[News] ICE's Julie Myers is latest actor in Great American Minstrel Show
news at freedomarchives.org
Wed Nov 14 16:47:28 EST 2007
ICE's Julie Myers is latest actor in Great American Minstrel Show
Posted on Sat Nov 10th, 2007 at 06:32:51 PM EST
Julie Myers, who heads Immigration and Customs
Enforcement (ICE), unmasked her true character
recently at a Halloween party she hosted on behalf of a charity.
The event was meant to raise money for the
Combined Federal Campaign, which is a federal
government charity effort similar to the United
Way campaign. But Myers must have deemed it an
appropriate event to also raise awareness of her
affinity for the bygone era of Minstrel shows.
Myers, the leader of a federal law enforcement
agency that has some 15,000 employees, was part
of a three-member panel at the Halloween event
that was assigned the holiday task of doling out
awards for the best costumes. Some 50 to 75
people were at the Halloween gala, according to
press reports, so the competition was fierce.
But apparently, in Myers mind, one of the
winners was a clear-cut choice. That individual
played off the law enforcement theme of the
gathering by donning a striped prison outfit as a
costume. His originality was only outdone by his
creativity. In a clever allusion to the centurys
old history of slavery and its more recent Jim
Crow cousin, the ICE employee also sported a dreadlock wig and blackface.
Myers was so overwhelmed with the sheer
brilliance of this individuals attire that she
and two other individuals on the judging panel
selected this white employees Halloween getup
for the most original costume award. Caught up in
the excitement of the moment, Myers also sought
to memorialize the moment by posing for a photo
shoot with the blackfaced reveler.
But theres always some party bore who wants to
spoil the moment. As a result, when word of this
individuals honor spread, some ICE employees
complained because they found his costume to be
offensive. Who could have guessed?
But Myers and ICE, which is part of the
Department of Homeland Security (DHS), reacted
quickly, destroying all of the photos (or
evidence) of the winning entry and quickly issued
an apology to all the usual groups, including the
Association of African-Americans in the
Department of Homeland Security, and to House
Homeland Security Committee Chairman Rep. Bennie Thompson, D-Miss.
Myers apology did include a caveat, however,
which was communicated to the press through an
ICE flak who claimed that technically the ICE
employee was not wearing blackface, but rather
only a skin bronzer. The ICE spin manager also
claimed that Myers did not realize the
costume-award winner was gobbed up in make-up
until after the event, when some ICE employees complained.
Following the ICE Minstrel show, there were the
usual politically motivated protests from a few
Democrats, such as U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill,
D-Mo., who threatened to derail Myers
still-pending nomination to the post of assistant secretary overseeing ICE.
Myers has served as the de facto head of ICE
since January 2006, when President Bush did an
end-around Congress and put her in the job
through a recess appointment. Congress, at the
time, had threatened to reject her nomination
because of her lack of experience and concerns
over charges that she was little more than a Bush
administration crony. Prior to overseeing ICE,
Myers served for a short time as DHS Secretary
Michael Chertoffs chief of staff, and is married
to his current chief of staff and happens to be
the niece of Air Force General and former Chair
of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Richard Myers.
Given Myers connections to the insider Beltway
elite, we can expect Sen. McCaskills protest
will likely go the way of other Democratic
blustering to date. After all, Democrats in the
Senate initially protested but the Senate still
recently approved the nomination of a new
attorney general, Michael Mukasey, who would not
rule out allowing the use of innovative torture
tactics against brown terrorist suspects. Why
would the Congress behave any differently when it
comes to a less-pressing matter like an ICE party
featuring an original Minstrel costume?
And DHS Secretary Chertoff seems to be satisfied
with Myers apology. After all, he brought Myers
up the ranks and worked in concert with his
social circle to fulfill her nepotistic destiny,
so he knows she comes from good stock.
The Big Picture
So, it seems, the only person to suffer the crush
of the political fallout from creating a
red-faced moment for Myers and the Bush
Administration in this case is the Minstrel man
himself. That low-level ICE employee has been
placed on administrative leave pending a further investigation of his costume.
