A Courier News Opinion Letter
Fred Scharnikow sent a letter to the Courier News
Fred's letter to the editor
The paper published it vebatim.
Amazing in this politically correct era.
Plainfield's decline began many years ago
How ironic that Barbara Baker from Plainfield would write on these pages,
decrying the fact that Hispanics have taken over the city of Plainfield
("Discrimination lives where we allow it," June 24).
Please allow me to quote Ms. Baker: "In my town of Plainfield, I look at all
the Central and South Americans that are moving into town. They are
buying up everything and opening up businesses all over town, but
they are opening up businesses and renting apartments for their own
kind -- they are not trying to become a part of this town."
Later, Ms. Baker continues, "The illegal aliens that come here now don't
want anything to do with us, hence all of the businesses in their native
tongues. The people that are hiring them to work on their jobs are
going to be in for a rude awakening soon. It's happening now, you
teach them to do landscaping and construction and the like, then once
they learn the skill they go into business for themselves and hire their
own kind and start undercutting you to get your customers; business; they are taking over."
Continuing, "They are making us conform to their way of things instead of
conforming to our way of things and you, white America, are allowing
this to happen. You are still discriminating against black Americans,
and you, black America, are burying your head in the sand and letting it happen ---- Hello!!"
Ms. Baker, please let me advise you of a few events that you may not be
aware of. As a white male that was born in Muhlenburg Hospital in
1933, and one that spent my youth in the once beautiful City of
Plainfield, I feel well qualified to let you in on a few truths.
Plainfield was at one time the hub of all of Central New Jersey's shopping.
Not only were there two wonderful department stores, (Tepper's and
Rosenbaum's) but the city was home to at least eight to 10 ladies
shops, six to eight men's shops, at least a dozen shoe stores, several
new car dealers, two sporting goods stores, many jewelry shops, two
stationery stores, several drug stores and many specialty shops, four
5&10 cent stores, in addition to four operating movie theaters. And,
who amongst us senior citizens could ever forget those wonderful
Jewish bakeries and delicatessens in the West End and the Italian
bakeries and delis in the East End?
And then it happened, almost 40 years to the date, July 16, 1967, a day that
changed Plainfield forever. And, at this point, I would like to dispel a
myth. Officer John V. Gleason was not killed because he refused to
break up a fight between some youths in the city's West End. Please
read the following from Time Magazine, published Friday, January 3, 1969:
"In Elizabeth, N.J., after one of the longest and costliest trials in the state's
history (16 weeks, $750,000) a jury convicted two Negroes and freed
eight others in the murder of Patrolman John V. Gleason Jr.In the
midst of the five-day race riot in Plainfield in 1967, Gleason, 39,
the father of three, shot and wounded a youth who had attacked him
with a hammer. He was surrounded by an angry mob of Negroes and
was stomped, hacked and shot to death. Sentenced to life in prison
were Gail Madden, 22, a 250-pounder, whom witnesses identified as
the woman in a bright orange dress who stomped Gleason, and George
Merritt, 24 who attacked the officer with a meat cleaver. Five of those
who were freed had been identified by a witness whose poor eyesight
made his testimony worthless. During the trial, some witnesses
recounted their testimony, allegedly because of threats."
Ms. Baker, that was the beginning of the end for the once, beautiful
"Queen City." With the mass exodus of the whites and the great influx of
blacks seeking homes in the now reduced real estate market, the
blacks were buying homes at about two-thirds of their original value.
So, black people soon became the majority and the once proud city
(founded and built by European-Americans) has gone from a
"suburban" city to an "urban" city. Now, with the white residents
moving out, it was not long before Plainfield became an
African-American enclave with a downtown of mostly empty
storefronts. What did the black community do about it? Nothing. And,
you are complaining about the Hispanics?
Patrolman Robert Perry was shot and killed on July 1, 1970, and his partner
was wounded while responding to a falsely reported call. The killing
was done by a local militant group;
Patrolman Frank Buczek was shot in the back of the head and killed while
working a special detail in a church parking lot at West 6th and
Liberty Streets on Saturday, Sept. 18, 1971. This was just two blocks
away from the site of Officer Perry's killing;
Officer Abigail J. Powlett was shot and killed by a suspect that had
overpowered her and taken her hostage on March 15, 1985, As the
suspect held a gun to her head, while other officers tried to negotiate
with him, he, without warning, shot her in the head. With that, the
other officers shot and killed the suspect.
Now, Ms. Baker, according to my calculations, that is four Plainfield police
officers killed in 40 years. And, how many "innocent" civilians? 20?
30? 40? These numbers are an atrocity for a city so small -- and where
have the black city fathers been for all of these years? Now, you are
complaining about Hispanics invading your city. Perhaps, you would
like to check and see how many city residents were killed in Plainfield
in the 40-year period before July 16, 1967.
I have also read your second letter, dated June 29, 2007 ("Ruffling feathers
on racial and language barriers") in which you thank all the people
that replied to your first letter. Ms. Baker, they must have thanked you
in person as I have seen nothing in this paper to validate that
Now that you have had your say, let me tell you this. I am 100 percent
against reparations for blacks and 100 percent against illegal
immigration. I am not Hispanic, nor do I have any Hispanics in my
family. "I am an American, made with Irish and German parts".
FRED R. SCHARNIKOW SR.
A comment by a blog on Freds article
It looked to me that the writer had his FACTS pretty straight, sommy. Not
sure where you were living during the 70's, but even as a small tike I
remember pretty vividly about the rioting and chaos not only in
Plainfield, but in Newark, New Brunswick, and even Somerville.
I will say though the failings of Plainfield shouldn't be blamed on an influx
of African-Americans per se. That would lead me to speculate that the
writer is implying that only a white dominated town can thrive which
is completely ludicrous. But I don't believe that's what he was saying.
He's saying the truth, regardless of what color the post riot influx was,
the inhabitants of a once great city did NOTHING to build or rebuild
a once thriving community. Did NOTHING to stem the overwhelming
increase in crime. Did NOTHING to identify the root causes of their dilemma.
The failures of Plainfield are from the very people themselves, like Ms
Baker, who refuse to take ownership of a decades old problem. Instead
of actually making some tangible changes to their own behaviors and
paradigms, it's much easier to blame the white cashier or the hispanic
shop owner for all the strife the residents of Plainfiled have endured.
Posted: Mon Jul 16, 2007 2:04 pm