In 1972, Officer Phillip W. Cardillo was one of five officers who entered the Nation of Islam mosque at 116th Street and Lenox Avenue — then the New York headquarters of Louis Farrakhan’s Nation of Islam — responding to a report of a police officer in trouble inside. Obama's mentor, Jeremiah Wright, was a former Muslim and very much a part of this movement at that time. Security for Wright's many appearances is still provided by Nation of Islam thugs. Farrkhan and Wright have been closerthanthis for decades.
The call turned out to be a set-up, and a fight ensued in which someone grabbed Officer Cardillo’s gun and shot and killed him.
Now, the Police Department and advocates for officers want to add “Officer Phillip Cardillo Way” to the street signs on 123rd Street, between Frederick Douglass Boulevard and St. Nicholas Avenue, a short block that is seven blocks from the mosque and abuts the 28th Precinct station house.
But the community is split. Split? Moral rot and spiritual bankruptcy. "The fate of the proposal hangs, for the moment, on the cooperation of the imams of those mosques" — now that's rich.
Harlem Split on Plan to Honor Officer Killed in Mosque in ’72Associated Press
On April 14, 1972, crowds gathered on Lenox Avenue at 116th Street in front of a Nation of Islam mosque after police officers responding to a call were attacked there. NY Times By ANNE BARNARD
Stirring emotions that date back 40 years to days of violent tension between African-American Muslims and the police, a Harlem community board is weighing whether to name a street after a police officer who was shot in 1972 inside a renowned Harlem mosque. People in the neighborhood wonder whether the gesture will reopen old wounds or help heal them.
On April 14, 1972, Officer Phillip W. Cardillo was one of five officers who entered the mosque, at 116th Street and Lenox Avenue — then the New York headquarters of Louis Farrakhan’s Nation of Islam — responding to a report of a police officer in trouble inside.
It was a particularly incendiary alarm at a time of high-profile murders of police officers by radical groups around the country and crackling tension between the police and residents of black neighborhoods after riots had convulsed many cities in the preceding years.
The call turned out to be spurious, and a melee ensued in which someone grabbed Officer Cardillo’s gun and shot him; he died six days later.
Amid fears of violence in the neighborhood, police officials ordered the officers out of the mosque and apologized to the mosque’s leaders, who said they believed they were being invaded by a hostile police force.
The events left lingering resentment among some police officers who say that politics derailed the investigation. No one has ever been convicted in Officer Cardillo’s killing.
Now, the Police Department and advocates for officers want to add “Officer Phillip Cardillo Way” to the street signs on 123rd Street, between Frederick Douglass Boulevard and St. Nicholas Avenue, a short block that is seven blocks from the mosque and abuts the 28th Precinct station house. They say they have collected 2,300 signatures supporting the proposal, including many from the neighborhood.
To Randy Jurgensen, a retired police detective who was there when the shooting took place and investigated it, enough time has passed that the proposed street naming can be viewed not as an endorsement of either side or a statement about 1970s politics, but as a simple memorial to an officer who died in the line of duty.
“This is not going to be a huge celebration,” he said.
“It’s going to be held with dignity and it’s going to be quietly done, because this is about a police officer who gave his life. That’s all.”
But for Harlem residents, especially those old enough to remember the events, it may not be that simple, as became clear at a community board meeting on Thursday in which board members insisted that advocates of the street naming — led by Inspector Rodney Harrison, a former commander of the 28th Precinct — deliver a letter proving they had consulted with local imams.
Street names are particularly resonant in the district. Figures like Adam Clayton Powell Jr., Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X have their names attached to major thoroughfares. And while Harlem has moved on from internal disputes that divided the neighborhood after the 1972 shooting, some would rather not reopen the subject, said a person familiar with the street-naming procedure, who asked not to be identified because of the sensitivity of the continuing process.
“There’s some history here,” the person said, adding that some residents want to make sure that the views of those who opposed the police are also heard. “It’s sensitive.”
Today, the domed mosque is a landmark of a transformed, gentrifying Harlem, and its imam, Izak-El Mu’eed Pasha, served as the New York Police Department’s first Muslim chaplain. It houses a different congregation, the Malcolm Shabazz Mosque. The Nation of Islam’s Mosque No. 7 has moved to another Harlem site.
The fate of the proposal hangs, for the moment, on the cooperation of the imams of those mosques — at a time when cooperation with the police is a delicate matter in New York’s Muslim community. Tensions between some Muslims and the police are largely of a different nature from 40 years ago; they stem from widespread surveillance of mosques and Muslim organizations in the years after Sept. 11, and are accompanied by efforts on both sides to improve understanding.
Inspector Harrison, who according to Mr. Jergensen often consults with the imams on routine police matters like crime prevention, met with them several times and was told that they would neither support nor oppose the naming.
Board members said they wanted to see a letter from the imams confirming that, or to have them attend a meeting, according to two people present; Inspector Harrison said he doubted either option would be possible. “They are not going to come in here and say thumbs up,” he said, according to a report on the Web site DNAInfo.com New York, which covered the meeting.
The imams did not return phone calls on Friday.
Mr. Jurgensen said the renaming was one way of achieving closure for Officer Cardillo’s children, who were very young when he died, especially since, a police spokesman said, the recent reopening of the case “did not yield any new conclusive evidence.”
“We are not looking to open old wounds,” Inspector Harrison told the board, “but to heal old wounds.”