That double standard has some employees within
DHS crying foul, including Samuel St. John, who
works with Customs and Border Protection (CBP), a sister agency to ICE.
The individual who wore the costume is with
(DHSs Office] of Detention and Removal and he
has been put on administrative leave, St. John
says. But when its one of their own [top brass
like Myers], they sweep it under the rug and go
after the working person to try and make an
example out of them.
Its a pattern.
And St. John talks with some authority on the subject.
St. John decided to tangle with the top brass at
Customs (Customs was folded into ICE in 2003 as
part of the creation of DHS) in the mid-1990s
when he filed an Equal Employment Opportunity
(EEO) discrimination complaint over what he describes as a racist incident.
St. Johns EEO battle with Customs, which lasted
some seven years, had its genesis at a 1994 staff
party held at Customs headquarters in Washington,
D.C. St. John alleges that Charles Winwood went
out of his way to belittle Hispanics by attending
the luncheon event dressed in the stereotypical
sombrero and serape of a Mexican peon.
At the time, Winwood was a senior executive with
Customs, then part of the Treasury Department.
Winwoods rising-star status within Customs,
however, did not dissuade St. John from speaking
out against him in what St. John deemed a matter
of honor. In a May 1998 letter written to
then-Secretary of the Treasury Robert Rubin, (the
parent agency of Customs at the time) St. John states:
I have enclosed photographs of one of your
senior executives, Mr. Charles Winwood, assistant
commissioner, Office of Strategic Trade, in which
Mr. Winwood demonstrates the agencys attitude
toward Hispanics, in this case Mexican-Americans.
Mr. Winwood decided to wear a sombrero and serape
in order, in his words, to look like a Mexican
for a TexMex luncheon sponsored by his office.
... I am of Hispanic descent, and I am very proud
of my heritage. When I see such displays of
blatant insensitivity, especially from a senior
executive, it is impossible to ignore or just
pass it off as an isolated incident. I have filed
a formal complaint on this matter
St. John says that as a result of speaking out
against Winwood, he has been denied promotions
while Winwood weathered the event unscathed and
continued to rise through the ranks of Customs,
taking over the agencys top spot in January 2001
with the retirement of Commissioner Raymond Kelly
who is now the Commissioner of the New York City Police Department.
St. John says he contacted members of Congress,
including members of the Congressional Hispanic
Caucus, concerning Winwoods behavior at the
time, but they did nothing. I got no response, St. John says.
The leadership of Customs, and its successor
agency ICE, has a long history of tolerating and
even rewarding racism within its ranks. History
offers evidence for that claim.
Customs was among the three federal
law-enforcement agencies that were the subject of
congressional hearings in the 1990s in connection
with an event called the `Good O Boy Roundup,
and all had agents attending or organizing the event.
The Good O Boy Roundup was an annual party held
in the backwoods of Tennessee that was marked by
blatant racist activity. The other two agencies
involved in the 1995 congressional hearings were
the U.S. Secret Service and the Bureau of
Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (BATF) -- both also
part of the Treasury Department at the time.
On July 11, 1995, a newspaper article appeared
on the front page of the Washington Times
entitled, Racist ways die hard at Lawmens
retreat -- Annual Good O Boy Roundup cited as
evidence of Klan Attitude at BATF, states a
March 2002 court filing by the law firm of
Shaffer, Rapaport & Schmidt, which at the time
represented African American BATF agents as well
as Hispanic Customs agents in class-action
discrimination lawsuits filed against their agencies.
... The article detailed allegations of racist
misconduct by personnel of the BATF and other
federal law enforcement agencies [including
Customs] at an annual retreat outside Ocoee, Tenn.
The court pleadings continue as follows:
... The tape (of the event) was shocking. It
showed a Nigger check point sign at which,
ostensibly, cars were checked to determine
whether blacks were trying to attend the Roundup.
Another sign asked, Any niggers in that car?
