NO NEED TO BOTHER with a judge, jury, police witnesses or any of those judicial trappings that were to be summoned in the case of Rep. Louis Stokes, who is facing three traffic charges in Montgomery County. Walter Fauntroy, the District of Columbia delegate to the House, already has decided that the police don't have a case--that it's all part of a racist campaign by police and media to discredit black leaders. Any questions?
No, Mr. Fauntroy was not on the scene, as far as anyone can tell, when Mr. Stokes and police officers did and said whatever they now contend; and no, there is no evidence so far that Mr. Fauntroy has noted or objected to any past news reports of other congressmen charged with various offenses from Abscam to bribery to traffic accidents that have dotted the local map from a night spot in upper Northwest to Georgetown, the Tidal Basin and a gay bar.
Yet Mr. Fauntroy has stepped in to contend that the Montgomery County police and the media have been unfair in their handling of traffic charges filed against Mr. Stokes because he is black. The delegate says there "appears to be a pattern developing against black leaders" across the country, in which "unfounded allegations are played up by the press."
If there is any pattern around, you could start with these charges of Mr. Fauntroy and then note the similarity in the racist sentiments expressed by Mr. Stokes and commented upon by the press in Cleveland, parts of which are printed in For the Record on this page. It is reckless enough stuff when used by the accused, and mindless when echoed by someone on the sidelines.
There is yet another, greatly preferable pattern that's been around for some time now--and it is to withhold judgments until prosecution and defense have told their stories to a court. In this pattern, neither the color nor the position of influence of any motorist should have any bearing on the determination of guilt or innocence. But Mr. Fauntroy has it figured out for himself--and that apparently is enough of an audience for him to pronounce sentence, however inflammatory it happens to be.