Bridgeport NAACP: Black Officer Not Treated Like Other Cops

Lonnie Blackwell
Bridgeport Police Lt. Lonnie Blackwell. Photo: Ned Gerard, ST

From Brian Lockhart, CT Post:

The city’s NAACP branch said the federal government may have to monitor Bridgeport’s Finest to prevent discrimination against minority cops.

NAACP officials say they are frustrated with the handling of a racist letter controversy involving prominent black police Lt. Lonnie Blackwell.

Blackwell stands accused of conspiring to circulate a phony racist letter and has been suspended since December. A retired cop–Clive Higgins–was arrested in relation to the incident.

Higgins claimed Blackwell was a co-conspirator, but Blackwell has never been charged and maintained his innocence.

The NAACP in a letter to Hearst Media on Monday, signed by President George Mintz, concluded that Blackwell has been treated differently than fellow police officers.

Read the full story here.

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30 comments

  1. “Acting Police Chief Armando Perez has said he is close to rendering a decision on Blackwell’s fate with the department.”

    This was said over a month ago. Come on AJ, pull the trigger on this matter once and for all. The NAACP must understand this matter was ‘Advanced’ by two African American Police officers (Bailey and Higgins). Let’s be honest, if the officer were white, would the NAACP and/or a few politicians be asking for leniency? Not treated like other cops? Give us some examples of other similar allegations against other cops and explain how they were treated different.

    1. Joel,
      What is the real story as you view it? If the State’s Attorney failed to find fault when they looked at the matter a year ago, are the facts reviewed for 8-9 months by Internal Affairs so complicated and extensive the State missed something? The time counsel for the City has had the paperwork in hand is lengthy as well. Is there a Constitutional issue? Holdup? Time will tell.

        1. I sure as hell don’t see it as y’all do. You are seeing this through rose-colored glasses or perhaps completely blacked-out glasses. It’s even harder to see reality as it is when looking out from the inside of a guitar with only a few string blocking your view. The fact and reality is this: AJ Perez is in a position no other chief has been in the history of the BPD. Not long ago, the police union and the city negotiated and agreed to give the Police Chief greater power to fire or punish Police Officers. Higgins would have been the first to be fired by Chief Gaudett under the new agreement. Higgins was man enough to face up to the ‘reality’ and came clean. When the Beardsley Park beating video surfaced and a black (Higgins), Hispanic and white officer were clearly in trouble and put on suspension, one color (blue) came together to help their brothers. At least two fundraisers were held to help them out. Higgins was cleared on trial and then the racist letter fiasco surfaced after. While many white officers were disappointed, they reached out to Higgins, wished him well and moved on. I think the support, understanding and forgiveness by many white officers played a role in Higgins coming clean and taking responsibility like a real man. As for John Marshall Lee, you have my phone number and if you’d like you can call me and tell me when you will bring that guitar down to the front of the police department. I will be more than happy to bust open that guitar with my broom and free that poor fool inside. I’ll even give each of you a pair of blue-colored glasses.

  2. JML, there may be things that are not against the law but are against department rules and regulations. I challenge the NAACP to show us the different treatment within the department.

    1. Andy my friend, I will attempt that personally if and when the PD command provides their ruling and consequences in my lifetime. Of course, there may be no ultimate difference in treatment from other departmental situations. But injustices in the past were good and sufficient reason for Federal oversight for years. When Chief Perez delivers the news, we can all speculate on the facts of the situation, or applaud the good sense shown in this case, while still wishing that examples of good sense might be expedited. Time will tell.

      1. JML, that was many years ago and things have changed for the most part. I think the NAACP was throwing shit against the wall, if they had any examples of different treatment for blacks and whites they would have released them. This incident involved three black officers, no whites were involved. You can bet your ass if a white officer did what these three did he/she would have been fired.

  3. It’s about time the NAACP said something about anything. I don’t like Blackwell, he’s replete with pomposity and a real asshole. Having said that, the state police and the state attorney said they found no reason to render any charges against Officer Blackwell.

  4. The decision will be based on past practice. Let’s see the NAACP make a public statement about the Bridgeport Board Of Education and about the lack of education our children are not receiving. Time will tell (JML); oh, I’m sorry but the time is long past for them to speak out on this issue.

    1. Ron,
      Your experience with NAACP matters no doubt exceeds my limited viewpoint of the past couple years. But my search indicates most issues are brought to the NAACP with questions and concerns from the public. Have you or others done that, or is daily blogging on OIB meant to be a cry for help? You have many years of observing organizational and individual behavior in Bridgeport. Today you comment from the sidelines it appears. Many times good comments. I am happy you understand “time will tell,” but wouldn’t that process occur more rapidly if you came onto the field itself like others, and formed a question or complaint and sent it to: naacp@Bridgeportnaacp.com? Time will tell.

