Kevin Peterson’s Rock Thrown From Glass House Misses
By: Jamarhl Crawford
Sometimes those who seek forgiveness and redemption are also those the least likely to give it to others. There are many old sayings that illustrate this, and you have probably heard them from your grandmother.
“When you point a finger at others, three are pointing back at you”, and the tried and true, “If that ain’t the pot calling the kettle Black.” My personal favorite which may be a remix, “Let he without sin cast the first stone… from a glass house.”
On Friday, May 22nd, Kevin Peterson wrote an Op-Ed for the Boston Herald with the title “Wilkerson angling for a way back into community life”. The focus was on Dianne Wilkerson, who everybody knows, but the question is, who is Kevin Peterson? Peterson’s Herald credit reads simply “a senior fellow at the Center for Collaborative Leadership at the University of Massachusetts Boston and founder of the New Democracy Coalition.” But Kevin is so much more.
Peterson is in fact the one who has been “angling” and positioning himself for at least the past several decades in an attempt to validate himself among the best and brightest of Boston’s Black political and community leadership. Like many of us, myself included, Kevin is flawed. It all breaks down to how you are built.
I will use myself as an example. I’ve had a troubled past, including going to jail (1995), being shot (2004), using drugs and was even abusive to women in my youth. I have never shied away from my past, and in fact, have told my story publicly and used it in attempts to better myself and others. The last woman I put my hands on was when I was 19 and since then I have become an anti-domestic violence advocate. The last time I touched cocaine or was in jail was 20 years ago. When I ran for office in 2012, I put all my past on the table, and no one had to speculate about anything. I even went so far as to release an old wanted poster of myself and released my CORI to several community leaders, law enforcement officials and clergy.
I believe and live by a high code of moral and spiritual ethics which I equally apply to myself as I do to others. It drives me absolutely insane when someone does something that violates this unwritten code.
In Peterson’s very first line he sets the tone: “Former Roxbury state Sen. Dianne Wilkerson is an insatiable political animal whose appetite for power and influence knows no end.”
This is problematic out the gate because Kevin is no dummy. He is certainly smart enough to know about the connotations of calling anyone, particularly a Black person, particularly a Black Woman, an animal of any type.
We have been fighting the animalization of Black people in literature, media and pop culture for decades. As a political commentator well aware of the climate which paints the Obama’s as monkeys, I would think he would know better. To do so in the pages of the Boston Herald is problematic in and of itself with the Herald’s long history of racism and stereotypes via watermelon toothpaste cartoons and decades of referring to our community as “The jungle” and our people as “Animals,” “Savages” and yes even “Monkeys” in the online comments.
The pressure to deliver for a newspaper like the Boston Herald must be tremendous. Especially when you are not a bonafied and trained journalist. You have to keep up with the likes of Peter Gelzinis and Howie Carr, and the Herald loves salacious headlines and people of interest read: targets. Dianne Wilkerson, Chuck Turner and Carlos Henriquez have all become favorites to droll out and whip at the public post. At the whims of the press, the stocks are put on them and everyone gets to throw stones from glass houses. In Peterson’s case, he is often attempting to be seen as the intellectual voice of reason, a behind the scenes convener and a major player. However, in this case, and several others, he made some serious rookie mistakes that call into question his credibility and judgment. The Herald, like a European monarchy, always enjoys a good head on a platter, and Kevin, aiming to please, brought them what he thought was the head of Dianne. Perhaps it is his head which should be on the platter.
Let’s look at some of the dismissive language Peterson chooses to use in his piece, or attempted hit piece.
“Wilkerson complains constantly, especially about the frailties of black politics in Boston.”
“Despite her past disgraces, Wilkerson deserves credit for pointing out the dysfunction in the black community.”
“Wilkerson plans to release a book later this year documenting her “surreal” life. In it she “names” many in black leadership — including black preachers — who she says forced her out of public life.
That’s a bad choice. She should burn the book before it ever sees the light of day.”
“Wilkerson refuses to go away. But let’s hope her past corrupt habits and ethical lapses are gone forever.”
So in summary, Dianne Wilkerson is a disgraced insatiable animal who is hungry for influence and power, complains constantly, refuses to go away with corrupt habits and ethical lapses and should burn her book before it comes out. To her credit, as Peterson so generously allows, she does at least possess “Smarts and a nimble mind for policy advocacy.” The irony here is quite plain and simple. The above description more accurately describes Kevin Peterson than it does Dianne Wilkerson.
The mere suggestion that Dianne Wilkerson would have the audacity to deliver a proposal to the Boston United States Olympic Committee, that she was asked to “Put in writing” was enough to fuel 3 articles in the Boston Herald in a 48 hr. period. Talk about “insatiable.”
