On Wednesday, March 3, 2021, the House passed a bill titled “The George Floyd Justice in Policing Act.” It is named after 46-year-old George Floyd who died Memorial Day 2020 after a racist Minneapolis police officer pressed his knee against his neck for 8 minutes and 46 seconds. The bill passed along party lines 220-212 with two Democrats voting against the bill and one Republican pressing a button that said “NO” but meaning “YES.” He was Lance Gooden of Texas. He was allowed to change his vote.
As I looked back at this bill there is no one in DC, Maryland, or Virginia who has made their presence known more than Harold Bell in the fight against racism in police Departments in the black community, especially in DC and Prince George’s County where it has been the Wild-Wild West when it comes to unarmed black men and women being shot and killed just for the hell of it. Now we can add Hispanics and those blacks from Africa and the Caribbean Islands who didn’t think they were black. They got a wake-up call when they were stopped on that lonely highway late at night or in the wee-wee hours of the morning by a racist cop, be he black or white. He approaches your car calling you “Nigger” with his hand on his gun. You are trying to explain to him that you are not Black, because you are from Haiti or Nigeria. You are finally getting the wake-up call you have been asking for in America!
I have been in this struggle for 55+ years starting as a Neighborhood Worker for the United Planning Organization (UPO) in 1965. My co-workers were Petey Greene and H Rap Brown. I remember the struggle in 1966 carried me back to my old neighborhood in NE DC. A young black man had been shot and killed by a white cop. His crime, he had allegedly stolen a 29 cents pack of cookies. The crime was committed at Minnesota Avenue and Benning Road NE in a convenience store on the wrong side of the tracks. His name was Clarence “Bug” Booker. The shooting brought back memories that I would rather have forgotten.
I will never forget my young brother Earl and I left home to cross those same railroad tracks that “Bug” crossed in search of those cookies. Our destination was the Safeway where I carried groceries on the weekend to help my welfare mother make ends meet. Booker was shot in walking distance of the Safeway store. I had flashbacks because there went me or my brother Earl.
Let me tell you the story of what happened on that cold December night. Earl entered the store from the back and I entered on the Minnesota Avenue side from the front. I was known to the Safeway clerks and staff and no one paid me any attention while I made my way down the aisle pretending I was searching for someone to help carry their groceries to their car or their home in the neighborhood. Earl and I made a clean getaway or so we thought with lunch meats and cheese stuffed down our pants and in our coats. We were about to cross the tracks to our home when a cop car jumped the curb with two cops jumping out with guns drawn–they were yelling and cussing calling us Niggers and telling us to put our hands up high. I was scared to death, but Earl was cool. He was trying to figure out how in the hell did they catch up with us?
The cops threw us in the back of the car and one of the rednecks held his gun on us while they sped up Benning Road to the 14th precinct with the siren on full blast. When they got us to the precinct both jumped out of the car and Earl and I use the moment to hide our meat and cheese under their seats. They pushed us into the precinct in front of a little old white lady asking her “are these the two boys that robbed you?” She looked up and said, “These are not the two niggers that snatched my pocketbook.” For the first time, the word nigger coming from someone white was music to my ears. One of the Redneck cops told us to get the hell out of his station house. Earl and I hurried and got out of his station.
The cops threw us in the back of the car and one of the rednecks held his gun on us while they sped up Benning Road to the 14th precinct with the siren on full blast. When they got us to the precinct both jumped out of the car and Earl and I use the moment to hide our meat and cheese under their seats. They pushed us into the precinct in front of a little old white lady asking her “are these the two boys that robbed you?” She looked up and said, “These are not the two niggers that snatched my pocketbook.” For the first time, the word nigger coming from someone white was music to my ears. One of the Redneck cops told us to get the hell out of his station house. Earl and I hurried and got out of his station house.
We started to take a shortcut home through the woods called “G Man Diamond.” We crossed the street heading into the woods and we looked at each other and turned around. We went back to get our food from under the cop car seats. Yea it was crazy-but we were hungry.
The moral of the story, we could have been Clarence ‘Bug’ Booker shot and killed for stealing lunch meat and cheese. Back to the scene of the crime where Booker was shot dead. His walking partner and friend was a young juvenile delinquent name Rufus Catfish Mayfield, he was a known petty theft and had served time in reform school for stealing a car. He was raising hell trying to stir up things to confront the police, without my knowledge Marion Barry was hanging around the fringes of the crime scene checking things out.
He was working behind the scenes making a deal to quell the threat of violence. He made a deal with the U. S. Labor Department to sponsor a program called Pride, Inc. The program received a grant the first year for $300,000 to hire hundreds of inner-city youth like Catfish Mayfield. The second-year the grant was worth two-million dollars, Marion and wife Mary Treadwell swooped in on Catfish who was in over his head and kidnapped Pride, Inc. Marion would use Pride as his platform to kick-start his political career to make him “Mayor for Life.”
I was 10 years Catfish’s senior, but we grew up in the same Parkside Housing project. His family lived in the 600 block of Kenilworth Terrace and I lived in the 700 block of Kenilworth Terrace and that was all we had in common. I had no love for the police simply because I had never forgotten the lunch meat and cheese encounter and how they use to kick my door down late in the night or the wee hours of the morning raiding my house and taking my mother out in handcuffs. She sold bootleg liquor and cut a nickel on a dollar in a game called Pitty-Pat on the weekends.
