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THE GREENSBORO TIMES NNEWS Black Barbers Demand Investiga OTES

by Chris Levister Special to the NNPA from

MORENO VALLEY, Calif. (NNPA) - Making a point of the historical importance of the barbershop and beauty parlor in Black communities, a group of barbers, church leaders and community activists across the Inland region and the nation has demanded a federal investigation into the raids targeting six mostly Black-owned Moreno Valley business establishments early this month.

WASHINGTON, DC – Congressman Mark Walker (NC-06) has re-

leased the following statement regarding the grace and dignity displayed by Charleston community and victim’s families.

“Along with most Americans, I am deeply troubled by the pure evil

and hatred displayed in the recent act of domestic terrorism in Charleston. Yet in the midst of this darkness, I was comforted by the grace and for- giveness displayed by the victims’ families as they handled this devastat- ing event with unparalleled dignity.

''We are demanding an immediate Justice Department full probe,'' said Kevon Gordon, owner of The Hair Shack since 1984.

In politics, we often steer clear of discussions about race to avoid

Gordon and other barbers allege that the raids violated their 4th Amendment right of ''probable cause'', undermined their businesses, tar- geted them based on race and threatened to fracture the California Board of Barbering and Cosmetology's reputation as a career builder.

offending others. However, these recent events have provided us with a unique opportunity to address this sensitive arena. There have been seasons when America’s race relations improved, but many problems still remain.

Unfortunately, some people seek to personally profit by highlighting

Barbers and patrons involved in the raids say a strike team of California Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA)/Board of Barbering and Cosmetology (BBC) inspectors, city code compliance inspectors and offi- cers from the Moreno Valley Police Department/Riverside County Sheriff burst into their establishments without search warrants under the guise of a BBC-led crackdown on business license and health and safety violators.

the remaining contentious issues and stoking the flames of divisiveness. Despite these misguided individuals, we still have the responsibility to work through the difficult conversations on poverty, education opportuni- ties, crime and the breakdown of the family.

Awareness of the issues is not enough. Washington is full of talk. In

this matter, action is required. The courageous families of these victims have taken the first step by showing the rest of the country how to react to these tragic events. We must now support them by continuing to chip away at the problem. So, what is our next step? What action do we take to continue the healing and to bridge the racial divide?

For many people, the Confederate flag represents their Southern

According to BBC officials Moreno Valley police initiated the raids ''apparently to shut down drug operations''.

heritage. Being raised in the Deep South, I understand this flag can be a symbol of pride and a way of life. For decades, it has represented loyalty, an unbreakable family bond and personal freedom without government intrusion.

Walker On Charleston > page 14

At presstime DCA officials and Moreno Valley city leaders had not responded to formal requests for reaction to the barbers' demands.

''My phone has been ringing off the hook. People are outraged,'' said Gordon. He told the Black Voice News barbers targeted in the raids have been further humiliated by a police and city hall information blackout.

''When we called police and code compliance asking for an incident report - we were told ‘there isn't one'.'' Gordon said despite multiple requests for information from the three agencies, he and other barbers targeted in the raids have been ''systematically denied.''

Adding insult to injury Gordon says several customers have expressed concern over bringing their loved ones to his shop. ''My reputation and livelihood of 24 years has been damaged. Collectively we intend to fight back.''

Gordon said the Hair Shack located in a strip mall along busy Sunnymead Boulevard has no prior history of police trouble.

''Incidents like this are not going to be tolerated anymore, and we're going to speak out. This was an attack not just on African-Americans, but all ethnic business establishments.''

The barbers stopped short of publicizing their demands saving the details for an upcoming news conference. Gordon confirmed he has contacted civil rights and American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) attorneys.

Gordon and barber Ron Jones were cited for what BBC inspectors call 11 ‘cleaniness' (towel drawers, comb, supply cabinets not labeled) violations plus a $1,500 fine. The operation which included Hair Sculptures a beau- ty salon co-owned by Jackie Brazeau, a Latino, netted 2 arrests, 49 health and safety citations and failure to show an independent contractor's busi- ness license, violations and $20,000 in BBC and code compliance fines.

Barbers from fifteen Black owned area business establishments plan to meet at an undisclosed location to develop strategies they say will more than likely involve legal action, boycotts, and formal complaints to the Department of Justice, NAACP and ACLU.

''It was a smack in the face that something like this could happen in Moreno Valley,'' said veteran barber and business owner Ray Butler.

Walker On Charleston: Everyday People Displaying A Supernatural Grace That Can Only Come From One’s Faith

Moreno Valley barber Kevon Gordo undermined his business of 24 ye barbers and visciously attacked one nities most sacred bastions: the bar

''From Moreno Valley police office Councils to ‘Lil Stevie Wonder and Berry Gordy, I've left my mark on

mess threatens to rock the entire industry,'' he says

The Butlers whose business was not raided, displa ity by taping a copy of the Black Voice News paper raids on the shops' front window.

''We want our patrons to know the culture of our po back and allow anyone to run up in our shops wit asking customers if they have warrants. We're go doesn't happen again,'' said Fay Butler.

Former patron James Wright, a Los Angeles pastor, bershop, it's not one place, it's not one time, this k is taking place in minority communities across the now is, we're speaking out.''

Mark Walker represents North Carolina's 6th Congressional Dis- trict that includes Guilford, Rockingham and Alamance counties in the Triad.

Word of the raids spread like wildfire throughout nation barbers activists and bloggers engaged in Gordon said barbers, law enforcement, church lea neys and patrons in San Bernardino, Riverside, Diego counties have called with offers of assistanc

''As customers we have a duty to speak out again come to get my hair cut I have a right to be respe warrant check on me without probable cause, the ne be to a civil rights attorney,'' said barber Harold Par Reginald Richard.

''Moreno Valley today Atlanta tomorrow,'' said An barber college graduate. He pointed to fresh text m in Atlanta and Chicago who learned about the raids ''Brothers, what the hell is going on out there? We'

Moreno Valley contracts police service from t Sheriffs Department. Sheriff’s spokesman Sgt. Den Black Voice News request for a statement on the ra demand for an investigation had been passed on th for review.

''This kind of affront sends up a red flag to young have worked hard to stay away from gangs and dr mate practices. It sends the wrong message.''

Still Gordon who says his business has suffered fina admits the controversy has a silver lining, ''It go brought us together. That's good.''

Pastor Lacy Sykes of CrossWord Christian Church

''I actually go to Hair Shack Barbershop. Ron Jon church and it was inappropriate from the standpoin was a raid on minority barbershops.

''I know they (police) have challenges in Moreno Va doing the best they can do, but it does not circum obtaining the proper search warrants. Minority around a long time in Moreno Valley and are doing community and deserve their respect.''

Like the Black church, the barbershop and beaut

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