      1. John Marshall Lee, the answer is yes. John, we have given the Presidents of NAACP very serious issues and they said nothing and did nothing. The Firebird Society of Bridgeport, CT Inc. has been to federal court three times in the past 40 years and the NAACP was nowhere to found during those fights but we were involved in the NAACP lawsuit in the illegal redistricting as friends of the court. The Firebird Society of Bridgeport, CT Inc. have been Lifetime members of the NAACP for over 20 years and I was a member for the same but once they lost their charter to the National NAACP and all memberships were no good I decided not to rejoin again after they got their charter back. I’ve know every NAACP President from the early 1970s up until they lost their charter. I’ve never met the current President. When the Rodney King incident happened in Los Angeles with the riots in 1992, well word got out here in Bridgeport the students at Central High School were going to have a walkout and a rally. The President of the NAACP then was Julian Braxton, a long-time business owner in the East End. Mr. Braxton asked Firebird Society’s President and myself if we could have our members march with students to make sure nothing happened especially with the police. It was a peaceful march and we got to see the leadership of those students and I must say I was very proud of the students but it was also leadership of the then-President of the NAACP, Julian Braxton.

        1. The current Board members attempting to provide energy, common sense and effort to the Vision and Mission of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People I am getting to know through working together. However, the community was let down in the past by past local leadership, it should not diminish respect for attempting to pick up the more than century-old banner, ideals and necessary work. Times change. So do people. But injustices rear their ugliness and it is right and just to stand up and protest in whatever manner seems wise and effective at the time.
          I delivered the June 2016 inaugural issue of the local newsletter to your home. You have never acknowledged receipt of same or the content. What has your tongue? I am happy Mr. Braxton was respected for his efforts in his time. The passing of time ages people, changes businesses, and makes for new challenges as Michele Alexander wrote six years ago in THE NEW JIM CROW. When can I introduce you to George Mintz? Why does he not deserve a meeting with you who are a relentless agitator and historian., but for what practical cause do you work today that is similar in intent to the local NAACP? Mintz is about collaboration and sitting at the same table with all those with energy and mission on their minds. When can I make this introduction? Time will tell.

          1. John, let me repeat my comment earlier. “Let’s see the NAACP make a public statement about the Bridgeport Board Of Education and about the lack of education our children are not receiving. Time will tell (JML); oh, I’m sorry but the time is long past for them.” John, George Mintz needs to step up and say something, say anything but act like they care about the students in Bridgeport. John, I have no problem being critical of someone white, black, male or female.

    2. “The decision will be based on past practice.” That’s impossible, Ron Mackey. In the past the Police Chief could not do what AJ can do. Had it been like in the past, the Police Commission would have made the decision and obviously those politicians trying to pressure AJ Perez would have been in a better position to influence the decision. That’s what pisses a few politicians off, yet they don’t even understand the new way of handling these types of matters.

      1. Joel, I understand what you are saying but the past practice I’m talking about is not who makes the decision but what has been done with cases like this in the past. If it never happened in the BPD then what cases have happened like this Citywide.

  5. Donald, violations of policy and procedures is totally different than criminal charges. You’re right, he is a pompous asshole who should have never been a Lieutenant, let alone a cop. It was funny how all his arrests by the Stratford Police Department were nolled prior to him becoming a cop.

    1. Dave my friend, there are enough secrets and back stories here in Bridgeport to keep OIB percolating for years. Some of the stories would damage reputations doubtless, but whether such memories are true or false is hard to sort out. Yet the public safety, anti-corruption, keeping the peace, and ‘obedience to the rules’ functions of the Police are important. When they are trashed by behavior that is inappropriate, consequences are due. Are they fair, equal and just in application? Do not know until decisions are rendered. Perhaps you can provide some public insight. Doesn’t everyone want to laugh out loud? Time will tell.

    2. What are you referring to? The racist writing on the Police Department Elevator and who turned out to be the one writing it? Just so you know DavidDanielsIII, the elevator has been broken for about a month now. The only good thing about this is AJ Perez doesn’t have to worry about anyone writing racist stuff on the elevator walls.

    1. Gary, once again as I said earlier, “The decision will be based on past practice,” what did the police department do to others with like-minded acts or is this a new area.

        1. Gary, I don’t know all the facts. I know when I was union rep. for the firefighters union it was our duty to see that one standard was being used. I believe in progressive discipline, past practice and what is called “the reasonable person” law.

          1. That is a great standard you follow. Based on the reports to the public, Lt. (Training Officer) Lonnie Blackwell basically fabricated a hate crime, anti-black racist type document with full intent white police personnel would receive the full repercussions for his actions. Since there is no past practice your standards says issue a verbal warning (progressive discipline) or reasonable person law. Does Lt. Lonnie Blackwell’s actions meet or exceed cause for termination?

  6. Okay folks, whatever the decision in the fate of Blackwell some will say it was too harsh and some will say it was not enough.

    The NAACP has no say in this, neither do the Guardians; no one in the city besides the city attorney.

    Let’s stop making this an issue of race and focus on the crime if there was one. None of us knows what the department violation was, all we know is the state did not find a crime.

    Let’s not forget there is a captain with his ass in the wind too, what is his fate going to be? Could they both take long suspensions without pay and reductions in rank? The department is going to find some catch-all policy violation and rule on that. The city attorney most likely is looking to see what can be done to insulate the city from a lawsuit.

    Soon it will all come out on the wash.

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