Why Do County Commissioner John Wiley Price's Supporters Distrust the FBI? History.
Wilonsky and I attended the John Wiley Price rally together yesterday. He has already done a fine job here reporting on what happened. The only reason I would even open my mouth is in response to some of the comments I see in response to his item.
One commenter asked what's wrong with John Fullinwider, the writer, teacher and community activist who was the only white speaker at the three-hour rally at St. Luke "Community" United Methodist Church in support of embattled Dallas County Commissioner John Wiley Price.
"Did he get on Price's payroll? Or is it too much weed?" asked the Friend of Unfair Park who goes by the name Grumpy Demo.
I actually look forward to Grumpy Demo's comments most of the time, maybe because I'm kind of a grumpy Demo myself, but I think he takes a typical white-folks whiff on this one. If a white Tea Party member had made a speech saying all the same things Fullinwider said about the FBI -- and the Tea Party tends to share similar views on the feds on many occasions -- I don't think Grumpy Demo would have reacted the same way.
Fullinwider presented a broad history of instances in the past, both distant and recent, when the FBI has engaged in corrupt political sabotage of groups believed to be somehow anti-government. Fullinwider ran it down from the FBI's illegal COINTELPRO activities of the '60s to its marathon pursuit of Tennessee Congressman Harold Ford Sr., eventually acquitted by a jury of 11 whites and one black in 1993.
That's just history, man. It's fact. And it's a history that falls especially hard on the hearts and minds of black people, who have been targets of illegal and unjust persecution by police of all stripes and kinds more often than anybody else in the society.
Now, Fullinwider took it a step beyond the history. He claimed a direct causal link between the FBI's pursuit of black officials in Dallas on corruption charges and the waning of the power of the Dallas Citizens Council, the oligarchical group that has dominated city politics since the 1930s. Fullinwider's thesis is that the FBI has been trying to help the Citizens Council hang on to its juice as minorities have gradually been able to take some of that juice away.
That one we can argue. It's a good argument to have. We should argue that one, definitely.
What we're not going to be able to argue is the history of FBI oppression of black people. That one is just there. You can't wipe it away. And of course it's going to be a huge factor in how black people in this city view any kind of FBI mobilization against a black elected official. How could they not feel that way?
The FBI's bad history is not a permanent insurmountable King's X on federal prosecutions of black officials. There were black jurors on the jury that sent Dallas city councilman Don Hill to the pen in 2009.
I looked around St. Luke yesterday evening, and I had the same feeling I got at an earlier rally for Price at Kirkwood Temple AME Church a week ago. The crowd at St. Luke, like the one at Kirkwood, was the solid, middle-aged and older, business and professional class of Southern Dallas, not wingdings and crazy people.
The crowd at St. Luke will believe what the evidence says, if anybody ever goes to trial. No one has been charged yet. But given the history, that evidence will have to be really, really good if the government hopes to get a single conviction.
I wonder ... I've tried this before on other items like this one about race in Dallas ... is there any way all of the commenters who just hate everybody and everything black and want to cave in my skull with a ball bat could chime in first and just say, "S.Y.S.Y.T.A.H." or Sistah!, for "Screw you, Schutze, you total asshole"? That way we could maybe save some time and space and move on to the people who actually want to talk about it a little.
Nah. That won't work.