PREFACE (Carl A. Patton 1997 Atlanta, Georgia)

 

BIG RALPH: REFLECTIONS OF A BLACK POLICE CHIEF

 

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We will always remember Big Ralph as an honest and dedicated law enforcement officer for the city of Chattanooga, Tennessee. Through his leadership as the Chief of police he brought an atmosphere of racial harmony to Chattanooga that had never existed. Big Ralph gave his life to the city he loved. This book tells his story in the way he wanted me to tell it.

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Thanks be to God the Creator of all things, for giving me the strength to follow my divine mission as a scribe. Thanks also, to the written word of God and the peace of prayer as the verbal communication to the Creator. Peace and Paradise to all those that read and are delivered, may God have mercy on the souls that this text further confuses. Wisdom, truth and knowledge are housed first in the Creator. This trilogy is parallel to the Holy Trinity. So be it, so, it is so.

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This biographical work pays special attention to the historical circumstances and events that affect Big Ralph's life. Thus we begin with the historical events that set the table before the birth of Big Ralph. Chapter one is the introduction and in this chapter we note The Seeds of Protest. This first chapter makes up all of Part I which reveals The Mysteries of Our Past.

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The historical development of Black people in America is dealt with in the initial chapter. The European intrusion in the New World helped give birth to the institution of slavery. Thus, many scholars argue that the initial presence of free Blacks in North America was brief.Therefore the most significant North American presence of Black people is rooted in a previous condition of economic incarceration.

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This lowly and dehumanizing condition of slavery bred a group of people who were conditioned by their captors to be inferior. Racism soon developed to justify the primary economic motives and clear the conscience of the slave master who at times professed to be a Christian.

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The most wretched and vile experience of human existence became entangled in the controversy of regional differences. The south had become comfortable with the slave system and the economic, political and social existence of the south reflected the priority of the slave system. The northern states did not rely on a economic system based on slavery.The north wanted the United States of America, meaning all the states, north and south to move toward industrial development. The agricultural south disagreed and like a spiteful child they chose to leave the union and become rebels. Thus, the Civil War came to be fought over the right of the slave states to keep intact the slave system.

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During the Civil War countless men died over the question of slavery. It is for sure that the armed struggle over whether America would be slave or free firmly rooted racism in America. The end of the Civil War, even with a northern victory did not end racism. After a short-lived period of Black freedom in the south, racist laws were again placed on the books. Jim Crow emerged and white terrorist organizations were established.


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During slavery Blacks had not merely accepted bondage. Thus it is a myth that Blacks did not move toward the natural impulse to rebel against oppression. For the record, in all instances of oppression there are cowards and Uncle Toms that fear their oppressors and will not rise against them. For the natural warrior oppression breeds resistance and the more the oppression the more the resistance.In this case resistance is only terminated when death meets the oppressor or death meets those oppressed.†† Often slaves revolted and historic Black role models and heroes were realized in the leadership of those who led revolts against slavery in every way they could.

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The militant and independent protest against slavery and the sub-human treatment of Black people was virtually silenced. Racism eventually produced a model for Black leadership that would be advantageous to white America and detrimental to Blacks in America. Thus, the emergence with the support and public relations efforts of a sick racist society was ungodly traitors like Booker T. Washington. He set the paradigm and created the precedent for the dependent attitude of so-called Black leadership.

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Sadly, the weak among the Black community emerged to lead our people toward disrespect. The courage to die for freedom, independence and manhood was lost to those who included the ways of Judas and were paid and given concessions over their people.

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This attitude also produced Black organizations established by white people who claimed to be liberals. Some were liberal, but the organizations as control factors became supported by racists and those who sought to deny Black people independence and freedom.

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Some understanding of these factors is very important in placing the events of the life of Big Ralph in proper perspective. The various facets of racism most likely had the most serious impact on the various circumstances of Big Ralph's work in law enforcement. Finally chapter one attempts to give a historical development of the various factors that affect Big Ralph's life.

