DFT’S STEVE CONN, BOARD, TEACHERS RENEW FIGHT TO SAVE DETROIT PUBLIC SCHOOLS, CITY’S YOUTH


Detroit Federation of Teachers (DFT) Mass Membership Meeting Sunday, Jan. 25, 2 pm, Adoba Hotel in Dearborn (former Hyatt Hotel at Fairlane)

DFT Executive VP Ivy Bailey (Facebook photo)

DFT Executive VP Ivy Bailey

From Ivy Bailey, DFT executive VP–from DFT website http://dft231.mi.aft.org/

DFT President Steve Conn has called a mass DFT membership meeting for Sunday, Jan. 25 at 2 p.m. at the Adoba Hotel in Dearborn, 600 Town Center Drive. It is imperative that all members show up and voice their concerns about rebuilding the union and saving public education. Remember to bring your DFT card or identification. This is a DFT membership only meeting.

Adoba Hotel (former Hyatt in Fairlane Center)

Adoba map

 

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CANCEL DPS DEBT, NO EM, NO LAY-OFFS, REBUILD PUBLIC EDUCATION AMONG DEMANDS PUT FORTH BY DFT’S NEW LEADERSHIP 

By Diane Bukowski 

January 24, 2015 

Protest demanding cancellation of Detroit and DPS debt May 9, 2012 outside the Bank of America in downtown Detroit. Maureen Taylor of Michigan Welfare Rights holds sign.

DETROIT – Newly-elected Detroit Federation of Teachers (DFT) President Steve Conn, Exec. Vice-President Ivy Bailey, and DFT board members have hit the ground running, setting a mass union membership meeting this Sunday in response to teachers’ petitions. They plan to discuss “re-building the union and saving public education,” Bailey said on the DFT website.

DFT Local 231 has 4,000 members, the largest of any union local based in Detroit.

“With the support of my fellow teachers, of our students, and our community, I believe that we can stand up for the real hope and progress that has long been denied,” Conn said earlier. “I believe that our impoverished city can have a bright future, because I know the great potential of the students I teach, and I know the deep compassion of the teachers with whom I work.”

Conn called in particular for the cancellation of the district’s debt, a key issue since debt payments to the banks, on loans initiated by state emergency managers, have for years swallowed up a large portion of state per-pupil aid to DPS, at one time as much as 90 percent.

New DFT President Steve Conn (in rear by red post) and board members including Exec. VP Ivy Bailey (in rear by white post) are sworn into office by Michigan AFT Pres. Dave Hecker Jan. 20, 2015.

New DFT President Steve Conn (in rear by red post) and board members including Exec. VP Ivy Bailey (in rear by white post) are sworn into office by Michigan AFT Pres. Dave Hecker Jan. 20, 2015.

The DFT’s new leadership was sworn in Jan. 20 by Michigan American Federation of Teachers President Dave Hecker, who told VOD the key issue now is “unity.”  The swearing in was preceded by a small but enthusiastic rally of teachers, community members, and students. The board held its first meeting immediately afterward.

“We finally have a leadership that won’t be afraid to challenge the state government and its sold-out, racist politicians,” DPS teacher Chrystal Bonner told VOD during the rally. “EON/BAMN won’t allow Steve to sell us out. They have an overall agenda to fight for equal justice for teachers, students and the city of Detroit.”

“EON/BAMN” stands for “Equal Opportunity Now, By Any Means Necessary,” the slate which Conn, who has been a respected DPS teacher for 30 years, led.

DPS teacher Chrystal Bonner celebrates DFT election results.

DPS teacher Chrystal Bonner celebrates DFT election results.

Elected Detroit Board of Education members Elena Herrada and LaMar Lemmons said they were elated at the DFT election results. Under emergency management, the board has been left with virtually no powers, so they refer to themselves as the “board-in-exile.”

“I’m very happy, and hopeful for change,” Herrada, who represents District 2, told VOD. “I’m hopeful to confront the corruption of emergency management. We are no longer afraid. This will be a new day.”

Lemmons said, “I believe Mr. Conn will stand up to the Governor Snyder’s unrelenting attack on our children and the voting rights of the people of Detroit. DPS is controlled by Snyder through his emergency managers. My greatest concern is that Snyder will do to DPS what he did to the school districts of Inkster and Highland Park—dissolve them and declare them insolvent. We must have a massive mobilization of Detroit’s people along with our suburban district brothers and sisters like those in Garden City. Snyder is only attacking that district as a sacrificial lamb so Public Act 436 will not appear to be racist.”

Detroit Board of Education members LaMar Lemmons and Elena Herrada.

Detroit Board of Education members LaMar Lemmons and Elena Herrada.

DPS graduate Leroy Lewis, who was active with BAMN throughout his years in the district, said, “The DFT now has a big opportunity to return to what it used to be, a true union, a place people can come for protection and support. The attacks on DPS are not just on teachers but on students, taking away our schools, books and supplies and increasing our class sizes. They are a racist attack on the entire city of Detroit.”

Mike Mullholland, retired Vice-President of AFSCME Local 207, which formerly represented over 1200 workers at the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department, said the DFT now may be able to revive the struggle as city workers were not able to do in the current climate. Under the Detroit bankruptcy, DWSD is being dismantled and handed over to a regional authority, along with much of the city’s assets.

Steve Conn confers with student supporters after swearing-in Jan. 20, 2014.

Steve Conn confers with student supporters after swearing-in Jan. 20, 2014.

“DFT has 4,000 members,” he noted. “To the people of Detroit, anything centered on our youth is the most important matter. Steve has always helped mobilize the youth, and he will continue to do so. The youth are the key to Detroit’s future.”

Candace Martinez, a senior at Cass, sat with her classmate, Conn’s daughter Edie, as she told VOD, “We need people like me and Edy to start the movement, to begin opening up more schools, not to be afraid. If we stand up, others will follow.”

Edie Conn said, “With my dad leading the way, we will win changes for the whole city, not just DPS. Right now we’ve got 40 kids literally suffocating in a classroom with not enough desks, books, and supplies. We have no toilet paper. We must open up more schools, bring the EAA (Educational Achievement Authority) and charter schools back into the district so that we will have more students.”

Detroit leaders under Dave Bing used New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina as an example for dismantling  DPS.

Detroit leaders under Dave Bing used New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina as an example for dismantling DPS and Detroit.

Over half of Detroit’s students attend charter schools now, the result of years of public school closures. Along with the district’s debt, the exodus of pupils has decimated funding for DPS. Many of those who have controlled the district from on high have lauded the example of New Orleans. Leaders there have used the excuse of the devastation caused by Hurricane Katrina to wipe out public schools altogether.

The mainstream media has focused largely on Conn as a lone wolf radical who won election by 16 votes. But he has had broad support from a large number of teachers for years. DFT members showed that in 2010 when a large portion of the membership, not Conn alone, disrupted the swearing-in ceremony for a slate led by former DFT President Keith Johnson. The teachers claimed the close election had been stolen.

Heather Miller tells fellow teacher to look after her daughter Edie as she is arrested during protest against the closure of Northern High School

Heather Miller tells fellow teacher to look after her daughter Edie as she is arrested during protest against the closure of Northern High School.

Conn and his wife Heather Miller, also a DPS teacher, have helped lead numerous student-teacher protests against over 110 school closings, half of the district. At one protest in 2007, outside the former and fabled Northern High School, Conn and Miller were arrested, and students as young as fourth graders were pepper-sprayed and brutalized by police. Conn and Miller were later fired, but won their jobs back.

Snyder’s appointment Jan. 13 of yet another DPS emergency manager, Darnell Earley, who formerly served as emergency manager for Flint and city manager for Saginaw, shows that the DFT, DPS students, and the people of Detroit have their work in the struggle to come cut out for them.

New DPS EM Darnell Earley with his boss, Gov. Rick Snyder.

Earley has already said he plans to lay-off DPS staff, on top of tens of thousands laid off since the first state takeover in 1999, to make up for a $178 million budget deficit.

He claimed he will not include teachers, likely in light of the DFT’s new militant leadership.  Conn said he is nothing but another Snyder lackey. His demand is to CANCEL THE DISTRICT’S DEBT instead.

VOD editor Diane Bukowski  covered Detroit Public Schools issues for the Michigan Citizen for eight of the ten years she was there; those articles are mostly not accessible now. However, a partial list of VOD articles on the schools is below. It begins with the articles most applicable to the devastation of DPS by the banks (Steve Conn has demanded cancellation of the debt) and goes backwards in chronological order, with older stories after the break.

