Racism (unfortunately) still thrives in central Pennsylvania – racist police chief in Harrisburg, 50% black and 70% minority, commonly used “N” word

To follow up on the theme of race discrimination, we reintroduce you to the summary of the Julian Adams v. Harrisburg City Police case, originally posted on July 16, 2011. While our studies will make some suggestions for how the race debate may need to change or be adjusted to reflect cultural development in the time since the passage of the civil rights legislation of the 60s, by no means, as is suggested by some commentators, has the existence of discrimination on the basis of race been eliminated, and we will continue to bring you case examples as evidence that much still needs to be done.

The Julian Adams case involved a Harrisburg City Police officer who was effectively terminated based upon a completely manufactured charge that Adams lied under oath. He was later actually terminated when he filed a federal lawsuit.  The Chief of Police of Harrisburg, Charles Kellar, was very close to then-Mayor Steven Reed and is widely-known to be racially insensitive at least – there was evidence that he used the “N” word frequently, for example.  The facts of the case are more specifically set forth in the Brief in Opposition to Summary Judgment filed by his attorney, Don Bailey.

The story of the case relates in part to the judicial abuse to which Julian was subjected to as outlined in the Motion to Compel and Request for Sanctions filed by his then-attorney Andy Ostrowski. The Mayor was involved at the time Adams was a police officer, before his specific issues even arose, with the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission in an ongoing inquiry into alleged racial problems in the police department under Kellar, all of which was revealed during discovery in the case – numerous police officers and others reporting the overtly racist practices of Kellar.

Judge Jones would not, however, perhaps in the spirit of cronyism, permit even the deposition of Reed, and the Motion to Compel that was filed by Adams alleged an extensive and ongoing pattern of obstructionist and uncooperative behavior on the part of their attorney, Robyn McGrath, of Sweeney and Sheehan, who, as is typical in Bailey cases, likely took her leads from Jones’ clear bias and prejudice against Bailey, Ostrowski, and all of their clients, as generally discussed in our struggle behind the civil rights struggle article.  Adams’ case was permitted to proceed to trial, but the developing circumstances as reflected throughout this site caused him to settle his case for minimal value without going to trial.

Essentially, despite the Motion filed by Ostrowski, the issues were turned around by Judge Jones, and used to effectively deny Adams full and fair access to courts.  Julian is one of the Bailey class of clients who has filed a motion to open judgment, raising the judicial misconduct issues discussed here as a basis for allowing his case to be reopened and sent back for trial.  The Declaration of Julian Adams in support of his Motion to Open outlines his basis for requesting that relief.

As is clear, racism is not dead, and is unfortunately all-too-alive  in central Pennsylvania.  There are many facets of the “race debate” that will be studied here, and, again, ways to look at these things in more enlightened and progressive ways will be explored, but, whatever your view, Julian was a life-long resident of the City of Harrisburg who served the City with honor and integrity, and now he and his family have suffered for years from a throwback chief straight out of the Bull Connor tradition.  Justice has not been done in Julian’s case, and we will continue to follow his efforts to get it.

Thank you.

6 thoughts on “Racism (unfortunately) still thrives in central Pennsylvania – racist police chief in Harrisburg, 50% black and 70% minority, commonly used “N” word”

  1. This is something not commonly acknowledged. However, Pennsylania has some terrible history in regards to race relations. Having grown up in the South, I was quite surprised at the extent of racism when I moved here a few years ago. However, an oustanding Pennsylvania author and historian has extensively documented the historical record in regards to racism being prevalent in the state in the recent and not so recent past, depending upon one’s age. I’d urge you to take a look at the articles at this site, two examples of which I post below. As is often said, it’s quite sad that often those who fail to remember the past are condemned to repeat it.



    The authors credentials are on his biography page and he cites sources for all his articles. From his biography page:

    Douglas Harper is a historian, author, journalist and lecturer based in Lancaster, Pa. He is the author of “If Thee Must Fight:” A Civil War History of Chester County, Pa.” (Chester County Historical Society, 1990); “An Index of Civil War Soldiers and Sailors from Chester County, Pa.” (Chester County Historical Society, 1995); “The Whitman Incident: Revolutionary Revisions to an Ephrata Tale” (Lancaster County Historical Society Journal, 1995); “West Chester to 1865: That Elegant & Notorious Place” (Chester County Historical Society, 1999).

    Harper is a graduate of Dickinson College, Carlisle, Pa., with a degree in history and English. He has been featured in a BBC production on the Welsh settlements in America, and has been interviewed as a source for historical articles by the Philadelphia Inquirer, Washington Post and many magazines. He was arguably the second-most-famous assistant city editor ever to work at the West Chester, Pa., “Daily Local News.” The other was Dave Barry. The newspaper was affectionately known by its readers as the “Daily Lack of News.”]

    See: http://www.etymonline.com/columns/bio.htm

    For those interested in Pennsylvania history or the Civil War, the author’s web site is an outstanding place to find some unusual history that we southerners and many Pennsylvnians are usually surprised to learn.

  2. Another case of racial discrimination that is not publicly known was another former Harrisburg Police officer John K Green. Green was forced to resign after having a heart attack while on-duty. His illness was not considered job related by chief Keller and was only given two options. Either he resigns or he’s fired. It was fully known that the heart attack occurred when in full uniform was about to leave his residence for a court hearing. Per the officers contract he was considered on-duty one hour before and one hour after his time of the court time. Having documentation from Green’s physician stating he could return to work in a light duty status. Keller refused to grant the light duty. Eventually forcing Green out of his job after 18.5 years. I was a witness to Keller coming to roll call telling officers that Green refused to come back to work knowing he had been cleared for light duty. Green was an excellent officer who was denied promotions. Keller was over-heard calling Green the N word on numerous occasions. It was even known Keller called The Capt of The Uniform Patrol division at the time a “N”. So it doesn’t surprise me that of Keller. Keller used to keep Green’s badge in his desk and if he had to discipline a officer or supervisor. He made statements that he would take their badge like he took Green’s badge showing it to the officers. Any officers badge that he fired he kept it in his desk as trophies. Keller had no problem in displaying the badges he took. Mostly of minority officers. If you were a white officer and you stood up for the minority officer you were placed on Keller’s hit list. Officer Green is very lucky he’s still alive considering what he’s been through. Keller destroyed that mans life.

  3. What about all the racism against whites in the city? Oh wait you guys only consider it racist if the offender is white. Typical.

  4. Look into the York County case against Shah Mathias, in which the judge ignored concrete evidence (passport proving he was out of country when alleged crime occurred) against a charge of sexual contact with a minor. The judge rudely insulted him throughout his trial, and did not allow his attorneys to truly defend him. He was found guilty and continues to be harassed by the local parole officers, with no form of recourse possible. PO even stipulate that he MUST attend only Christian religious services, as they assumed he was Muslim.

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