Let’s start with hunger for “Influence and power”
Kevin Peterson has aligned himself with members of our community who have been some of the most frequently accused and criticized for being power and influence hungry. The worst part is the schemes seem to most often backfire with devastating and embarrassing results.
Peterson is a former Executive Director of the Baker House and a protege of Rev. Eugene Rivers. In 2011, after multiple scandals (wait for it) Peterson founded the New Democracy Coalition and became Executive Director along with Tony VanDerMeer (clerk) Barry Lawton (treasurer) and Leonard Lee (president). For those familiar with Boston Politics, those names should be an indication of a certain model of organizing and politics that may work for some, but remains controversial, questionable and ineffective at least to many more.
Peterson was one of the brains behind the fiasco that surrounded the troubled Charlotte Golar-Richie 2013 mayoral campaign. You might remember when a group of “Leaders” got together and decided that Golar-Richie deserved the seat and that all other candidates of color should bow out gracefully. Needless to say, that didn’t go over too well with not everyone agreeing Golar-Richie was the best candidate, and a subsequent downward spiral ensued, resulting in shouting and bullying tactics used by the imploding and over zealous campaigners.
Peterson has repeatedly interjected himself in all things politics and has a long history with campaigns. He was Golar-Richie’s campaign manager during her 1990’s State Representative race. Peterson was also a “top aide to Councilor Gareth R. Saunders in 1995.”
(FULL DISCLOSURE: I worked for Gareth Saunders in 1998 and quit after uncovering some disturbing goings on)
Add a dash of “complains constantly”
The entire Golar-Richie campaign was a campaign of complaints. Complaints that CGR should just be passed the scepter. Complaints that the community at-large wasn’t bowing down in the appropriate manner. Complaints against other candidates and staffers. Complaints about city services, diversity and more. In fact complaints seem to be a recurring thing for Peterson and his band of followers. Long on complaints. Short (no pun intended) on solutions and proposals.
How ’bout a sprinkle of “Corrupt habits and ethical lapses” mixed with some “Past disgraces”?
Peterson has been in the newspaper long before his columns in the Boston Herald. In fact, he was featured prominently in 2005 in the very same publication which now provides a platform for his often skewed opinions.
On October 24th, 2005 the Boston Herald’s Dave Wedge wrote an article with the headline: “Trail of Trouble; Election task force boss is a deadbeat dad”
“A non-profit boss tabbed by Mayor Thomas M. Menino to head up a board organized to clean up Boston’s elections is a deadbeat dad currently wanted on a criminal warrant. Kevin C. Peterson, who was appointed by Menino in August to co-chair the Mayor’s Advisory Task Force, owes more than $41,000 in back child support to two women for his two children, according to Department of Revenue records.
Kevin Peterson has also had two restraining orders taken out against him by ex-girlfriends, one of whom accused him of abuse. There is also currently a criminal warrant for Kevin Peterson’s arrest out of Dorchester District Court for a host of motor vehicle violations, officials said.
“These were unfortunate events that have happened and they are deeply personal. I’m doing all I can to rectify them,” Peterson said.”
“In addition to several motor vehicle charges, Peterson’s rap sheet includes a 2001 rape case in which he was accused of sexually assaulting an ex-girlfriend while she slept. The rape and kidnapping charges were dismissed after a superior court grand jury failed to return an indictment. While the rape case was pending, his accuser told cops Peterson showed up at her house, banging on the window, and called her 66 times.
“I think he intends to harm me if I persist with my court action against him for sexual assault,” the woman wrote in a June 6, 2001, affidavit.
In 1997, another ex-girlfriend accused him of stalking and harassing her and breaking into her Jeep.
“I have been physically abused in the past by Kevin Peterson,” the woman wrote in a restraining order affidavit.”
“Peterson, 42, is executive director of the non-profit voters’ rights group the New Democracy Coalition. (emphasis added) The mayor’s task force was organized by Menino after the federal Department of Justice sued the city for failing to provide bi-lingual ballots to non-English speaking voters, among other election law violations.
The board meets regularly and will be closely monitoring the polls during the mayoral election next month. Considered a leading voice in the city for voters’ rights, Peterson has been featured on National Public Radio and has written op-ed pieces for the Boston Globe.”
One day later on October 25th, 2005 Dave Wedge of the Boston Herald again reported on Peterson with the headline: “Menino Adviser Resigns”
“Peterson stepped down from Mayor Thomas M. Menino’s Advisory Task Force a day after the Herald reported he owes $41,000 in back child support for two kids, was wanted on a criminal warrant for motor vehicle violations and has had two restraining orders taken out against him. The advisory panel was formed by Menino to clean up Boston’s elections in the wake of a federal lawsuit against the city for widespread poll violations.”