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2010/09/13/bank-of-new-york-mellon-controls-dps/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2010/11/26/bail-out-the-schools-not-the-banks-2/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2010/10/22/banks-bobb-school-board-collude-against-detroits-schoolchildren/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2010/09/13/dps-caught-in-devils-triangle/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2010/09/29/bings-detroit-the-next-new-orleans/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2014/03/22/mich-reps-olumba-santana-help-pass-pro-eaa-bill-seats-from-detroit-courts-removed/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2013/09/02/save-our-schools-save-detroits-oakman-and-school-of-the-arts/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2013/08/26/detroit-joins-natl-coalition-to-call-for-moratorium-on-school-closings-rally-wed-aug-28-3-pm-dps-hq-fisher-bldg/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2013/08/20/detroit-schools-set-to-pay-hefty-rates-on-92-million-bond-due-to-city-bankruptcy-filing/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2013/07/07/july-4-protest-demands-independence-for-detroit-other-cities-and-schools-eviction-of-kevyn-orr/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2013/04/04/occupy-the-u-s-dept-of-education-april-4-7-vs-school-closings-detroit-leaders-to-speak/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2013/01/23/detroit-students-journey-4-justice-to-washington-d-c-jan-28-29-2013/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2012/09/04/dps-advocates-tell-obama-stop-destruction-of-public-education/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2012/09/04/stopping-the-neoliberal-blueprint-for-detroit-schools/ Continue reading


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DETROIT WORKERS, RETIREES FILING BRIEFS IN 8 APPEALS OF CITY’S BANKRUPTCY PLAN

Packed DAREA meeting Jan. 21, 2015 at St. Matthew's and St. Joseph's Episcopal Church in Detroit.
Packed DAREA meeting Jan. 21, 2015 at St. Matthew’s and St. Joseph’s Episcopal Church in Detroit.

Current and retired employees mobilizing people, legal and financial support for their cases  

Next DAREA meeting Mon. Jan. 26 11 am, Nandi’s Knowledge Café, 12511 Woodward at Glendale

Stockton bankruptcy resulted in “pension-protecting” plan Oct. 30, 2014 

Detroit EM Orr now on Atlantic City’s “emergency management team”

Senior resource list at end of story

By Diane Bukowski

January 23, 2015

DAREA Vice-President Cecily McClellan addresses packed meeting as Pres. Bill Davis listens at right.

DAREA Vice-President Cecily McClellan addresses packed meeting as Pres. Bill Davis listens at right.

DETROIT –Eight groups and individuals, including three retired City of Detroit attorneys, have appealed U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Steven Rhodes’ confirmation of Detroit’s bankruptcy plan. Briefs to go with their initial notices of appeal are due Tues. Jan. 27 in the courtroom of U.S. District Court Senior Judge Bernard Friedman.

The City of Detroit, still under state oversight, has moved to consolidate the eight cases, claiming, “The relevant law and facts underlying the issue of equitable mootness will be identical in every Appeal.” The motion is being challenged by appellant and attorney John Quinn, on the grounds that once briefs are filed, it will be clear that issues they cover differ substantially. Quinn said he is not averse to consolidation if all the appellants are included in the Court’s “ECF” filing system, to avoid heavy costs otherwise.

“The Detroit Active and Retired Employees Association (DAREA) is working on the final development of its brief, and it WILL be submitted Tuesday,” DAREA President Bill Davis told VOD. DAREA had a record turnout for its meeting Jan. 21 at St. Matthew’s and St. Joseph’s Episcopal Church, with active and retired workers packing the large church hall.

Detroit retirees protest outside Coleman A. Young Municipal Center.

Detroit retirees protest outside Coleman A. Young Municipal Center.

The City of Detroit plans to implement severe cuts to its retirees March 1, with many losing large chunks of their monthly checks as well as large portions of their total Annuity Savings Funds (ASF) accounts. Detroit General Retirement System workers average only $19,000 a year from their pensions. It is expected these cuts will drive at least 20 percent of the retirees below the poverty level. (An extensive list of senior assistance programs, compiled by retiree supporter Jean Vortkamp, is at the end of this story.)

“I’m going to fight this to the end,” Davis said. “They plan to rob me of $142,000 from my ASF, money that I planned to use to send my two sons to college. That money would be turned over to the banks, not city services.”

DAREA VP Cecily McClellan said their appeal will focus on issues of law, in particular the bankruptcy’s violation of the Michigan Constitution, Art. IX, Sec. 24, which says, “The accrued financial benefits of each pension plan and retirement system of the state and its political subdivisions shall be a contractual obligation thereof which shall not be diminished or impaired thereby.”

Bankruptcy protester demands overturn of PA 436.

Bankruptcy protester demands overturn of PA 436.

Even Michigan’s dictatorial Emergency Manager Law, Public Act 436, under which Gov. Rick Snyder and his corporate allies contrived Detroit’s bankruptcy, says, “The emergency manager shall fully comply with the public employee retirement system investment act, 1965 PA 314, MCL 38.1132 to 38.1140m, and section 24 of article IX of the state constitution of 1963, and any actions taken shall be consistent with the pension fund’s qualified plan status under the federal internal revenue code.”

It also mandates “The timely deposit of required payments to the pension fund for the local government or in which the local government participates.”

The City of Detroit has not paid into its two retirement systems since Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr filed for bankruptcy. Under terms of the confirmed bankruptcy plan, it will not pay regularly due amounts until at least 2023, if then.

Henry Gaffney, then president of ATU Local 26, opposes cuts in bus routes during 2009 meeting.

Henry Gaffney, then president of ATU Local 26, opposes cuts in bus routes during 2009 meeting.

City of Detroit worker Tony Brown said at the DAREA meeting, “We got screwed. The law never came into play. They did it to us in Detroit because we are a majority Black.”

Henry Gaffney, retired President of ATU Local 26, representing city bus drivers, said, “The D-DOT family, including members of AFSCME Locals 214 and 312 (bus mechanics) are angry. The city has saved millions on retirement and pensions under this plan, and they’re putting it on the backs of those who are still alive.”

Cornell Squires, who retired from the city on non-duty disability, told VOD he received a receipt for his notice of appeal from Friedman’s court and plans to file a brief Tuesday.

Cornell Squires believes criminal fraud involved in city debt is key issue to overturn bankruptcy plan.

Cornell Squires believes criminal fraud involved in city debt is key issue to overturn bankruptcy plan. Squires was a city EMS technician who has been fighting for disability benefits since 1993. He said he was denied a ballot to  vote on the Plan of Adjustment.

“I believe a very key issue should be that the bankruptcy involved criminal fraud,” Squires said. “Orr should never have withdrawn his lawsuit in the bankruptcy court against the $1.5 Billion COPS (Certificates of Participation) loan that called it ‘void ab initio, illegal and unenforceable.’ He and the Jones Day attorneys had a duty to report criminal actions to the authorities.”

Instead of issuing bonds, which would have put the city over the state debt limit and required a public vote, the loan’s executors, including global bank UBS AG, which has faced fraud lawsuits all over the world, and city leaders including CFO Sean Werdlow, created paper corporations to issue the debt. The city defaulted on the debt at least three times and it ballooned to $2.28 billion with penalties. Werdlow got a high level executive position with lender SBS Financial the same year and is now the company’s COO.

But the lenders and their insurance companies, FGIC and Syncora, made out like bandits in the Plan of Adjustment, not only receiving huge cash awards but getting city assets including Joe Louis Arena, the Detroit-Windsor Tunnel revenues, other priceless riverfront land, and revenues from the Grand Circus Park garage.

Squires said Detroit was specifically selected for the bankruptcy in violation of the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, because it is a majority Black city with a majority Black work force.

Jan. 31, 2005: (l to r) Detroit CFO Sean Werdlow, Fitch Ratings' Joe O'Keefe, Standard and Poor's Stephen Murphy, and Deputy Mayor Anthony Adams campaign for fraudulent $1.5 B COPS loan at City Council.

Jan. 31, 2005: (l to r) Detroit CFO Sean Werdlow, Fitch Ratings’ Joe O’Keefe, Standard and Poor’s Stephen Murphy, and Deputy Mayor Anthony Adams campaign for fraudulent $1.5 B COPS loan at City Council.

