Volume 5, Number 30 October 11, 2002
"Doc" confronts Al Pires
By Dr. Ridgely Abdul Muímin Muhammad
"Black farmer accuses lawyer of shafting Black farmers." "Black farmer accuses lawyer of shafting Black lawyers." "Black farmer waives ĎWantedí poster." "White lawyer shouts ĎThatís not true.í" "White lawyer sues loudmouth farmer." Well, these possible headlines have not shown up yet.
It is now a full month after a Black farmer, yours truly, Dr. Ridgely Muhammad got into a heated debate with Attorney Alexander Pires at the Congressional Black Caucus issues forum, "What has changed for the Black farmers?" I wrote a story about that forum by the same name, but brushed over my personal confrontation with Mr. Pires, not tooting my own horn, so to speak. I have been searching newspapers, the airways and Internet to see if anyone covered the story or if Mr. Pires has filed a law suit against me for publicly accusing him of shafting both the Black farmers and Black lawyers.
Well, I have waited long enough and since I was there and taped it, I guess that www.MuhammadFarms.com will have to scoop the rest of the media again.
The September 11, 2002 forum was chaired by Rep. Eva M. Clayton. The panel included Lawrence C. Lucas, President and Founding Member United States Department of Agriculture Coalition of Minority Employees; Randi Ilsye Roth, Court Appointed Monitor Pigford v. Glickman; James Myart, Prior Class Counsel, Pigford v. Glickman; Gary Grant, President Black Farmers and Agriculturalists Association; John Boyd, President National Black Farmers Association; and Stephen Hill, Attorney Garcia v. Veneman. An Associate Assistant Secretary from the USDA was supposed to be on the panel, but did not show up.
After the above mentioned panelists gave their presentations, Rep. Clayton invited Rep. John Conyers to say a few words. Then Rep. Conyers invited Al Pires, who was not on the panel, to speak and give his views on the Black farmersí lawsuit (interesting). Mr. Pires goes on to bemoan how all that he has done since he left the "Justice Department" was work for farmers. He first pointed out how hard he had worked on the Black farmers lawsuit, then he goes on to say that most of the work was done by the Black law firms that he invited to participate. He also shifted some of the responsibility to Dr. Ogletree who he said was involved with the development of the Consent Decree.
After his soliloquy, came the time for questions. Let me mention that while he was speaking I took the opportunity to wave a copy of the "Wanted" poster that I have been distributing all over the country with his face on it. The poster does not say what to do if one finds Mr. Pires, but it does detail what he has done to Black farmers.
When Rep. Clayton called for questions, I immediately raised my hand. I was sitting on the first row two seats from Al Pires, but Rep. Clayton shifted the playing field. She said that Randi Roth had to leave early, so we should first "limit" our questions to her and her presentation. I took down my hand. (Check)
Rep. Clayton recognized someone else to speak. That person did not address a question to Ms. Roth, but was allowed to continue and make a statement about his personal case. So, I raised my hand again. And when Rep. Clayton asked if it was addressed to Ms. Roth, I said, yes. So I asked, "Why is it that the only people who got paid in this law suit are the white monitor, the white lead counsel, the white judge, the white arbitrators; the black lawyers didnít get paid and the black farmers didnít get paid?"
Before Ms. Roth could open her mouth, Mr. Pires jumps up from his seat and begins to shout. "Thatís not true. Black lawyers got most of the money. Thatís not true. The Black lawyers got the majority of the money," he shouted. I retorted by saying, "Oh yeh, you tell J.L. Chestnut and Rose Sanders thatÖ" Mr. Pires drowns me out by continuing to shout "Thatís not true. The Black lawyers got most of the money. Letís get the facts out. The majority of the lawyers were black and the majority of the moneys went to black lawyers."
Rep. Clayton jumps in by saying that we should respect each other. Mr. Pires then says, "letís be nice." I then said, "I donít respect this man. Thatís why I got him for ĎWanted", as I displayed my "Wanted" poster. I continued by saying,"Ö and youíve snuck up in the reparations thing now. You go mess that up the way you messed it up for the Black farmers." (Ebonicly speaking, smile.)
Mr. Pires then says, "I was invited to the reparationsÖ" I retorted, "Yeh, because you supposedly got us $2.5 billion which you did not. Thatís how you snuck up in there."
At this point Rep. Clayton interrupts again saying, "Letís respect each other." I repeated, "I donít respect this man. I was talking to her. He jumped at me. I was asking her the question."
Pires then says, "Itís disrespectful to the majority of the black lawyers who did an excellent job." I jumped in by saying, "You blamedÖwhen the court came after you, you blamed the black lawyers for your faults." Pires said, "They did a great job." I said, "If you look at the court you told Judge Friedman that it was their fault and not yours. Thatís in the court."
Mr. Pires then goes on to talk about another case that was not in the Pigford v. Glickman Consent Decree. I realized that I had gotten my point across so I set down and shut up.
This whole thing was staged to give Mr. Pires an opportunity to clear his name and get a set of new black lawyers to ride with him on his new adventure, a Black reparations lawsuit that he has already filed. And if his buddy, Judge Friedman has any thing to do with it, I am sure that Mr. Piresí lawsuit will be declared a class. Before the other black lawyers in the so-called "Reparations Dream Team" can get to first base, Mr. Pires would have recruited other black lawyers around the country to get Black people to sign on "his" dotted line.
When I referred to Judge Friedman as Al Piresí "buddy", I did so because on that same day this judge took the opportunity to dismiss Black farmersí prose motions to remove Al Pires as lead counsel. The Black farmers also asked for a hearing, but it seems that Friedmanís court "hears no evil" with respect to Al Pires.
I donít know how many black lawyers, Mr. Pires recruited that day, but I do know that he, his partner and four of his staff members left this session before they could sign up a new set of suckers. (Checkmate)
A portion of this "confrontation" will be available to be heard via the Internet. Stay tuned to www.MuhammadFarms.com. We also have the full session on two cassette taps entitled "Doc confronts Al Pires" for $7 per set.