Black Youth Project 100, Michigan Abolition Alliance, Mertilla Jones, others demand end to new Wayne Co. Jail, Dan Gilbert’s gentrification of Detroit
Protest held at new jail construction site during rush hour April 21, 2017; dozens honked horns in support
Group previously disrupted Feb. 16 Wayne County Commission meeting where commissioners voted $500,000 to study Gilbert jail swap proposal
Mertilla Jones announces protest on 2nd anniversary of 19-year-old dad Terrance Kellom’s execution by Detroit and ICE, to be held Thurs. April 27 from 1-3 pm outside the Frank Murphy Hall, Gratiot and St. Antoine
By Diane Bukowski
April 25, 2017
DETROIT — As evening rush hour traffic raced down Gratiot April 21, youth from Black Youth Project 100 and others, including Mertilla Jones, grandmother of Aiyana Jones, protested outside the foreboding structure of the half-done Wayne County Jail, calling for millions to be spent on schools, housing, and water for the people instead.
Yana (center) was among these protesters outside the failed Wayne County Jail site April 21, 2017
“I don’t want to see any jail, abolish jails, stop mass incarceration of Black people, it’s all connected,” a young woman named Yana told VOD.
“We have money to support stadiums and jails, but a bunch of schools closing, that’s fine. The school to jail pipeline is so obvious right now, like crowded schools, kids get disinterested, kids get ignored, and the next thing you know they’re in the streets, they haven’t learned anything. It’s perfect for the people in charge—all you have to do is lock ’em all up, put ’em away, and you can have all the white people come and enjoy all the fruits of the labor. It’s not OK.”
David Langstaff of the Michigan Abolition Alliance said the group earlier disrupted a Wayne County Commission meeting on multi-billionaire developer Dan Gilbert’s proposal to build a soccer stadium at the failed jail site, while constructing an entirely new “justice complex” at the current site of the Wayne County Lincoln Hall of Justice (Youth Division) on East Forest and I-75.
Arthur, a leader of Black Youth Project 100, a national organization, spoke at the rally. He said the group has chapters here in Detroit, Chicago, New York City, and New Orleans, among others. They have a Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/BYP100 and a website at http://byp100.org/.
The Detroit Public School system, largely under state-appointed CEO’s and emergency managers, has shut down over 224 schools in the city beginning in 2005 with its initial closing of 50 schools. Last year, the entire district was demolished and replaced with the “Detroit Public Schools Community District.” The previous DPS was left to pay off the gargantuan debt accumulated by the state during its reign since 1999.
The state recently claimed it would not shut 24 more schools “for the time being,” but would hand over such classic historic schools as Durfee Middle/Elementary to a “non-profit” organization called “Life Re-Modeled,” which intends to transform them into incubators for entrepreneurs. Many activists in Detroit continue to fight the closures as depicted in the video by We the People of Detroit and Kate Levy below.
Mertilla Jones, still grieving over police slaughter of 7-year-old Aiyana Jones May 16, 2010
Mertilla Jones, who was sleeping with her seven-year-old granddaughter Aiyana Jones when a military-style Detroit police raid team broke into their home May 16, 2011, and shot the child to death, joined the protest at the Wayne County Jai as well.
She called for the youth present to attend a protest called by P.O.S.T. (Protect Our Stolen Treasures) on the second anniversary of the multi-police task force execution of Terrance Kellom April 27, 2015.The protest will take place Thurs. April 27, 2017 from 1 to 3 p.m. at the Frank Murphy Hall across the street from the Wayne County Jail ruin.
Jones said she will not stop fighting the system that slaughtered her beautiful granddaughter and has incarcerated Aiyana’s father Charles Jones and his brother Norbert Jones for crimes they did not commit. They are part of the 2.5 million people incarcerated in the U.S., which has five percent of the world’s population, but 25 percent of its incarcerated population.
Jones was at the protest to represent P.O.S.T. as well, part of a national coalition of families and friends who have lost loved ones to police violence.
PROTEST ON 2ND ANNIVERSARY OF TERRANCE KELLOM’S EXECUTION BY I.C.E., DETROIT POLICE
Thurs. April 27, 1 to 3 pm,
Frank Murphy Hall of Justice, Gratiot at St. Antoine in downtown Detroit.
Davis’ sentencing judge, the Hon. Vera Massey Jones, called JLWOP unconstitutional 18 years before the USSC did, in Miller v. Alabama
Hon. Shannon Walker to conduct re-sentencing Thurs. April 27, 2017 @9am in Frank Murphy Hall
By Diane Bukowski
April 26, 2017
Cortez Davis (Facebook)
DETROIT – Tomorrow, Detroiter Cortez Davis, whose first Judge Vera Massey Jones condemned juvenile life without parole as unconstitutional in 1994, 18 years before the U.S. Supreme Court agreed in Miller v. Alabama, faces re-sentencing before Judge Shannon Walker in the Frank Murphy Hall of Justice at 9 a.m.
Will Judge Walker, just elected in 2014, pay heed to words of her elder, Judge Massey Jones, just retired, who said in 2012:
“. . . .This court held [in 1994] that to sentence this defendant to natural life in prison was cruel and unusual punishment. . . .The U.S. Supreme Court has finally held in Miller v. Alabama that to sentence juveniles to life in prison without the possibility of parole is cruel and unusual punishment. This court says ‘finally held’ because Mr. Cortez Davis has been in prison for 18 years without a parole hearing. . .Thus we have locked him behind bars for over 18 years as a juvenile who did not pull the trigger, who told the victim he held at gunpoint that everything will be alright, and who had the potential to be rehabilitated. We, the people of the State of Michigan, have treated this juvenile, now man, inhumanely.”
Cortez Davis, 16 when he went to prison after a horrendous childhood, is now asking Judge Walker, through his attorney Clinton Hubbell, to give him the sentence Judge Massey Jones originally called for. Hubbell contends every day of the 21 years he has served so far is now part of an unconstitutional sentence as declared by the U.S. Supreme Court.
WCCC Judge Shannon Walker
Retired Judge Vera Massey Jones
Davis is asking for, “Reinstitution of the September 26, 1994 sentence for First-Degree Felony Murder of 10-40 years, with proper credit for time served of 21 years as opposed to a sentence of 25-40 years (min) – 60 years (max) pursuant to MCL 769.25a(4)(c), for the reason that MCL 769.25a(4)(c) is an unconstitutional ex post facto law as applied to Cortez; . . . . That Cortez be immediately released, or deemed immediately parole-eligible.”
It will take courage for Judge Walker to follow in her predecessor’s footprints, in a state and county which have vigorously fought U.S. Supreme Court decisions on juvenile life without parole (JLWOP) every inch of the way. Michigan has the second highest number of juvenile lifers in the country, and Wayne County has the highest number in the state of Michigan.
Excerpt from John O’Hair’s column.
Michigan legislators who enacted MCL 769.25a deliberately sabotaged the intent of Miller v. Alabama and the USSC’s successor opinion that Miller was retroactive in Montgomery v. Louisiana. They passed statutes inserting what they termed mandatory time limits for re-sentencing of juveniles.
Those time limits have been condemned by a host of retired Michigan legal luminaries, including former Wayne County Prosecutor John O’Hair, former Michigan Governor William Milliken, and numerous advocacy groups. O’Hair even called for federal courts to step in to rectify what he termed the gross injustice of re-sentencing juvenile lifers to maximums of 40 to 60 years, which he termed nothing more than more than renewed life sentences.
“There are many juvenile lifers that have already started trying to contribute to society while still incarcerated,” Cortez Davis said in an article published in VOD. “A few of them are housed at the Thumb Correctional Facility in Lapeer, where Cortez Davis El, Jose Burgos, Keith Maxey of Wayne County and Dontez Tillman of Oakland County are members of the G.O.A.L.S. Program, where we share our stories with at risk youth that are brought in by various agencies.”
He also cited Burgos’ work counseling suicidal prisoners, and the work of others in Stiggy’s Dogs, which “with the help of these individuals, transforms battered, abandoned, and abused dogs into service dogs and pets for veterans living with PTSD and other traumatic brain injuries and elders that need companionship.
A Michigan Appeals Court ruled March 28 against Wayne County Circuit Court Judge Bruce Morrow’s re-sentencing of Zerious Meadows, a juvenile lifer who has been incarcerated for over 47 years, to 25-45 years. It claimed Morrow must sentence him to the maximum of 60 years. Meadows is now 63, and was sent to die in prison when he was 15, in 1972. With conditions of inadequate medical care and unhealthy food in the Michigan prison system, he may not survive that long.
In his article, Davis asked for the same thing Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. demanded, that justice “roll down like water and righteousness like a mighty stream.”