Attorney Jamie Fields represents the Ochadleus Appellants, a group of over 130 retirees, many from the Detroit Police and Fire pension system. He told VOD he will also file their appeal by Jan. 27. He said he suspects the city wants to consolidate the appeals, then argue that the plan is already in effect, and attempt to have the appeals dismissed.

“Issues in our appeal are very very broad, covering a lot more than the ASF issue, including pension protection,” he said. “In the long run, however, the underlying issues are political, not legal, so I am telling appellants not to bet the farm on success in court.”

Detroit EM Kevyn Orr (r) appointed by Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder (l) engineered phony bankruptcy with Jones Day and right-wing think tanks. Here they announce bankruptcy filing July 18, 2013.

The City of Detroit bankruptcy, based on a 2010 white paper authored by Jones Day, a global law firm largely representing banks and corporations, was meant to set a precedent for numerous other municipal and state governments across the country on how to raid pension funds. Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder got Public Act 436, the Emergency Manager Act, established with their assistance as well as that of right-wing think tanks.

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie has just appointed Orr to an “Emergency Management Team” for Atlantic City, N.J., where several casinos have gone bankrupt.

But on Oct. 30 last year, U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Christopher Klein approved a Chapter 9 bankruptcy plan for the city of Stockton, California Oct. 30 which protects public pensions in accordance with that State’s constitution, while making hefty cuts in workers’ pay.

Bloomberg News reported, “Stockton, California, won court approval of its plan to exit bankruptcy by paying bond investors pennies on the dollar while shielding public pensions, in a case watched by other cities facing heavy retiree costs.”

The California Public Employees Retirement System (CalPERS), the largest in the U.S. with 1.72 million members, voiced strong opposition to pension cuts, threatening to dissolve its contract with Stockton.

Bloomberg said, “Ending the contract with CalPERS would have reduced pensions by 60 percent and caused many employees to leave, Marc Levinson, Stockton’s lead bankruptcy attorney, has said. It would have taken years to set up a new pension system, he said.”

Levinson was hired by the city’s elected government, not an emergency manager as in Detroit’s case.

Grand theft pensionsCalPERS, along with other pension systems and the AARP, filed amicus briefs to support Detroit’s retirement systems and unions in their appeals to the Sixth Circuit Court of Rhodes’ eligibility decision. However, those organizations decided to withdraw their appeals in exchange for the hotly-disputed “Grand Bargain,” which many re-named the “Grand Theft.”

It involves voluntary contributions of  $466 million over 20 years to the retirement systems from the private sector, and $194.8 million from the state. They will in no way compensate for the loss of city contributions to the systems, in addition to widespread outsourcing of city assets including the Detroit Water & Sewerage Department, meaning a drastic loss of retirement system members.

Bernard Friedman, Senior Judge for the U.S. District Court of Southeastern Michigan, was nominated to the bench by former President Ronald Reagan in 1988. From 2004-2009, he served as Chief Judge of the Court.

U.S. District Court Senior Judge Bernard Friedman

U.S. District Court Senior Judge Bernard Friedman

His record has been somewhat contradictory.

In March 2001, Friedman ruled that the University of Michigan Law School affirmative action admissions policies were unconstitutional because they “clearly consider” race and are “practically indistinguishable from a quota system.” His ruling was overturned by the Sixth Circuit Court. In the landmark case Grutter v. Bollinger in 2003, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld U of M’s policies, saying that the school had a compelling interest in promoting class diversity.

On March 21, 2014, however, Friedman struck down the state’s initiative-instituted ban on same-sex marriage in DeBoer vs. Snyder, finding it unconstitutional. He did not grant a stay, and the day after over 300 Michigan same-sex couples married. The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals overturned his ruling the day after, but those marriages remained in place.

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DAREA SUPPORT PLANS FOR COURT APPEAL:

PETITION:

Sign the petition to halt changes to pensions and other benefits, to  U.S. Justice Department, at http://petitions.moveon.org/sign/selective-enforcement?source=s.icn.em.mt&r_by=9645222.

FUNDRAISING:

To donate to DAREA’s LEGAL DEFENSE FUND, click on  http://www.gofundme.com/pensiondefensefund. Or checks can be made payable to the Detroit Active and Retired Employees Association (DAREA), at P.O. Box 3724, Highland Park, Michigan 48203.

Nandi'sWEEKLY MEETINGS:

Mondays, 11 AM, at Nandi’s Knowledge Café, 12511 Woodward, Highland Park, 48203. These may be interspersed with evening meetings to allow day-time city workers to attend. To receive notices of meetings, updates on the appeal and events information please provide your email address and phone numbers via email at Detroit2700plus@gmail.com or call DAREA at 313-649-7018.

Read DAREA’s position statement at DAREA Call.

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Related:

John Quinn Response to Motion to Consolidate

DB Fields appeal to DC

DAREA receipt of appeal

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2015/01/12/detroit-retirees-announce-federal-appeal-of-bankruptcy-call-for-massive-support/

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2014-10-30/stockton-california-wins-court-approval-of-bankruptcy.html#disqus_thread

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Senior Help Organizations

Jean Vortkamp protested AFSCME Council 25’s withdrawal of  bankruptcy appeal July 31, 2014.

 

From Jean Vortkamp: Detroit pensions are being stolen by lazy stupid rich people who think they will buy bigger boats and homes to fill their empty scrooge hearts with hard-earned Detroit pension money. First, of course, pensioners should fight in the streets and in the court. However, there may be a temporary setback for many Detroit pensioners until we win.

Below are places that provide assistance. The age “senior” starts at many different ages so if you are under 65, take a look and see if they will help you. These are not endorsed, just given for your information. If you know of others or if any of these is not useful, please let me know. Warning, strong language below. – Jean Continue reading


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MEDIA AID POLICE HUNT FOR FERGUSON ‘LOOTERS;’ USDOJ ‘NOT LIKELY’ TO INDICT KILLER COP DARREN WILSON

Global media has shown video of ‘looting,’ along with individual still photos, asking people to contact police for rewards 

USDOJ “will not likely go forward with civil rights charges” against Wilson

Black Peoples’ Grand Jury indicts Wilson for first-degree murder

By Diane Bukowski

January 22, 2015

Michael Brown button

Michael Brown, killed by white cop Darren Wilson in Ferguson, MO on Aug. 9, 2014

FROM FERGUSON ACROSS THE POLICE STATES OF AMERICA: Police-released videos and individual photos of people re-appropriating the wealth in a Ferguson, MO store after a grand jury refused to indict killer cop Darren Wilson are spanning the globe as far as the United Kingdom. Many media outlets are advising people to call police if they know any of the individuals portrayed, and advertising a $1,000 reward for a successful arrest.

‘I’m thinking that everybody should be held accountable for their actions,” the owner of the Dellwood Market, Jan LaLani, shown in the Fox News video above, says.

What about holding police accountable for the murders of thousands of Black and Latino men and women, many of them youth, escalating every day?

Mike Brown's mother Lesley McSpadden is comforted by her husband, Louis Head, the day her son was killed.

Mike Brown’s mother Lesley McSpadden is comforted by her husband, Louis Head, the day her son was killed.

The police witch-hunt is a continuation of ongoing police arrests of youths who allegedly rebelled against the murder of Michael Brown last year, as reported in a VOD article published Dec. 3, 2014. The Ferguson County prosecutor was considering pursuing charges against Louis Head, Brown’s stepfather, who mounted a car to hold his weeping wife, Brown’s mother Lesley McSpadden, after the grand jury verdict was announced. Enraged, Head called out, “Burn this bitch down.”

VOD reported: “In the wake of the outrageous grand jury decisions in the murders of Michael Brown and Eric Garner, St. Louis-area police are pursuing charges not only against Brown’s family, but against dozens who participated in rebellions against his murder and the grand jury decision.

“They include three young men charged with throwing items at police (photo below) another man, Nicholas Green, charged with interfering with police radio dispatches, who was beaten up during his arrest, and at least 24 others.

“Two possible witnesses in the grand jury case, Shawn Gray and De’Andre Joshua, have been found dead in suspicious circumstances as well.”

Andrew Brady, Korey Haulcy, Cedric James, charged in Ferguson rebellion,

Andrew Brady, Korey Haulcy, Cedric James, charged in Ferguson rebellion,

Nicholas-Green-Ferguson-bruised

Nicholas Green, beaten after arrest

Meanwhile, Fox News reports in the video above that the Justice Department will not likely go forward with civil rights charges against Officer Darren Wilson for slaughtering Michael Brown.

