Armstrong: Black Philly frat, Kappa Alpha Psi, targets Trump over 'Mexican' judge

2016-06-13T215800Z_9_LYNXNPEC5C1B6_RTROPTP_3_USA-ELECTION-TRUMP.JPG
U.S. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump delivers a campaign speech about national security in Manchester, New Hampshire, U.S. June 13, 2016 in response to the mass shooting at Orlando's Pulse nightclub. REUTERS/Brian Snyder

Members of Kappa Alpha Psi have waged a social media campaign against Donald Trump - and it's not just for the reasons you might think.

U.S. District Judge Gonzalo P. Curiel belongs to the predominantly African-American fraternity headquartered in the 2300 block of North Broad Street. Yes, you read that correctly. He's a Nupe.

Curiel, you may recall, is the judge who the GOP presidential candidate has accused of being too biased to preside over lawsuits involving Trump University because of his Hispanic ethnicity.

A federal district judge in the southern district of California, Curiel pledged the prestigious fraternity in 1974 at Indiana University, which incidentally is where the group first organized back in 1911. Brotherhood is strong. Once a Kappa, always a Kappa. Curiel's frat brothers are backing him up.

The hashtag they're using on Twitter is #nupesagainsttrump.

"Donald Trump may find out he's bitten off more than he can chew by assailing someone in our universe," warned Bruce Rush, a Kappa. "Certainly those that are in the Divine Nine (other black Greek-lettered organizations)...if you do anything to any one of us, you do it to all of us."

The Kappas have a largely African-American membership, but also have chapters in Germany, the Republic of Korea, Japan and Africa. Former mayors John Street and Wilson Goode; Councilman Derek Green and public relations guru Bruce Crawley are all members of Kappa Alpha Psi as is Street's lawyer son Sharif.

"Judge Curiel is a highly regarded jurist whose distinguished academic and professional career personifies Kappa Alpha Psi's founding motto: 'Achievement in every field of human endeavor,'" Thomas L. Battles Jr., the grand polemarch, said in a written statement released last week.

Although the revelation isn't a huge deal, it's nonetheless a snicker-inducing factoid. Trump tried to paint Curiel as a foreigner, but not only is he American, he's diverse.

News of Curiel's affiliation broke last week as pressure was building on Trump to retract inflammatory comments he made about Curiel, who is of Mexican descent but was born in East Chicago, Ind.

Trump has made repeated calls for Curiel, 62, to recuse himself from the civil suits against Trump U and has given his rationale for such concern saying, "He's a Mexican. We're building a wall between here and Mexico." Trump later issued a lengthy statement saying his comments had been "misconstrued."

"It is unfortunate that my comments have been misconstrued as a categorical attack against people of Mexican heritage. I am friends with and employ thousands of people of Mexican and Hispanic descent," he said.

"The American justice system relies on fair and impartial judges. All judges should be held to that standard. I do not feel that one's heritage makes them incapable of being impartial, but based on the rulings that I have received in the Trump University civil case, I feel justified in questioning whether I am receiving a fair trial."

Fallout has been swift with even prominent Republicans including House Speaker Paul Ryan blasting Trump's categorization.

"I regret those comments that he made," Ryan told reporters. "Claiming a person can't do their job because of their race is sort of like the textbook definition of a racist comment. I think that should be absolutely disavowed. It's absolutely unacceptable."

Not only is it unacceptable - it's straight-up wrong. Not to mention that Trump's way of thinking is completely un-American. Even former House Speaker Newt Gingrich - whose name has been floated as a possible Trump running mate - would agree on that.


armstrj@phillynews.com

215-854-2223 @JeniceArmstrong

Blog: ph.ly/HeyJen