“Understand that the changes we’ve made didn’t start once the U.S. Supreme Court made the 2012 decision (Miller v. Alabama) nor once they made the 2016 decision (Montgomery v. Louisiana),” Davis said. “We saw the need for change long before the possibility of freedom existed for us. We want to contribute to society’s growth, not its destruction. We don’t want just anyone living next to our loved ones and we know society feels the same way about all that they love and vowed to protect. We no longer threaten the community. So instead of fearing our release, help us become successful upon release by advocating for the tools that are needed.”
The details of Davis’ individual case are spelled out in a “sentencing memorandum” submitted by Attorney Hubbell to Judge Walker, which cites his numerous accomplishments in prison, and says that his firm wants Davis to come work for it as a paralegal due to those accomplishments.
Rasmea Odeh thanks her supporters outside the Detroit federal courthouse June 13, 2016.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Jonathan Tukel appears to want to sabotage the plea agreement
WHEN: Tuesday, April 25th, 2017, at 1:00 PM Eastern Time (rally at 1:00 PM, hearing starts at 2:30 PM)
WHERE: U.S. District Court, 231 W. Lafayette Blvd., downtown Detroit, Michigan
MEDIA CONTACT: Hatem Abudayyeh, 773.301.4108, firstname.lastname@example.org
DETROIT — On Tuesday, April 25th, Palestinian American icon Rasmea Odeh will be joined in a Detroit courtroom by supporters from across the Midwest. There, Judge Gershwin Drain will consider the plea agreement Rasmea signed in March, which ended a three-and-a-half-year legal battle against immigration violation charges brought against her.
U.S. District Court Judge Gershwin Drain
Rather than risk 18 months or more of imprisonment, and the possibility of indefinite detention by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), Rasmea will plead guilty to Unlawful Procurement of Naturalization, lose her U.S. citizenship, and be forced to leave the country. However, she will exit the U.S. without serving any more time in prison or ICE detention, a victory considering the government’s sought after sentence of 5-7 years.
The plea agreement took away the chance for zionist Assistant U.S. Attorney Jonathan Tukel to grandstand in support of the Israeli occupation of Palestine; so on April 21st, he filed a Memorandum to enter into the record a number of points that were rejected by Rasmea in the plea negotiations, claiming that he would be able to “prove” that she committed “terrorist” acts and was a member of a “designated terrorist organization.”
Rasmea’s lead defense attorney Michael Deutsch and his team immediately filed a motion in response, denying any of the “facts” alleged by Tukel, and accusing the government of political posturing. Judge Drain has not yet ruled on either filing.
Numerous reports have documented Israeli torture of women and children.
The 69-year old Rasmea was tortured and sexually assaulted by the Israeli military in 1969, and spent 10 years imprisoned by the Israelis, until she was released in a negotiated prisoner exchange. Years after her release, Rasmea came to the U.S. as a permanent resident to care for family, later becoming a naturalized citizen and making a home for herself in Chicago. When she was indicted in 2013, almost 20 years after she arrived here, the government claimed that Rasmea’s immigration documents were not in order. The case against her was never about immigration; it was always about attacking the Palestine liberation movement.
In her 2014 trial in U.S. federal court, where Rasmea was convicted and sentenced to 18 months in prison for allegedly giving false answers to questions on her applications for permanent residency and citizenship, Judge Drain barred the defense from challenging the legality of the 1969 Israeli military tribunal. Rasmea was not allowed to explain that she suffered from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder as a result of the torture, but she won an appeal and a new trial expressly based on the excluded torture evidence. The crimes of Israel would have been part of that new trial.
However, just weeks before the re-trial was to take place, Tukel unveiled a vindictive new superseding indictment, falsely accusing Rasmea of being a “terrorist” and a member of a “designated terrorist organization.” These new allegations laid bare the government’s motivation in this case, to criminalize the cause of Palestinian liberation. Rasmea would be on trial for her lifetime of dedication to that cause. It is impossible to imagine a fair trial for any Palestinian in an immigration case framed around accusations of “terrorism.”
Prof. Angela Davis, Frank Chapman of Chicago Alliance and Rasmea Odeh at 2015 rally.
Tens of thousands of people across the U.S. have rallied in support of Rasmea over the past three-and-a-half-years, including many organizations and individuals within the Movement for Black Lives, the anti-torture movement, and the sexual assault survivors’ movement, respectively. She is embraced by the women’s rights movement as well, having been celebrated on International Women’s Day this year. And over 1,000 members of Jewish Voice for Peace gave her repeated standing ovations at their national member meeting in Chicago earlier this month.
Hundreds of these supporters from Chicago and other parts of Illinois, as well as from Milwaukee, Detroit / Dearborn, Grand Rapids, Ann Arbor, Minneapolis / St. Paul, Ohio, Indiana, and other Midwest areas are already committed to stand with Rasmea at the Tuesday, April 25th hearing, and rally with her outside.
Video above shows attorney Nabih Ayad (front), l to r Kenneth Reed, Kimberly Davis and Yolanda McNair of P.O.S.T., Yvette Johnson holding Terrance Kellom’s infant daughter Terranae, Nelda Kellom, Kevin Kellom
Lawsuit says police, prosecutor conspired in cover-up; that Terrance was in custody, had hands up, no hammer when gunned down
‘Why did you fucking shoot?’—Detroit cop to ICE agent Mitchell Quinn
‘They can’t print enough money that would compare to my son; they need to be in prison’—Father Kevin Kellom
“Feet to Fire” protest April 27, 2017 on 2nd anniversary of Terrance Kellom’s death, from 1-3 pm at Frank Murphy Hall in downtown Detroit
By Diane Bukowski
April 13, 2017
Terrance Kellom, then 19, with infant son Terrance Desmond. A mass march was held from his father’s home down Chicago the day after his death, and more protests followed. Channel 7 video shot.
DETROIT –“The police are not being held accountable,” Kevin Kellom, father of Terrance Kellom, told VOD April 12, regarding a wrongful death lawsuit his family filed in federal court April 6. The suit targets members of a federal task force that gunned down his 20-year-old unarmed son, a father of two, April 27, 2015, in front of his family, sparking mass protests.
“I want Kym Worthy to step down,” Kellom added. “She has refused to charge any officer held in any type of police murder. Now that she justified them killing my son in front of my face, there is no other way to go but a civil suit. But they can’t print enough money that would compare to my son. They need to be in prison.”
ICE agent Mitchell Quinn, who killed Terrance Kellom.
Prominent civil rights attorney Nabih Ayad filed the suit, naming Terrance’s mother Nelda Kellom as representative of his estate (seen in red in video above behind Terrance Kellom). Defendants are Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agent Mitchell Quinn, and Detroit police officers Darell Fitzgerald and Treva Eaton, all part of the U.S. Marshall’s Detroit Fugitive Apprehension Task Force (D-FAT).
The suit charges that police conspired with the prosecutor to cover up the true circumstances of Kellom’s death, claiming falsely that he threatened cops streaming into his father’s home with a hammer after first pounding a hole in an upstairs closet and jumping into a first floor bedroom.
In fact, it says, Kellom was coming down the stairs, unarmed and already in custody with his hands up when Quinn gunned him down.
Kellom’s fingerprints were not found on the hammer, which was lying on the living room floor when he entered, only blood spray from his execution-style killing, says the lawsuit.
After sealing the Kellom autopsy report and other evidence for months, Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy refused on Aug. 19, 2015 to bring criminal charges against Quinn. Quinn formerly worked for the Detroit Police Department but was suspended after facing brutality lawsuits and criminal charges there. He was hired six months later by ICE.
The autopsy report showed that Kellom had been shot four times, including once in the right lower back. Three other shots struck him in front, in his neck, chest, and thigh. Worthy said at a press conference that seven shell casings were found.
“This is usual with Kym Worthy’s office—stall the case, interfere with it, block evidence, and then dismiss any charges,” the late Cornell Squires of the Original Detroit Coalition Against Police Brutality said during a protest after Kellom’s police execution.
“Kym Worthy cannot be trusted. You have to do your own independent investigation. We tried to encourage the family to get a second autopsy report, because we knew this was going to go down. Kym Worthy is for sale when it comes to police officers.”
The suit says Detroit cop Fitzgerald falsely told Terrance’s father Kevin and sister Teria that he had a search warrant in order to gain entry. In fact, he had an arrest warrant related to an alleged armed robbery, which did not allow access.
“Despite having an opportunity to prevent the shooting, Defendant Eaton waited until all shots were fired before she exclaimed ‘Why did you fucking shoot!’” the lawsuit adds. “Defendant Quinn then rushed out of the scene.”
Hundreds marched down W. Chicago from Kellom home April 28, 2015.
Kellom said in agony, “I just don’t get it. How can they bring my son down the stairs and shoot him in my face? I live with this every day. I have no life anymore. I don’t go anywhere, and I’m not able to work. I’ve worked the majority of my life since I was nine years old; my dad taught me that. I barely allowed Terrance’s mother to whip him. But then this cop comes to my house and kills my son, before he even got to see his daughter born? I couldn’t kill his son and get away with it.”