If there has been any doubt about the type of regime running this country, it must now be laid to rest, permanently. Property owned by a man who is not among the majority population of the community is being held sacrosanct, while the precious lives of Mike Brown and hundreds of other people of color and poor people, particularly the youth, are being taken at an unbridled pace, with no punishment for the perpetrators.

It is time for a new movement. Those who have divided the movement so far by insisting on “peaceful protests” must desist. Demand that Darren Wilson and the armies of police occupying the nation’s communities be “peaceful” first.

Ferguson youth take it to the streets during #FergusonOctober. Photo: Final Call

Ferguson youth take it to the streets during #FergusonOctober. Photo: Final Call

“While youth are organizing and pursuing peaceful protest they are neither in a compliant mood nor in a mood to capitulate,” Final Call editor Richard Muhammad said in an earlier article on #Ferguson October.

“Their peaceful protests are nose-to-nose with police officers and youthful rage over injustice is nearly boiling over. They are unafraid of police and have little patience with those seen as apologists for injustices they face and the murder of their brothers and sisters. When mocked outside a Cardinals baseball game, young demonstrators chanted: “Who do you want Darren Wilson? How do you want him? Dead!” Youth who are not necessarily part of the organizations want justice too. When police shootings have happened in St. Louis, their cry has been, “Hands Up! Shoot back!”

Interview with Robert F. Williams (Feb. 26, 1925-Oct. 15, 1996), president of the Union County branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), Monroe, N. C., 1959. Video courtesy of Prelinger Films, published on YouTube March, 2009 by noted historian Paul Lee. For Lee’s full commentary on Williams, click on Interview with Robert F Williams.

Black Peoples Grand Jury Indicts Cop for First Degree Murder of Michael Brown

Darren Wilson is a killer, and he’s out there, but he’s not out there by himself.”

“The most ‘expert’ witnesses on institutional racism are its victims.”

BAR logo 2By BAR executive editor Glen Ford

January 7, 2014

Glen FordA Black People’s Grand Jury in St. Louis, Missouri, this weekend delivered a “true bill of indictment” for first degree murder against former Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson in the death of Black teenager Michael Brown. Black people “can and must take matters into our own hands,” said Omali Yeshitela, one of four prosecutors that presented evidence, not only of Wilson’s personal guilt, but the institutional culpability of the entire regional criminal justice system in the murder and subsequent whitewash of the crime.

“Darren Wilson is a killer, and he’s out there, but he’s not out there by himself,” said Yeshitela. “He was doing what U.S. police have done historically and traditionally to African people in this country.” It wasn’t Wilson’s decision to leave Brown’s uncovered body on the asphalt roadway for nearly four and a half hours in 100 degree heat – a collective insult and threat to the victim’s community that harkens back to the ritual public displays of mutilated and burned Black corpses in the time of lynch law. Wilson was later rewarded for his crime “with almost one million dollars” in contributions “by white people.”

Omali Yeshitela

Omali Yeshitela

The 12 jurors, all of them from greater St. Louis, spent January 3rd and 4th reviewing some of the same evidence presented by county prosecutor Bob McCulloch to the mostly white grand jury that failed to indict Wilson, in November. McCulloch’s mission was to obfuscate the facts and confuse the jurors; to free the cop and convict the victim – as attested to by one of his own jurors, who maintains, in a suit asking permission to speak publicly, that McCulloch made the “insinuation that Brown, not Wilson, was the wrongdoer.”

The Black People’s Grand Jury also heard testimony from local residents with personal knowledge of police behavior in the region, including Black former police officers – a method of truth-seeking grounded in the logic that the most “expert” witnesses on institutional racism are its victims, who have experienced the phenomenon in all its dimensions.

At root, the Black People’s Grand Jury is an exercise in self-determination, a collective response to a collective assault on a people that have been criminalized by the Mass Black Incarceration State. “We cannot trust our children, the future of our community, in the hands of this establishment that has proven to us over and over again its disregard for black life,” said Yeshitela, whose International People’s Democratic Uhuru Movement teamed with local Black organizations to convene the proceedings.

Obama and Holder ignore Mass Black Incarceration State.

Obama and Holder ignore Mass Black Incarceration State.

Most importantly, the Black People’s Grand Jury model is easily replicable throughout the U.S., just as the Mass Black Incarceration State operates in near-uniform fashion in every precinct of the country. North, South, East and West, whether the Black population is relatively large or small, the State’s mission is to contain, control, terrorize and criminalize Black people, and to incarcerate them in enormous numbers. The St. Louis model, and longer-form variations on the theme, such as Black People’s Boards of Inquiry, can go far towards exposing and deconstructing the police/prison regime that over the past two generations has killed innumerable Michael Browns and spawned a gulag so huge and so disproportionately Black that one out of every eight prison inmates on the planet is an African American.

“Resistance to the Black Mass Incarceration State, in all its manifestations, must be rooted in the struggle for self-determination.”

The Mass Black Incarceration State, erected in response to the Black Liberation Movement of the Sixties, is the driving force and organizing principle of the U.S. criminal justice system. (Ironically, its predatory mechanisms have caused more white Americans to be imprisoned, as well – collateral damage inflicted by structures designed to ensnare masses of Blacks.)

Militarized police patrol streets of Ferguson after Michael Brown's murder.

Militarized police patrol streets of Ferguson after Michael Brown’s murder.

It is an inherently militarized system of counterinsurgency that begins with hyper-surveillance of Black communities and ultimately warps every aspect of Black internal and external social relations. Inevitably, the white supremacist, profoundly anti-democratic and ultimately lawless nature of the U.S. police-prison mission has facilitated the rise of the national security state and the general degradation of bourgeois liberties for all Americans – a strong basis for building multi-racial alliances.

However, African American resistance to the Black Mass Incarceration State, in all its manifestations, must be rooted in the struggle for self-determination – freedom on our own terms, which is inseparable from demands for justice.

Black People's Grand Jury in Ferguson, Jan.

Black People’s Grand Jury in Ferguson, Jan. 3-4, 2015

Black People’s Grand Juries can be part of the process of building local self-determinationist institutions of resistance to the ruling order, particularly in bolstering demands for genuine community control of police. For these reasons, the model can help prevent Black people’s righteous anger and energies from being dissipated by diversions concocted by the matrix of elected officials, their appointees and commissions, along with the Black misleaders and accommodationists who act as agents of the Democratic Party and the rich.

The steady drumbeat of protest must be accompanied by institution-building projects aimed at dismantling the Mass Black Incarceration State – the transformational task of the current movement.

BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at Glen.Ford@BlackAgendaReport.com.

Related VOD stories:

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2014/12/03/missouri-police-govt-go-after-michael-browns-family-a-repeat-of-actions-vs-aiyana-jones-family/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2014/08/29/black-lawyers-for-justice-sues-ferguson-police-for-civil-rights-violations-after-murder-of-michael-brown/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2014/10/15/racism-repression-and-resistance-during-ferguson-october/


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VIDEO SHOWS NJ RESIDENT JERAME REID RAISED HANDS, THEN SHOT BY BRIDGETON COPS DEC. 30

Mike Brown body in street 2

Michael Brown’s body lies in Ferguson, MO street Aug. 9, 2014 after the unarmed 18-year-old was killed by cop Darren Wilson. It stayed there for over four hours in the summer heat until the blood pouring from eight gunshot wounds turned black.

(VOD editor: below is a brief AP story published in the Detroit News today showing no video, although the video is referred to in the original headline. The video, obtained by the South Jersey Times, is shown above. It appears that the Bridgeton cops gave conflicting orders to Reid: “Don’t move” and “Get out of the car” before he complied with the second order, holding his hands out.

The South Jersey Times story is below the AP release. Mr. Reid was killed Dec. 30, 2014, but this is just now making national news. Is there a deliberate conspiracy to keep such killings quiet in the wake of the killings of two cops in NYC? Were those killings possibly a set-up to quiet the flood of protests since the killing of Michael Brown in Ferguson, MO Aug. 9, 2014, followed by numerous other killings by police nationally, along with acquittals by grand juries? Photos below represent only a fraction of those killed across the U.S. since Mike Brown. Also see http://globalgrind.com/playlist/justice-for-a-list-of-people-killed-by-police-in-2014-photos/item/4043664/.

