Published 12:00 am Wednesday, September 13, 2000

Lee Dresselhaus / L’Observateur / September 13, 2000

So…..boy do I feel left out. I wonder why nobody ever includes me in all those conspiracies out there.

Just this week another has been uncovered by the forces of light, this time at a Detroit department store.

On June 22, a Lord & Taylor security guard named Dennis Richardson found himself embroiled in a scrap with one Frederick Finley after Finley’s girlfriend’s 11-year-old daughter was allegedly observed pocketing some merchandise, specifically a bracelet, AKA shoplifting. Some other membersof a group with Finley were also allegedly observed shoplifting. WhenRichardson and other security guards confronted the group as they left the store Finley became combative and took a punch at Richardson. Richardsonrestrained Finley, allegedly using a chokehold. Finley, unfortunately, died. It was tragedy for all concerned. Finley’s family is understandably upset.Dennis Richardson is a Detroit firefighter who works the second job as a security guard to make ends meet, and is now watching his life crumble before his eyes. But, of course, it can’t be as simple as that. No, it’s notenough that the whole thing was just some awful tragedy brought on by someone who, with or without Finley’s knowledge, decided to steal.

It wasn’t enough that Richardson was charged with involuntary manslaughter after protesters – including the Rev. Al Sharpton – demanded that he beprosecuted. Sharpton, never one to miss out on a way to promote himself,came in from New York just for the occasion. With his usual vulture-keenvision he can spot a cause that will put him in the spotlight several hundred miles away.

He and his group, the National Action something or other, cried racism and demanded that Richardson be charged. And, presto! charged he was. Therewas only one problem with the whole racism thing.

Richardson is also black. Oops. So, where do they get the racism thing, youwonder? Glad you asked.

On Sept. 6, a judge cleared Richardson of the manslaughter charge, rulingthat the evidence did not support the charge. There were two differentmedical opinions in the matter, one of which said that Finley died of heart complications and not strangulation. The other said he died of strangulation.The court decided to go with the more experienced of the two and sided with the heart attack thing. The judge, Dearborn District Judge Virginia Sobotka,is now being accused of being in cahoots with Lord & Taylor because she is white. Lord & Taylor is being accused of, now get this, deliberately hiringblack security guards so that they can watch minority shoppers and nobody can accuse Lord & Taylor of racial profiling.

Well, slap my face and call me Sally.

I have to hand it to Al Sharpton and Company. Already known for creativeaccusations (remember Tawana Brawley?), they’ve really outdone themselves with the creative racism accusations this time. Now let’s see,how can we make this work….? The guard who actually caused Finley’s deathwas black, so your basic run of the mill racist accusations wouldn’t fly. Whatcan we do now? So let’s go one layer deeper. The black security guard worksfor a large corporation that is largely white-owned. Aha! Now we’re gettingsomewhere. But the primary shoplifter and the group with Finley who werealso suspected of shoplifting were also black, therefore it would be something of a sticky wicket to accuse the guard of racial profiling. Wait! Iknow! We can bring racism into this yet! We can say that Lord & Taylor hires minority security guards so that they can racially profile away to their evil heart’s content without being caught by the likes of Vulture Eyed Sharpton.

That’s it! Those clever devils. They conspired to violate the rights ofminorities. Ain’t that something?It’s a conspiracy, that’s what it is. If Lord & Taylor hadn’t been deviousenough to hire a black security guard with which to abuse minorities, none of this would have happened. The fact that the security guard was doing his JOBand stopping THIEVES, minority thieves or not, then defending himself after being attacked is being conveniently ignored. And the fact that a judgedecided that there wasn’t enough evidence to further ruin Dennis Richardson’s life because of this tragic incident is being decried as unfair, and justice is being loudly demanded. Again. Note that nobody is bringing up the fact that a security video tape was released July 13 that shows the girl shoplifting and another video was released Aug. 9 that showed other members of the group with Finley werealso shoplifting. The girl wasn’t charged because the Detroit Chief of PoliceRon Dezeil wisely figured that it would agitate an already unstable situation.

Justice, it seems, goes to the most threatening.

There just has to be the specter of conspiratorial racism in everything, doesn’t there? Without it where would the likes of Al Sharpton be, poor thing? He’d have to get a job, just like the rest of us. I hear there’s anopening for a security guard at Lord & Taylor.

I wonder what he would do if somebody took a punch at him?

LEE DRESSELHAUS writes this column every Wednesday for L’Observateur.

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