Police chief sacked in racism row

AS POLICE in New York City try to refute allegations of racism prompted by the shooting last month of an unarmed West African by four white officers, the chief of New Jersey's state police was without a job yesterday after being fired for publicly blaming drug trafficking on ethnic minorities.

The abrupt dismissal of Colonel Carl Williams by the Governor of New Jersey, Christie Todd Whitman, has thrown a fresh spotlight on simmering tensions between the African-American community and state and city police forces around the country.

Colonel Williams was sacked after saying blacks and Hispanics were more likely than whites to be involved in the cocaine and marijuana market.

His sacking will feed a widening debate in New York about racism in law enforcement that echoes the scandal engulfing the Metropolitan Police in London in response to the Lawrence report. Black and Hispanic leaders in the UShave long complained about unfair police harassment of non-whites.

New York, where the force has been credited with a dramatic lowering of crime rates, witnessed large protests early last month after the shooting of Amadou Diallo in the hallway of his apartment building in the Bronx. The officers now under investigation are being asked to explain why they fired 41 shots at Diallo, who apparently was breaking no law and was carrying no weapon.

Black leaders in New Jersey had already been calling for the sacking of Colonel Williams, the highest police officer in the state, arguing that he had turned a blind eye to so-called "racial profiling" by state troopers on the interstate highway system.

Condemned as illegal, "profiling" refers to the singling out of non-white drivers by police officers watching for anyone violating traffic laws.

Until last weekend, the police chief enjoyed the support of Governor Whitman. She abandoned him after the publication of an interview he gave to The Star-Ledger newspaper in Newark on Sunday. Remarks that Colonel Williams made in the interview drew an instant and furious response from minority leaders.

"The comments were insensitive and absolutely counter to bolstering confidence in law enforcement," the Governor's spokesman said. "There are vast segments of the New Jersey public whose confidence in the system is weakened."

Speaking to the newspaper, Colonel Williams said it would be naive not to recognise that race is a factor in drug activity in the state. "Two weeks ago, the president of the United States went to Mexico to talk to the president of Mexico about drugs. He didn't go to Ireland. He didn't go to England," Colonel Williams said.

"Today with this drug problem, the drug problem is cocaine or marijuana. It is most likely a minority group that's involved with that," he went on. "They aren't going to ask some Irishman to be part of their gang because they don't trust him."

Black members of the New Jersey assembly have promised hearings into racism in the police force.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
Hillary Clinton comments on viral Humans of New York photo of gay teenager
Arts and Entertainment
The gang rape scene in the Royal Opera’s production of Gioachino Rossini’s Guillaume Tell has caused huge controversy
music
Sport
wimbledonScot will face Ivo Karlovic next
Life and Style
Kissing
life
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator - Spanish Speaking

£17000 - £21000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator - German Speaking

£17000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator - Japanese Speaking

£17000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: If you are fluent in Japanese a...

Recruitment Genius: Graphic Designer - Immediate Start

£16000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Day In a Page

Is this the future of flying: battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks?

Is this the future of flying?

Battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks
Isis are barbarians – but the Caliphate is a dream at the heart of all Muslim traditions

Isis are barbarians

but the Caliphate is an ancient Muslim ideal
The Brink's-Mat curse strikes again: three tons of stolen gold that brought only grief

Curse of Brink's Mat strikes again

Death of John 'Goldfinger' Palmer the latest killing related to 1983 heist
Greece debt crisis: 'The ministers talk to us about miracles' – why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum

'The ministers talk to us about miracles'

Why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum
Call of the wild: How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate

Call of the wild

How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate
Greece debt crisis: What happened to democracy when it’s a case of 'Vote Yes or else'?

'The economic collapse has happened. What is at risk now is democracy...'

If it doesn’t work in Europe, how is it supposed to work in India or the Middle East, asks Robert Fisk
The science of swearing: What lies behind the use of four-letter words?

The science of swearing

What lies behind the use of four-letter words?
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won't have him back

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won’t have him back
Africa on the menu: Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the continent

Africa on the menu

Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the hot new continent
Donna Karan is stepping down after 30 years - so who will fill the DKNY creator's boots?

Who will fill Donna Karan's boots?

The designer is stepping down as Chief Designer of DKNY after 30 years. Alexander Fury looks back at the career of 'America's Chanel'
10 best statement lightbulbs

10 best statement lightbulbs

Dare to bare with some out-of-the-ordinary illumination
Wimbledon 2015: Heather Watson - 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

Heather Watson: 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

Briton pumped up for dream meeting with world No 1
Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve

Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon Files

It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve
Dustin Brown: Who is the tennis player who knocked Rafael Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?

Dustin Brown

Who is the German player that knocked Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?
Ashes 2015: Damien Martyn - 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

Damien Martyn: 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

Australian veteran of that Ashes series, believes the hosts' may become unstoppable if they win the first Test