There were also Confederate flags posted at the event.
In his testimony (before the Senate Judiciary
Committee in July 1995) BATF Director John Magaw
acknowledged that racist activity had taken
place at the Roundup every year it occurred since
1985. Director Magaw described to the committee
some of the activities at the Roundup, including
a skit that was put on in which a person dressed
as a Ku Klux Klansman simulated performing sodomy
on a person with a blackened face.
In the wake of the Congressional hearings in the
mid-1990s prompted by the "Roundup," little
appears to have changed with respect to the
racist atmosphere of federal law enforcement
agencies. Myers recent display of bigotry is
just one more example of that reality.
The case of Customer supervisor Ricardo Sandoval is yet another illustration.
Sandoval, who served as the resident agent in
charge of the Customs Office of Investigations in
El Centro, Calif., in July 2000 won a U.S. Court
of Appeals case in which Customs was challenging
a 1998 lower courts finding that he had been the
victim of discrimination and retaliation. In that
lower-court case, Sandoval raised allegations
that a neo-Nazi ring was operating inside the
Customs Service in the San Diego area. The case
stemmed from an incident in 1992 in which
Sandovals first-line supervisor in the Office of
Internal Affairs in Calexico, Calif., ordered him
to investigate a complaint that involved a white
supervisor assaulting a black officer.
Legal documents filed in federal court in
Washington, D.C., in May 2002 in a related
class-action discrimination lawsuit against
Customs describe the rock-throwing incident as follows:
Several white Customs managers had thrown rocks
at Ken Lakes and it appeared to be racially
motivated. One of the perpetrators wore a Nazi
Swastika ring. Evidence was developed showing
that these Customs managers collected Nazi
memorabilia and they had scrawled swastikas on
lockers and elevators in Customs buildings.
Sandoval came to believe that a neo-Nazi group
was behind the incident. He reported it to his
superiors and recommended that it be referred to
the United States Attorneys Office for
prosecution as a hate crime under the civil
rights statutes. His request was denied and he
was told that Customs would send out a memo
saying inspectors should not throw rocks at black employees.
Sandoval ignored his superiors and reported the
results of his investigation to the United States
Attorneys Office, where the case was referred to
the Justice Departments hate crimes unit in Washington, D.C.
Thereafter, Agent Sandovals upgrade to GS-14
(rank) was denied and he was not selected for the
Internal Affairs/Office of Enforcement rotation.
He did not receive temporary acting supervisory
assignments. Based on the foregoing, Agent
Sandoval filed an EEO complaint alleging discrimination and retaliation.
In 1998, a California federal jury awarded
Sandoval $200,000 for discrimination and
retaliation. Several jurors said they believed
that corruption and discrimination may be
systemic within the Customs Internal Affairs unit
where Sandoval worked in 1992.
And then theres the case of the Racist Manifesto.
In the late 1990s, an anonymous letter was sent
to Customs headquarters by a Customs agent in El
Paso, Texas. The letter was addressed to Raymond
Kelly and sent to headquarters in the spring of
1998, about three months before Kelly was sworn
in as Commissioner of Customs. On September 29,
1998 nearly two months after Kelly took over
the helm at the agency an Internal Affairs unit
from Customs headquarters was dispatched to the
El Paso office to investigate the allegations made in the letter.
Copies of the anonymous letter and the subsequent
Customs investigative report were obtained from
the League of United Latin American Citizens
(LULAC). In addition, related legal documents
were obtained in which the anonymous letter
writer is identified as Special Agent Sean Mulkearns.
In the correspondence, Mulkearns makes a series
of unsubstantiated charges concerning a group of
Hispanic Customs agents working in the El Paso
Customs Office of Internal Affairs. Mulkearns is
Caucasian, and the individuals referred to in the
missive as Mexican Mafia are Hispanic Customs agents.
Among the accusations made in the letter are the following:
There are a number of agents/supervisors which
have banded together into what the
the Mexican Mafia. These agents have gravitated
to the Office of Internal Affairs. They have and
are pursuing what can only be called vendettas
against a number of agents. ... Many of these
vendettas started years ago but these Mafia agents never forget.
