Monday, April 02, 2007

Durham County Democratic Party Chairman Turns on Nifong

DCDP Chair Floyd McKissick, Durham D.A. Mike Nifong and Nifong Campaign Manager Julie Linehan; Septemer 14, 2006
Perhaps following the lead of presidential candidate and Senator Barack Obama (D-IL), who recently indicated his support for a federal Department of Justice investigation into the misconduct of disgraced Durham County District Attorney, Michael Nifong, Durham County Democratic Party Chairman, Floyd McKissick Jr., a candidate in the March 9, 2007 special election to fill the vacant District 20 North Carolina State Senate seat, has taken a public stance against Nifong. In an interview with Newsday's Joseph Mallia, McKissick, whose call for straight party ticket voting was instrumental in Nifong's general election victory, questioned the District Attorney's fairness in the Hoax and other cases.
Last week, Senator Obama, who according to a poll posted at the Durham County Democratic Party website is the overwhelmingly favored candidate among local Dems (Obama 43%, Edwards 17%, Clinton 10%), responded to an inquiry by a valued LieStoppers' blog hooligan, Sceptical, with clear support for the call by Congressman Walter Jones (R-NC) for a DOJ investigation.

"Thank you for contacting me. I appreciate you taking the time to share your perspective on the Duke Rape Case and ongoing investigations of District Attorney Michael Nifong's handling of the case."

"Congressman Walter Jones has asked Attorney General Alberto Gonzales to initiate a federal inquiry into Mr. Nifong's prosecution of three Duke University student athletes accused of an alleged sexual attack on a woman at a party earlier this year. Specifically, Rep. Jones asked the Attorney General to review new evidence that Mr. Nifong withehld exculpatory DNA results from the defendants in order to determine if his conduct has illegally denied the students their civil rights as U.S. citizens under federal law. This independent inquiry is needed, and I will be following its progress closely." Obama Supports Call For Inquiry

In today's Newday article, which appears aimed at demonstrating the "backlash" against Nifong from the local black community, McKissick's comments appear alongside scathing criticism of the DA from William Ragland, a Charles Street neighbor of the false accuser's family, and other disgruntled voters.
Sitting on the stoop of his small wood-sided home, on a parcel of scrub pines carved from a former tobacco plantation, William Ragland, 76, said he wanted to see justice, and soon, in the Duke lacrosse case.
And that would mean putting on trial not the lacrosse players, but the district attorney who led the early prosecution of the case, said Ragland."I was shocked by how Mr. Nifong did the whole thing. It was a cover-up. He had evidence that these boys did not rape her," and improperly kept it secret, said Ragland.
The retired Durham Housing Authority maintenance supervisor has lived in the predominantly black South Central district for a half-century.
This area of modest homes and city housing projects, where 92 percent of the residents are black, is the kind of neighborhood Nifong supporters looked to in order to help re-elect him last November. Eighty percent of South Central's voters cast their ballots for him. But now, a year after an off-campus Duke lacrosse team party sparked charges of sexual assault and put the school and Durham under a national spotlight, many neighborhood residents said this week neither he nor the accuser, who used to live here, have earned their support.
Even after the North Carolina attorney general decides whether to proceed with the prosecution, a decision expected within weeks, the case will likely resonate in this and other neighborhoods for some time.
"The African-American community of Durham wants fairness, and the view is that if Mr. Nifong was not fair in this case, what's he going to be like in other cases?" said Floyd McKissick, a prominent African-American lawyer who is chairman of the Durham Democratic Party and a Duke Law School graduate.
McKissick supported the DA for re-election, but has become increasingly concerned about allegations that Nifong misused his office in the case.
Tiffany Reade, 30, a registered Democrat who said she voted for Nifong in last year's
primary and general election, is angered because she thinks he used the case to get as many votes as possible from the city's blacks, who make up 45 percent of Durham's overall population.
"I would never vote for him again," Reade said, speaking outside a convenience store a block away from the accuser's family home.

Senator Obama's call for support of a Department of Justice investigation, viewed opportunistically as political grandstanding, was met by stinging criticism and stern questions in some corners. Obama's critics ranged from conservative pundits to the Black Press.

Barack Obama announced that he plans to investigate Mike Nifong's prosecution of the Duke students which is something Gibson should be applauding since he's been after Nifong all along. However Obama got no points from Gibson who speculated that it was "political posturing". Each segment got one of Gibson's full screen graphics that spoon feed the main idea so viewers don't need to worry about what to think. This one showed Obama next to the scales of justice with the question, " Is Barack Obama serious or is it political posturing?"News Hounds

Obama blasted for backing fed Duke case

“Is presidential hopeful Sen. Barack Obama’s backing for a federal “independent inquiry” into the Duke alleged sexual assault case a genuine concern that the civil rights of the defendants may have been violated or just simple political pandering to secure more broad-based support for his campaign?