Kevin Kellom with Janay Williams (in pink) and her sisters, holding baby Terranae at rally June 18, 2015. Terrance did not live to see his daughter’s birth.
Terrance Kellom’s children with Janay Williams are Terrance Desmond Kellom, now three, and Terranae Destiny Kellom, now two. They were at the press conference where Ayad announced the lawsuit April 6. Terrance Desmond is in front of Kevin Kellom, and Terranae Destiny is being held by Yvette Johnson, Kellom’s fiancée.
“Every time the door opens, he says, ‘There go Daddy, here come Daddy,’” Kellom said about his grandson. “He asks his mom almost every night, ‘When’s Daddy coming home?’”
Kellom said he suffers from Post-Traumatic Stress Syndrome (PTSD), for which he is on medication, and that Nelda Kellom’s health has also been adversely affected.
Members of P.O.S.T. call for Kym Worthy to step down at protest outside Frank Murphy Hall March 22, 2017
Kellom is now working with a group called “Protect Our Stolen Treasures” (P.O.S.T.), part of a national coalition of organizations seeking justice for families who have lost loved ones to police violence. It is headed by Yolanda McNair, whose daughter Adaisha Miller died after a Detroit cop’s gun went off as they were dancing together at a party in the cop’s home (seen behind Yvette Johnson in videos above.)
Other Detroit members include Mertilla Jones, grandmother of Aiyana Jones, killed by Detroit police at the age of 7 in 2011, and Kimberly Davis, mother of Kimoni “Kodak” Davis, killed in an Ohio state trooper chase (seen at left in videos above.)
They protested March 22 outside the Worthy’s headquarters at the Frank Murphy Hall of Justice, demanding that she resign. Kellom says they will protest there again on the second anniversary of his son’s death, Thursday, April 27, from 1-3 pm.
PROTEST KYM WORTHY, FEDS AND DETROIT POLICE 2ND ANNIVERSARY OF TERRANCE KELLOM DEATH
Prosecutor Kym Worthy at press conference Aug. 19, 2015 announcing no charges in Kellom death, pointing to autopsy diagram of bullet wounds, one in his back.
THURSDAY, APRIL 27, 2017, 1-3 PMFRANK MURPHY HALL, GRATIOT/ST ANTOINE, DOWNTOWN DETROIT
Kellom family lawsuit vs. cops who killed Terrance Kellom:
Anti-imperialist forces from Detroit and the surrounding area joined an emergency demonstration called by Workers World Party immediately following the U.S. missile attack. Militant youth from WWP and Students for a Democratic Society at Wayne State University organized and led the rally, which was strategically held downtown at Campus Martius Park during rush hour.
Couple holds Syrian flag to protect infants. Photo: VOD
Protesters raised slogans such as “Feed the hungry, not the Pentagon!” and “The only road to peace is U.S. out of the Middle East!” drawing a direct link between the struggle at home and the struggle of Syrians against U.S. imperialist aggression.
Syrian-American (U.S.) youth organizer Joe Mshahwar of WWP told Workers World, “Students and young workers in the U.S. have nothing to gain supporting U.S. imperialism’s attempts at regime change in Syria. A militant and uncompromising anti-war movement must be ready to challenge further U.S. aggression in the region.”
Putin says trust erodes under Trump, Moscow icily receives Tillerson
Bumps up support for Syria, Pres. Bashar Al-Assad
By Yeganeh Torbati and Vladimir Soldatkin
April 12, 2017
Russian leader Vladimir Putin denounces U.S. Pres. Donald Trump
MOSCOW (Reuters) – (excerpt) Vladimir Putin said on Wednesday trust had eroded between the United States and Russia under President Donald Trump, as Moscow delivered an unusually hostile reception to Secretary of State Rex Tillerson in a face-off over Syria.
Any hope in Russia that the Trump administration would herald less confrontational relations has been dashed in the past week after the new U.S. leader fired missiles at Syria to punish Moscow’s ally for its suspected use of poison gas.
Tillerson started a meeting with Putin in the Kremlin after talking to his Russian opposite number Sergei Lavrov for around three hours. The Kremlin had previously declined to confirm Putin would meet Tillerson, reflecting tensions over the U.S. strike on Syria.
U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov before meeting
Just as Tillerson sat down for talks with Lavrov earlier on Wednesday, a senior Russian official assailed the “primitiveness and loutishness” of U.S. rhetoric, part of a volley of statements that appeared timed to maximize the awkwardness during the first visit by a member of Trump’s cabinet.
“One could say that the level of trust on a working level, especially on the military level, has not improved but has rather deteriorated,” Putin said in an interview broadcast on Russian television.
In his interview, Putin doubled down on Russia’s support for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, repeating denials that Assad’s government was to blame for the gas attack last week and adding a new theory that the attack may have been faked by Assad’s enemies.
Tillerson’s official itinerary in Moscow started with the meeting with Lavrov, in an ornate hall in a foreign ministry-owned residence. In opening remarks in front of reporters, Lavrov greeted Tillerson with unusually icy remarks, denouncing the missile strike on Syria as illegal and accusing Washington of behaving unpredictably.
U.S. launches Tomahawk missiles against Syrian airbase
“I won’t hide the fact that we have a lot of questions, taking into account the extremely ambiguous and sometimes contradictory ideas which have been expressed in Washington across the whole spectrum of bilateral and multilateral affairs,” Lavrov said.
“And of course, that’s not to mention that apart from the statements, we observed very recently the extremely worrying actions, when an illegal attack against Syria was undertaken.”
Lavrov also noted that many key State Department posts remain vacant since the new administration took office — a point of sensitivity in Washington.
One of Lavrov’s deputies was even more undiplomatic.
“In general, primitiveness and loutishness are very characteristic of the current rhetoric coming out of Washington. We’ll hope that this doesn’t become the substance of American policy,” Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov told Russia’s state-owned RIA news agency.
The U.S. earlier bombed the city of Kobani in Syria, near the Turkey border, under Obama.
“As a whole, the administration’s stance with regards to Syria remains a mystery. Inconsistency is what comes to mind first of all.”
Tillerson kept to more calibrated remarks, saying his aim was “to further clarify areas of sharp difference so that we can better understand why these differences exist and what the prospects for narrowing those differences may be.”
“I look forward to a very open, candid, frank exchange so that we can better define the U.S.-Russian relationship from this point forward,” he told Lavrov.
After journalists were ushered out of the room, Lavrov’s spokeswoman, Maria Zakharova, wrote on her Facebook page that U.S. journalists traveling with Tillerson had behaved as if they were in a “bazaar” by shouting questions to Lavrov.
Moscow’s hostility to Trump administration figures is a sharp change from last year, when Putin hailed Trump as a strong figure and Russian state television was consistently full of effusive praise for him.
Also under Obama, the U.S. bombed the city of Raqqa in Syria
The White House has accused Moscow of trying to cover up Assad’s use of chemical weapons after the attack on a town killed 87 people last week.
Trump responded to the gas attack by firing 59 cruise missiles at a Syrian air base on Friday. Washington warned Moscow, and Russian troops at the base were not hit.
Moscow has stood by Assad, saying the poison gas belonged to rebels, an explanation Washington dismisses as beyond credible. Putin said that either gas belonging to the rebels was released when it was hit by a Syrian strike on a rebel arms dump, or the rebels faked the incident to discredit Assad.
Trump came to the presidency promising to seek closer ties with Russia and greater cooperation fighting against their common enemy in Syria, Islamic State. Tillerson is a former oil executive who was awarded Russia’s Order of Friendship by Putin.
Last week’s poison gas attack and the U.S. retaliation upended what many in Moscow hoped would be a transformation in relations between the two countries, which reached a post-Cold War low under Trump’s predecessor Barack Obama.
Putin gave Tillerson. a former U.S. oil executive, a Friendship Award earlier.
The United States and its European allies imposed financial sanctions on Russia in 2014 after Putin seized territory from neighboring Ukraine.
Washington is leading a campaign of air strikes in Syria against Islamic State fighters and has backed rebels fighting against Assad during a six-year civil war, but until last week the United States had avoided directly targeting the Syrian government.
Russia, meanwhile, intervened in the civil war on Assad’s side in 2015 and has troops on the ground, which it says are advising government forces. Both Washington and Moscow say their main enemy is Islamic State, although they back opposing sides in the wider civil war which has killed more than 400,000 people and spawned the world’s worst refugee crisis.
In cities large and small throughout the United States, the response was swift and strong in condemnation of the U.S. imperialist, cruise missile attacks on Syria in the late evening hours (Eastern Daylight Time) of Thursday, April 6.
Many activists, a good many of whom are socialists and revolutionaries, withstood the corporate-media-spewed Big Lie that Syria allegedly utilized chemical weapons against its own people.