Earl and I would sit on the steps and cry, but my mother would always look back and say, “I will be back in time to dress you for the church in the morning” and she always did, I never forgot. From 1965 until 2021 I worked to bring peace to my community as a Neighborhood Worker for the United Planning Organization, Roving Leader for the DC Department of Recreation & Parks, Presidential Appointee for the Nixon White House, founder of my non-profit organization Kids In Trouble, and last but not least a pioneering sports talk radio personality with the Original Inside Sports. During the 1968 riots, I walked the streets for three days and three nights with nothing but a police badge. My friend and mentor Captain Tilmon O’Bryant convinced me I could make a difference or die trying. He swore me in as a cop without a gun.
Instead of making a difference I watched The Thin Blue Line and The Code of Silence hender the growth of my brothers and other good cops. My younger brother, DC cop Sgt. Earl K. Bell and my older brother Bobby Bell, a 20 year veteran of the U. S. Marshall Service. I watched them fight a system that is still there today. There are some good cops out there, but they stand by and watch the cowards and bullies run the departments, FOP/KKK. My high school friend and teammate, Andrew Johnson was a good cop. He was a foot patrolman, homicide detective and retired as supervisor for the DEA. We worked hand and hand in the community.
During the riots I met a great brother who was an undercover FBI agent, Wayne Davis. He and I became fast friends.
I met the late Wayne Davis on the streets of DC during the 1968 riots. In 1970 he was assigned as a desk supervisor at FBI HQ in Washington, DC. The assignment made him only the second black in FBI history to hold that position. Wayne and I would have lunch years later and he reminded me who were the real heroes of the 1968 riots in DC. He named DC’s first black Mayor, Walter Washington, and Patrick Murphy, the Director of the Police and Fire Departments as the real heroes. When I asked him to explain, he said, “When my boss suggested to shoot looters on sight, and they said ‘Hell No” we would never know how many lives they saved. J Edgar never consulted with members of his staff, this decision was made solely by him and his inner circle.” Wayne grew up in Newark, NJ where he was an outstanding high school athlete. He was the captain of the University of Connecticut basketball and track teams. He left DC and the next thing I knew he was the Agent in Charge in the Detroit Office of the FBI in 1980. I was in Detroit that same year covering Thomas “Hit Man” Hearn’s first title fight. I invited Wayne to attend fight. We watched Hearns knock out the champion Pipino Guevas in the 8th round to become the new welterweight champion of the World.
One evening in 1989 I found Mayor Marion Barry in Face’s Restaurant located on upper Georgia Avenue NW. The restaurant was a hangout for the “DC in crowd.” I asked his driver and security officer William Stays to go into the restaurant and tell the Mayor I needed to see him. Stays without question went into the restaurant and brought him out to me. I told Marion I had information that the FBI was on his trail and he needed to step back. His response, “Harold I appreciate the information, but I got everything under control!” Several months later, ‘The Bitch Set Him Up.” The Saturday before he was to go to jail on Monday, he stopped by W-U-S-T radio station with my college roommate, DC Boxing Commissioner, the late Dr. Arnold McKnight. The first world out of Marion’s mouth, “Harold Bell is always going to tell the truth.” He confessed, “Harold I should have listen to you.” Too little too late!
https://www.bigmarker.com/nabj/NABJ-Sam-Lacy-Awards-Program?bmid=99ea2ef240f2/ I coordinated police and youth forums to improve community policing. I encouraged DC Superior Court judges, police chiefs and beat cops to be a part of the community to enhanced the growth of inner-city children. https://www.youtube.com/watchv=RvmdLzVSf38&feature=em POLICE FORUM.
I testified during a DC City Council confirmation hearing against the hiring of Peter Newsham as DC Police Chief. He was not worthy and they hired him anyway. The murder and crime rate skyrocketed every year he held office. I forewarned Mayor Bowser, Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton and Councilwoman Mary Che with written proof that I gave to them personally. We cannot blame Newshame on Donald Trump. I wrote a Priority Mail letter signature required to Maryland Governor Larry Hogan warning him about cowboy cops patrolling black neighborhoods harrassing the residents. Four years later he has yet to respond. https://theoriginalinsidesports.blog/…/cops-keep but now he is suddenly jumping on the band wagon of Police Reform? Whom ever took the poll approving his job rating for the state, you can bet they are on his payroll.
PG COUNTY EXECUTIVE ANGELA ALSOBROOKS EXHIBIT A:
*COUNTY WITHOUT A POLICE CHIEF FOR 9 MONTHS?
*SCHOOL BOARD IS IN SHAMBLES?
*COVID 19 HAS BECOME A POLITICAL FOOTBALL FOR ALL?
*COUNTY PAID 20 MILLION DOLLARS TO FAMILY BECAUSE OF A BAD SHOOTING BY A DERANGED COP?
*COUNTY SPENT 13 MILLION DOLLARS TO SURPRESS COURT FINDINGS OF RACISM IN THE POLICE DEPARTMENT? WHO IS ON FIRST FOR THE BLACK COMMUNITY?
MY QUESTION TO THE CAPITOL HILL POLITICIANS: WHAT TOOK YOU SO LONG?
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