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July 18, 1986 - Image 15

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1986-07-18

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assume you couldn't go to the synagogues
as well.
"But I was interested in Judaism's
philosophical approach and its questioning
nature ," he added. "I mean I remember
people in the civil rights movement ques-
tioning and arguing with rabbis. That
amazed me, because that never would have
happened in the Baptist Church. That kind
of independence of mind is not fostered by
a lot of religions in the world."
Greenberg's wife is Baptist. She does,
according to the chief, respect his religious
choice, and even participates with him to
a degree. She is a member of Hadassah
and attends services once in a while.
It was the civil rights marches of the 60s
that also led Greenberg to an interest in
law enforcement. He said he started to talk
to many of the police officers on the other
side of the marches, and found out that
they were regular family men just doing
their jobs. And it was their job that in-
terested him. Up to this point, Greenberg
had a B.A. at San Francisco State Univer-
sity and a couple of master's degrees in
city planning and public administration
from U.S.C. Berkley. He also had an aca-
demic background in anthropology.
Greenberg worked as a probation officer
in Berkeley and later as an aide to San
Francisco sheriff Richard Hongisto before
helping administer departments in Ore-
gon, Georgia and Florida. He was also on
the faculty of the University of North
Carolina at Chapel Hill for several years.
Chief Greenberg is as intense a man as
you'll meet. He talks in a deep, booming
voice and tends to dominate the conversa-
tion. He also loves to laugh uproariously
and walks twice as fast as anyone else
around. He's always in• a hurry, and ex-
udes a sense of urgency.
In addition to Chief Greenberg's easily
spotted outward characteristics, there is
no doubt that this man is the boss. In the
police station, • grown men with guns
strapped onto their waists referred to him
by no other form of address than "sir."
Greenberg keeps photos of redwood
trees in his office. He said he loves the
strength the tree symbolizes. In fact, he
said, he has planted one at his house.
There are also photos of his sail boat,
another one of his hobbies, and a framed
certificate of honor he received from Sen.
Strom Thurmond.
Greenberg is usually in such a hurry
that one appointment tends to blend into
the next. While he was being interviewed,
he began changing into his formal dress
uniform. From his office, he would be go-
ing to the Citadel Military College to
review the Friday parade.
Once there he sat among fellow police
and military officers. Southern belles sat
in stylish spring dresses on the well
manicured lawn watching their boyfriends
and brothers. It was an anachronism that
would have been perfect, had it not been

for the presence of the police chief.
On a social level, Greenberg had several
groups of people to deal with directly as
a newcomer to Charleston. Three of those
groups were the blacks, Jews and South-
ern aristocracy. Greenberg confirmed teat
the aristocracy is alive and well.
"Charleston is a place where lack of
money, if coupled with the right last name,
won't keep you out of society," he said.
"But, if you have the wrong last name, no
matter how much money you have, you
can't buy your way in. This is a dress up
town, a lot of parties and black tie affairs
are held here. There are a lot of very poor
people who are fully welcome, but there are
people who are millionaires standing out-
side looking in at the social scene. There's
a saying around here that Charlestonians
are like the Chinese, they both eat a lot of
rice and they both worship their ancestors.
You'll find a lot of people here with the
same last name, blacks and whites who are
descended from plantation owners."
The chief said that he was generally ac-
cepted by the Jewish community. He said
that people were curious about him. When
he first attended shul, many wondered if
he was a member's guest, or someone who
worked for a member.
Interestingly, Greenberg seemed to
catch more heat from the black communi-
ty for his hard-line police stand and his
openness as a Jew.
"Generally there has been a very close
black and Jewish relationship in this town
dating years back," he said. "It's just been
more recently that a little distance has set
in. And I think that's because blacks have
lost the moral ground that we once had
relative to civil rights and equal justice.
Blacks never had to worry before about
losing moral ground. We were always
equal opportunity-oriented, anti-dis-
crimination, anti-defamation and against
holding anyone in bondage.
"Unfortunately," he continued, "with
certain things that have been said by peo-
ple like (Rev. Louis) Farrakhan and Jesse
Jackson, we've been losing that moral
ground. We've never had to apologize for
our positons before or explain what
somebody meant. But now, because of
these individuals, and because blacks did
little or nothing to condemn them for their
statements, we lost our moral ground. I
think it was the most serious loss that
blacks have had since they came to this
country. Even when we were slaves, we
had our moral ground to stand on. Now
you might say that we've adopted some of
the clothing of racists that have been long
active in the U.S."
Greenberg receives letters from blacks
he calls "racist and anti-Semitic," criticiz-
ing him for being Jewish. He also receives
letters from black Baptists who tell him
that it's a shame he's such a nice person,
because he's "going to end up in hell
because of Judaism."

A man with more things to

do than hours in a day, the
Chief actually started
changing clothes for his next
assignment while being
interviewed for this article.

Continued on next page


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