Although most Democrats, liberals and a good chunk of social democrats quickly sided with imperialism and the Pentagon, others took to the streets to protest this blatant intervention and warn others about the dangers of a widening war on the part of U.S. imperialism and its junior “allies.”
The protests linked the imperialist wars abroad with the war against the workers and oppressed here in the U.S., noting there is plenty of money for cruise missiles and weapons of mass destruction while basic social services and public education are slated for demolition by the Trump regime.
Following are reports from activists in several cities where demonstrations took place.
In Philadelphia, Black and Brown youth, workers, Vietnam war veterans and anti-imperialist activists carried out a militant march and rally in support of Syria, refusing to be intimidated by the police, who outnumbered the 100 or so protesters.
The messaging and chants connected various struggles and also condemned U.S. attacks against Yemen, Venezuela and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. Chants included “No bombs, no registry! Fuck white supremacy!” and “From Syria to Palestine, occupation is a crime!”
The march ended at the statue of vile racist Frank Rizzo, the city’s former police commissioner, 1968 to 1971, and then mayor from 1972 to 1980. The marchers connected Imperialist occupation and attacks abroad to racist police occupation of oppressed communities at home.
New York City protest
In New York City, after gathering at Union Square, hundreds took to the streets — including large numbers of youth — where protesters were attacked by members of the New York Police Department, who arrested at least 11 people. Among those arrested was Steve Millies of Workers World Party.
Some of the arrestees were brutalized by police, including Nerdeen Kiswani, a NYC Students for Justice in Palestine organizer and a leader in the march. Her head was slammed into the concrete as cops viciously tore her hijab from her head, choking her in the process. (samidoun.net, April 8)
Bayan USA and the International League of Peoples Struggle activists also played a strong role in the NYC march and rally.
In Portland, Ore., an emergency hands-off Syria protest got thumbs up and supportive vehicle honks from workers during Friday’s afternoon rush hour. The protest, which was covered by KOIN television, later joined other anti-war demonstrators in the downtown area.
Demonstrators in Seattle marched from Capital Hill to downtown, condemning the racist U.S. war against Syria. The Friday action was energetic despite the driving rain because of the many youthful demonstrators. The protest, called by the Answer Coalition, included participation by Veterans for Peace, the Democratic Socialists of America and World Can’t Wait.
Protesters also gathered in San Francisco in the late afternoon. The rally, organized by the Answer Coalition, included speakers from a broad range of organizations, including the International League of Peoples’ Struggle and Workers World Party.
Protests continue on weekend
On April 8 in Madison, Wis., a diverse group of labor and community representatives came out to protest at Library Mall. Zach Gevelinger, of Wisconsin Bail Out the People Movement, said, “We will remain in the streets until U.S. capitalism and imperialism are defeated.” (wibailoutpeople.org).
Protesters turned out in Buffalo, N.Y., on Sunday, April 9, to demand “Stop U.S. war on Syria!” and “U.S. out of the Middle East!” and to explain these demands to the many passersby who stopped to ask. The rally was called by the International Action Center and the Buffalo branch of Workers World Party and endorsed by the National Lawyers Guild Buffalo Chapter & Friends and the Sister District for Western New York, and supported and joined by many other groups.
In Durham, N.C., anti-war protesters gathered at CCB “People’s” Plaza on Sunday for a rally initiated by the Durham branch of Workers World Party. People attending included members of Muslims for Social Justice; Electrical Workers Local 150, the North Carolina Public Service Workers Union; and the Triangle People’s Assembly.
Protesters held a rally at 3rd and Wisconsin streets and then marched to the Federal Building in Milwaukee to demand no U.S. war in Syria and money for human needs not war. Youth, students and members from many labor and community groups participated in the protest, which was sponsored by the Iraq Veterans Against the War-Milwaukee, the Milwaukee Antiwar Committee and the Milwaukee Coalition Against Trump. The Wisconsin Bail Out The People Movement and other organizations supported the action.
According to reports in fightbacknews.org, demonstrations also took place in Minneapolis; Houston; Salt Lake City; Tucson, Ariz.; and Tampa and Fort Lauderdale, Fla. Protesters in Jacksonville, Fla., were viciously attacked by a small group of Trump supporters and police on April 7. Several were arrested and one protester was beaten so severely he required hospitalization.
Terri Kay, Ava Lipatti, Jim McMahan, Tom Michalak, Lyn Neeley, Tom Scahill and WW staff contributed to this report.
Photos: Brenda Ryan and Joe Catron in New York City; Tom Blake in Buffalo, New York; Joseph Piette in Philadelphia; Terri Kay in San Francisco; Hannah Fahoome in Detroit; MAWO in Vancouver; Milwaukee Antiwar Committee.
Below: earlier VOD article announcing April 7 Detroit rally
Rowan removed wards Wanda Worley (above) and Gayle Robinson from their long-time homes with no court orders, using police, took incomes, Robinson’s home, got son jailed
Rowan did not remove ward Raymond Davis, a veteran from dangerous location before his death in fire on Whittier March 8 (VOD previously reported inaccurately that Rowan had moved Davis INTO the Whittier location)
New hearings scheduled for Gayle Robinson April 24, 2017 Judge Keith, Wayne Co. Probate Court; Sharmian May 4, 2017 Judge Hesson, 33rd DC
By Diane Bukowski
April 3, 2017
Sharmian and mom kiss while holding their beloved pets, in their trailer home during brief reunion prior to court hearing March 29.
DETROIT – After country music singer Sharmian’s 33rd District Court hearing March 29 was postponed without notice, she and her mother Wanda Worley told VOD in the interview above why Sharmian tried to stop notorious guardian/conservator Mary Rowan from seizing Worley illegally. Sharmian is facing misdemeanor charges of “hindering and obstructing” Rowan.
Sharmain said that early last September, she admitted her mother to a Wyandotte hospital for treatment of her drug habit, as her mother’s FULL guardian, showing hospital personnel her guardianship papers. But after a few days, she was not allowed to see her after she became concerned because the hospital was prescribing more addictive medication. (See video above.) She said she had to retain an attorney to get her mother out.
In a letter which likely triggered an Adult Protective Services request for change of guardianship to Mary Rowan, a doctor at the hospital characterized Sharmain as unstable. Rowan was appointed as TEMPORARY guardian September 21, 2016. Her acceptance of appointment is shown below, written in her handwriting as were other orders, and not personally signed by Judge David Braxton.
Document appointing Mary Rowan as temporary guardian for Wanda Worley is in her handwriting, not personally signed by judge, with no hearing held.
Later, however, other doctors discovered her mother’s sciatic nerve was painfully wrapped around her spinal column and other internal parts of her body, causing the real pain she had been complaining of for years. After surgery on the nerve, Sharmian said, the pain ceased and Worley was able to complete her conquest of her addiction.
Sharmian had a blossoming career in Nashville for decades as a singer of country, R&B, and gospel music. The walls of her trailer home in Brownstown Township, where her mother lived with her, are decorated with dozens of photos of her with music industry greats. She says she moved back to the Detroit area due to music industry double-dealing, and to take care of her mother, who was suffering from prescription drug addiction.
Gayle Robinson at the Montford Marine Corps Black History Month Dinner in 2010.
GAYLE ROBINSON, U.S. VETERAN
Debbie Fox came out to support Sharmian and her mother. She described how Rowan took her own mother, Gayle Robinson, now 86, from the charming family home in Westland where her parents had lived for 60 years, raising their 10 children.
Instead, she placed her at Maple Manor in Wayne on her own despite Wayne County Probate Court Judge Terrence Keith’s promise that he would not allow such a placement without a court order.
Rowan was also appointed conservator, seizing Rowan’s veterans’ pension and other income.
“One young lady whose dad was at Maple Manor for physical therapy when he got Mary Rowan said he had $4,000 a month income,” Debbie Fox told VOD. “Now John [Cavataio, Rowan’s husband] brings him $250 every two weeks to buy his food, his daughter, and her son’s. He has Parkinson’s and made an agreement with his daughter he would pay for her care if she lived with him and took care of him.”
Rowan is seated in darker blue in this photo taken just before she kidnapped Mailauni Williams (r) and held her for six months, not letting her mother Lennette Williams know where she was. This is the only known published photo of Rowan.
Gayle Robinsons’ son Randy Robinson and granddaughter Lynette Robinson were evicted from the home. Randy was jailed for 93 days at Rowan’s request, after his mother fled to Oregon to stay with her brother to avoid placement in a nursing home.
Keith held Randy and her brother responsible for her flight. Gayle Robinson eventually returned to get her son freed, but then was locked up herself in Maple Manor without a court order.
Fox said the only resident of the family’s Westland home now is her mother’s beloved pet dog Fluffy, and that all her mother’s furnishings, family records and photos, and other belongings have been removed, many of them trashed.