____________________________________________________________

Mike Brown, 18

Eric Garner

Tamir Rice, 12

Kaijeme Powell

Kaijeme Powell

Vonderrit Myers, 18

Vonderrit Myers, 18

Antonio Martin, 18
Antonio Martin, 18

 

 

 

_______________________________________________________

Video shows man raised hands, then fatally shot by cops

January 20, 2014

Jerame Reid with commentaryBridgeton, N.J. AP A video shows a man stepping out of a car and raising his hands as he was fatally shot by police in New Jersey last month.

Video from a police car dashboard camera shows Bridgeton Officers Braheme Days and Roger Worley ordering two men in a Jaguar to show their hands after they were pulled over for running a stop sign on Dec. 30. Days  says a gun is in the glove compartment.

Driver Leroy Tutt is seen showing his hands. It’s not clear what passenger Jerame Reid is doing, though Days warns him not to move.

Reid then steps out of the car, raising his hands. The officers fire at least six shots, killing him.

The video was first obtained through an open records request from the South Jersey Times.

Dashcam video shows man’s fatal encounter with Bridgeton police

Cop Braheme Days knew Reid from previous encounter

By Spencer Kent | South Jersey Times

January 20, 2014

Jerame Reid with 3-month old son, superimposed on TV footage.

Jerame Reid with 3-month old son, superimposed on TV footage.

BRIDGETON — Video and audio released by the Bridgeton Police Department on Tuesday shows officers Braheme Days and Roger Worley ordering Jerame Reid not to move before Reid appears to push his way out of the passenger side door. The video appears to show Reid with his hands in front of him as he stands to get out of the car and is shot and killed by the officers.

The altercation with police, which began with a traffic stop, escalated in a matter of two minutes as police described finding a gun, according to the video which was recorded on a patrol car’s dashboard camera that was released after an Open Public Records request.  

Days and Worley had pulled the car over at the intersection of South Avenue and Henry Street, in Bridgeton, at about 9:20 p.m. on Dec. 30. The video shows the officers driving through he city’s streets and coming up on on blue Jaguar, driven by Leroy Tutt, 46, of Long Branch. They pull the car over moments later, and after Days approaches the passenger side and introduces himself, he tells the driver he’s being pulled over for going through a stop sign on South Pine Street, which is adjacent to Henry Street.

Bridgeton Mayor Albert Kelly welcomes Braheme Days as newest full-time officer of police dept.

Bridgeton Mayor Albert Kelly welcomes Braheme Days as newest full-time officer of police dept.

Days asks the driver to get his driver’s license and seconds later, the officer is seen pulling his gun. 

“Show me your hands, show me your (expletive) hands!” Days says, as Worley approaches the driver’s side with what appears to be his gun drawn. The driver puts his hand out of the window and Days appears to attempt to open the passenger side door, as he says “Don’t (expletive) move!” repeatedly.

“Get ‘em out the car, Rog. We’ve got a gun in his glove compartment,” Days said.

Days reaches through the window and retrieves what appears to be a silver object, removing it from the car.

They continue to tell the men inside the car not to move, and try to open up the front doors of the vehicle.

“I’m telling you, I’m telling you! Keep your (expletive) hands right there. Eh, eh, Jerame, you reach for something, you’re going to be (expletive) dead,” Days said. 

Days shouts, “He’s reaching! He’s reaching!” 

In the passenger seat, Reid, 36, can be heard saying what sounds like “let me out of the (expletive) car” and seconds later, the passenger side door opens and Days goes backward. 

Reid gets out of the car with what appear to be his hands in front of his chest.

Walter Hudson leads protest Jan. 7 against Reid killing. He asked why the media always brings up past actions of those the police kill, but never investigate the cops' backgrounds. He said Reid's mother said as her son's coffin was going into the ground, "I always knew they planned to get you, son."

Walter Hudson leads protest Jan. 7 against Reid killing. He asked why the media always brings up past actions of those the police kill, but never investigate the cops’ backgrounds. He said Reid’s mother said as her son’s coffin was going into the ground, “I always knew they planned to get you, son.”

Both Days and Worley discharge their weapons. 

Roughly nine shots are heard between them. 

Reid previously spent about 13 years in state prison for shooting at three New Jersey State Police troopers when he was a teenager. Reid was also arrested this summer on charges of obstruction, resisting arrest, possession of narcotics and failure to appear in Millville Municipal Court. Authorities said Days was one of the arresting officers at the time. 

The Cumberland County Prosecutor’s Office is investigating the use of deadly force in the fatal shooting. An autopsy was conducted the following day, but the results haven’t been made public.

The Bridgeton Police Department released the video on Tuesday after an Open Public Records Request made by the South Jersey Times. 

Capt. Michael Gaimari, of the Bridgeton Police Department, issued a news release Tuesday afternoon saying, “The Bridgeton Police Department as a law enforcement agency does not, as a routine, consider the posting of any such video as compassionate or professional.”


READ THE BRIDGETON POLICE DEPARTMENT’S FULL STATEMENT


“In absence of the OPRA request this video would not be released to the public out of respect for the family of Jerame Reid, basic human dignity and to protect the constitutional rights of all those involved,” Gaimari said.

Cop Roger Worley at trai.ning session

Cop Roger Worley at trai.ning session

However, Reid’s wife did view the video on Tuesday afternoon as well. 

“Since this remains a criminal investigation being conducted by the Cumberland County Prosecutor’s Office with assistance from the New Jersey State Police the administration of the Bridgeton Police Department will refrain from any further comment other than that it fully supports the officers involved as well as the legal process this incident is subject to.”

“It is also important to know that the Bridgeton Police Department policies and procedures regarding the use of force mirror that of the New Jersey Attorney General’s Guidelines on the use of force without deviation.”

The Cumberland County Prosecutor’s Office has only said that “during the course of the stop a handgun was revealed and later recovered.”

The prosecutor, Jennifer Webb-McRae, recused herself from the investigation last week because she knows Days from the community, according to Cumberland County First Assistant Prosecutor Harold Shapiro who has taken over for her. 

In the weeks since the shooting, there have been protests in downtown Bridgeton, demanding answers about the shooting and justice for Reid. During one of the demonstrations, protesters used the phrases “Hands up, Don’t shoot” and “No justice, no peace,” similar to what was said during racially-charged protests in Ferguson, Missouri and New York City. 

Days is black, Worley is white and Reid was black. Both officers have been placed on paid administrative leave.

Wife ‘extremely upset’ by video of Bridgeton police shooting husband

 

By Spencer Kent | South Jersey Times

January 20, 2014

Lawanda Reid, wife of Jerame C. Reid

Lawanda Reid, wife of Jerame C. Reid

BRIDGETON — Jerame Reid’s wife is distraught after seeing the video of her husband’s shooting death during a police traffic stop last month.

The attorney representing Reid’s family said Lawanda Hartsfield-Reid viewed dashcam video Tuesday afternoon of her husband being shot.

“It’s traumatic,” said Philadelphia-based attorney Conrad J. Benedetto. ” … She is extremely upset. To see someone that close to you, it is a powerful thing. There is a lot of shock value to it.”

Benedetto said he was only able to view the video once Tuesday afternoon, and that at this point “it would be premature to draw any conclusions without further reflection.”

On the night of Dec. 30, at about 9:20 p.m., Bridgeton police officers Braheme Days and Roger Worley shot and killed Reid at the intersection of South Avenue and Henry Street, in Bridgeton, during a traffic stop.

The Cumberland County Prosecutor’s Office is heading the investigation, with the New Jersey State Police Crime Scene Investigation Unit assisting.

Benedetto confirmed Tuesday evening that his office has issued a letter to the county prosecutor’s office requesting that the entire department recuse itself from the investigation and that the probe be handed over to “either the New Jersey Office of the Attorney General or some non-conflicted law enforcement agency.”

Cumberland County Prosecutor Jennifer Webb-McRae had recently recused herself from the investigation because she knows Days from the community, and delegated the investigation to Cumberland County First Assistant Prosecutor Harold Shapiro, according to a previous South Jersey Times article.

Spencer Kent may be reached at skent@southjerseymedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @SpencerMKent. Find the South Jersey Times on Facebook.

Related:

http://www.pressofatlanticcity.com/news/breaking/bridgeton-council-rejects-demand-to-condemn-shooting/article_1b301bc8-9b8b-11e4-b189-4b9d639b3f64.html


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MLK DAY DETROIT 2015 HONORS AIYANA JONES, FERGUSON UPRISING, SELMA MARCH

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STEVE CONN WINS DFT PRESIDENCY AFTER DECADES-LONG BATTLE

Detroit teachers walked out of classes in 2001, rallied in Lansing to stop charter schools bill. More actions like this are needed now.