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In Part II Chapter 2 we look at the birth of Big Ralph and his environment. He was born into a segregated and discriminatory society, but he was too young to realize the situation he was in.

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In the second chapter of this section my intent is to show the reality of segregation and Jim Crow. The third chapter is centered on Big Ralph's high school years. The most important aspect in this chapter is the fiasco called school desegregation. The historic justification of Jim Crow and segregation is rooted in various Supreme Court cases. These cases are also examined and finally we review the 1954 Brown v. Board of Education decision.

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In this chapter we also look at the paradigm for integrationist philosophy and the confusion of integration and equal rights. This confusion still exists and it is anybody's guess when the confusion will end. This section concludes with a chapter that gives some evidence of the so-called white liberal. It also takes a close look at the presence of passive resistance. Passive resistance and non-violent protest became the order of the day for the civil rights movement. What were the pros and cons?"

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As we move on to the third section of our manuscript the first chapter continues to review the madness of school desegregation. We also analyze the massive civil disobedience movements. The sit-in and freedom riders were the ultimate testimony to civil disobedience. Thus, I make a special effort to discuss these movements in this chapter.Big Ralph is placed in this setting in some respect. But simply what I attempt to do is note the crucial historical events that have a direct bearing on his life as he lived through these events.



†††† The second chapter of the third section of the manuscript mentions civil rights organizations and leadership. When I set the table, I noted information about the initial presence of Black leadership and Black organizing. The importance of this chapter as we conclude is the critique of civil rights organizations and Black leadership.

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Moving on, the third chapter in this section takes a close look at civil rights. Thus, I attempt to define civil rights and integration. In these definitive statements, I attempt to note if civil rights and integration are one in the same. Also it is very important what the Black leaders are saying about these two points of interest.

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The third section concludes with a chapter that attempts to view some results of the civil rights movement. The impact of traditional Black institutions is a clear indication of what has the civil rights movement brought to the table of Black freedom. Thus, what has been the role of the Black family? What has the Black church offered a despised and hated people? I know that some that read these words may become confused when I use words like hate. You become confused because you practice hate and think that since I label some people as hatemongerís I also must hate someone. You could not be further from the truth.

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Just because I note the reality of hate in the hearts and minds of those that practice racism does not mean that I hate them. Although they hate me, I don't hate them. If I did, I would be confused and not be able to make the correct analysis. The high road of truth and wisdom is found in the unprejudiced scribe who is free of malice and hate.

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In this case may; I please quote the following most powerful scripture references. Colossians 2: 3,4,5,8,9,10. Verse 3 says "In whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. Verse 4 "And this I say, lest any man should beguile you with enticing words. Now let us note Verse 8 "Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after their tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ."

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The school as an institution is also assessed in this chapter. The tragedy and folly of school desegregation is viewed and the role of Black colleges is reviewed. Education is so very important to a people once kept in chains. The present reality is a planned mis-education of Black people organized by racist and carried out by the most part by so-called Black intellectuals.

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The dominant culture has a keen awareness of the power of media. Thus, there is a clear policy on the destruction of any independent "Black media source. Here we see the philosophy of Black newspaper publishers for example. Again the interests of Black people are controlled by payoffs and economic concessions.

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What is the role of the Black politician? Can he be independent and truly represent the interest of Black people in a racist society? We bring even more clarity to our discussion as we move through the manuscript and as we progress to the present time.

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The last section in our manuscript is the fourth section. The first chapter attempts to deal with the kind of atmosphere of the city and the attitude of the police toward Blacks before Blacks came on the force. Here we are better able to understand the impact of the first Black police officers. Here also I note why Big Ralph joined the force and his early impressions of law enforcement.

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Chapter two of section four notes that Big Ralph is moving up in the ranks. We continue to review the ongoing dilemma of school desegregation. No doubt the battle over school desegregation causes the segregationist and the integrationist to lose sight of their goals. This is especially true for those in the minority community who initially had some thoughts about equal and quality education.