Later in the letter:
All of these ringleaders/agents [the Mexican
Mafia] have started their careers, either as
patrol officers, inspectors, or El Paso police,
in the El Paso offices jurisdiction. They have
significant ties and dealings with smugglers.
Some rumors state that some smugglers are in
their close family relations, but that
information is closely guarded. They have
positioned themselves to know when one of their
OWN relatives or close friends is being
investigated and to snuff out any competition.
... They [the Mexican Mafia] have gravitated to
and infiltrated the Office of Internal Affairs
[in Customs El Paso office) in a slow and progressive manner.
Later in the letter:
I believe if these rogue agents [the Mexican
Mafia] are allowed to solidify into a Hit Team
in IA [Internal Affairs], it will eventually lead
to physical violence and possibly someone being shot.
Mulkearns at one point refers to the Hispanic
agents as a band of low lifes and says they
should be forced to submit to polygraph tests.
If they refuse to submit, then they should be
transferredwith no hope of returning to the El
Paso area, Mulkearns letter states.
I have always believed that nothing sanitizes
better than shining the light of day onto it, the letter concludes.
It is signed (spelling as it appears in the
letter): Sempre Fi, a Good/Honest Customs Agent.
In response to the letter, and under the watch of
Commissioner Kelly, an Internal Affairs unit was
flown to El Paso to investigate the charges in Mulkearns letter.
The findings of the investigative unit, called a
Flying Squad, according to the their report, were as follows:
The agent who wrote the letter admitted under
oath that he wrote the letter because he/she did
not get selected for an agent position in
Internal Affairs [IA] at the El Paso office.
During [Mulkearns] debriefing on Oct. 8, [he]
stated that [he] was pissed off at the time
[he] wrote the letter primarily because [he]
applied for a position with IA El Paso and was not selected.?
Mulkearns admitted under oath that he
embellished some of the information/allegations
contained in the anonymous letter.
Mulkearns admitted under oath that he included
false information in the anonymous letter.
Mulkearns admitted under oath that the
anonymous letter contained
information/allegations that were hearsay,
speculation and the perception of certain
individuals who do not like some of the [Hispanic agents].
The Headquarters Internal Affairs/Flying Squad
[investigation] did not reveal any evidence of
misconduct by Office of Internal Affairs/El Paso
personnel as described in the anonymous letter
[and] could not corroborate any of the
allegations delineated in the anonymous letter,
the investigative report states.
Despite this fact, and an admission in the
investigative teams report that it was
identified early in the investigation that
many of the allegations were identified as
rumor, speculation or unfounded, the
investigation proceeded in an effort to
determine if there was a perception that Internal
Affairs/El Paso agents were targeting Office of
Investigations/El Paso personnel.
Although the [Hispanic agents] voiced their
disgust with the allegations and their resentment
for the label MEXICAN MAFIA, the agents
conducted themselves in a courteous and
professional manner throughout the
investigation, the investigative report states.
In addition, even though he admitted under oath
that he embellished and included false
information in the correspondence sent to Kelly,
Mulkearns was given an opportunity by the
investigative unit to rewrite the letter.
Even after the rewrite, the allegations were
determined to be unfounded, according to the
investigative report, which concluded by stating
that no further investigation by the
Headquarters Internal Affairs Flying Squad is anticipated.
In the wake of that investigation, Mulkearns
received a plum duty station assignment. In
addition, the Hispanic agents who were the
targets of Mulkearns letter were dispersed to
different posts within the Customs Service as was requested in the letter.
More of the same
And for the critics who might dismiss the
experiences of the El Paso Customs agents, St.
John and Sandoval as well as the dozens of
Hispanic and African American agents who
participated in class-action discrimination
lawsuits against their agencies as old examples
of racial tensions that have since been corrected
in the racially enlightened era of the Bush
administration, then how can they explain away
the continuing pattern of racism revealed in more recent cases?
