and outspoken and 
requiring adherence to the law are not crimes.

David J. Ghee

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