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LIFE UNDER MARSHAL LAW
Partners describe more
racist hell rides with the U.S. Service
Yesterday, the Post reported that the U.S. Marshals Service
is riddled with blatant, sometimes violent racism in its offices
in New York and throughout the country -- a problem apparently
fueled by biased hiring practices. In today's installment, The
Post reveals the experiences of two partners -- one black, one
white -- in the agency's Manhattan office.
By William Sherman and Daniel Goldfarb
Monday, March 17, 1997
For Bill Scott, who is black, and Steve Zanowic, who is
white, working as partners in the U.S. Marshals office in
Manhattan was a racist hell. The two men, as deputy marshals in
the warrant squad, were frequent partners in hunting down
dangerous fugitives, killers, drug dealers and escaped prisoners.
From the day they met in 1988, they said, they were caught in a
terrifying spiral of discrimination. There were death threats and
physical violence -- including a crippling beating for Zanowic by
a white supervisor and a setup by white deputies that almost
resulted in Scott's murder.
A spokesman for the Marshals Service said the agency will not
comment on their claims -- or on other individivual cases. And
Martin Burke, the area's U.S. Marshal said he was not familiar
with their charges because he had only recently joined the
But Scott, 57, and Zanowic, 42, have records documenting
their experiences. Both have filed discrimination complaints.
Racial epithets, they said, were routine. When Scott wasn't
around, Zanowic said, whites in the office referred to Scott as
"that shiftless nigger' and "coon". "I was
amazed. I mean, didn't they know who Bill Scott is?" Zanowic
Scott joined the service in 1970 after winning citations and
an honorable discharge from the Marines. In the years that
followed, he racked up hundreds of arrests and dozens of
commendations. And in 1991, he was voted Law Enforcement Officer
of the Year by the American Police Hall of Fame, the first black
person to win that honor. But over the years, Scott also had
filed Equal Employment Opportunity complaints claiming
discrimination in assignments and his rate of promotion. In fact,
Scott's superiors tried to stop him from getting the Hall of Fame
award, according to Gerald Arenberg, former executive director of
"I got a call from Scott's boss, and he told me he had
much better candidates for the prize, not to give it to Scott,
and why hadn't we cleared the award with the Service and the
Justice Department," Arenberg said. "We gave Scott he
prize anyway, in part because he was stabbed several times while
bringing in some prisoners in a car and he didn't lose
Zanowic recalled that after Scott received the award and
filed his discrimination complaint, white deputes accelerated
their racist campaign. Both he and Scott said they found pictures
of rats on their desk and had their lockers broken into. Scott's
unlisted number was given to criminals who called him with death
"When I started working with him and became his friend,
they started calling me a 'nigger lover' and 'Bill Scott's
half-breed son,'" said Zanowic. Then a supervisor told me my
career would advance only if I disassociated myself from Scott
and got in with the white guys. You know, "Get with the
Zanowic said one day "Scott was walking down the stairs,
and two white deputies behind him pulled their weapons and said
they would 'take the nigger out'".
Shortly after Scott reported the incident to a superior, a
white deputy stuck a gun in his chest and said, "Pow, pow,
you're dead," Zanowic said.
On another ocassion, Zanowic said he took what he described
as "a direct hit" after he filed his own complaint
about discrimination and the retaliation he had suffered for
supporting Scott's allegations.
At a baton training session in a vacant courtroom at 40 Foley
Square, he said, a supervising training officer slammed him in
the groin while demonstrating how to use the weapon. "I went
unconscious", recalled Zanowic, who said he was left lying
on the courtroom floor for four hours until he was able to pick
himself up and go to the hospital. "I was out of work for
five months and then returned to light duty," he said.
Scott and Zanowic said they also experienced and witnessed
racism when they were on assignment together.
At a July 1992 weapons qualification exercise at an upstate
Army base, both said they saw white marshals use Martin Luther
King's picture for target practice. And, they said, when they
made arrests, their superior tried to take the credit away from
them. An 8 year-old black girl from The Bronx whose body had been
found wedged into a crevice in the sea wall under the Triborough
Bridge. Their boss insisted that they give credit for the arrest
to another white deputy.
"We refused to put down the white deputy's name,"
Scott said. A few days later, Scott and Zanowic founnd nude and
defaced autopsy pictures of Shemika on their desks along with
racial epithets. There were obscene racist cartoons placed on
their desks as well, and a defaced photo of Zanowic's wife.
A few months later, Scott said, he was set up by white
deputies to face the bullets of an armed fugitive. "I was
leading the stakeout team to pick up this guy, Brian Flowers, a
fugitive wanted for drug and weapons dealing. We tracked Flowers
down to his girlfriend's house in Brooklyn," said Scott.
"We had radios, and all of a sudden, I see Flowers walking
toward me across the street, and I called out the code on the
radio, 'Green Light! Green Light!' but my backup team
somehow disappeared. Nobody came."
Soctt said he pulled out his badge and gun as Flowers
continued toward him, and announced, "U.S. marshals, you're
under arrest." "Flowers pulled out his gun and fired a
shot at me. I ducked behind a car and fired back. Where was my
backup, three other deputies? Nowhere," Scott continued.
"Flowers was running down the street. I chased him. He
fired another shot at me. I kept running after him into a
building. Still, nobody was there from my backup." It was 20
minutes before the members of his backup team appeared and 10
minutes more before Flowers was found hiding in the basement,
The result was not a commendation for Scott nor an
investigation into whether the whites on his backup team had
deliberately abandoned him. Instead, he was brought up on charges
of recklessly firing his gung without justification. But Scott's
bosses offered him a deal.
According to Scott and a written agreement drawn up by Gary
Meade, then the personnel director of the Service, if Scott
agreed to drop his discrimination complaint he would be assigned
to drug-enforcement duty in Manhattan. But if he kept pressing
his complaint, he would be demoted from deputy marshal/senior
The demotion from the supervisory post would mean a $10,000 a
year pay cut. Scott refused to sign the agreement. He took the
demotion and pay cut and was about to be transferred to Buffalo
when he decied to retire after 25 years with the Service.
The EEOC judge who heard Scott's discrimination case ruled in
his favor, finding that the retired deputy "was subjected to
a hostile work environment on the Warrant Squad due to his
Marshal Service lawyers are appealing the decision.
Scott is also taking his case to federal court, where he is
seeking compensatory damages and court-ordered changes in the
hiring and promotion practices of the Marshals Srvices.
"I'm a patient man," Scott said. "I served
with the Marshals for 25 years. I can wait."
Zanowic is still working as a deputy marshal in New York.
"What I do is basically ... escorting prisoners in cell
blocks and to court, nothing that would advance my career. No
more assignment to the Fugitive Squad", said Zanowic, a
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