Cory Booker

Cory Booker Can Talk Donald Sterling, Mum on Newark Deputy Chief Accused of Racism, Corruption


can't hold a cop to an nba owner standard
Newark Police Department

You can't say New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker doesn't know how to get attention. While he was mayor of Newark, his critics bemoaned his "Hollywood" status. He's got more Twitter followers than there are residents in the city he led for almost eight years. Last Monday on a morning news show in New York City, Booker was asked about Donald Sterling, the owner of a basketball team in Los Angeles who made racist comments in a private conversation whose contents were leaked. He gave what was a pretty standard answer that matched up with what is likely to happen: Sterling losing the Clippers.

The same morning Booker made the comments about Sterling, a controversy involving racially-tinged comments hit closer to home. The Star Ledger reported that Joseph Tutela, a Newark deputy chief who ran the police department's Internal Affairs division on three separate occasions (including once while Booker was mayor), was under investigation for working a second job while on duty and using cops to perform maintenance on his home when he was in charge of Internal Affairs.

In addition to this, The Ledger reported that Tutela was also accused of making racist remarks about Portuguese people (Newark has a significant Portuguese population) at the retirement ceremony of the last police chief. The American Civil Liberties Union of New Jersey also points out that more troubling than the comments or the alleged corruption could be that the Internal Affairs division, under Tutela and under other deputy chiefs, has such a horrendous record on sustaining civilian complaints. Only three complaints were sustained over a non-consecutive two year period during which Tutela headed Internal Affairs.

Donald Sterling was a private citizen in the public limelight. He made offensive comments that were going to hurt his bottom line and the bottom line of the National Basketball Association (NBA), and so the NBA acted quickly to ban him from basketball and team owners are expected to vote to force Sterling to sell his team. Sterling's finished. Presumably the NBA's constitution (which has not been made public) made it easier for the league to act.

Tutela, meanwhile, is a "public servant" shielded from the public limelight. He's been reportedly accused not just of making racist comments but of corruption. He appears to have done a pretty poor job as Internal Affairs chief. He may have only found a handful of sustained complaints, yet the Department of Justice's decision in 2011 to investigate the department suggests the lack of sustained complaints doesn't stem from a lack of wrongdoing but a lack of accountability. Tutela was also previously arrested and charged with assaulting a cop (in 1988) and was investigated for domestic violence twice in 2010 (around the same time he headed Internal Affairs).

Sterling was convicted in a court of public opinion, a function of the (show) business that Sterling is/was in. Tutela, on the other hand, is immunized by his generous police contract from conviction in a court of public opinion. No amount of outrage could remove Tutela, and the politicians like Booker so eager to pile on where outrage has gathered have little interest in digging up dirt in their backyards.

We reached out to Senator Booker's office last Monday, the day the Tutela story broke and the day he made public comments about Donald Sterling. We were promised a response but despite a follow up none has been forthcoming yet.

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  1. Ok, hate to derail a thread this early, but THIS is what’s wrong with the world today.

    After moving between London (where she got her master’s degree in social psychology at the London School of Economics)

    Goddamned Brits.

    1. I’ve decided, finally, to stick my head above the parapet so that I can take back my narrative and give a purpose to my past.

      Psst, Monica — Ixnay on the eadhay.

      1. so that I can take back my narrative

        Nothing says being your own person like using someone else’s awful expressions.

        1. It’s hard to get a head with you’re such a giver.

  2. Tutela was also accused of making racist remarks about Portuguese people

    I must confess: I wouldn’t know a Portuguese racial epithet if I tripped over one.

    Does that make me a racist?

    1. I grew up in Newark. I know one, but it wasn’t among the several listed in the Star Ledger. The more you know.

    2. “Those damned Portuguese and their water dogs, affinity for fresh seafood, and desert wines!”

      “Nice, dude, telling that Jewish guy to convert to Christianity or leave your party. What are you, Portuguese?”

      “Man, stop ending your words with that weird nasal stop, you sound all Portuguese!”

      1. “Hey King Sebastian, how’d that fight at Alc?cer Quibir work out!”

    3. Fuck, I can’t even tell the difference between portuguese and spanish.

      1. Portuguese involves a lot more grunting.

      2. Portuguese sounds like corduroy pants on a fat person.

      3. Portuguese was invented when a French mongoloid with no teeth an half a tongue tried to speak Spanish. True story.

      4. Put a pebble under your tongue when speaking Spanish. That’s Portugese.

      5. Really? They sound like to totally different languages to me, especially when the Portuguese speaker has a Brazilian accent. Portuguese and Spanish are quite different. As different as Spanish and Italian.

    4. There was a Julia Roberts movie a long time ago that featured some anti-Portugese racism. It was…strange. I think Julia Roberts was supposed to be Portugese in the movie? Something like that. It had the big guy from Law and Order and the maid from Two and a Half Men in it.

    5. “Tutela has for years referred to the Portuguese, both officers of Portuguese descent and Portguese people in general, as ‘igloo people,’ ‘communists,’ ‘custard cups,’ ‘galao,’ ‘paelha land,’ etc,” the letter reads.

      Igloo people?!

      1. Custard cups?!

    6. Portuguese is a race?

  3. There’s corruption in Newark?
    Here’s my shocked face.
    Many years ago I had to work with a drill rig along the sidewalk on Broad Street, which is the main thoroughfare through Newark. When we got the sidewalk opening permit, we were informed we had to hire a cop for the day for traffic control, and to make sure we had his check for the full days pay when he met us in the morning. So we set up, the cop comes by, we give him his check, he gets back in his car and we never see him again.

  4. I must confess: I wouldn’t know a Portuguese racial epithet if I tripped over one.

    This reminds me of something in the Economist a long time ago. They were for some reason wondering what anti-gay epithets were used in south America, and found “Brasiliero” to be surprisingly popular.

  5. I still can’t figure out what Sterling said that was racist. He actually says “I love black people!” on the tape.

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