Viola Plummer Defies Quinn

It was Quinn who initiated the whole controversy, not Plummer, Barron said, in response to a reporter’s question. He said her actions were “racist� and that she was behaving like a “dictator.�

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The ongoing battle between Viola Plummer, chief of staff of New York City councilmember Charles Barron, and the Council’s Speaker Christine Quinn escalated when Plummer defied Quinn and entered the Council Chambers today.

She was later escorted out by over a dozen police officers.

Quinn had “fired” Plummer weeks ago, claiming she had crossed the line when she allegedly called for the “assassination” of councilmember Leroy Comrie; Comrie had abstained from voting on the bid to rename a street in Brooklyn after the late Black nationalist Sonny Carson, a measure strongly backed by Plummer, Barron and residents of the Brooklyn community where the street was to be renamed.

Plummer has insisted she was referring to ending Comrie’s political career; in any event, both Plummer and Barron say Quinn has no powers to dismiss a councilmember’s employee.

Plummer sued Quinn for violating her first amendment rights, prior to her dismissal; a Manhattan judge will hear the case in September.

When The Black Star News asked a Quinn spokesperson if indeed, under the City Charter, the Speaker had the power to fire Plummer, the spokespersons said, “Well that relates to the outstanding court case that had been filed.” A rather unusual concession given the fact that Quinn says she has already terminated Plummer.

In the meantime today, Barron accompanied Plummer, 70, to City Hall, ignoring orders from Quinn that Plummer would be barred.

Followed by hordes of media, flashing cameras and a trail of microphone wires, Baron and Plummer made their way up the ornate council stairway to the main chambers; photographers tripped over each other to keep pace.

Once inside the Council, Barron made a statement in defense of Plummer, saying her initial remarks about Comrie were never “about his life.” She was “talking about his political career,” Barron said, of Plummer. He added that Quinn was simply retaliating because they had dared to defy her: “Black people aren’t supposed to get angry,” he said.

It was Quinn who initiated the whole controversy, not Plummer, Barron said, in response to a reporter’s question. He said her actions were “racist” and that she was behaving like a “dictator.”

Quinn in an unprecedented act, opposed the change of a section of Brooklyn’s Gates Avenue to Sonny Carson Avenue, even after the local community board had voted in favor.

Adding insult to injury, supporters of the street name change insist, Quinn herself had sponsored a street name change to Al Jolson, an actor who became famous for performing in blackface.

Quinn waited until most reporters had left the council chambers this afternoon before the police were sent to eject Plummer. “After Quinn arrived, an announcement was made for all non-council staff to leave the floor of the Chambers,” said Joy Simmons, director of policy and planning in Barron’s office. “It’s something that’s not usually done.” 

When Plummer refused to budge, she was approached by the officers but Barron interceded to prevent them from touching Plummer, who eventually walked out.

The Quinn spokesperson claimed the Speaker was not responsible for calling the police today. Barron had earlier said that Plummer was now working as a volunteer in his office.

Separately, the December 12th Movement’s International Secretariat announced a fund raiser to help Plummer’s court battle. Donations are being invited to: VIOLA PLUMMER DEFENSE FUND,
c/o Sistas Place, 456 Nostrand Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 11216. The Black nationalist organization can be reached at (718) 398-1766/fax (718) 623-1855 e-mail [email protected]


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