By Michael E. Miller
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For several years during the Eighties, King was also a regular substitute teacher at several public schools in Dade County. Antoinette Moss, secretary/treasurer and coordinator of substitute teachers at Brownsville Junior High School,
says King was "always lively and very cheerful. The kids liked him, the teachers liked him. I used to use him for the exceptional children [those with learning disabilities] and, you know, they require a lot of care and attention."
Enlivened by the new federally imposed district election system and the possibilities it holds, King has stepped once again into the limelight, his temper ablaze. He filed for candidacy this past month, arriving at the county clerk's office with several homeless men and handing out fliers advertising himself as "the choice of Mohamet, Moses, and Jesus Christ." (He joins seven other candidates for District 3, including incumbent Dade Commissioner Arthur Teele and former state Rep. Darryl Reaves.)
During the past few weeks, King has hooked up his mouth to his fax machine and screamed fiery messages across the nation. "To The Mother Fucking Racist Miami Herald," he addressed one missive on January 17, lambasting the paper for leaving his name out of a survey of potential candidates for the county commission. "I'm not begging you Ku Kluxers for shit."
In another, sent the following day to dozens of local and national newspapers, including the New York Times and the Washington Post, King unveiled his campaign's first platform proposal: the immediate suspension of the Miami Herald's legal right to operate in Dade County. "The Herald is a one-eyed 'information' monster and a daily literary brainwashing machine, controlling (and hence operating) the affairs of Dade County, Florida, as if it were the slave plantation and ancient Indian reserve it was before the War Between the States," King wrote. Since then, he has refused Herald requests to interview him.
Earlier this month the reverend sent a telegram to the White House and faxes to newspaper editors around the U.S. in an attempt to block the nomination of State Attorney Janet Reno to U.S. Attorney General. Somebody heard his cry: the Washington Times, Washington, D.C.'s conservative daily newspaper, solicited a quote from him for a story that ran February 11, the day President Clinton named Reno. "She has never done anything for the dark-skinned people here except run them out of downtown Miami," King told the newspaper. "Poor people are telling me they will just be glad to see her gone."
As a dissenting voice, King was virtually alone among a nationwide chorus of approval. But he's used to that. "People who are more familiar with me will say that Clennon does it the hard way," he notes. "I'm accustomed to being ignored."
King certainly wasn't ignored when, the day after filing for candidacy, he stopped payment on his $450 qualifying check. His reason: the Miami Herald exercises too much influence over elections. In response, Clerk of the Courts Harvey Ruvin has sued to remove King from the Metro ballot.
The minister also faces another minor legal hurdle. This past Tuesday, February 16, Miami police arrested him for disorderly conduct and resisting arrest without violence after he tangled with workers during the demolition of a city-owned building next door to his Ninth Street church. King apparently was concerned about the well-being of several squatters who had taken up residence in the decaying structure. According to a police report, King blocked a bulldozer, attempted to prevent gas company employees from disconnecting the building's gas source, and tried to hit them with "several of their large wrenches." Police were called and carted the reverend off to jail. "They were going to release him the same day," says Valencia King, a sister-in-law living in Alabama, "but he refused to go until he got an apology from the arresting officers." As of this past Monday, the Rev. Clennon King was still being held. In the jail's psychiatric facility.