According to a report by Irene Cornell of WCBS radio in New York City:
Congressman Charlie Rangel basically embarrassed himself by showing up in court plead for the release of 17 year-old Afrika Owes, a one-time student at the Deerfield Academy in Massachusetts.
Rangel kept popping up, standing at the rail, trying to interrupt the judge. Finally, a court officer told him to sit down three times when he popped up again.
Judge Edward McLaughlin responded by saying, “I see someone standing who should not be standing, unless you have a bad back like I do.” Rangel sat down.
Why was Rangel so passionate about springing Ms. Owes? According to a separate WCBS report:
Owes, 17, had been a student at the prestigious Deerfield Academy in Massachusetts. Prosecutors say she was also a member of a drug gang that terrorized 137th Street in Harlem.
Owes was one of fourteen suspected “137th Street Crew” gang members arrested last month. Prosecutors said the gang used shootings, beatings and robberies to protect their turf and gain street status on a stretch of West 137th Street. The gang allegedly openly dealt crack in apartment lobbies, near Harlem Hospital and near the Abyssinian Baptist Church.
The judge refused to release Owes on her own recognizance, saying tapes from Rikers Island have her involved in running guns and getting orders to “shoot for the head.”
According to the Deerfield Academy website, tuition for boarding students is $43,800. It also states that tuition “provides only part of the cost of educating a student at Deerfield. Presently the total cost amounts to over $77,000 per student annually.”
Even allowing for proceeds from the lucrative Harlem drug trade, it is doubtful Ms. Owes was paying her own way. She was given an opportunity, presumably because of her race, unavailable to middle-class students. If Rangel had not been shut up by the judge, I wonder if he would have claimed that Ms. Owes is a victim, just like himself.