Some of them can be seen below in a video taken by Randy when Rowan assistant Katie McDonald and a Westland cop came to the home to remove his mother the first time, to take her to a psychiatric hospital. In the video, Robinson unsuccessfully demands a court order allowing her removal from the cop, and says she does not know or trust Mary Rowan. The video is touched up at the beginning to emphasize the cop’s comments repeating “I don’t know” where the paperwork is.
Judge Keith on the record: Robinson was not to be removed without court order. It happened anyway.
Fox added that Maple Manor, which bills itself as an “assisted living” facility, keeps her mother on anti-depressants now. She said she, Randy and Lynette have been barred from seeing their mother.
Rowan had Randy Robinson and daughter Lynette evicted from his mother’s home.
Previously, Robinson, now 86, was a happy, healthy, active and independent Marine Corps veteran who told her previous court-appointed attorney Ella Bully Cummings at one hearing VOD attended that she did not want a guardian and that she wanted her son and granddaughter to remain with her.
Rowan now also controls Robinson’s military pension and other income as conservator of the estate.
A new court date in front of Judge Keith in Robinson’s case has been set for Monday, April 24, at 9 a.m. on a motion to change or modify the “guardianship/conservatorship order.”
RAYMOND DAVIS, U.S. VET, DEAD IN FIRE AFTER ROWAN INACTION
Meanwhile, new information has come to light on another Rowan ward, Raymond John Davis, 60, from a review of probate court documents in the case. Davis was also a U.S. military veteran who was legally blind and suffered from diabetes.
Probate Court Judge Lawrence Paoluccia, appointed by Mich. Gov. Rick Snyder.
He was one of five men who perished in a horrific blaze at 10521 Whittier in Detroit, allegedly set by another tenant and whipped into a firestorm by 60 mph winds. Rowan’s husband John Cavataio was filmed at the scene checking on Davis (see video above).
Detroit’s Channel Four reported in the video that the apartment building had not been certified for occupancy.
Court records show Rowan was appointed as Davis’ guardian Jan. 19, 2017, by Wayne County Probate Court Judge Lawrence J. Paolucci, with the express purpose of moving Davis out of the building for his safety. Channel Four reported that Cavataio told them his wife had “just” been appointed Davis’ guardian.
Rowan finally got around to drafting an order in her writing to have police help her remove him from the premises. The order is dated March 7, and signed by Paolucci, but not time-stamped. It seems ironic that the fire happened the next day, taking Davis’ life in a most terrible fashion, particularly for a blind man.
This is the ONLY Rowan case VOD has reviewed where an actual REMOVAL order is included in the file. None were drafted for Wanda Worley or Gayle Robinson.
Dilapidated home at 12317 Monica where Wanda Worley stays with male and female residents, all wards of Mary Rowan.
Davis’ doctor, Benjamin Nguyen, M.D. of the John Dingell Medical Center on John R, a Department of Veterans Affairs Hospital, reported in a Jan. 10, 2017 letter that Davis told him his glucometer, which measures blood sugar levels, and cash had been stolen from him at the Whittier location on several occasions.
“Mr. Davis is in need of guardianship to secure appropriate placement with the sustainable assistance and support required to meet his basic needs,” Dr. Nguyen continued. “Mr. Davis would benefit from [a] guardian to assist with management of his life affairs and medical decisions to ensure his basic needs are being met and he has the quality of life deserving to him as an aging veteran.”
Bedbug bite scars on Wanda Worley’s leg
According to Wanda Worley, Rowan is similarly unavailable to meet the needs of the eight residents at the group home on Monica in Detroit, where she has been staying for the last five months, against her will.
All the residents are allegedly Rowan’s wards and appear to act as if they cannot leave without the permission of Rowan’s aide.
“No one there has ever even seen Rowan,” Worley told VOD. “She doesn’t give us enough food. We only get a $44 a month allowance, so some of the staff help us out by going into their own pockets to take care of us.”
She said the place has been infected with bedbugs, and showed VOD the scars from the insects that remain on her legs.
RIGHTS UNDER MICHIGAN LAW RE: GUARDIANSHIP APPOINTMENTS:
HP says Sanders using “Overton Window” strategy to obtain concessions, not necessarily complete single payer health care
CREDO’s Murshed Zaheed: No to “collaborating with right-wing extremists that control Congress
National Nurses United in Chicago push to tax Wall Street to fund single-payer health care.
WASHINGTON ― In the wake of the Republican failure to repeal the Affordable Care Act on Friday, leading figures in the progressive wing of the Democratic Party are rallying behind a single-payer health insurance and a raft of other bold reforms.
These lawmakers and grassroots leaders have long believed that the problems plaguing the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, are rooted in the original health care law’s attempt to accommodate, rather than gradually replace, the private, for-profit health insurance system.
Now that efforts to eliminate the law wholesale are effectively dead, they are again arguing that the best way to improve the country’s health care system is to confront the power of corporate health care providers more directly.
“We have got to have the guts to take on the insurance companies and the drug companies and move forward toward a Medicare-for-all, single-payer program,” Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) said on MSNBC’s “All In with Chris Hayes” on Friday night. “And I’ll be introducing legislation shortly to do that.”
Even before the Republicans withdrew their Obamacare repeal bill, Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.), the deputy chair of the Democratic National Committee and a close Sanders ally, previewed this message at a rally in defense of Obamacare on Thursday.
“Don’t just be satisfied with defeating Trumpcare ― set your sights on creating real Medicare for all!” he told a cheering crowd of hundreds of activists.
Representatives of several major progressive organizations ― the Working Families Party, the Progressive Campaign Change Committee, Credo, Social Security Works and the National Nurses United ― all echoed this push in conversations with The Huffington Post on Friday and Saturday.
“The problem is the insurance companies, Big Pharma ― they’re gonna come back and use the chaos to their advantage,” predicted Social Security Works executive director Alex Lawson. “If Democrats go with a half-a-loaf policy, Republicans are going to blame them for the failures of Big Pharma. They have to immediately pivot to expanding Medicare.”
Notwithstanding the support of the influential groups for the proposal and ― according to a May 2016 Gallup poll ― even a majority of the American people, Medicare-for-all legislation is a non-starter in the current Congress. Single-payer health insurance still lacks support from many, if not most, Democrats, let alone from the Republican lawmakers who control both chambers.
But the proactive strategy speaks to increasing confidence among progressives that if they stick to their ideals and build a grassroots movement around them, they will ultimately move the political spectrum in their direction.
“It does take time for social change,” said Chuck Idelson, communications director of the National Nurses United, a 150,000-person labor union that has long advocated for a single-payer health insurance system. “We didn’t end slavery overnight. It took from Seneca Falls in 1848 ’til 1920 until women won the right to vote. But they only won it by building a movement.”
In the meantime, a potential benefit of this ambitious approach is what’s known as shifting the “Overton Window,” a political science term for the narrow range of acceptable political views at a given moment in time.
By adopting a position that is considered extreme by contemporary standards, politicians and activists can make more attainable policy goals start to seem reasonable by comparison. [VOD: i.e. Sanders et al are not REALLY working to achieve single payer health care at this point, just concessions from corporate health care industry and other politicians.]
That phenomenon already seems to be working in progressives’ favor.
Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), the only one of Sanders’ Senate colleagues to endorse his presidential bid, discussed the possibility of lowering the Medicare eligibility age or empowering Medicare to negotiate drug prices in his statement on the Republican bill’s collapse.
“There are plenty of ideas already on the table that would make health care more affordable for working families, from a public option, to prescription drug negotiations, to offering older Americans the chance to buy into Medicare,” Merkley said on Friday. “I’m happy to work with anyone, from either side of the aisle, to explore these or any other ideas that would improve health care for working Americans.”
U.S. Senator Jeff Merkley/AP photo
Lowering the Medicare eligibility age from its current level of 65 is a “very interesting” idea, because of the positive financial effect it would have on the Obamacare insurance exchanges, said Austin Frakt, a health economist for the Department of Veterans Affairs.
By allowing the oldest exchange participants to enroll in Medicare, lowering the Medicare age would relieve the health insurance marketplaces of some of their costliest customers, said Frakt, who also has academic posts at Boston University and Harvard.
“It would reduce the premiums in those markets,” he predicted. (Frakt noted, however, that absent measures to offset the cost of the additional beneficiaries, the change would increase Medicare’s financial burden.)
Social Security Works’ Lawson praised the idea as an incremental step toward Medicare-for-all.
“Start by lowering the age to 62 and get it down to zero,” he said. “If Democrats go with a half-a-loaf policy, Republicans are going to blame them for the failures of Big Pharma.”
Trump meeting with big pharmaceutical companies; he flipped his original position on lowering drug prices.
