"Snake"in the Reparations’ Grass:
The Real Story behind the
Black Farmers’ Lawsuit
1998 - 2001
"..the anatomy of a ‘scam’"
2 hrs: 20 min.
Filmed and Edited by
Dr. Ridgely A. M. Muhammad
Prepared for the Black Farmers
and Agriculturists Association
Copyright (c) 2001 by Ridgely Abdul Mu’min
To obtain copy of tape e-mail me at:
drridgely@muhammad farms.com .
To keep up with the Black farmers’ struggle visit:
Commentary:Black people have been tricked, lied to and conspired against since being dumped on the shores of America. Rarely do you get a chance to catch the perpetrators of fraud in the act. This documentary gives you that chance. "Reparations" is now being talked about. The form that it will take may depend on some of these same lawyers that took the Black farmers for a ride.
Introduction: Historical Background
The Black Farmers and Agriculturists Association (BFAA) was established in 1997 specifically to develop a class action lawsuit against the USDA. By February of 1998 BFAA had members in 21 states and had been to all of the hearings in Federal Court under Judge Friedman. Sam Taylor, a Black farmer advocate and the then Executive Director of BFAA, could not practice law in D.C. and brought Al Pires on board and here is where the "fix" began.
Al Pires was supposed to use the 12 lead plaintiffs to establish the nature of damages for the entire class. However, the lead plaintiffs had not heard from Mr. Pires for over 3 months until November 5, 1998 when they got a copy of a "Consent Decree" that Mr. Pires was brokering to the Judge without showing its contents to the farmers.
Therefore by December of 1998 we knew that we needed to document what was going on, so we began to tape as much of the events as possible. Mr. Pires hired J. L. Chestnut and other Black lawyers to sell the Consent Decree to Black farmers. "Respected" Civil Rights leaders such as Rev. Joseph Lowery were brought in to sell the Consent Decree.
So our documentary starts with Mr. Chestnut. It ends with Randy Roth, the Monitor, as she explains why most Black farmers were denied. The "similarly situated white farmer" issue was one of the major objections of the Black farmers to the "Consent Decree" and proved to be the reason why most were rejected.
Now Mr. Pires has finished "biting" the Black farmers and is now on the "Reparations’ Dream Team" with Johnny Cochran, Randal Robinson and others. Now is the time to reveal the "Snake" before he and his lawyer friends bite 40 million other Black people.
We feel that one of the governments reasons for settling out of court was to deny the American public the opportunity to know how badly the Black farmers had been treated. Therefore we have decided to educate America ourselves. Thank you for your support.
A. December 29, 1998 - Albany, Ga
J. L. Chestnut reports on lawsuit to Black farmers --- 30 minutes
1. Throws dispersions on BFAA and Dr. Ridgely in particular for trying to organize the farmers against Consent Decree (0:06:51).
2. Gives false time for signing of the Decree and Fairness Hearing (0:12:30).
3. Chestnut makes proof of discrimination complaint seem simple (0:14:00).
4. Chestnut explains meaning of "class action" (0:15:41).
5. Chestnut accuses named plaintiffs of trying to hold up the class (0:17:20).
Note later when Attorney Bowens explains that the "named plaintiffs" were to go to trial to establish the boundaries of damages and type of discrimination (Part E: 1:21:20 )
6. The Black farmers lawsuit sets a "precedent" for general reparations (0:022:30)
7. If you qualify under "Class A", Pullman & Douglas makes decision, USDA can not stop payments (0:23:20)
8. After a one day "arbitration", Class "B" farmers would be settled that day (0:26:25).
9. Gives false information on when monitor would be put in place and its powers (0:29:24)
10. Misleads farmers on when "Fairness Hearing" is scheduled (0:30:57).
Note: It was held on March 2, 1999 not "180 days" after January 4, 1999.
11. Call farmers who opt out of settlement, "fools" (0:32:00)
12. $4 to $5 billion in settlements (0:33:30)
13. Misleads farmers when they will get money and how the USDA can not interfere (0:33:47)
14. Although BFAA had copies of Consent Decree on Nov. 5, 1998, Chestnut says that we did not know what was in the proposed Consent Decree as of December 29, 1998. (0:34:50)
B. December 29, 1998 - Albany, GA
Chestnut answers questions -- 4.5 minutes
1. Chestnut emphasizes how easy it will be to qualify for $50,000 (0:35:40)
2. Repeats that "named plaintiffs" are trying to hold people "hostage"(0:37:40)
3. Continues to discourage Black farmers from listening to advice from other than his set of lawyers (0:38:30).
4. Accuses farmers of spreading "rumors" (0:41:00).
C. January 16, 1999 - Macon, GA4.2 min.
1. Secretary Lee Dobbins gives brief history of Georgia chapter of BFAA and fight against wording of the Consent Decree (0:42:14).
2. Key players in lawsuit are named (0:43:44).
3. Farmers always overflowed court (0:44:57)
4. Farmers "reject" settlement and present resolutions to change settlement. (0:46:00)
D. February 13, 1999 - Albany, GA
Al Pires answers questions about lawsuit -- 11 min.
