I Got 99 Problems And Esdaile's NAACP Ain't One

Folks: The Connecticut NAACP condemned me today for re-posting a photo of a group of beer cans wearing hoods and surrounding a brown beer bottle on Facebook. Ku Klux Coors, I called it. It was sent to me by someone who could not believe that Facebook censored it as violative of the site's community standards.

I wrote the following about Scott Esdaile of the NAACP in 2006 on a blog page called Crime and Federalism. I stand by the assessment today.

Just Call Me Mark Furman April 10, 2006

In this morning's New Haven Register, the president of the Connecticut NAACP called me a "wolf in sheep's clothing" and declared I was "no friend" of the NAACP. My crime? I used the "n" word.

No, I didn't mutter the word under my breath. I didn't hurl it in anger. I wrote it. I wrote it at the end of a column that appeared in The Connecticut Law Tribune. I wrote it at the end of a piece on why there was so few people of color serving on juries in Connecticut. I wrote about how the criminal justice process was dominated by white folk, and how awkward that felt.

Then, at the end of the piece, I decided to try to shock people out of complacency. What I wrote was: "Wake up, Connecticut. Or at least admit that we don’t care how we process the brutal little niggers in our midst."

Scott Esdaile, the president of the state NAACP, never objected at the time the article appeared. But he's mad now. He's mad because I successfully defended a woman firefighter who was suspended for using what sounded like the word "nigger."

The state labor board reversed the suspension when they heard what really happened. We learned in the course of investigating that claim that far worse language has been used by New Haven firefighters, and no discipline imposed.

Esdaile never attended the labor board hearing. Like a huckster, he's simply following the headlines where ever they lead. And he has done nothing to make Connecticut juries more representative of the communities they serve.

Esdaile is a charlatan.

The NAACP is a proud organization with a wonderful history. But can it do no better than scrape from the bottom of whatever barrel that contained Mr. Esdaile for leadership? The "n" word is hateful. But no one needs permission to use it to score a rhetorical point. It demonstrates how far we have to go in improving race relations when a man can be blinded by the mere mention of a word.

No friend of the NAACP's? Give me a break, Scott. The last time a contingent of the group came in looking for pro bono help I gave it.

Next time I'll be sure to send a bill." Updated memo to Esdaile: Race pandering is repulsive.

UPDATE: Next time one of your members is in trouble, don’t call. I’ll be out back having a beer.

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About Norm Pattis

Norm Pattis is a Connecticut based trial lawyer focused on high stakes criminal cases and civil right violations. He is a veteran of more than 100 jury trials, many resulting in acquittals for people charged with serious crimes, multi-million dollar civil rights and discrimination verdicts, and scores of cases favorably settled.

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I believe that the state is a necessary fiction and that failing to combat it is the first step toward tyranny.
– Norm Pattis

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