Detroit teachers walked out of classes in 2001, rallied successfully in Lansing to stop charter schools expansion bill. More actions like this are needed now.

 Community/Union rally Tuesday, Jan. 20, 4 PM, 7700 Second Ave, 3 blocks n. of W. Grand Blvd.

Opposition slate wins other seats on board

Mainstream media attack begins

By Diane Bukowski

Commentary

January 18, 2015

Steve Conn winsDETROIT – Supporters of Steve Conn and the EON/BAMN slate for the Detroit Federation of Teachers (DFT) leadership issued the following triumphant press release Jan. 17:

“Detroit teachers elected Steve Conn to head the Detroit Federation of Teachers today.  Conn, a long-time civil rights activist, ran on the Equal Opportunity Now/ By Any Means Necessary (EON/BAMN) slate.  Conn and BAMN will now lead Detroit’s teachers in the new civil rights movement that is sweeping the country.

“Detroit teachers voted today to stand up to the attacks on their schools, their jobs and their students’ futures by Snyder and his executive managers,” said Conn in the release.   “I take office Tuesday, and am immediately calling a mass meeting of the union membership and community to begin a fight against these attacks, to defend public education, and to win equal, quality education for our students. We must vote on a plan of action for the DFT to join the citizens of Detroit in a fight to restore democracy and dignity to all of the people of Detroit.”

Conn has taught math in DPS schools since 1985, most recently at Cass Technical High School.

DPS 4th grader cries after being pepper-sprayed May 5, 2007; police broke up rally to save the former Northern High School, sponsored by BAMN.

DPS 4th grader cries after being pepper-sprayed May 5, 2007; police broke up rally to save the former Northern High School, sponsored by BAMN. Steve Conn and his wife teacher Heather Miller were arrested and fired after this rally, but won their jobs back. Photo: Diane Bukowski

While working for the now defunct Michigan Citizen, this reporter covered the DPS beat for eight years, noting BAMN’s tireless recruitment of students to fight the horrific destruction of DPS. School closings at DPS paralleled the shutdown of the New Orleans public schools system after Hurricane Katrina, with DPS even getting the jump on New Orleans, announcing the closings of 50 schools in 2004 and continuing on to its ultimate goal of obliteration through the inferior Educational Achievement Authority (EAA) and charter schools.

The attacks on public schools in Detroit, New Orleans, Chicago, Philadelphia and other majority-Black districts have been particularly noxious because public education largely has its roots in the post-Civil War South. Kidnapped Africans, finally free of slavery and its prohibitions against learning to read and write, set up many of the nation’s first public schools.

Former DPS Pres. Keith Johnson argues with teacher who opposed Proposal E in 2004, which would have allowed Detroit's mayor to appoint a DPS CEO. It was roundly defeated at the polls.

Former DPS Pres. Keith Johnson argues with teacher who opposed Proposal E in 2004, which would have allowed Detroit’s mayor to appoint a DPS CEO. It was roundly defeated at the polls.

“I’m stunned at this moment,” retired DFT head Keith Johnson told the Detroit News. “I’m gravely concerned about the future of this union. Steve has a single answer to everything and that is strike, walk out, protest. He doesn’t understand that whether you disagree with someone or dislike them, you still have to work with them to move this district forward.”

This reporter worked for the City of Detroit from 1974 to her early retirement in 1999. As an officer of AFSCME Local 457, representing Detroit General Hospital and the Detroit Health Department, she witnessed similar devastation of public jobs and services in the city sector. Under the leadership of Local 457 President Hazel Edwards, we joined with the members of Dodge Main UAW Local 3 to stop privatization and plant closings, and conducted a people’s referendum to save the hospital. We warned then, beginning in 1977, that if Detroit General Hospital was privatized and Dodge Main closed, there would be a domino effect across the city.

WERE WE RIGHT OR NOT?

Former AFSCME Local 207 President John Riehl and Secretary-Treasurer Mike Mulholland, allied with Conn, also frequently called for mass strikes and other militant actions. Their local, along with Local 457, faced frequent confrontations with the top union leadership of Michigan AFSCME Council 25 and with the AFSCME International, who took positions similar to that of Keith Johnson’s, meeting in smoke-filled back rooms with their allies, OUR BOSSES, in the Democratic Party, to “work together.”

Workers at Wastewater Treatment Plant in Detroit wildcatted Sept. 30, 2012 to SAVE DETROIT.

Workers at Wastewater Treatment Plant in Detroit wildcatted Sept. 30, 2012 to SAVE DETROIT.

Local 207 made a heroic last-ditch attempt to save the City of Detroit when its membership at the Wastewater Treatment Plant wildcatted in September, 2012. The Local had built for this strike for months, holding informational pickets at water plants and at the Coleman A. Young Center, hoping to spark a city-wide uprising against the anti-union, anti-people actions of city and state leaders, with their corporate contractor friends and campaign contributors.

The City of Detroit was already planning to cut 80 percent of the jobs at the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department, through contractor EMA. Despite this looming disaster, AFSCME Council 25 leadership including Ed McNeil, Catherine Phillips, and President Al Garrett sabotaged the WWTP strike. They went to the picket lines at the WWTP to hand out U.S. District Court Judge Sean Cox’s order to return to work, and visited other water plants to tell them not to strike.

Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan grabs Detroit on map of six-county DWSD area, as he announces almost total takeover by Great Lakes Water Authority.

Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan grabs Detroit on map of six-county DWSD area, as he announces almost total takeover by Great Lakes Water Authority.

Fast forward to 2014-15:  under the bankruptcy plan, virtually the entire Water Department is being stolen from the people of Detroit—all of the six outlying county areas, and all of the water plants and most major water lines in Detroit, will be transferred to the Great Lakes Water Authority.  DWSD employees have all been required to re-apply for their jobs.

Most of the city’s other assets are on the chopping block as well. As Municipal Market Advisors reported, this stripping of revenue-producing city assets will likely lead to a SECOND Chapter 9 bankruptcy in short order.

If AFSCME Council 25 leadership had not betrayed the WWTP strikers, if it had not withdrawn its appeal of bankruptcy eligibility to the Sixth Circuit Court, IF IT HAD LISTENED TO ITS MEMBERS’ DESPERATE CALL FOR ACTION AND FOLLOWED SUIT, we would not be facing the virtual destruction of Detroit today.

DPS and banksAs a long-time union leader, and a long-time reporter on city of Detroit affairs, I wholeheartedly support Steve Conn’s victory and call on his membership and the people of Detroit to help him TURN BACK THE RACIST, ANTI-UNION, ANTI-PEOPLE. PROTO-FASCIST TIDE. He and his supporters have a monumental job on their hands and deserve absolute solidarity from the people of Detroit.

Contact Steve Conn & EON-BAMN (Equal Opportunity Now – By Any Means Necessary) at 313.645.9340


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SUBURBAN ROBOCOPS LIKE THOSE INVOLVED IN JACKSON BEATING ON THE LOOSE IN DETROIT FOR YEARS

Ron Scott (with bullhorn) of Detroit Coalition Against Police Brutality, Inc. and others protest police beating of Andrew Jackson, Jr. outside Grosse Pointe Park police HQ Jan. 14, 2015.

Ron Scott (with bullhorn) of Detroit Coalition Against Police Brutality, Inc. and others protest police beating of Andrew Jackson, Jr. outside Grosse Pointe Park police HQ Jan. 14, 2015.

Protest Jan. 14 at GPP headquarters: “No Justice, No Peace, Stop Racist Police;” end federal, state tax funding of multi-jurisdictional police forces

Highland Park cop involved in Andrew Jackson, Jr. beating has long record of assaults

Grosse Pointe Park put A.C.T.I.O.N task force together about 10 years ago

By Diane Bukowski

January 15, 2015

Andrew Jackson Jr. MDOC photo

DETROIT – Detroit Police Chief James Craig has washed his hands of involvement in the brutal beating of Black Detroiter Andrew Jackson, Jr., 51, by white Highland Park, Harper Woods, and Grosse Pointe Park cops Jan. 12, saying no Detroit officer was involved.  The police claim Jackson carjacked a woman and her two grandchildren at gunpoint.

But the question arises: why have Craig and previous chiefs allowed suburban cops free rein in Detroit for years?