“The Herald has also learned that the “Nonprofit” New Democracy Coalition Peterson founded four years ago has never registered with the secretary of state’s office and is not a registered political organization with the Internal Revenue Service.” (emphasis added)
“According to a member of the coalition’s board of directors, Peterson has solicited money for the organization in the past, including from the University of Massachusetts at Boston, where he is a senior fellow in the Center for Collaborative Leadership. The New Democracy Coalition and UMass-Boston jointly sponsored an event during last summer’s Democratic National Convention.
The board member said the group is planning to register as a nonprofit corporation and Peterson is considering stepping down. Numerous attempts to reach Peterson last night were unsuccessful.
According to a biography, Peterson is a Boston University graduate and former Massachusetts Institute of Technology fellow who has written for The Boston Globe, Commonwealth magazine and other publications.
The Herald reported yesterday that he has had two restraining orders taken out against him, including one by a woman who accused him of physical abuse. A 2001 rape case against him was dismissed.”
In regards to Peterson’s brainchild, the “New Democracy Coalition”, there seems to be some discrepancy as to its legitimate status. The Herald first reported on Oct. 24, 2005 that Peterson was the executive director of the non-profit organization New Democracy Coalition. A day later the Herald had to backtrack, and report the New Democracy Coalition (which was founded 4 years previous to the article, which would mean the NDC was founded in 2001 and yet as of 2005) “Never registered with the secretary of state’s office and is not a registered political organization with the Internal Revenue Service.” Finally, in March of 2011, the New Democracy Coalition registered with the Secretary of State although based on the public records has yet to file any annual reports.
The real story here is that who knew the Boston Herald is this liberal? They actually gave a column to a troubled Black man they had previously condemned as a deadbeat dad, woman abuser and alleged rapist (charges dismissed). What would Howie Carr say? His relationship with women seems complicated to say the least. On the one hand accused of terrorizing women and then on the other hand championing Charlotte Golar-Richie and current wife Karen Charles-Peterson who married Kevin sometime after 2010. On the other hand again, here we are with a public assault on arguably the most important, beloved and effective Black Woman ever to hold public office in Massa-chusetts.
“Wilkerson doesn’t blink when the famous FBI photo of her stuffing bribery cash into her bra is evoked.”
So Wilkerson stuffed a bra and Peterson perhaps rips them during the crimes he is alleged to have committed?
I wonder if Peterson blinks at the court records and press accounts of his failure to pay child support, motor vehicle violations, restraining orders, allegations of abuse, allegations of rape, falsely collecting unemployment and perhaps even operating a less than kosher non-profit. I wonder how much money the New Democracy Coalition and Peterson have received over the years and from whom?
“Wilkerson stops short of contrition for past deeds.”
As opposed to Peterson who has been entirely upfront and forthcoming “These were unfortunate events that have happened and they are deeply personal. I’m doing all I can to rectify them,” Peterson said.
This is most ironic because Peterson asserts that Wilkerson has no contrition even though he quotes her as saying: “I don’t know what people expect. I’ve gone around my community and said, ‘I’m sorry.’ I did it, I did it. What they accused me of, I accept it. But I have to move on.”
Contrition (definition) is the state of feeling remorseful and penitent.
That sounds like contrition to me.
So Peterson is writing the exact opposite of what she said in an attempt to paint her as avoiding responsibility. Wilkerson took responsibility, it is in fact Peterson who avoids and attempts to weasel out of it.
This is actually a tactic Peterson used during his turmoil as Baker House Executive Director where his troubles landed him before its board and rather than take responsibility he went line by line and explained it all away by showing them the science of how everyone else is wrong except Kevin Peterson. “Point by point, he took us through each allegation, separated fact from fiction, enumerated all of the various distortions and lies, and answered all of our questions,” board members wrote. “He was forthright throughout.”
Absolutely forthright in telling them how everybody else got it all wrong and he was the real victim. The Baker House then promised a report to detail “his legal run-ins.” We’re still waiting for it from 2008.
These days, in addition to his contributions to the Herald, Peterson is also the host of “Politics & Grits” on Boston Praise Radio. His most recent broadcasts, not one but two parts, focused on David Bernstein’s Boston Magazine May 2015 column “Black Power; Why doesn’t Boston have more of it?” Peterson even had Bernstein on as a guest as he analyzed all things relating to Black Power in Boston. Unfortunately, the one thing that Peterson failed to bring up in his overall analysis was his own, along with his cohorts, inability to cultivate or manifest Black Power and often times, his and others undermining of it, whether intentionally or by a miscalculated goof.
If anything here is crystal clear, it is that Peterson is the one who “refuses to go away.” It appears that it was Peterson’s off base article which was actually “a bad choice” and apparently, but one of a long line of bad choices spanning at least a couple of decades. The Boston Herald should take Peterson’s own advice and burn his next submitted column “Before it ever sees the light of day.”