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Omar Bradley’s autobiography
After he did his time, the Appeals Court exonerated former Compton Mayor Omar Bradley … now he can really get on with his life
Normally when an appeals court reverses a conviction, it would seem a time to rejoice. But former mayor of Compton Omar Bradley is not actually excessively rejoicing, he is in a contemplative mood reflecting on the time he spent in prison (before his conviction was overturned) and how he will restart his “new” life serving others.
Wednesday's decision leaves Bradley free to run for public office again but in answer to whether he will run again or not, in a very thoughtful tone he said, “It’s a definite, ‘I don’t know’ I’ve not been mayor for quite sometime.” But he said that he believes the 2004 conviction was racially and politically motivated. However, the basis for the appeals court’s action was that the prosecutors failed to prove that Bradley knowingly broke the law.
As it now stands, according to legal experts, even though Los Angeles County prosecutors haven't decided whether to appeal to the state Supreme Court or try him again, it seems unlikely that they will decide on either of those two options.
The Sentinel spoke with Bradley and he explained some of his plans for the future. Asked about his feelings, as a human being, on the appeals court saying that they were wrong, he said, “There have been countless Black men who tried to make a difference, who were confronted by systems that often times malfunctioned when it comes to justice for African Americans. And I don’t believe that this is an unusual thing; I just feel as though that the experience of nine years as a convict, and the result of those nine years of my life, I felt exalted.”
Bradley spoke very deliberate and slow, as if he was measuring every word before he said it (the mark of a seasoned politician). Speaking about his autobiography, the King of Compton, and the meaning of its sub-title ‘the Assassination of a Dream,’ he said, “As an African, I always dreamed of helping my community from my youngest memory … I wanted to help my people. And that was a dream but obviously there were forces that felt as though that wouldn’t come through and could not be validated for a very long time.
“But now that I’m free, it doesn’t mean that those forces don’t still exist; it doesn’t mean that they’re still not going to try to do things to me in again, it just means that those forces are real and still have the capacity to destroy the dreams and hopes of those who want to do good. They can destroy them, they can incarcerate them, they can steal elections from them, and most who are looking on, will be convinced that ‘Yes, he’s guilty, he’s a bad person.’
“But the fact that I was an outspoken, African American Black man, this is not a new story. They’ve been doing this to Black men who’ve tried to help, for years. And unfortunately, there are enough Black people in the world to help Black people… Black people that are inspired by money… that are inspired by fame or greed… Whites don’t have to do it to themselves. It was an amazing journey and I got to see a lot.”
In pursuit of his dream of helping (his) people, now that he does not wear the mark of ex-felon, Bradley stated, “I had the opportunity to go out Sunday with my church … the homeless people living under the freeway near Central Avenue … there’s actually a village of people living under the freeway near the Compton Creek. So Sunday, I volunteered with my brother, my sister and my wife to prepare food with the members of our church and I just went out and fed them. Just to see them ... everybody is looking out for the middle class … but the poor has been forgotten I understand what it means to be forgotten, and I know what it means to be remembered.”
When asked if he’s going to continue with his church to help that people, Bradley said, “That’s one of the things that I’m going to do, not a professional endeavor, because it doesn’t take much … just cook food, take it out there and spend time, and it’s very rewarding.”