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Mobutu Syndrome: White Privilege Over a Black Community is a Threat to Our Democracy


Historically, tyrants have tended to be insecure and to try to maintain their power through perverting or distorting policy or allow appointees to be oppressive. What we see in the current Mount Vernon administration is unbroken accountability to the people through the framework the City Charter departmental policies and capitalistic control of politicians who have sworn to govern fairly and justly over the people.

An apparent disregard for city, state and federal guidelines that protect the division of powers among branches and officials in a way that avoids concentration of authority in the hands of a few persons who might then abuse those powers.

Instead of being a representative of the people, they developed a predatorial way of governing. When these actions are seen from Black Elected Officials, one of our great Black historians Dr. Leonard Jeffries has called it the “Mobutu Syndrome.”

Mobutu SeseSeko

Mobutu Sese Seko was the military dictator and President of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (which Mobutu renamed Zaire in 1971) from 1965 to 1997. Mobutu is remembered for his suppression by jailing, torturing and killing thousands of his political opponents and the use of the military (police force) to do his bidding. While he suppressed his people, he covered his incomprehensible acts by promoting self-reliance and bringing in a new age of governance from the old status quo.

What most distinguishes Black Leaders with a Mobutu Syndrome mentality from most others is how they react to situations that engender feelings of insecurity and inadequacy.

With the recent events in Mt. Vernon, Mayor Richard Thomas has shown evident traits of tyranny and the “Mobutu Syndrome” through his execution of policies contradictory of the City Charter. The Mayor’s allowance of oppressive subordinate staff and given the police force over to a Campaign doner, Joseph Spiezio and the go-ahead to violate its own policies without any repercussion.

There have been many reports formal and informal on the Thomas Administration reacting to a retaliatory nature against, employees and residents of Mt. Vernon that has been vocal against the actions.

The residents of the City of Mt. Vernon are witnessing the first sign of the Mobutu Syndrome over the lack of accountability of Mayor Thomas for not publicly reprimanding his Deputy Police Commissioner for making homophobic statements and physically threatening an elected official that has been overwhelmingly chosen by the people of Mt. Vernon. Thomas has chosen the need not to address the situation.

Mayor Thomas also failed and not reprimanding his Acting Police Commissioner Ronald Fatigate for making a false statement. Making false statements is a crime under state and federal laws.

On the Phil Reisman and the Lohud Editorial Board interview, Mayor Thomas said he fired Robert Kelly because he committed a crime. But Thomas had side-stepped and refused to make any official statements on the criminal activities of his current Commissioners. Tyranny is always supported by its Military (Police Department), Thomas’s Mobutu Syndrome is no different.

Former MVPD Commissioner, Robert Kelly’s recent 34-page response to Mayor Thomas recent lawsuit against him and other elected officials exposes from a law enforcement perspective and documented accounts of the pattern and practice of Thomas and Spiezio

Law Enforcement Professionals take an “Oath” of a public affirmation of adhering to an Oath of Honor is a powerful vehicle demonstrating ethical standards. Two of the most neglected areas of police work are the code of ethics and oath of office. These two documents are the most important issues of truth and integrity a police department has to the community it serves.

If this is true, then those who are in police management that have followed Spiezio down the rabbit hole of bastardising the Cod of Ethics and Oath of Office have fallen inside the Sunken Place and needed to Get Out.

Even more evident in how they treated my wife, who is a Detective for the MVPD. From the very first day, it was known she was a target of Spiezio and Thomas. Sworn officers of the law, signed paperwork that was illegal, perverted policies, hid paperwork and files all unlawful orders carried out by sworn Law Enforcement Management to punish for seven months a decorated Detective because she is the wife of the Publisher of Black Westchester Magazine. [ Read Documented FACTS of the Illegitimacy of Deputy Police Commissioner Joseph Spiezio III] 

This is clearly evident of Dr. Jeffries analysis of a system of White Supremacy that has backed many Black elected leaders for decades that there bidding is not for the people that elected them into office but for those who have “invested” capitalistic interest.

The methods used to overthrow a constitution or order through city law and establish a tyranny are well-known. It is evident that this is what the people of Mt. Vernon are facing. However, despite this awareness, Thomas may have no intention of perpetrating a tyrant, but his actions speak for themselves, and he has fallen into the Mobutu Syndrome despite his best intentions. Tyranny does not have to be deliberate. Tyrants can fool themselves as thoroughly as they fool everyone else.

History has shown us that only under tyranny that a leader allows its military (police force) that orders are contrary to the laws of the city, state and federal constitutions. As a national organization of law enforcement professionals, the police department rank and file would not (or should not) obey such orders.

As someone with 28 years in law enforcement, I truly recognize the hard work of the officers of the MVPD and that have put their lives on the line every day. There is no dought that they all should receive the highest praise for the work that they do. Unfortunately, as long as there is a Campaign Donor, Garbage man calling the tune to the piper, the respect the officers should get in the greater law enforcement community, they’re not, and they deserve better!

.In 2 years, Thomas has shown that his appointees are allowed to violate, lie and retaliate against those who are opinionated of his administration. To allow his Police Commissioners to threaten, make homophobic statements and false reports that in any other normal functioning government are punishable offences. These are the methodology of a tyrant and symptoms of the Mobutu Syndrome.

Where there is no Justice, there is no Freedom, and when people lose trust in authority and those who are in charge of the authority, they lose faith in the process of the system of Justice that has been their right through the Constitution of the United States.

The people of Mt. Vernon must wake up and see clearly the Mobutu Syndrome tendencies toward tyranny in the Thomas Administration and suppress them before they go too far or become too firmly established. The people must never acquiesce in any violation of the city’s laws, rules, policies and regulations.

The people must question why other representatives of Mt. Vernon stay silent and offer no corrective measures. Failure to take corrective action early will only mean that more severe measures will have to be taken later, perhaps with the loss of life and the disruption of our city government and our community in ways from which recovery may take decades!


About Damon K. Jones (238 Articles)
Damon K. Jones is an Activist, Author, and Publisher of Black Westchester Magazine, a Black-owned and operated newspaper based in Westchester County, New York. Mr. Jones is a Holistic Health Practitioner, First Aid in Mental Health Practioner, Diet, and Nutrition Advisor, and Vegan, Vegetarian Nutrition Life Coach. Mr. Jones is a 31 year Law Enforcement Practioner, New York Representative of Blacks in Law Enforcement of America. Mr. Jones has been a guest commentator on New York radio stations WBLS (107.5 FM), WLIB (1190 am), WRKS (98.7 FM), WBAI (99.5 FM), and Westchester's WVOX (1460 am). Mr. Jones has appeared on local television broadcasts, including Westchester News 12 “News Makers” and Public Television “Winbrook Pride. You can now hear Damon every Wednesday at 830 AM on WFAS 1230 AM, Morning with Bob Marone Show.
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