As the director of ICEs Office of
Investigations, Marcy Forman oversees some 6.000
special agents and more than 150 ICE field
offices. So she wields tremendous power.
The legal case that shines a light on Formans
racist management style involves an African
American U.S. Customs Inspector (Norman Green) in
Houston who in 1998 applied for one of two open
special agents position with U.S. Customs
which has since become part of ICE under the
Department of Homeland Security (DHS).
Despite applying, Green was not considered for
the special agent job, and instead two other
individuals (both white) were selected for agent
positions, one of whom was clearly less qualified than Green.
Green filed an EEO complaint in 2001 and an
administrative judge ruled in is favor in
February 2006, indicating that Green had
established a prima facie case based on race discrimination.
In April 2006, DHS issued a final order rejecting
the judges finding and then appealed the case to
the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission
(EEOC). In January of this year, the EEOC
reversed the agencys final order a ruling favoring Green.
As part of the ruling, the EEOC indicated that
the recommending and selecting officers at
Customs essentially acted as the cats paw for
the Assistant Special Agent in Charge in
Houston (then Marcy Forman) who made the
discriminatory recommendations that prevented
Green from getting the special agents job.
The EEOC said Forman, at the time Green applied
for the special agents job, essentially ignored
(Greens) qualifications and the administrative
judge concluded that Greens qualifications were
superior to that of a candidate who was
ultimately selected for the agents post.
From the EEOC ruling:
Norman Green, Complainant, v. Michael Chertoff,
Secretary, Department of Homeland Security, Agency
Hearing No. 330-2004-00026X
Appeal No. 0720060058 ?Agency No. HS 00-ICE-000142
Jan. 19, 2007
U.S. EQUAL EMPLOYMENT OPPORTUNITY COMMISSION
[Forman] met with and encouraged Customs
Inspectors to apply for Criminal Investigator
positions and had in fact met with [Green].
However, [Green] described his meeting with
[Forman] as brief, cold and noted that [Forman]
did not make eye contact with him and seemed
uninterested in his qualifications for the position.
The [administrative judge] found that [Forman]
essentially ignored [Greens] qualifications in
recommending [another individual]
The [administrative judge] considered the
testimony of [a witness for Green], a retired
agency inspector supervisor, who stated that
during his tenure with the agency (of some 30
years), he could not recall any African American
males promoted from within to the position of
special agent. He stated that many were
qualified, but they were not considered, while
Caucasian inspectors were quickly promoted.
[Another witness for Green, an African American
Customs Inspector] stated that [Forman] told him
at one point that his "black ass would never
become a special agent" when [Forman] was unhappy
with [the witness] actions in connection with
his performance on a particular case. The
[administrative judge] found the evidence showed
that [Forman] was motivated by discrimination
when she recommended [another agent] over [Green]
for the position of Criminal Investigator (Special Agent).
In the instant case we find that substantial
evidence supports the [administrative judges]
determination that discrimination on the bases of
race and color occurred when [Green] was not
selected for the position of Criminal
Investigator and [a white individual] was
selected instead. Specifically, we find the
record supports the [judges] finding that
[Formans] recommendations were communicated to
the recommending and selection officials.
We order the agency [ICE] to take the following actions:
Within 30 days of the date this decision becomes
final, the agency shall promote complainant to
the position of Special Agent (Criminal
retroactive to November 11, 1998.
Within 60 days of the date this decision becomes
final, the agency shall pay complainant
$139,957.00 in back pay and other benefits for
the period of time between November 11, 1998 and November 16, 2005.
Within 60 days of the date this decision becomes
final, the agency shall pay complainant the sum
of $75,000 for non-pecuniary, compensatory damages;
Within 60 days of the date this decision becomes
final, the agency shall pay complainant the sum
of $32,377.56 for attorney's fees and costs;
Within 60 days of the date this decision becomes
final, the agency shall consider taking
appropriate disciplinary action against the
responsible management official [Marcy Forman].