Another progressive policy gaining mainstream traction is legislation permitting the importation of prescription drugs from Canada, where the existing single-payer system keeps prices lower. Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) was one of several Democratic senators to endure heavy criticism in January for helping block a resolution supporting drug importation. In late February, Booker became a co-sponsor of legislation Sanders introduced that would legalize prescription drug importation from Canada and other countries.
President Donald Trump talked about getting tough with pharmaceutical companies over the price of prescription drugs as recently as early January.
But he has remained silent on the matter since inauguration, including the 17-day period when he was trying to pass House Republicans’ Obamacare repeal bill. What’s more, the ordeal cast serious doubt on his willingness to take on the GOP’s ultraconservatives, who no doubt oppose any form of government intervention to reduce drug prices.
Trump now claims he is counting on Democrats to negotiate over Obamacare on his terms, since, in his telling, the law is on the brink of collapse .
Obamacare’s insurance exchange markets have major problems in some states and regions, but the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office characterized them as stable overall.
Mushed Zaheed of Credo and Netroots Nation
Still, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) suggested in a CNN interview on Friday night that Democrats would be open to working with Trump and congressional Republicans on reforming the law.
“We’re not gloating that they failed. We’re sad that they won’t work with us to improve Obamacare,” he said.
Murshed Zaheed, political director of Credo, warned Democratic leaders that any Democratic efforts to work with Republicans would not get any help from grassroots groups like his.
“If Democrats want to push their version of so-called moderate proposals ― good luck to them,” Zaheed said. “I don’t think anybody should be under any illusion that Schumer or [House Minority Leader Nancy] Pelosi will get anything from collaborating with the right-wing extremists that control Congress.”
Massive march for single-payer health care, kick out insurance companies
Open Letter to Delegates Attending the National Single Payer Strategy Conference in New York City
“Let’s Fight For What We Need: Medicare For All”–not “Obamacare”
Jannuary 13, 2017
Dear Sisters and Brothers:
The Call for the National Single Payer Strategy Conference begins with an affirmation with which we agree wholeheartedly:
“We believe that a powerful resistance movement anchored in the labor and social movements can turn the tables on Trump and all that he represents. To win, we must inspire Americans to fight for what they need, not what the political establishment tells them they can get.”
And what they need is Single Payer, now! The American people support Single Payer (or Medicare For All) overwhelmingly. The Bernie Sanders campaign made Single Payer a household term; his call for it galvanized young people and workers from coast to coast.
With the Affordable Care Act now under attack by the incoming Trump administration, a wing of the establishment — the corporate Democrats — are telling us to hold our horses on Single Payer and focus on the defense of ACA. Many are the same people who told us that Single Payer could not be included in the Democratic Party platform or raised during the final months of the presidential campaign. (A San Francisco Bay Area nurse who appeared before the DNC Platform Committee to argue for Single Payer told a San Francisco report-back forum she felt like she was “crashing the Democratic Party’s country club party.”)
Yes, we must defend the gains contained in the Affordable Care Act (ACA), but we cannot and must not defend ACA as such. Nor should we put the ACA on the same level as Medicare and Medicaid, two historic gains.
Labor economist Dr. Jack Rasmus
The ACA was a law written by insurance industry lobbyists and representatives of other price-gougers in healthcare. Under ACA, hundreds of billions of dollars meant for the care of patients are siphoned off as profits for the big healthcare insurance companies — money that would be saved by their elimination from the system. This money could be used to ensure quality and comprehensive coverage for all residents.
The ACA’s flaws are fundamental: rising premiums (which are scheduled to spike big time in 2017), rising deductibles, rising co-pays, tens of millions still without coverage, exclusion of undocumented immigrants, bloated and wasteful administrative costs, growing problems in collective bargaining in negotiating good benefits programs, etc.
Labor economist Jack Rasmus summed it up well:
“In his farewell address, President Obama touted the fact that on his watch, 20 million of the 50 million uninsured got health insurance coverage, half of them covered by Medicaid, which provides less than even ‘bare bones’ care, assuming one can even find a doctor willing to provide medical services. The rest covered by ACA mostly got high deductible insurance, often at an out-of-pocket cost of $2,000 to $4,000 per year. Thus, millions got minimal coverage while the health insurance industry got $900 billion a year. . . .
“In the wake of ACA’s passage, big pharmaceutical companies have also been allowed to price gouge at will, driving up not only private health insurance premiums but Medicare costs as well, and softening up the latter program for coming Republican-Trump attacks.”
Indeed, the Democrats’ failure to campaign for Single Payer played right into Trump’s hands. This was best explained by Jack Kingston, a Republican former member of Congress from Georgia:
“One of the reasons that Hillary Clinton lost the election is the widespread anger in the Rust Belt and other regions over the rising costs of healthcare under Obamacare. It might not be a top media story, but it is certainly a discussion at the dinner tables in working-class and middle-class households across the country. Everyone is concerned that premiums and healthcare costs are going to soar in 2017 under Obamacare. Trump said that Obamacare has to go, and he got a real hearing.” (from interview on PBS at the Republican election-night gathering)
At a time when the national discussion is heating up around the question of what the ACA should be replaced with, the labor movement needs to go on the offensive with the call to replace ACA with Medicare For All. This, in fact, is the best way to defend and expand the gains contained in ACA. It is the only real solution!
To focus, as the Democrats are urging labor to do, on defense of ACA is a losing proposition. To win, we must inspire Americans to fight for what they need, not what the political establishment tells them they can get — and that includes the Democratic Party wing of the establishment.
It is time to break with this “lesser-evil” approach to politics. It is time for labor to assert its independent voice. It is time for the labor movement to break with its ties of subordination to the Democratic Party and launch a full-scale offensive to demand: Single Payer Now!
This is the message, we believe, that needs to come out of the National Single Payer Strategy Conference.
Video above: Mary Rowan ward Raymond Davis among five men dead in fire in uninspected group home; husband John Cavataio featured in footage
Probate Court judge ordered Davis seized from his own apartment by Rowan and Detroit police March 7, 2017; two days later he died in fire
Well-known country music star Sharmian Lynette Worley’s mother Wanda Worley also a Mary Rowan kidnap victim, without court order, song below is for her mom
Are wealthy elite running homes for victims of probate kidnappings?
SUPPORT SHARMIAN AGAINST CHARGES BY ROWAN
Wed. March 29, 2017, 11 a.m.,33rd District Court
19000 Van Horn at Allen Rd; Woodhaven; Judge Jennifer Coleman Hesson
By Diane Bukowski
March 27, 2017
Mary Rowan (seated in darker blue, in the process of kidnapping developmentally disabled Mailauni Williams (r) outside court in 2014, as Mailauni’s previous caregiver (l) and sister (2nd from r) watch. Taken by VOD, this is the only known published photo of Rowan. Rowan now has 1396 Probate Court cases.
DETROIT, MI — Serial kidnapper-guardian Mary Rowan continues to strike. Now she may also be an accessory to the murder of one of her wards, Raymond Davis. Rowan is additionally pressing charges against country singer Sharmian Lynette Worley for trying to protect her mom from Rowan, who had no court order to take her.
Regarding the death of Davis and four other men March 9 in a fire on Whittier in Detroit, Wayne Co. Prosecutor Kym Worthy has charged one of the allegedly mentally ill residents for setting the fire, which was fanned into an inferno by gusting winds.
The other men who died were James Johnson, Leo Dear, William Ballard, and Norman Connors, according to a report from Channel Four. Neither the operators of the home, which was not licensed by the city or other entities, nor Rowan, who placed Davis, who is blind, in an unlicensed home with possibly dangerous roommates, are being charged.
Rowan is currently involved in the cases of at least 1398 individuals under that court’s supervision, according to its records.
Sharmain Worley (l) with mother Wanda Worley (r) and kids.
Six months ago, Rowan seized Wanda Lynette Worley, mother of Nashville-based country music star Sharmian (pronounced Char-min) from the home she shared with her daughter in Brownstown Twp.
VOD’s review of Wanda Worley’s probate court file shows that Judge David Braxton, in charge of Worley’s case, NEVER issued any order granting authority to Rowan to take Worley away from her daughter, who is also known as Sharmian Sowards. There are also no notices of service of an order appointing Rowan as successor guardian, on Sharmian or the rest of Worley’s family. See http://voiceofdetroit.net/wp-content/uploads/Wanda-Worley-WCPC-roster.pdf.
Sharmian told VOD it was not Rowan’s first attempt to take her mother.
“First, Mary Rowan come banging on my mobile home, screaming as loud as she could, ‘Where is Wanda Worley, I’m the guardian.'” Sharmian told VOD. “I told her get off my property NOW and she left. A week or two later, I was in my front yard, weatherizing the house and cleaning it a with hose. She pulled up again. I still didn’t know who the woman was. I continued washing my house. I told her again do not come on my property. She looked like the Wicked Witch of the West, very scary and intimidating, and I was not giving my mother to her.”
33rd District Court Judge Jennifer Coleman Hesson.