“At least one legal expert has chastised the Black Illinois Democrat, saying, “Having a federal civil rights investigation [in this case] is such a joke.”Another legal scholar added that Obama’s statement “doesn’t mean much” if he’s “stating a position without a valid examination.” Cash Michaels, Amsterdam News

Senator Barack Obama has joined right-wing forces in Congress in demanding a federal probe of Durham District Attorney Michael Nifong for allegedly withholding DNA evidence from the defense in the Duke lacrosse rape case.

Since Obama is in the business of demanding federal probes in racially-motivated cases, he should investigate New York for defaming Tawana Brawley and railroading me. I can show him reams of evidence proving my innocence and the involvement of Steven Pagones, a former assistant district attorney, in the kidnapping and rape of Tawana Brawley.

This was followed by cover-ups by former State Attorney General Robert Abrams and Gov. Eliot Spitzer. Abrams rigged the grand jury process and Spitzer suppressed exculpatory evidence, the same charge filed against Nifong. With respect to Abrams, state-sponsored defamation, without due process, is a constitutional violation. This was retaliation for my fingering Pagones.

Obama is demanding that Nifong be prosecuted for civil rights violations. Thus, he would face imprisonment. It is curious that this is only happening to a white prosecutor who filed criminal charges against privileged, white males for raping a Black woman. This entire situation is unprecedented.

I am simply requesting that Obama's letter be circulated to the Black media and the public. He has circulated it widely in the white media. This is evidence of double talk. Alton Maddox, Black Star News

Considering that McKissick's about face on Nifong comes seven days prior to the special election to fill the District 20 State Senate Seat vacated by the death of Sen. Jeanne Lucas, the first black woman to serve in the state Senate, it will be curious to note whether McKissick, who also serves on the North Carolina Democratic Party Executive Committee and is the son of famed civil rights hero Floyd McKissick Sr., will face the same criticism and questioning as Senator Obama.

Related posts:

Nifong's Political Base Crumbles
- - KC Johnson
Support For Nifong Evaporating
- - Duke Basketball Report
Black Durham Residents Turn on Nifong, Magnum
- - Paul Hue
Meet the Democrat
- - Bulls Eye

Correction: In fairness it should be noted that the Black Star News appears to have removed the Maddox article referenced above. Curiously, the Maddox op-ed has now been replaced with a reprint of the ABC News article that first commented on the news reported here. A Google cached version of the Maddox article, "Obama; Wolf in Sheep's Clothing" can be viewed by clicking here.


bill anderson said...

This is one of the most significant articles I have read yet. My sense is that most blacks in Durham have changed their minds on this case, and that is a good thing.

More important is that almost all of Nifong's political support has withered away, and he would have needed that support in order to be able to survive the Bar hearings with his career intact. Instead, we can see now that Nifong really is a "Dead Man Walking."

This also makes it easier for the special prosecutors to drop the charges. Yes, we will hear the "money buys justice" routine from the Usual Suspects, but there always will be the True Believers who insist that Tawana Brawley was raped.

Anonymous said...

he most arruredly will. at Mrs. Lucas' funeral, that same Mckissack was shaking Nifong's hand along with a lot of other black people who stopped Nifong and asked to shake his hand. Just because Newsday spoke to a janitor and two other black people and the benedict arnold Mckissak, who blows whichever the political wind blows, does not mean that Nifong has lost his support in the black community at large. Keep on dreaming/wistful thinking.

Anonymous said...

Bill Anderson,

you know nothing about Durham in general and less than nothing about the Durham black community. How can you get a sense of what the people in the black community know and think when you literally know none of them? Have you spoken with any Durham blacks? No. You are relying on an article from someone who spoke to maybe three black people in Durham. Well, I live here, go to church here and let me tell you that many of the churches are sending prayers up for Nifong and the victim and some of the preachers have preached on the case, including the deaths of Osborn and Ed Bradley and the subject of bought justice--you would definitely not like to hear the text of some of those sermons(lets just say that the defense and the bloggers like yourself are depicted as supporter of Evildoers and therefore servants of Darkness and are reaping the consequences). The support of Nifong in the black community is still strong.

If you knew anything about Durham you would know that the attorney general is aware of this and is trying to wait for Spring Break at NCCU or even the end of the semester to annonce his dismissal to avoid any problems from the NCCU students. Durham has had riots before( in the 1960's) and that is the part of the town that went up first and it is close to downtown. This is a trivial concern, though, as times have changed and I do not think there will be any riot about a dismissal.

A Durmite*

(this is a derogatory term that the Duke students routinely call black Durhamites, rhymes with termite and that is to emphasize our lack of importance and significance to the Dukies, ie, we are considered as lowly as insects)