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Marshal Racists Spark Suits
Minorities: Discrimination rampant among fed cops
By William Sherman and Daniel GoldFarb
New York Post, Sunday, March 16, 1997
The U.S. Marshals Service is riddled with blatant, sometimes violent racism
in its offices in New York and throughout the country, a Post investigation
The service's biased hiring and promotion practices seem to be fueling
the open bigotry.
Statistics reveal that 264 of the 292 deputy marshals hired last year were
white. They are working for a 3,987 member work force that is 79% white.
In a series of interviews, black and white deputy marshals providing chilling
details of incident after incident of on-the-job discrimination they've
either faced or witnessed.
Their accounts of bias at work included:
White deputies setting up black deputies for beatings by prison inmates.
White deputies failing to provide backup for black deputies making dangerous
White deputies using Martin Luther King's picture for target practice
during an annual firearms qualification test.
A white deputy terrorizing black female deputies by running through
the marshal's office dressed as a member of the Ku Klux Klan.
Having defaced and obscene autopsy photos of a 7 year old black murder
victim placed on the desks of two deputies who where partners -- one white,
the other black.
The white deputy, who is assigned to the service's Manhattan office, said
he has been ostracized at work as a "nigger lover" and was beaten by a
white colleague for supporting his black partner's discrimination complaints.
Examples of systemic bias and glaring acts of discrimination are included
in a series of equal-opportunity complaints and federal suits filed in
the last few years.
Most include allegations that those who file complaints suffer immediate
In one pending suit, Ruth Worsely, a supervisory deputy marshal in New
Jersey, charges she was assigned "to perform primarily secretarial and
administrative duties" because she is black -- despite her high-ranking
Worsely, who joined the service in 1979 and worked her way up through the
ranks, says he has been continually humiliated on the job.
She says she has been forced to use the same restroom as male deputies,
has been excluded from supervisory staff meetings, and has been prevented
from using the official car assigned to her.
The most shocking complaint in her suit was an account of the day a white
deputy appeared in the Newark office in a white sheet and meanaced a snumber
of black female employees.
One of those terrorized by the hateful KKK-like display was Joan Cobbs,
a 55-year-old seizure and forfeiture specialist. She was so upset and intimidated
that she quit the service.
The white deputy was not disciplined. Instead, he was transferred to his
home state of Ohio - as he had requested.
I'm going to win this lawsuit and get my rights", said Worsley, 54. She
said she has no intention of quitting her job.
Arthur Lloyd, a black deputy marshal who works in Washington, D.C. , claims
he's been the target of life-threatening racism. Lloyd said white deputies
took immediate revenge on him after he filed a discrimination complaint
contending he had been denied a promotion due him. "I was in a cellblock
taking handcuffs off of prisoners who were ringleaders in a prison riot
when a white supervisor locked me in the cell," he said. "All the white
deputies had left and I came very close to getting killed. They locked
me in there for 30 minutes and the only reason I got out was because they
had to bring in the prisoners' lunch wagon and unlocked the door."
Another black deputy marshal, Matthew Fogg, described how his white colleagues
on the fugitive task force left him to fend for himself while he was making
a particularly dangerous arrest. "This guy, a major drug dealer, Michael
Lucas, was doing 20-to-life for murder and he escaped from prison in Texas,"
said Fogg, who has helped nab more than 270 fugitives since joining the
service in 1978. "Lucas was one of the top 15 fugitives in the country,
and we tracked him down. He pulled a gun on me, but I wrestled him down.
The white deputies knew when the bust was coming, but in the end, where
were they? They left their posts."
In 1991, Fogg won the service's highest honor, the Director's Honorary
Award, for his leadership on the task force.
In a discrimination complaint, Fogg alleges that he's suffered "substantial
racial bias." He states he has been denied promotions, and after he complained,
was assigned to a "dead-end" desk job. "They forced me out of the service,"
said Fogg, who claims that superiors threatened him with further retailiation
if he didn't drop his complaint.
"The stress got too much for me and I filed a Workers' Compensation Board
claim -- 'stress-related disorder caused by discrimination and retaliation
in the workplace.'" The board upheld Fogg's claim.
After some time passed, his superiors forced Fogg back to work. When he
and his physician said he was not ready, he was dismissed from the service
for insubordination -- despite the workers' comp ruling.
Fogg's discrimination suit against the service -- in which he seeks more
than $1 million in damages -- is scheduled to go to trial in Federal court
in Washington in May. Fogg said he is also organizing a minority
class-action suit against the service.
Another black marshal, Vincent Johnson, claims his troubles as a deputy
began because he was doing so well. "I was one of three blacks from around
the country picked to attend Special Operations Group School, that's the
Marshal's equivalent of a SWAT team. There were 40 whites in my class,"
said Johnson. He claimed the white instructors "constantly ridiculed" the
blacks and drummed the two other blacks out of the school. "I wasn't fazed
because I was a paratrooper with the 82nd Airborne Division, honorably
discharged, but when I complained about the other blacks in the class getting
kicked out for no reason, the next day I was thrown out." It was four days
before graduation, from the eight-week school, said Johnson.
He added that when he returned to headquarters, "they trumped up some stuff
about my original application to the service and fired me. I couldn't understand
it. All my test scores were in the top 5 percent."
That was nine years ago. Johnson's discrimination complaint has still not
be resolved. After he left the service, he joined the State Department's
diplomatic security corps, and is now a special agent for the Pennsylvania
attorney general, specializing in narcotics investigations.
William Dempsey, a service spokesman, refused to comment on any of these
cases. He said the agency does not comment on individual employee complaints
or lawsuits. But he noted that since Eduardo Gonzalez was appointed head
of the service by President Clinton in 1993, the number of discrimination
and sexual-harassment complaints filed by agency employees has dropped
from 125 to 66.
Dempsey added that the service is taking other steps to alleviate various
imbalances in the system. But at the same time, said Dempsey, "The service
is not acknowledging that any mistakes were made."