The agency shall report its decision to the
Compliance Officer referenced herein. If the
agency decides to take disciplinary action it
shall identify the action taken. If the agency
decides not to take disciplinary action, it shall
set forth the reason(s) for its decision not to impose discipline.
Within 180 days of the date this decision becomes
final, the agency shall train all responsible
agency employees in the agency's facility in
Houston, Texas, concerning the prevention of race
and color discrimination and the agency's duties
to ensure that similar violations do not occur
Apparently, Myers didnt get the memo on that
prior to sitting on the judging panel at the
recent Halloween party. Forman, by the way,
subsequently rose up the ladder at ICE after her
stint in Houston and still serves as the director
of ICEs Office of Investigations, under the
direction of ICE chief Myers. In that position,
Forman is charged with overseeing ICEs
nationwide effort to roundup undocumented
immigrants, most of whom happen to be people of color.
And then theres the recent case of Renae Baros,
a Hispanic ICE administrative support employee in
Las Cruces, N.M., who formerly worked as an
investigative assistant in ICEs El Paso office.
Baros, in a lawsuit filed in federal court in El
Paso, alleged that she was denied promotions and
subjected to frivolous investigations after
reporting that her supervisor sexually harassed her in the workplace.
Baros case went to trial several weeks ago and a
jury returned a verdict finding that ICE
Associate Special Agent in Charge Patricia
Kramer, who is white, did retaliate against her
for her complaint of sexual harassment against a supervisor.
Kramer was the No. 2 person in charge of ICEs El
Paso office when Baros problems played out. In
that position, Kramer was instrumental in
creating a hostile and discriminatory working
environment in that office, Baros attorneys argued in court pleadings.
From Baros court pleadings:
Ms. Kramers disdain toward women in general in
her office and towards Hispanic women led to 10
Hispanic females filing a Congressional Complaint
that led to an internal investigation of Ms.
Kramers discriminatory practices
investigation was conducted by Senior Special Agent Steven Cooper.
The Plaintiff [Baros] has asked for this document
in discovery and is entitled to it since it will
bolster [her] claim of gender and racial discrimination.
[Baros] attorney has also developed
information that Ms. Kramer referred to those who
died in the so-called House of Death matter in a
derogatory manner when she stated theyre just Mexicans.
And yes, as the just Mexicans comment suggests,
the House of Death mass murder is also marked by
antipathy toward people of bronze skin tones.
In that case, an ICE informant played a leading
role in a dozen murders in Juarez, Mexico, as
part of a narco-trafficking investigation. After
ICE leadership became aware of the first murder
in August 2003, they authorized the continued use
of the informant, resulting in an additional 11
murders at the House of Death. All of the victims
were Mexican, including one U.S. legal resident named Luis Padilla.
Racism, without a doubt, is at the core of why
the House of Death murders were allowed to occur,
according to Sandalio Gonzalez, who headed DEAs
office in El Paso at the time and blew the
whistle on the governments complicity in the murders.
If this had been a city on the Canadian border,
these murders would not have happened, Gonzalez
told Narco News previously. Our government would
not allow Canadian citizens to be tortured and
. But, in the House of Death case, they
did let it happen because it was El Paso and
Juarez and a bunch of Mexicans that they dont give a shit about.
And apparently, Congress doesnt give a shit
either, since in the wake of national and
international press coverage following on the
heels of Narco News coverage of the House of
Death, that august body has yet to call a single
hearing to investigate the governments role in
the torture and slayings of a dozen people of color in Juarez, Mexico.
But then for people like Myers and for the
politicians who harbor an underlying bigotry
ruling over the people wouldnt really be any fun
if they couldnt wear masks that disguise their true character, would it?
Welcome to The Great American Minstrel Show that is our government.
For more in-depth coverage of the events outlined
in this story, check out the following links:
Death, and this reporters
A summary of mainstream media coverage of Julie
Myers' Halloween judging prowess can be found at
522 Valencia Street
San Francisco, CA 94110
-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
More information about the News