By Alex Distefano
By Scott Snowden
By Anna Merlan
By Steve Almond
By Jena Ardell
By Jon Campbell
By Alan Scherstuhl
By Tessa Stuart
The 100 Blacks probe was closed and deemed unsubstantiated in March 1999. Adams denied that the group has ever intimidated anyone. Asked about the probes, deputy chief Tom Fahey defended the department's actions. "The investigation techniques used were consistent with an investigation of this nature, and subsequently the allegations were unsubstantiated," he said. Adams had asked the department for the records of the investigations, but is now suing to have the records released.
Last week, a judge ordered the NYPD to reinstate former police officer Yvette Walton. The ruling was a victory for Walton and for Eric Adams and his 100 Blacks in Law Enforcement. It was Walton's association with 100 Blacks that attracted the attention of her superiors.
On February 14, 1999, 10 days after Amadou Diallo was gunned down, Walton (one of only three African American women in the Street Crime Unit, and the only one assigned to street patrols) appeared at a news conference wearing a black leather jacket, gray hood, dark glasses, and a white and black scarf wrapped tightly around her face, and with her voice electronically altered. The entire affair, including putting Walton in disguise, was orchestrated by Adams. "It was my idea," Adams would later testify. "And after conferring with Sergeant Leader, we both agreed. But it was [at] my persistence."
With Adams at her side, the 12-year NYPD veteran charged that the racist practices of her unit led to the killing of Diallo. Two weeks later, Walton appeared on ABC's Nightline program. The department took another beating when Walton, again in disguise, testified at a City Council hearing, whispering comments to Adams and Leader. At the time, Adams and 100 Blacks were being investigated by Internal Affairs.
The NYPD, however, found out it was Walton doing the bashing and fired her the same day of the hearing, allegedly because she abused sick-leave privileges. After a non-jury trial last year, Judge Alvin K. Hellerstein found that Commissioner Safir had fired Walton in retaliation for speaking out. "I find that the Police Department knew that it was Walton who was the spokesperson of 100 Blacks criticizing the SCU for employing discriminatory policies that led to the killing of Amadou Diallo," Hellerstein wrote in a 36-page decision.
"The Police Department knew of Walton's role from their monitoring of 100 Blacks' activities, from their monitoring of incoming and outgoing calls to and from the 100 Blacks telephone, and from the ease with which Walton was identifiable behind her disguise," he stated. "The Department also knew that a female member formerly with the SCU, presumably the same female spokesperson, was to testify at the City Council hearing concerning the SCU. . . ." The department's "denial of this knowledge is not credible," he added. The judge also noted that Walton "would not have been dismissed had she not spoken out publicly on behalf of '100 Blacks in Law Enforcement' on an issue of immediate and substantial concern to the Department."
Additional reporting: Associated Press