Both Sharmian and Rowan called the police, who took her mother after assuring Sharmian she would be OK and would be back in a couple of days. They claimed to have seen the non-existent court order. Sharmian says she never saw it and never knew who Rowan was.
Wanda Worley has not come back home for good since. Meanwhile, Sharmian faces misdemeanor charges of “resisting, hindering and obstructing a police officer/public official,” under what appears to be a city ordinance.
A trial on the charges against Sharmian will take place in 33rd District Court Wed. March 29 at 11 a.m, in front of Judge Jennifer Coleman Hesson.
Since no court order existed for Rowan to take Wanda Worley, Rowan and Brownstown Twp. police were acting unlawfully and Sharmian had the right to resist Rowan’s kidnap of her mom.
Wayne County Probate Court Judge David Braxton
Sharmian first asked to be appointed as her mother’s guardian under Wayne County Probate Court Judge David Braxton on Feb. 4, 2016.
She cited a long-term history of mental illness and in later years, prescriptions repeatedly given to her mother by various doctors including the highly addictive drugs Lyrica, Dilaudid and Percocet. Sharmian said that while her mother was on the drugs, she began telling hospital staffers and neighbors that Sharmian was beating her. Sharmian firmly denies that.
“Mom goes in and out of hospitals constantly for drugs, and they give them to her, this needs to stop or she is going to die,” Sharmian said in a letter in the court file. “Before my mom takes her last breath, I want to enjoy something I’ve never had. My mother.”
Sharmian said, “I never saw a court order to take my mom, and if there is one, I believe it is fake. I want to get her [Rowan] for lying to the police, kidnapping and filing fake documents. I don’t believe the judge’s signature appointing Mary Rowan as my mom’s guardian is his. The records say she was appointed Sept. 21, 2016, but my mom was in the hospital then.”
In fact, the records VOD reviewed show that Braxton likely did not sign documents in Worley’s file. Not only was there no order to remove Worley, the document removing Sharmian as her mother’s guardian, shown above, is signed in handwriting that appears very similar to other entries in the document, such as Mary Rowan’s name. There is an illegible initial next to Judge Braxton’s alleged signature.
That order was initiated and signed after Worley spent time at Wyandotte Psychiatric Hospital, where she received more drugs. On Sept. 9, according to court records, Sharmian went to the hospital to bring her mother home, but she was not allowed to see her, despite showing her guardianship papers. A doctor at the hospital claimed Sharmian was acting bizarrely. The hospital called police on Sharmian, but she contacted a legal services attorney who came and got her mother released to go back home with Sharmian.
12317 Monica Detroit; Mary Rowan “group home”
Worley told VOD during a brief visit with her daughter last week that she has been shunted from one Detroit home to another, allegedly adult foster care homes. She is currently at 12317 Monica. It is questionable whether any of the homes are licensed as such.
Sharmian said her mother had been at the Monica address for five months, with eight other men and women. Her mother told her a woman named Wendy runs it.
“Every one of them is a ward of Mary Rowan,” Sharmian said her mother told her. “None of them know what she looks like. They all hate her. One 83-year-old woman says Mary Rowan cleaned out her bank accounts and took her house. My mom got bedbugs while she was there. They finally brought in an exterminator and threw all the beds out. Then, when those 60 mph winds happened, the home lost electricity for 3 days and no one saved the people for three days—they were freezing. Then they put mom and eight others in another home on Lindsay St. There are more homes, all of them about 15 minutes away from the Monica address, and the people believe Wendy owns all of them.”
However, Wayne County records list the taxpayer at the Monica address as Capital Clearance Group, Ltd. It is four years delinquent on property taxes there, like the house on Whittier that burned. According to Register of Deeds records, the group also owns 31 other properties in Detroit. The company is not registered with the State of Michigan. Various sites claim it is based in Wyoming and has offices all over the world. See http://voiceofdetroit.net/wp-content/uploads/Capital-Clearance-Group-Ltd-properties-in-Wayne-County.pdf.
“Three investment experts and banking elites came together in 2007 and amidst the Sub-Prime debt crisis of 2008 and burst of the property bubble, managed to collectively conduct a wholesale acquisition of land and properties across various states at a low borrowing cost and purchase price,” says one site. “In a short span of just one year, the founders of Capital Clearance Group managed to grow it to tens of millions of dollars in total Assets Under Management based on its current market value.” See http://www.capitalclearance.com/web/index.html.
Above: Zerious Meadows’ sister Pamela Davenport comments on her brother’s 47 year incarceration, since the age of 15.
Case is key challenge for state’s juvenile lifers
Defense attorney Melvin Houston: state statutes do not require 60-year max, judges should have more flexibility in sentencing
Meadows’ family attends hearing in his support: “I just want him to be strong”
U.S. District Court Judge O’Meara dismisses Hill case, after first ruling that state juvenile lifers should be eligible for parole after 10 years
By Diane Bukowski
March 23, 2017
Wayne Co. Pros. Kym Worthy
Zerious “Bobby” Meadows
DETROIT – “It makes me sick, I’ve had nightmares that I’m behind prison bars ever since I was eight or nine years old,” Pamela Davenport said March 14 after an appeals court hearing in the case of her oldest brother, Zerious “Bobby” Meadows.
Meadows was sent to die in prison when he was 16 years old, in 1971. He is now 63 years old and has spent 47 years behind bars. Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy appealed Wayne County Circuit Court Judge Bruce Morrow’s re-sentencing of Meadows to 25-45 years, which would have allowed his immediate release. She is insisting he must receive a maximum of 60 years under her interpretation of state juvenile lifer re-sentencing statutes.
Davenport accompanied her husband Dee Davenport, her sister Beverly Lucas, and another relative to the hearing at the Cadillac Place Center on W. Grand Blvd. She said Meadows is the second oldest of eight siblings.
Pamela Davenport with her husband Dee (l) and brother’s attorney Melvin Houston (r).
Judge Bruce Morrow re-sentenced Meadows to 25 to 45 years on Sept. 23, 2016. Since Meadows had already served the time, his family expected to welcome him back home immediately. Even Chief Criminal Court Judge Timothy Kenny signed off on the sentence.
“My client is staying in prison right now rather than going before the parole board, trying to make sure everyone else is helped by the outcome of his case,” Attorney Melvin Houston told Appeals Court Judges Michael J. Kelly, William B. Murphy and Amy Ronayne during the hearing. “Everyone is just taking 25-60 year sentences like it’s candy.”
He argued the state statutes do not require an absolute maximum of 60 years, but “up to 60 years.”
Former Wayne Co. Prosecutor John O’Hair
Numerous prominent officials including former Wayne County Prosecutor John O’Hair and former Governor William Milliken have contended that an absolute 60-year maximum is tantamount to another death in prison sentence.
“With the average life expectancy of a juvenile serving life without parole at 50.6 years, 40 and 60 years sentences are virtual life sentences,” O’Hair said in a Detroit Free Press column last year. He referred to life expectancies current at the time many juvenile lifers were sentenced over 40 years ago.
Houston and Meadows’ family members said he has always maintained that he is innocent of tossing a Molotov cocktail into an east side Detroit home in 1970, killing 12-year-old Ruth Turner and her four-year-old sister Regina. The conviction and life sentence of his co-defendant Cornelius Fuller was thrown out by the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals in 1980, citing lack of evidence.
Family members said Houston has gone before the parole board before, but always refused to say he is guilty even if it meant his release.
“He says, ‘I’m not leaving out of here saying I’m guilty,’” said Attorney Houston. “If he winds up before the parole board, they will not be welcoming. The state statutes do not allow enough flexibility for judges to determine the appropriate sentence.”
Attorney Melvin Houston arguments on behalf of Zerious Meadows.
Since former Michigan Gov. John Engler made the parole board subject to appointment rather than civil service procedures, it has become much more rigid about releases. It usually insists that prisoners admit to the crime(s) with which they are charged.
Houston added that under a 1980 Michigan Supreme Court ruling, People v. Aaron, intent has to be proven in cases of felony murder, where commission of a felony like arson leads to a death. However, the state court did not make its ruling retroactive. He said there was no intent to kill proven in Meadows’ case.
Judge Karl Zick in 1971: glad to leave Detroit for “God’s country.”
According to news reports at the time, the case against Meadows was earlier dismissed during a juvenile court hearing, after two adults testified he was elsewhere with them during the arson. The prosecutor reinstated the charges in adult court. The chief witness against him in Recorders Court was originally arrested for the crime, then released after agreeing to testify.
Meadows was tried in 1971 before Visiting Judge Karl Zick of Berrien County, but his conviction was thrown out on appeal after Zick refused to allow the defense to bring up the witness’ criminal record.
Zick, who was taking part in a state-wide rotation of judges into Detroit Recorders Court to clear up a backlog, said afterwards, “I’m very happy to be back in God’s country. I wouldn’t be a circuit judge in Detroit if they paid me $50,000 a year.”
