In 1972, members of the Nation of Islam mosque led by Louis Farrakhan ambushed four New York policemen, badly wounding three officers and murdering one.
The police had received an anonymous—and it later turned out, bogus—phone call, reporting an officer in distress on the second floor of West 116th Street. Unbeknownst to the responding officers, this happened to be Farrakhan’s mosque. The first four cops on the scene either didn’t realize (or didn’t care) that the front doors of the mosque were uncharacteristically thrown open and the usual phalanx of armed “Fruit of Islam” Muslim guards were absent. The officers ran into the building and up the stairs in search of the injured policeman.
Once all four were in the stairwell, the doors behind them were slammed shut and bolted. At that moment, more than a dozen black Muslims, shouting “Allahu Akbar!” charged down the stairs. The Muslims kicked and dragged their trapped quarry to the bottom of the stairs and then out into the vestibule where they beat, kicked and stomped the policemen to a gruesome pulp. With all four officers on the ground and the vestibule awash in blood, the Muslims managed to wrench service revolvers from two of the battered officers. One of them shot Officer Phil Cardillo in the chest at point-blank range.
As all this was happening, the police dispatcher received a call cancelling the original 10-13 (“assist police officer”) call and the policemen swarming toward the building turned back. But Officer Rudy Andre had already arrived and saw his comrade Vito Navarra lying outside the mosque, barely conscious. Andre assumed he was the “officer in distress” who had prompted the original call. Then Andre looked through the windows of the mosque’s doors and saw the three other officers still being stomped by Farrakhan’s Muslims. They were only yards away from him, but Andre couldn’t get to them because the mosque’s front doors were now bolted shut. After putting in an urgent call for backup, Andre shot through the door’s window to unlock the door and disperse the mob.
By now, the ambushed cops were so drenched in blood that Andre didn’t even realize Cardillo had been shot. The assailants all ran to the basement, with Andre in hot pursuit. There was only one way out, so the perpetrators were as trapped in the basement as the officers had been in the stairwell minutes earlier.
As police cars and ambulances arrived at the building, a crowd also gathered to jeer at the police and throw rocks and burning garbage at them. The crowd cheered when the cops were carried from the mosque on stretchers.
Amazingly, Cardillo was still clinging to life when he got to the hospital. Five days later, he would be dead.
Another beaten cop, Victor Padilla, was convulsing so badly when he arrived at the emergency room that doctors and nurses had to hold him down. Blood poured from the socket where his left eye had been gouged out.
Navarra, the officer Andre had found lying in the street, was bruised, bleeding and missing teeth. But, unlike the others, he did not require emergency admittance to the triage unit. So he left the hospital and went back to the mosque to identify the assailants, who were being questioned in the basement where Andre had cornered them.
When Navarra walked in, bloody and tattered, several Muslims retreated to the back of the room. The guilty knew they were moments away from being positively identified. In addition to Chief of Detectives Albert Seedman, who was conducting the interviews, Farrakhan was present. As soon as he saw the pummeled cop, Farrakhan tried to get rid of him, imperiously announcing that he would not be able to guarantee Navarra’s safety “in this house of worship.”
Seedman shut Farrakhan down, saying, “Everyone in this basement, including you, is a suspect in the shooting and beating of New York cops. No one other than me will be making any decisions in regards to this case.”
But just as suddenly, Democratic congressman Charles Rangel materialized and informed Seedman that the police were to leave immediately. Deputy Police Commissioner Benjamin Ward—the first black man to hold that position—was in command, and he had just struck a deal with Rangel and Farrakhan: The cops would vacate the premises immediately, and in return Rangel and Farrakhan promised they would deliver the suspects to the police.
The police are still waiting.
Seedman refused to believe this was happening. But after a few phone calls, he got the order to vacate the premises directly from Commissioner Ward. He called Chief of Police Michael Codd to supersede the order, but the request was refused. Seedman called again and was told Codd had gone to lunch. With no other options, Seedman ordered the police to leave. One black cop in the basement refused the order, saying, “There’s an attempted murderer down here, and he’s coming out attached to my cuffs.”
But as Rangel had smirkingly indicated to Seedman, the order had been approved by Ward’s boss, Police Commissioner Patrick Murphy. The cops were forced to clear out, walking past Muslims in the vestibule who were busily scrubbing the crime scene of evidence.
With Rangel operating as the mosque’s bouncer, Navarra was prevented from identifying the assailants, and an airtight case vanished into thin air.
Soon the crowd on the street had grown to more than a thousand strong. Burning garbage, bricks and bottles filled the air. A female journalist was knocked to the ground, stomped, sprayed with lighter fluid and set on fire. Reporters were beaten and their equipment smashed. Stores were looted and destroyed. A stalled bus full of terrified passengers was bombarded with rocks and bottles, as hoodlums smashed its windows and tried to stuff burning newspapers inside.
One of the officers at the mosque, Randy Jurgensen, author of the book about the mosque incident, Circle of Six, describes what happened as he exited the building:
We dropped our heads like fullbacks, squared our shoulders and surged forward. . . . They started to punch, kick and claw at us. I felt a horrific sting below my shoulder. Someone had bitten a chunk of skin out of my back…. We made it to [the police car], slamming the doors and locking them. The keys weren’t in the car. BOOM! The windshield exploded, covering us in a million fine pieces of glass. If that wasn’t enough, burning rags soaked in gasoline were tossed in….
Commissioner Ward responded to the melee by ordering all white cops to leave the scene. He was later made police commissioner by Mayor Ed Koch.
