Long is stirring up racism charges on the eve of Super Bowl XXX by claiming that the National Football League has dealt in bad faith with his organization, which had hoped to serve as color guard prior to Sunday's game at Sun Devil Stadium ("Buffaloed Soldiers," January 11).
Long, 50, is the founder of a small Phoenix group known as America's Buffalo Soldiers. The group reenacts the little-known all-black military cavalry and infantry units that helped settle the West.
He claims that Super Bowl officials had promised that his group could present the flag before the game, which will be viewed by some 600 million people worldwide. But Long says the NFL reneged on its promise at the last minute, opting instead for a traditional military color guard.
"Why is the NFL speaking with forked tongue?" Long asks.
The NFL and Super Bowl organizers deny promising Long's group anything. But in an effort to avert a racially charged fiasco, Super Bowl officials were said to be considering ways to involve Long's group.
That would be a mistake, according to members of a previous Buffalo Soldier outfit once headed by Long.
"He's not a credit to the Buffalo Soldiers," says Harlan Robinson, who has joined other former members of Long's groupto form another Buffalo Soldier outfit called the Arizona 10th Cavalry, ECompany.
Robinson says he and 31 other men devoted their weekends for several years to train under Long to develop cavalry skills and historical understanding of the black military units.
But in July 1993, nearly the entire troupe quit Long's organization en masse after learning of events that led Avondale and Glendale police and the state Attorney General's Office to investigate questionable financial dealings by Long.
Perhaps the greatest concern, Robinson says, was that Long hadn't paid since 1992 for the uniforms the men wore, despite demands for payments from the owner, CJS Film Studios. Long says he still has some of the uniforms.
The police probes haven't resulted in any felony charges, but several civil judgments have been won against Long; they remain unpaid. The investigations, however, turned up enough questions to undermine faith in Long's leadership.
"There is a Buffalo Soldier outfit out there that is headed by an individual who just doesn't measure up," Robinson says of Long.
Long says his critics are jealous of his work as a movie producer and are out to ruin his reputation. "People are attempting to do a lot of things to smear me," Long says. "This has been going on for a long time."
However, public records and Long's own resume betray a pattern of deception and financial irresponsibility--even violence.
Ironically, many of Long's questionable acts occurred during the past four years, while he could accurately claim the mantle of state official.
Governor J. Fife Symington III appointed Long to the state Motion Picture and Television Advisory Board in 1992 without conducting even a cursory review of Long's background. In fact, state records show Symington appointed Long one week before Long even filled out an application to serve. On that application, Long lied about his criminal misdemeanor record.
Symington did nothing when he began receiving written complaints about Long.
Now, on the eve of the biggest public event in Arizona's history, Super Bowl officials are scrambling to appease Charles F. Long.
The resume Charles F. Long II submitted to Symington's office states that he received a political science degree from Wilberforce University in Ohio. But university officials say that Long only attended two semesters in 1963-64.
In an interview, Long acknowledges that references on his numerous rsums to graduating from Wilberforce are erroneous.
In his January 15, 1992, application for a seat on the advisory board, Long claimed he had never been charged with a "criminal misdemeanor." However, four weeks earlier, on December 20, 1991, Long had been charged with just that when he was arrested for "inflicting injury" to his former girlfriend and mother of his son.
When asked about the arrest and conflict with his girlfriend, Long says, "That never happened."
At least it never happened in Long's mind. Long says he forgot about the incident when, 26 days later, he filled out the state application which specifically asked about criminal misdemeanor charges.
"It wasn't in my mind that I had done that," Long explains.
The case was heard in Phoenix Municipal Court in April 1993 and Long was convicted, fined $250 and placed on one year's probation. Long says the judge was biased.
"It was my word against the other person's word, and they didn't buy it," he says.