Gregory Library Watch

Preserving working class Black history

Acting Chief of Police McClelland attempts to ignore cover up

On March 18, 2009 Acting Houston Police Chief Charles McClelland attended a community meeting at St. James UMC in historic Freedmen’s Town. Chief McClelland did a fine job ignoring the residents complaints about racial profiling and harassment of African Americans by his police force.

McClelland has been working for and often justifying a racist police force for 32 years now so it must come very naturally for him to ignore citizen concerns about the police department. (Remember his role in setting up Quanell X? one account is here.) In front of a packed church McClelland claimed that he “would not tolerate” unprofessional behavior by his department. So we asked him to address his lying Inspector General’s office particularly Lt. Thomas Hartnet who is doing his best to cover up our complaint against the African American Library at Gregory School. What did McClelland say in response to our question? NOTHING. Instead, five minutes later he left the building. Seems not only does he “tolerate unprofessional behavior” he actively covers it up.

Here’s the complaint we filed with him this morning:

Charles McClelland
Acting Chief of Police
Houston Police Department
1200 Travis Street
Houston, TX 77002

March 19, 2010

RE: Complaint re: Lt. Thomas Hartet, Inspector General’s office

Dear Chief McClelland,

Last night you came to my church, St. James UMC in Freedmen’s Town. You claimed that you would not tolerate “unprofessional behavior” of your policeman yet when I specifically mentioned my complaint against the Inspector General’s office (a section of the police department) you not only refused to address it, you left the building.

Here is my complaint, which I have also attached as letter, which is signed and dated.

On February 4, 2010 I filed a complaint about discrimination at the African American Library at Gregory School in Freedmen’s Town with Karlinda Kirkwood of the Inspector General’s office. Your complaint system itself is designed to cover up complaints because:

1) There is no record of the complaint provided to people who file them.
2) The inspector general’s office never contacts the person who filed the complaint to tell what, if anything, was the result of their complaint.

After I contacted the inspector general’s office again, they told me that on February 9, 2010 they “referred the complaint to the department,” that is the Houston Public library system.

After several weeks passed and I finally got a letter from the library, which did not address the complaint, on February 24 I spoke to Lt. Thomas Hartnet who told me to “work with the library department.” I explained to him that before I filed a complaint with his office I had already filed the same complaint with the library complaint system and when they refused to address it I filed the complaint with his office.  Lt. Hartnet assured me if deputy director of the library Meller Langford did not address my complaint he “would investigate her.” My neighbor Mr. Lenwood Johnson and then met with Ms. Langford on March 2, 2010 at the African American Library at Gregory school and she again refused to address my complaint.

On March 2, I again telephone Lt. Hartnet who now changed his story and said that he would refer a new complaint against Meller Langford to the Houston Public Library Director Rhea Lawson.

On March 3 I filed a complaint with Karlinda Kirkwood of the Inspector Generals office. As per your department’s usual method they did not contact me.

On March 16 I called Lt. Harnet and he said that my complaint was referred to Rhea Lawson on March 5 and “it took a while for inter office mail to get it there.” When I asked why he did not investigate Meller Langford like he said he would, he denied that he told me that. When I asked him what would happen after the library again ignored my complaint he claimed, “You know the answer to that Mr. O’Brien.” Actually I do not work in the Office of the Inspector General and I do not have any idea what if anything they will do when they refer two separate complaints to the library and they do not address them.

Lt. Harnet’s lie to me about what he would do to prosecute my complaint is unprofessional behavior. Your Inspector General’s office is involved in covering up the discriminatory behavior of Houston Public Library employees against me on January 20, 2009. Almost two months have passed and your department refuses to carry out its duties.

Because you stood in my church last night and said you “would not tolerate unprofessional behavior,” I want to know what action you will take to address this matter. The police department works for the taxpayers and should not be involved in covering up malfeasance by city employees.

I request that you address this matter immediately and contact me in writing describing what actions you have taken to address your Inspector General’s office, particularly Lt. Thomas Harnet’s lack of professionalism and failure to discharge his duties in my complaints against the African American Library at Gregory School and Meller Langford, deputy director of the Houston Public library.


Timothy J. O’Brien, Ph.D


March 19, 2010 Posted by | police | , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Mayor Parker responds to our letter

Here’s Mayor Parker’s email to us which we just received Monday morning;

from    COH – Mayor <>
to    Gregory Library Watch <>
date    Mon, Mar 1, 2010 at 9:18 AM
subject    RE: Community denied access to African American Library @ Gregory School

Dear Mr. O’Brien,

Thank you for your letter of February 4, 2010, concerning the African
American Library at the Gregory School.  I appreciate your desire to assist
in making the African American Library at the Gregory School the success we
all envision.

You have suggested various uses for the facility, including after school
programming and computer labs for the use of the community.  The Gregory
School is designed as a research library and not a neighborhood or community
library.  We do not have the resources to provide the type of programming
that you have suggested at this location.  However, the Library Department’s
Mobile Computer Lab has been located at the Gregory School site for two days
per week for several weeks for use by the community.  So far, it has been
lightly used.  You may wish to alert your neighbors to the availability of
this resource.  If you have ideas for publicizing the Mobile Lab, please let
us know.  We evaluate the best locations for the Mobile Computer Labs on an
ongoing basis. We would also like to point out that the Central Library
located at 500 McKinney, less than 2 miles from Gregory, provides most of
the services that you are requesting.

While we have staff members who are engaged in grant writing for the City
and cannot use your assistance in that area, we are very much interested in
any help you wish to offer toward enhancing and maximizing donations of
materials for the collection at the Gregory School.  We are anxious for the
community to embrace the research mission of the library and assist in
building the collection.  If you are interested in volunteering in our
outreach efforts to encourage community members to donate historical
documents for the Gregory School collection, we certainly welcome your
assistance.   Please go to the Library Department’s website and click on
Volunteer Opportunities, or call HPL Volunteer Services at (832) 393-1481,
so that we can get you started.

Thank you again for your interest in the Houston Public Library’s African
American Library at the Gregory School.


Mayor Annise D. Parker

You can read our letter right here letter-to-mayor-2-4-10-1

March 3, 2010 Posted by | Mayor Parker | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment


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