Who you choose to surround yourself with makes you what you are and we already know Democratic presidential hopeful Sen. Barack Obama's associations with Rev. Jeremiah Wright, Tony Rezko and William Ayers.
The media have given an extensive examination to Samuel J. Wurzelbacher aka "Joe the Plumber" and Republican vice-presidential nominee Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin. But they've allowed another Obama associate to fly under the radar - Sokoni Karanja, president of the nonprofit Center for New Horizons. According a story in the Nov. 23, 2006 Chicago Tribune, Karanja co-founded the Lugenia Burns Hope Center, a leadership training nonprofit founded in 1994 with Obama.
But following the release of Michael Moore's "Fahrenheit 9/11," Karanja was arrested by Chicago Police. According to an article by Maureen O'Donnell in the June 28, 2004 Chicago Sun-Times, Karanja was walking his Doberman through a South Side Chicago neighborhood - where residents had been complaining about dog owners not cleaning up after pets.
"Patrol officers stopped the man - community activist Sokoni Karanja, a onetime recipient of a prestigious MacArthur Foundation fellowship -- to see if the dog, which was on a leash but without tags, had a license, police said," O'Donnell wrote. "But, officials said, Karanja became agitated and threatened to sic the dog on the officers. A scuffle ensued, and Karanja was arrested and slightly injured."
And according to the Sun-Times article, Karanja tirade was inspired by no other than liberal documentary-maker provocateur Michael Moore and his 2004 film "Fahrenheit 9/11."
"He just saw ‘Fahrenheit 9/11,' and apparently he was telling the police officers, ‘George Bush does not control me,'" said Prairie District Lt. Dave Caddigan to the Sun-Times.
The charges were dropped months later according to a story in the August 16, 2004 Chicago Defender by a Chicago court:
"Dozens of community residents and activists applauded when the judge dismissed the charges of resisting arrest, assaulting police with a dog, and failure to produce a license after police stopped to question the 64-year-old Bronzeville resident while walking his dog back in June," the Defender article said. "On the courthouse steps at 5101 S. Wentworth Ave., supporters surrounded Karanja as he and his board president thanked them for coming to court."
According to the story, Karanja's attorney James Montgomery said the charges were dropped because 10 officers were involved and only one showed up. But the article also quoted controversial Rev. Jeremiah Wright of the Trinity United Church of Christ, described by the story as a "long time friend" of Karanja, who decried racism.
"Karanja's long time friend, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, cited the incident as another example of how an African American male is a prime target for racist police brutality," the article said.
"He could've been killed, and we are thankful that God was out there along with him and his dog," Wright said to the Chicago Defender.According to the Center for Responsive Politics Web site OpenSecrets.org, Karanja has given to Obama's political endeavors over the years. In 1999 and 2000, Karanja donated $1,000 to Obama's failed campaign for the U.S. House of Representatives in 2000. In 2004, he gave $1,000 to Obama's Senatorial campaign.