1. Georgia State Rep. James admonishes farmers for not "trusting these people" (lawyers) (0:48:32)
2. Al Pires gives false information on the availability of farmers’ records (0:50:00).3. Al Pires guarantees that the "system" will work (0:51:50).
4. Chestnut belittles Black farmers that are protesting (0:54:05).
5. Farmer questions Pires on meaning of "economic harm" that is on the forms. (0:56:50)
6. Attorney Rose Sanders explains how lawyers can help determine damages (0:59:50).
E. February 20, 1999 - Durham, N.C.
Black Farmers organize to go to Fairness Hearing to protest Consent Decree
1. Attorney Stephon Bowens details problem with the Consent Decree emphasizing the importance of "words" (1:01:30)
2. Bowens argues that "similarly situated white farmer" clause in the Consent Decree will kick a lot of Black farmers out (1:02:18) and (1:11:30).
3. Bowens explains how "Class Counsel" did not want "discovery" (1:03:40).
4. Bowens says that without "discovery" it will be impossible to determine damages to the "class" (1:04:53).
5. Bowens warns against $50,000 being offset (1:06:30)
6. Track "B" is less than you would get from opting out (1:07:02).
7. Tom Burrell argues that real crime of the USDA is "expropriation" of land (1:08:45).
8. Black farmer from Oklahoma declares that Al Pires and his lawyers have "betrayed" them (1:15:00).
9. Gary Grant explains problem with the media (1:20:00).
10. Bowens explains why court needed to settle the 12 representative cases to determine damages for "class" (1:21:20).
F. December 13, 1999 - Washington, D.C.
Black farmers go back to D.C. to protest lawsuit -- 9 min.
Introduction: Over 400 farmers showed up for "Fairness Hearing" on March 2, 1999. We could not take our cameras in, however the farmers brought forward their objections. Judge Friedman agreed with many of the changes that the farmers brought forward but Class Counsel did not want to change document, so Friedman signed it.
Now 9 months later the farmers go back to Washington to protest farmers not getting paid.
1. Gary Grant states that Dec. 17, 1997 President Clinton ignored Black farmers and asked Asians to keep coming to America and go on the farms (1:23:58)
2. Gary Grant explains power of farmers organizing (1:26:04)
3. Sam Taylor explains that government and lawyers failed the farmers (1:26:30).
4. White female farmer and Black farmer from Pennsylvania explains media lied to public about farmers getting paid (1:31:38).
G. February 10, 2000 - Albany, GA
Monitor put in position (one year after signing of Consent Decree) -- 10 min
1. Chestnut makes excuses for lawyers (1:33:30).
2. Chestnut points out problems with lawsuit and puts blame on government not "Consent decree" (1:37:30).
Note: Review Attorney Bowens’ statement one year earlier (1:01:30)
3. Tells farmers that some "black farm organizations" who blame the lawyers are full of "crap"(1:39:20).
H. May 8, 2000 - Washington, D.C.
BFAA goes back to D.C. to protest --
Note: Farmers go back to D.C. to further protest lawsuit. Rep. Maxine Waters speaks strong for Black farmers but that same day, she and the Congressional Black Caucus voted against a bill put forward to expedite payment to farmers. Their excuse was that the Republicans who put forward the bill were playing politics.
1. Dr. Farrid explains deception of government and genocide(1:42:30).
2. Rep. Maxine Waters speaks (1:45:40)
3. Black women protesters go to jail (1:15:17) .
I. July 31, 2000 -- Washington, D.C.
Black farmers go back to court - 5 min.
We could not take cameras in court but Al Pires finally admits to Judge Friedman that he "may" have made some mistakes.
1. Pires admits to Bowens that the farmers were doing the right thing by protesting (1:53:15).
2. Government used local field office representatives to discredit Black farmers (1:54:15).
3. Bowens states how farmers are losing their farms while the government is delaying (1:57:04).
J. October 14-16 -- Washington, D.C.Black farmers go to Million Family March - 6.5 min.
Note: Gary Grant was to speak at Million Family March, but at last minute he was cut.
1. Bush tries to get Black Farmers’ endorsement for presidency (1:58:40).
2. Development of "Mock Trial" (2:00:40).
3. Black farmers complain of government hiding D. J. Miller Report (2:01:35).
K. February 10, 2001 - Albany, GAMonitor explains denial rates - 4 min.
1. Monitor, Randy Roth, tries to explain appeal process (2:05:38)
2. Monitor explains how Al Pires fooled the judge concerning the "similarly situated white farmers" (2:07:03).
L. August 1, 2001 - Chattanooga, Tenn.
Dr. Ridgely explains making of documentary. -- 9 min.
1. Dr. Ridgely had a dream about a snake (2:10:00).
2. "Consent Decree" signed on "Black Tuesday" (2:11:04).
3. Black farmers’ lawsuit sets precedent for fake "Reparations" (2:14:29).
4. $50,000 for your DNA (2:16:12).