Meadows was not released after his first conviction was thrown out, but tried again in 1975 in a possible violation of double jeopardy rules. His attorney Arthur Arduin (also the original defense attorney for juvenile lifer Charles Lewis) evidently did not challenge the re-trial.
Juvenile lifer Charles Lewis is also arguing his innocence and asking for dismissal of his case because his entire official court file has been lost.
Lewis, who like Meadows has always contended he is innocent, commented earlier during a court hearing, “Ninety percent of juvenile lifers are in prison because they had bad attorneys.” He also said he believes at least 10 percent of juvenile lifers are innocent. Under the state re-sentencing statutes, there is no provision to take innocence into account.
Meadows’ sentencing judge Susan Borman said she did not believe Meadows had any intent to kill anyone, characterizing the incident as a neighborhood dispute that got out of hand.
“I really don’t feel that there should be every door slammed shut on a sixteen-year-old, Judge Borman said at the time. “. . . .I think that there is something wrong with the law that gives the court no discretion at all. Where the defendant has to spend the rest of his natural life behind bars, and it is particularly tragic in a case where it is a sixteen-year-old child that has been convicted.”
Former Recorders Court Judge Susan Borman
Very few of Michigan’s 360-plus juvenile lifers have been released since the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that they were serving unconstitutional sentences, in Miller v. Alabama (2012) and Montgomery v. Louisiana (2016). Some have been re-sentenced, but still await either parole board hearings or decisions.
Others still await re-sentencing. The case of Cortez Davis El was one of three in which the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) unsuccessfully challenged appeals court rulings that Miller was not retroactive, before the Michigan Supreme Court. The USSC weighed in with the Montgomery v. Louisiana, ruling unequivocably that Miller was indeed retroactive.
Cortez Davis El
Davis El’s re-sentencing is set for April 27 at 9 a.m. in front of Judge Shannon Walker. His sentencing judge, Vera Massey Jones, retired from the bench in 2015. She originally said sentencing Davis to life without parole in 1994 was “cruel and unusual punishment,” 18 years before the USSC held that indeed it was. She sentenced him to a lesser term but was forced by an appeals court to sentence him to JLWOP. Later, in 2012, Judge Massey Jones scheduled a re-sentencing for Davis El under Miller v. Alabama, but was blocked by an appeal from Prosecutor Worthy again.
Davis El is 40, and has been in prison since 1994, 22 years, serving an unconstitutional sentence. Since state statutes currently require minimums of 25-40 years, he will not have served enough time to become eligible for parole immediately.
Judge Vera Massey Jones’ 2012 order to resentence Cortez Davis.
In an Oakland County case, Jennifer Pruitt, 16 when sent to prison in 1992 for first-degree felony murder, was re-sentenced to 30 to 60 years on March 2, 2017. She was not the killer in the case. She remains incarcerated in the notorious Huron Valley Women’s Correctional Facility, where she was raped by a guard, and will not be eligible for parole until 2022.
Jennifer Pruitt then and now.
In the vast majority of cases statewide, county prosecutors have ignored a USSC declaration that “only the rarest” child should be sentenced to life without parole, and are re-recommending that sentence for up to 100 percent of their cases.
Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy has re-recommended JLWOP for 40 percent of cases here, but the actual number is the highest in the state because Wayne County has the highest number of juvenile lifers.
In a severe blow to the state’s juvenile lifers, U.S. District Court Judge John Corbett O’Meara dismissed the Michigan ACLU’s Hill v. Snyder case Feb. 7, 2017, after first ruling in 2013 that all Michigan juvenile lifers should be subject to parole after serving 10 years. The ACLU prevailed on the state’s first appeal, after the Sixth Circuit sent the decision back to Corbett O’Meara for tweaking.
The ACLU challenged the 2014 state statutes requiring minimums of 25-40 years and maximums of 60 years during subsequent hearings, as well as a provision that “good time” could not be taken into account for juvenile lifers.
O’Meara did an about-face in his opinion, granting the state’s motion to dismiss the case. He said saying the plaintiffs could not challenge “impending sentences” or cite the Eighth Amendment in their arguments.
U.S. District Court Judge John Corbett O’Meara
“In Counts II and IV, Plaintiffs challenge the constitutionality of the sentencing scheme set forth in M.C.L. 769.25 and 769.25a,” O’Meara said. “In Count II, Plaintiffs contend that a life without parole sentence for juveniles categorically violates the Eighth Amendment. In Count IV, Plaintiffs contend that the maximum sentence provided in the statute – 60 years – is the equivalent of life in prison and violates the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments. In other words, Plaintiffs challenge their impending sentences.”
O’Meara called the challenge to impending sentences “untenable.” He added, “The Supreme Court has made clear that a “prisoner in state custody cannot use a § 1983 action to challenge ‘the fact or duration of his confinement.’ He must seek federal habeas corpus relief (or appropriate state relief) instead.’
The Eighth Amendment forbids “cruel and unusual punishment,” and was cited by the USSC in both Miller and Montgomery. “42 U.S. Code § 1983” is a “civil action for deprivation of rights.”
Saginaw Prosecutor has re-recommended Henry Hill, lead plaintiff in federal case, for juvenile life without parole. Other plaintiffs in the case have received the same recommendation.
O’Meara also refused to allow juvenile lifers consideration of their “good time,” which the plaintiffs had contended was being discriminatorily denied to them under the state statutes.
On its website, the Michigan Department of Corrections defines good time as “Days subtracted from certain prisoners’ sentences for good behavior, required under Michigan law unless the prisoner has violated prison rules; it escalates from 5 days a month to 15 days a month on very long sentences. An additional one-half of regular good time can also be earned for exemplary behavior. Prisoners sentenced for crimes committed after April 1, 1987, do not earn good time.”
A representative from the law offices of Deborah LaBelle, the attorney representing the Michigan ACLU in Hill v. Snyder, told VOD, “We DEFINITELY are appealing O’Meara’s ruling to the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals.’
SOME OF THOSE KILLED BY POLICE IN METRO DETROIT, 1996 TO PRESENT; KILLER KOPS NOT CHARGED BY WAYNE CO. PROSECUTOR KYM WORTHY
Wayne Co. Prosecutor Kym Worthy virulently opposed state legislation introduced in the last decade to outlaw JLWOP. Now that the U.S. Supreme Court has outlawed JLWOP she continues to put every stumbling block possible in the way of releasing Wayne County juvenile lifers. Wayne County has the highest number of children sent to die in the state.
Some of Michigan’s juvenile lifers: (l to r, top through bottom row), Cortez Davis, Raymond Carp, Dakotah Eliason, Henry Hill (Worthy recommends JLWOP again), Keith Maxey (Worthy recommends JLWOP again), Dontez Tillman, Charles Lewis (Worthy recommends JLWOP again) Jemal Tipton, Nicole Dupure, Giovanni Casper, Jean Cintron, Matthew Bentley (JLWOP recommended again), Bosie Smith, Kevin Boyd, Damion Todd, Jennifer Pruitt, Edward Sanders, David Walton (photos show some lifers at current age, others at age they went to prison). Although some have been re-sentenced, none have been released to date after serving unconstitutional sentences for most of their lives in prison.
Protect Our Stolen Lives (P.O.S.T.) was founded in Detroit by Yolanda McNair, mother of Adaisha Miller, killed just before her 21st birthday by a gun fired by a Detroit cop.
POST members and supporters block Woodward Avenue during protest Sept. 24, 2016, as dozens of cars honked their horns in support. They included Arnetta Grable, mother of Lamar Grable, Mertilla Jones, grandmother of Aiyana Jones, Kevin Kellom, father of Terrance Kellom, and Yolanda McNair, mother of Adaisha Miller.
In conjunction with the national Stolen Lives Project and community groups around the country, they held a national conference and protest against police slaughter of their loved ones and Black, Latin and poor people across the United States.
Groups from metro Detroit as well as New York City, Kenosha, Illinois, and Dayton, Ohio were among those who attended the day-long conference, held at St. Matthews and St. Josephs Church on Woodward at Holbrook Avenue.
Kevin Kellom, Pastor Jerome McCorry of the Dayton, Ohio Faith and Justice Social Alliance, and Yolanda McNair during march.
Among police murder victims they spoke about were Adaisha Miller, Terrance Kellom, Aiyana Jones, Lamar Grable, and Kimoni “Kodak” Davis of Detroit, Justus Howell, from Kenosha Illinois, Malcolm Ferguson and John Collado from New York City, and Emmet Till.
At the close of the conference, Pastor McCorry was in tears.
“This is my family,” he said. “I love everyone sitting at this table. I refuse to ever sell you out.
“This is a fight we all better fight. It is as much about white folks as Black folks. A boat cannot rise from the flood waters until the people at the bottom are saved.”
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