The earliest news accounts of Jackson’s beating, caught on cellphone videotape by Detroiter Emma Craig, implied the carjacking took place in Grosse Pointe Park. However, the carjacking he is alleged to have committed took place far from that 99 percent east side white suburb, in west-side Detroit near Fenkell and Evergreen.

“You don’t become a criminal to catch a criminal,” said Ron Scott of the Detroit Coalition Against Police Brutality, Inc. during a protest outside the Grosse Pointe Park police headquarters Jan. 14.

Ron Scott interviewed inside GPP police station.

Ron Scott interviewed inside GPP police station.

“Those cops violated their own standards of safety when they beat Mr. Jackson before searching him. That beating had no place in a civil society; people are innocent until they are proven guilty. It’s sickening the Grosse Pointe Park Police Chief said it was justified, and that Chief Craig cares so little about Detroiters that he said he isn’t concerned about Detroit cops not being residents, and allows suburban cops into Detroit.”

Jackson’s attorney, Ben Gonek, told the Detroit Free Press that Jackson has a “serious eye injury,” and that the police were guilty of excessive force. The videotape shows Jackson being punched and kicked on the ground by two cops, as he calls out imploringly, “Jesus.”  An officer kneels on his back and says, “What did you say? Jesus? Are you calling Jesus? Don’t you dare! Don’t you f—king dare!”

The officers then bump fists to congratulate each other, and the Harper Woods officer says “that’s a justified ass whoopin.” (See full video with commentary below.)

Scott expressed doubt about Grosse Pointe Park Police Chief David Hiller’s statement that the cops found a gun in Jackson;s waistband. The full version of the  nine-minute videotape, cut short by most news outlets, contradicts that. It shows a white female and a white male cop stand Jackson up to search him, beginning from his feet on up. The white male declares as he is halfway up Jackson’s leg, “Oh, HERE’s the gun.” There is a slight note of sarcasm in his voice.

Highland Park Sgt. Ronald Dupuis, who participated in Jackson beating.

Highland Park Sgt. Ronald Dupuis, who participated in Jackson beating.

Jackson is being held by Grosse Pointe Park police on parole violation matters. His record includes four very long sentences imposed for one incident in 2003 involving armed robbery and fleeing police in Oakland County,  two cases of receiving stolen property in 1995 and 1997, and two other “inactive” 1999 sentences of fleeing police and receiving stolen property. The Michigan Department of Corrections website says he absconded from parole April 3, 2014.

The Wayne County Prosecutor’s office has not yet approved a warrant for his arrest on the carjacking incident. The victim of that incident said in two interviews that she supports police actions in beating Jackson, although she does not say whether she identified him in a line-up as the man who carjacked her.

Since the protest, the Detroit Free Press has named Highland Park Sgt. Ronald Dupuis as one of the cops. Their article says he has a long history of assaults in various suburban departments, including tasering a female partner, beating a disabled man, refusing to allow a woman in a jail cell access to a bathroom, forcing her to urinate in the cell, and stalking another woman, repeatedly pulling her over. He was fired from the Hamtramck Police Department for the taser incident, and resigned rather than being fired from the Southgate Police Department for the incidents involving the women.

Eric Taylor, assaulted and called racist names by GPP police after HE was carjacked.

Eric Taylor, assaulted and called racist names by GPP police after HE was carjacked.

Dupuis was also sued for beating a man in 2002, with a settlement, and false arrest in 2004. In 2012, he accidentally shot himself in the foot in a police station. (Click on Ronald DuPuis record DV Project for full accounting from a domestic violence project.)

The protest was attended by Dawud Walid, Executive Director of the Michigan chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-MI), and over a dozen others.

They  included Eric Taylor, who told VOD he was the victim of a carjacking in Grosse Pointe Park on June 12 last year. “I had my wife call the police for help,” Taylor said.

“My friend and I were at a gas station getting a sandwich when my car was taken as I walked back to it. When the GPP police got there, they cut me off when I was explaining, and told me I matched the description of a carjacking suspect. Then they threated to “blow my f—king head off,” told me I was nothing but an animal, called me a n—-r, and told me if I sued they would come and kill my family.”

Photo of Eric Taylor after beating by GPP police in April, 2014.

Photo of Eric Taylor after beating by GPP police in April, 2014.

He showed VOD a cellphone photo taken by his daughter of his head a few days after the beating. He said he still suffers from headaches and other effects of the beating.

Grosse Pointe Park police were involved earlier in a racist incident where they forced a developmentally disabled Black Detroiter, who used to go into the Pointes to collect bottles, to sing and perform for them, then circulated several cellphone videos of the actions.

Grosse Pointe Park founded A.C.T.I.O.N. (Arresting Car Thieves in Our Neighborhoods) about ten years ago, using an initial $350,000 grant from the state of Michigan and funds from state car insurance companies. It originally included only the Wayne County Sheriff’s Department, and police departments from Grosse Pointe Park, Grosse Pointe City, and Harper Woods. Since that time, other departments including Warren and Detroit have been added according to news reports.

Hiller included names of the Chiefs from all those departments on his press release on the incident, although Craig said he had not seen it.

Billboard posted by Detroit One task force.

Detroit has its own task force, however. The Detroit One Partnership announced the formation of a carjacking task force in April 2014, including the Detroit Police Department, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, Drug Enforcement Administration, U.S. Marshal’s Service, Homeland Security Investigations, Michigan State Police, Michigan Department of Corrections, Wayne County Sheriff’s Department, Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office and U.S. Attorney’s Office.

Killed by police top to

Killed by police (top to bottom): Aiyana Jones, 7, Detroit; Michael Brown, 18, Ferguson, MO; Eric Garner, NYC; Tamir Rice, 12, Cleveland; Aura Rosser, Ann Arbor, MI, 2014; Lamar Grable, Detroit, 1996;  Brandon Moore, 16, Detroit: Artrell Dickerson, 18, Detroit

Emma Craig, who videotaped Jackson’s beating, said she also saw officers at the scene with I.C.E. (Immigrations and Customs Enforcement) jackets.

In addition to the Detroit One and ACTION Task Forces, the State of Michigan has run an anti-carjacking task force called H.E.A.T. (Help Eliminate Auto Thefts) for the past 23 years.

Numerous protesters of the Michael Brown killing in Ferguson, MO. Aug. 9 have condemned federal provision of military equipment including tanks, assault weapons, flash-bang grenades, flak vests, and other equipment to city police to carry out raids like the one that resulted in the death of seven-year-old Detroiter Aiyana Jones on May 16, 2010, and assaults on anti-police brutality marches.

“We resent that our public tax dollars are being used to fund such programs,” Scott said. Others noted the money would be far better spent on programs to provide jobs, end homelessness, build decent schools, and repair the infrastructures of the nations’ cities.


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ALONZO LONG, JR., 22, BOUND OVER ON ALL CHARGES IN DETROIT FORECLOSED HOME SHOOT-OUT

Alonzo Long, Jr. enters court Jan. 6, 2015.

Prosecution adds two felony murder charges

 Judge bases decision on some evidence not presented in open court

Threat Management expert opinion

 Campaign for end to tax foreclosures continues

 By Diane Bukowski

 January 12, 2015

 DETROIT – Shocking many courtroom observers, 36th District Court Judge Ruth Carter bound over 22-year-old Alonzo Long, Jr. for trial Jan. 6, not only on two counts of first-degree murder in the Nov. 28, 2014 deaths of Howard L. Franklin, 72, and his daughter Catherine Franklin, 37, but also on two new counts of felony murder, added that day by the prosecution.

The “felony” involved was larceny, according to Asst. Wayne County Pros. Daniel Williams. He claimed Long and his relatives were stealing blinds and chandeliers from the property they had lost to tax foreclosure, which the elder Franklin had purchased effective Nov. 10. The property belonged to the grandparents of the occupant, and the Franklins had not gone to 36th District Court to evict him.  His relatives were helping him move out when events escalated to their tragic conclusion.

Agnes Hitchcock center with yellow scarf, and a few of her many supporters, at Blackinaw Island picnic May 31, 2014,

Agnes Hitchcock center with yellow scarf, and a few of her many supporters, at Blackinaw Island picnic May 31, 2014,

Howard L. Franklin had a long history of home ownership at various Detroit addresses, along with a number of property foreclosures, listed with the Wayne County Register of Deeds. (Click on History of Howard L Franklin properties to see list.)

