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Confronting Racism in PA: Why I Am Supporting Gov. Wolf's Nominee for PA State Police


Senator Vincent Hughes visited the newsroom Wednesday afternoon to discuss the nomination of Marcus Brown as State Police Commissioner, the controversy concerning Brown wearing a PSP uniform, and the racist letter left in a mailbox at Brown's Hampton township home.

By James Roxbury | Thursday March 26, 2015

Senator Hughes discusses the nomination of Marcus Brown as State Police Commissioner, the controversy concerning Brown wearing a PSP uniform, and the racist letter left in a mailbox at Brown's Hampton township home.

Marcus Brown

I was very pleased to see that Governor Tom Wolf nominated Marcus Brown, former head of the Maryland State Police, to be the Commissioner of the Pennsylvania State Police. Brown will do an excellent job at leading the largest police force in the state. However, Brown’s nomination has unfortunately opened an ugly vein of racism that cannot be ignored.

Governor Wolf partially selected Brown because of his proven track record on diversity. Under his watch, the Maryland State Police hired the largest number of people of color of any law enforcement agency in the nation.

Unfortunately, there has been a backlash in Pennsylvania. An anonymous note was left for Brown at his home (opened by his teenage son) that included the use of the “N-word.” The media also have been several racist comments made on social media sites by opponents of Brown’s nomination.

Pennsylvania State Police have a very poor record at hiring a diverse workforce. The problem was so bad that a lawsuit was filed in the 1970s and the agency was placed under federal monitoring for two decades. You can find copies of the court documents linked below.

The decree was eventually lifted, but afterwards the number of people of color working in the State Police dropped dramatically. See more details in my letter to Governor Wolf on this issue, which you can also find below.

Together, we must make it clear that racism has no place in Pennsylvania.

State Senator Vincent Hughes

Hughes Issues Statement on Racially Insensitive Comments on State Trooper Nominee

Harrisburg - March 26, 2015 - Senate Democratic Appropriations Chairman Sen. Vincent Hughes (D-Philadelphia/Montgomery) today released the following statement concerning racially insensitive comments printed in the Allentown Morning Call. Senator Hughes’ Statement follows:

"According to the article, retired Trooper Anthony DeLuca referred to an African-American member of Col. Marcus Brown's staff hired to handle diversity and recruitment as a "bootlicking ToTo." DeLuca, as a trooper, was responsible for protecting the peace for every citizen in this commonwealth while holding this reprehensible mindset."

Read Statement »

Senator Hughes Offers Support to Acting Pennsylvania State Police Commissioner Marcus Brown

Dear Governor Tom Wolf:

The recent report of a racist letter left anonymously at Acting Pennsylvania State Police Commissioner Marcus Brown’s home causes me great concern,  not only because of the substance (The use of the “N” word) of the letter but also because of the troubled history of the Pennsylvania State Police around the issue of race.

Read Letter »

Racist Note Sent to Nominee for Pa. State Police

By Larry Miller (Tribune Staff Writer) | March 26, 2015

This letter was placed in the mailbox of Marcus Brown, Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf's nominee for state police commissioner.
This letter was placed in the mailbox of Marcus Brown, Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf's nominee for state police commissioner. (Photo Credit - The Morning Call)

A note apparently hand-delivered to the home mailbox of Gov. Tom Wolf’s nominee for Pennsylvania State Police commissioner has raised the issue of race in one of the nation’s largest police forces.

The handwritten note arrived in Col. Marcus Brown’s suburban Harrisburg mailbox Monday night amid an increasingly ugly battle over Brown’s nomination to lead the state police.

“This bill is about making government work better — treating citizens as customers and giving them access to the service they expect,” said Oregon Governor Kate Brown. “When someone moves to Oregon, why should they have to fill out multiple forms for multiple agencies? They should be able to complete one form, one time.”

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Officials Probe Racist Letter to Pennsylvania State Police Nominee

By Karen Langley (The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette) | March 25, 2015

HARRISBURG — After a racially charged note was delivered to Gov. Tom Wolf’s embattled pick for state police commissioner, a high-ranking Democratic senator urged Mr. Wolf to stand firm behind the nomination.

The note, reading “No [racial epithet] lover will wear my uniform,” was found Monday night at the home of Marcus Brown. It was signed: “didn’t-don’t.”

Read More »

Is There Racism in the Pa. State Police?
Sen. Vince Hughes Weighs In
Is there racism in the Pa. State Police? Sen. Vince Hughes weighs in
Pennlive: After a racist letter was delivered the the Acting Pennsylvania State Police Commissioner, Sen. Vince Hughes, D-Philadelphia, held a press conference to discuss his support for the nominee and the letter's implications.

Race Allegations Heat Up in Fight over Gov. Tom Wolf's Pick to Lead State Police

By Steve Esack (The Morning Call) | March 25, 2015

HARRISBURG — At first, criticism of Gov. Tom Wolf's selection to run the Pennsylvania State Police focused on the color of the taxpayer-funded uniform his acting commissioner chose to wear.


But after a racially charged letter — "No [racial epithet] lover will wear my uniform" — was placed in Marcus Brown's home mailbox, his supporters are wondering if the uniform criticism was a facade for their dislike of Brown's plan to diversify the overwhelmingly white department.

Read More »

Authorities Investigate Racist Letter to Pa. State Police Pick Brown

By Brad Bumsted (State Capitol Reporter) | March 25, 2015

HARRISBURG — A racist letter to Col. Marcus Brown brought forth the first show of public support from a key senator for the embattled nominee to head the state police and called attention to dramatic decreases among minority state troopers during the past 15 years.

It prompted a strong supportive statement from Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf, who appointed Brown to head the state police.

No one knows who put the crudely handwritten letter in Brown's mailbox.

Read More »

Court Documents from Racial Discrimination Lawsuit

578 F. 2d 912 - Bolden III v. Pennsylvania State Police

578 F.2d 912

17 Fair Empl.Prac.Cas. 687, 16 Empl. Prac.
Dec. P 8306


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Offices of State Senator Vincent Hughes

4950 Parkside Avenue | Suite 300
Philadelphia, PA 19131
Phone: 215.879.7777
Fax: 215.879.7778
Senate Box 203007
Harrisburg, PA 17120-3007
Phone: 717.787.7112
Fax: 717.772.0579
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