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Also, important in this chapter is the discussion of political violence.The history of political violence is discussed and the types of protest movements are brought up for review. The protest movement involved many facets. Culture and power, are two of the factors defined. Urban rebellions and the violence they provoked are also discussed. If there is violence there must be some theories also on self-defense. Finally we seek to reconcile and compare the ongoing conflict of civil rights and liberation.

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The third chapter in this section takes a close look at specific theories developed by our character. These theories affected his police work and clearly established our character as a great thinker. The most important principles discussed in this chapter are our character's theories on prevention v. detention. The Chief without a doubt believed that broad based recreational programs would help prevent crime.

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It is unfortunate that politics and racism caused a break down in the recreational facilities in Chattanooga. It is even more tragic that the city fathers would not listen to the Chief as he pleaded for organized and planned city-wide recreational programs. Another important element in this chapter is how the Black community reacted to the police department. This attitude of fear and disrespect by many Blacks results from racism. More specifically it results from police violence. To get a handle on police violence we review the police view of man.

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To those outside law enforcement the police view of man is looked upon as a negative reaction. This negative reaction toward man also affects the police response to mass protest. No doubt the question of civilian review boards has had great support among those who have felt victimized by police violence.

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The last and final chapter reveals that our character has now been appointed Chief of police. In this chapter we note additional theories of Chief Cothran that has a great impact on his life and his philosophy of law enforcement.

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The Chief felt that school desegregation ushered in the downfall of quality education in the school system in Chattanooga. In the process prayer was taken out of the schools and many support services were limited and/or excluded. So while Blacks argued for the right to attend school with white people, the white community was busy establishing private schools throughout the city.

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The Chief joined the force during the civil rights era. Thus, he soon came face to face with the civil rights movement. The civil rights movement was a great advocate of mass protest and civil disobedience. Here law enforcement came in direct contact with organized groups that challenged certain laws. These laws were judged to be unjust by the demonstrators and often discriminatory. Thus they felt they had a right to challenge the law and commit acts of civil disobedience.

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Surely Jim Crow laws deprived Blacks of rights as human beings. No one can deny this truth, but the Chief also saw another truth. The planned and organized efforts of civil disobedience also established a particular philosophy toward authority. Here the Chief notes that this psychological conditioning also resulted in the criminal behavior of later generations. This criminal behavior sometimes is rooted in the attack on authority and basic institutions in our society.


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The Chief often noted that the use and sell of drugs were the leading cause of criminal behavior. He also knew that one must be aware of why people got involved in the use and sell of drugs. The Chief was hard on criminals but he also had compassion for his fellowman. Thus, he looked for ways to prevent crime. He also knew the problem of drugs was at our borders and that any city could be cleaned up of drugs.

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Police brutality had been an ongoing problem within the Chattanooga police Department. The Chief's record speaks for itself. He knew that this was a problem and he immediately dealt with this issue and won the support of the Black community for the police department.

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This chapter also gives important information regarding the corruption in the narcotics division. Ralph H. Cothran was the first Black Chief in the history of the Chattanooga police Department. He was also most likely the first honest Chief. These two factors, his race, and his honesty had a direct impact on how he was perceived by his superiors and those who made a career out of criminal activity.

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The allegations of Chief Cothran being involved in the mis-use of drug funds came about during his illness.Those who were most affected by his principles most likely started the allegations. Tragically the ugly head of racism does not care if a man is on his death bed, or not far removed from passing on. Those who made the unfounded charges knew of the health of Chief Cothran. They also knew he was innocent. They also knew that the chemical treatments he received for his illness would hasten his death.

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The Chief loved his city and by the grace of God his name was not tainted in the scheme of corruption. Big Ralph was willing to dedicate his life to Chattanooga and elements in Chattanooga were willing to take his life because he was Black and because he was honest. It is a crying shame that those inspired by the devil do not realize the power of God as the protector of those that believe.

 

Peace and Paradise, Carl A. Patton a willing servant of our Savior Christ Jesus writing for the FreedomJournal 19 July 2008.

 

 


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