Farrakhan and Rangel’s promise turned out not to be one you could take to the bank. Despite assurances that they would personally escort everyone in the basement to the 24th Precinct, that never happened. A cop killer had been left in that basement on orders from Mayor John Lindsay’s politically correct City Hall.
In response to a murderous ambush of his police, Lindsay apologized to Farrakhan for the officers’ “invasion” of his mosque. The NYPD brass dirtied up the four cops by falsely portraying their entry into the mosque as unlawful and even implying that Cardillo had been killed by “friendly fire.”
Neither Lindsay nor Murphy attended Cardillo’s funeral, which was believed to be the first time a New York City mayor had not attended the funeral of a policemen killed in the line of duty.6 Instead, Lindsay went skiing in Utah. Murphy took a “business trip” to London with his wife.
Murphy did have time, however, to meet with Farrakhan at police headquarters in order to apologize for the police’s mistake in entering the mosque. Murphy would later describe Farrakhan as a man of “clear conviction, speaking in tones of deep resonance, whose larger style was not entirely confrontational.” Of course, he hadn’t responded to the 911 call.
An open-and-shut investigation into a savage, premeditated cop killing had been shut down by a Democratic congressman. If you’ve ever wondered how thorough a news blackout can be, and to what extent a politician can skate away from controversy, Rangel’s knee-deep involvement in the Harlem mosque incident is a perfect example.
The New York Times sprang to action decades later by relentlessly flogging Representative Rangel on its front page. Not for covering up the murder of a policeman but for cheating on his taxes. Tax collection is a serious matter! But don’t expect the Times to go after Rangel for protecting a cop killer.
The Times’s 2011 obituary for Patrick Murphy, the police chief who had conspired with Rangel and Farrakhan to cover up the coldblooded murder of a police officer, hailed Murphy as “a nationally recognized police figure with a track record that extended to Washington and Detroit.” (If you were a police chief, would you put those two cities on your resume?) The Times described Murphy as the man who “steer[ed] [the New York Police Department] through one of its rockiest periods as he instituted reforms to root out corruption in the ranks.”
The entire mosque incident was brushed off in a single slippery sentence: “The next year, another officer, Phillip Cardillo, was fatally shot inside a Harlem mosque.” Actually, he was murdered in cold blood and his assassin was protected by Patrick Murphy.
The Times was still dissembling about the mosque ambush in a May 12, 2012 article about a proposal to name a Harlem street after Phil Cardillo. The article described the 1972 ambush thus: The 911 call “turned out to be spurious, and a melee ensued,” adding that mosque leaders “believed they were being invaded by a hostile police force.” No. They set a trap for the purpose of killing cops. Everyone knew it—the police, the mayor and, certainly, the “mosque leaders.” (In the Times’s defense, it may not have known.)
The ranks of ordinary cops included plenty of black officers. These were the ones on the street making arrests, at the mosque, visiting colleagues in the hospital afterward, and the ones who would be enraged for the rest of their lives at their betrayal by the mayor and top officials of the NYPD. But black cops were no more respected by liberals than white cops were. Only murderous, cop-killing, brick-throwing, garbage burning, taunting, spitting black miscreants at the Harlem mosque counted as “black” for purposes of the police brass and the politically correct media.
Phil Cardillo’s murderer was eventually brought to justice, mostly through the indefatigable work of detective Randy Jurgensen. Meanwhile, the top echelons of the NYPD did everything in their power to block the capture and conviction of the murderer. Any investigation might raise questions about their own despicable conduct.
Blocked from using police surveillance equipment, Cardillo’s partner privately said: “[They’ve] got a million motherf—king dollars’ worth of equipment to collar dope heads, but for a dead cop, we can’t get a camera and a roll of film. I wanna vomit . . . This job and those c__ksuckers downtown are a f—king joke. A dead cop, Randy, a dead cop. My partner.”
Do not imagine that New York City was saved by anything other than Rudy Giuliani.
While Police Chief Murphy and his coterie were throwing every manner of roadblock in Jurgensen’s way as he searched for Cardillo’s murderer, a black Muslim from Farrakhan’s mosque, Foster 2X Thomas was the hero of the case. Three years after the mosque attack, Thomas was arrested for using a stolen credit card. The polite young man immediately owned up to his crime and answered directly when asked about the ambush. As Foster explained in repeated interviews, he spoke the truth “because Minister Farrakhan always reminds the Muslims that we must tell the truth.”
Thomas had been working in the mosque bakery during the ambush and only emerged when he heard a commotion in the vestibule. Rushing in to defend his Muslim brothers, he was present when one of them shot the cop. He said it was Lewis 17X Dupree.
When Thomas testified against Dupree at trial, he was subjected to taunting from a hundred angry black Muslims glaring at him from the gallery. But, again, he matter-of-factly explained that he spoke the truth because Minister Farrakhan said Muslims must always be honest.
Unfortunately, the trial resulted in 0J-style justice with the truth coming out but with the jury hung, 10-2, for conviction. A black female juror refused to convict Dupree, and a white female juror refused to disagree with her. The second trial, with a less impressive presentation, ended in an acquittal. (Lewis 17X Dupree later ended up in prison on a federal felony conviction in North Carolina.)
For telling the truth, Thomas had to be shuttled about in seedy motel safe houses for three years until the trial and then placed directly into the federal witness protection program after the second trial.
But liberals don’t celebrate men like Foster 2X Thomas. If only he had killed a cop or faked a hate crime, he would have been celebrated in movies, Hollywood petitions, Anna Quindlen columns and New York Times editorials. That was the chaotic, upside down world that liberals foisted on the nation in the 1970s right up to the OJ trial.