The Truth About Chad Cronon

ChadCrononby Lawrence A. Robinson
I met Attorney Chad Cronon via a phone call that I placed to him late one evening. At the time, I was the leader of a support team for the Regina Hill candidacy for Orlando City Commissioner District 5 and we needed an attorney to file and injunction against Juan Lynum.

Of course I wanted a Black attorney. My team, which included two attorneys was all Black. I didn't want to use team members because I didn't want to shine a spotlight on us so that we could remain unknown for as long as possible.

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We talked to several local attorneys but none would take the case. A team attorney recommended a Tallahassee attorney who would not already be compromised by local politics and local social circles. This attorney came to Orlando to review the plan. Two days after arriving, he went back to Tallahassee. He said that he was told that it would be in his best interest, if he did not get involved.

Back to square one. I am thinking to myself, 'This is only an injunction. I am not a lawyer, but this is ONLY an INJUNCTION. What's the big deal?'

We wanted to get this done and we did have a plan 'B' ready. Regina Hill gave me the names and numbers of two white attorneys who supported her. The first person that I called was Chad Cronon. I called Chad early in the evening and he asked me to call him later.

I called him again at 9:30 p.m.. Chad was very interested in helping. He loved Regina Hill. I told him about the issues that I had with Black attorneys. He said that he understood the plight of Black attorneys.

Chad was a professor in law studies at UCF. He said that he spends much of his time instructing minority legal students. He said that he knows the struggles and how unfair the legal system is to Black attorneys.

I appreciated Chad's words and I believed that he really believed that he understood the struggle of Black people, but I knew that he didn't, he couldn't. Chad would never wake up in the morning wondering will today be the day that police find a reason to kill him. He was never concerned about being arrested for jay walking and ending up in a jail cell because of it. Chad would never worry about getting fired for being Black.

Chad worked with many Blacks who educated him about the daily limitation that Black people go through, and smile through and live through. But he could never wake up in the morning concerned about the struggle that every Black adult faces everyday. Only Black people can truly understand the struggle of Black people.

Sorry, I digress.

Chad told me that he needed to do some research on this injunction, so we scheduled to meet at Starbucks a few days later.

I was already at Starbucks that Wednesday when Chad arrived with laptop in tow. We reintroduced ourselves, this being the first time we met in person.

Chad opened his laptop and showed me the research that he had done. Case law after case law that he felt met the criteria for the injunction that he would file for us. I'm not an attorney, but I was impressed with the research Chad had done.

I asked if there was anything that I should be concerned about. He said that we may have to pay opposing attorney fees, should we lose. Then he said, 'don't worry about that. We won't lose, but, if we do I'll pay it.'

He told me that we could delay the filing till Friday but no longer.

My strategy was to wait till the last minute to file, then flood FaceBook and other social media with copies of that filing. This would force Juan Lynum's conversation to focus on the injunction and not about issues that he wanted to talk about.

I told Chad that now is the time to back out of this. I reminded him that we couldn't find a Black attorney to file and this action on his part could cause him much pain. Chad said that he wasn't worried. He had fought legal battles against the City of Orlando on several occasions. He said that he knew the lead attorney for the City of Orlando and he considered State Attorney, Jeff Ashton a friend.

Chad had classes all day Thursday but he wanted to call State Attorney Jeff Ashton, the Attorney for the City of Orlando, and also Orlando City Clerk, Alana Brenner as a curtesy and let them know that he would be filing the injunction on Friday.

I questioned that logic of that curtesy call, but I didn't say anything. Chad was to actually file at 1:00 p.m. on Friday. He would call me by 3:00 p.m. so that I could start flooding the community District 5 with this injunction filing information against Lynum.

I had not heard from Chad by 4:00 p.m. At 5:30 I decided to give him a call.

When he answered the phone, I asked him if everything went okay. He said, 'They fired me. They fired me!'
I said, 'What?'
He said, 'They fired me, they fired me!'
I asked, 'who fired you?'
He said, 'the university, they fired me!'

His emotions were on full blast and it was hard to understand him at this point.

I said, 'Chad, they cannot fire you for this.'
Chad said, 'They fired me this morning and I didn't get a chance to file.'
I said, 'Chad, I'm in traffic and can't hear you, I'll call you later this evening.'

I got off the phone with Chad in total disbelief. I could not believe they would fire him. After all, he is not Black. I called a couple of team members and told them what happened and to move forward with plan 'B'.

Later that evening, I called Chad. When he answered he was a lot calmer than he had been a few hours before. He said that he had a couple of drinks and he apologized in case his speech is slurred.

I asked what happened? He said that he made the calls on Thursday advising of his intent to file an injunction against Juan Lynum on Friday afternoon. He said that he was called into his supervisors office before his first class of the morning and was told that his services were no longer needed at the university. He said that they never mentioned the injunction or Juan Lynum. His most recent job review showed him to be an excellent instructor, so he knew his firing had nothing to do with job performance. He said that he never, ever would have imagined that he would be fired.

His emotions started creeping back into speech and mixed with his drink which made it a little tougher for me to understand him. I don't know who he talked to, but he received a true life lesson on being Black in America that day.

He said, Regina Hill doesn't have a chance in hell of winning. The power structure don't want her going against the status quo. She doesn't have a friend in city hall, not one. He said it would be a miracle if she wins. And if she wins, they will destroy her by any and all means available. They won't let up. They have too much power, and too much control, and they won't lose.

I paced the floor with my phone to my ear, listening to Chad, I sat down to think. Chad said, if she wins, someone has to protect her for four years. This is more than just a political campaign to get into office. She will need our help to stay there.

I said to myself, they treated Chad like a field Negro who had misbehaved. They stripped him naked, staked him to the ground and whipped him bloody. They wanted everyone to see what happens to 'Negro lovers.'

If they do this to 'Negro Lovers,' what will they do to me? My hands started shaking and my heart started beating fast. Emotions and fear started to build up in me and I felt a wetness under my eyes.

I ask Chad what was he going to do? He said there is a procedure the university must follow before the firing is complete and he plans to fight for his job. I told Chad that I will talk to him later. I didn't know what else to say. He told me that he will still file the injunction and that he is committed to Regina till the end.

I realized that this has gotten real. In less that a few hours, the powers that be gathered enough resources that they would fire a college professor because he dared to take on a legal case.

I called my brothers to get opinion and to strengthen my resolve. My parents and grandparents were strong in the struggle and I needed someone to help me. This burden is more than I had planned for. I don't want to do this anymore. I wanted to say, 'Sorry Regina but, you're on your own.'

Chad said that this is a four year commitment. Can I deal with this for four years? If I don't commit to four years, then Chad would have been stripped and whipped for nothing. And, I am the person who asked him to do this.

I thought about the ancestors, Malcolm, Martin, Marcus, Parks, Clarke, Nat Turner. Even though Chad Cronon isn't an ancestor, some of the strength that I gained to make the four year commitment came through him.

Chad Cronon fought for the people's rights and he was truly committed to his mission. Even after the people he trusted turned on him, he still stood for what is good and right.

Thanks for your strength Chad Cronon. You will be remembered.   


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