“I am extremely disappointed that the young man was bound over on the initial charges,” community organizer Agnes Hitchcock said. “Adding the other charges was a bit much. I plan to attend as many future trial hearings as possible. There are a lot of dynamics here, including all the foreclosures happening in Detroit, the issue of home invasion by the Franklins before they had gone through the lawful eviction process, gun possession by all parties, and the senior vs. youth divide.”

Long’s family called out, “We love you, Junior” as he was led away in handcuffs by court guards. His attorney Charles Longstreet II told VOD, “This was just one side; you are about to see the other side [at trial].” Long was to be arraigned on the information Jan. 13 at Wayne County Third Judicial Circuit Court.

“This is a sad case all around,” Judge Carter said. “The Medical Examiner’s report shows that Howard Franklin was shot seven times, including through the eye, and Catherine Franklin had a through and through gunshot wound in her left arm, and one in her cheek, probably showing that she put her hand up to defend herself. It is not a requirement to figure out who shot first.”

36th District Court Judge Ruth Carter

36th District Court Judge Ruth Carter

The report was only stipulated to at the beginning of the preliminary exam, which took place over three days. No details other than cause and manner of death were presented. Judge Carter, with the consent of both defense and prosecution, viewed a two-and-one-half hour videotape of a statement Long gave to the police after the killings, in camera. It was not shown in open court.

The prosecution presented no forensics or ballistics reports on the killings. Employees of the younger Franklin testified that both Franklins were armed, and that the younger Franklin fell out of the front door with her gun in her hand, mortally wounded, a circumstance which could have explained why her arm may have been raised. A second employee testified that he saw Howard Franklin with a gun in hand and saw “somebody get loud with Howard and put their hands on him.” A young woman on the premises helping with the move was also shot but survived.

Carter said one employee testified that Long, who was sitting outside in a car when the confrontation began inside, got out with his gun unholstered.  VOD heard that employee say that he saw Long with a gun held downwards as the two brushed by each other in the doorway as the employee ran out after guns were produced inside.  In the written report presented by police earlier, Long said his gun was holstered when he responded to a relative’s call to “Go get Junior.”

Wayne Co. Asst. Prosecutor Daniel Williams

“I do find it interesting that both victims were shot with all kill shots,” Carter said. “The father was shot in the eye, jaw and neck. His gun was found inside his jacket. He told the occupants, ‘C’mon, let’s do this tomorrow.’ I find there is a question of fact and bind the defendant over on the charges.”

Prosecutor Williams said during his argument prior to Judge Carter’s decision that the issue of self-defense cannot be argued at a preliminary exam, but only at a jury trial.  that  He said the issue of who fired first was crucial, and noted that Long said in his statement that he first saw the elder Franklin with his gun and fired at him first, but did not see the younger Franklin with a gun in the beginning.

“Did he [Long] have time to check about and deliberate?” Williams asked, trying to establish grounds for premeditation.  “He had a concealed pistol license, and when you get CPL training, they tell you not to pull out your gun unless you’re going to kill. He goes in, hailed by his uncle inside to assist his uncle in finishing the argument in some way. Ms. Franklin was shot once in the head and once in the arm. Howard Franklin was shot seven times . . . . that left time to contemplate what he was doing. He didn’t say, ‘This is too heated, let’s leave.’ He walked in and shot two people nine times.”

Williams noted later that someone inside said “he’s got a gun,” prior to Long’s entry.

Defense attorney Charles Longstreet II.

Defense attorney Charles Longstreet II.

During his argument, defense attorney Longstreet asked the judge to reduce all the charges to involuntary manslaughter. He said there was no evidence of premeditation, or evil intent, necessary for first-degree murder charges, and no “reckless, unwarranted conduct” necessary for second-degree murder charges. He also argued against the felony murder charges, saying that Long did not participate in the alleged taking of property in the house or in the initial confrontation, during which he was outside in the car.

He said an employee had testified that he heard two separate guns firing, indicating that a gunfight had transpired. He mentioned the question of the eviction process without going into detail, and did not challenge the new owner’s right to be on occupied property without going to 36th District Court.

VOD consulted with Dale Brown, an instructor at Detroit’s Threat Management Center, about the various arguments, after being unable to locate any applicable laws. The Center teaches self-defense from a non-violent standpoint, using instructors trained to deal with guns, and well-versed in related legal issues.

“His [Long’s] pulling out his gun does not mean that he had an intent to kill,” Brown said. “Police officers pull out their guns all day and don’t shoot everyone they pull a gun on. Legally, the new owners should not have been in the home at all until the owner/occupant left the premises; that made them home invaders. The police should have advised them that the prior occupant has a right to stay until he is legally evicted or decides to leave.” [VOD had informed Brown that testimony showed that police came to the scene early that day with the Franklins, and negotiated a deal to give the occupants more time to leave.]

Instructor Dale Brown of Detroit Threat Management Center.

Instructor Dale Brown of Detroit Threat Management Center.

“If the new owners left and returned,” Brown said, “they should have knocked and asked permission to enter. The new owners should never have brought guns to that situation; they committed a felony when they did.”

He said it was not legal for the Franklins to pull their guns because someone “put their hands” on them, and that when they did show their guns, the others should have left and called 911, and Long also should have done so when he was called to the house.

“Violence is not the answer,” Brown said. “Here you had two guns vs. one and they still lost. A gun is only a tool; it is your mind that makes the decisions.”

Members of Moratorium NOW! and People Before Banks in Detroit, 2013.

Members of Moratorium NOW! and People Before Banks in Detroit, 2013.

Anti-foreclosure activists including those from the Moratorium NOW! Coalition, have called for an immediate halt to the current chaotic tax foreclosure process which leads to such situations.  Neither the Wayne County Treasurer  nor the Register of Deeds appears to be advising auctioned homebuyers of their legal obligations, or even telling them if the properties are occupied.

As VOD reported earlier, police officers in a separate incident Dec. 9 handled it properly, with no violence or bloodshed resulting. When the new owner, Jamal Gilmer, confronted the foreclosed owner, Sareena Patterson, with his deed from the tax auction, she pulled out her own deed. Police on the scene then advised Gilmer to leave and take the matter up in 36th District Court. When he refused to do so, police arrested him.

Related:

Detroit Threat Management Center website: http://www.threatmanagementcenter.com/home.html

Previous VOD stories on this case:

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2015/01/01/stop-tax-evictions-drop-charges-vs-alonzo-long-jr-come-to-hearing-fri-jan-2-1-pm/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2015/01/05/statement-long-jr-acted-in-self-defense-in-piedmont-killingstook-wounded-girl-to-hospital/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2014/12/19/two-dead-one-wounded-one-youth-facing-life-in-prison-for-defense-against-armed-eviction-attempt/


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‘JE NE SUIS PAS CHARLIE’ — FREE SPEECH HAS LIMITS: NO RACISM, SEXISM, IMPERIALIST WARS

Je Suis Charlie poster and statue

Je Suis Charlie poster in Paris; the so-called “free speech” movement has grown into a movement against Muslims and internet freedom as well.

As a Muslim I’m fed up with the hypocrisy of the free speech fundamentalists [1]

 New Statesman logoThe response to the inexcusable murder of Charlie Hebdo’s staff has proved that many liberals are guilty of double standards when it comes to giving offence. 

Mehdi Hasan

By Mehdi Hasan [2]

Published 13 January, 2015  

Dear liberal pundit,

You and I didn’t like George W Bush. Remember his puerile declaration after 9/11 that “either you are with us, or you are with the terrorists”? Yet now, in the wake of another horrific terrorist attack, you appear to have updated Dubbya’s slogan: either you are with free speech . . . or you are against it. Either vous êtes Charlie Hebdo . . . or you’re a freedom-hating fanatic.

I’m writing to you to make a simple request: please stop. You think you’re defying the terrorists when, in reality, you’re playing into their bloodstained hands by dividing and demonising. Us and them. The enlightened and liberal west v the backward, barbaric Muslims. The massacre in Paris on 7 January was, you keep telling us, an attack on free speech. The conservative former French president Nicolas Sarkozy agrees, calling it “a war declared on civilisation [3]”. So, too, does the liberal-left pin-up Jon Snow, who crassly tweeted [4] about a “clash of civilisations” and referred to “Europe’s belief in freedom of expression”.

Foreign heads of state, many of whom participated in the "shock and awe" destructions of Iraq and Libya, two of the most progressive regimes in the Middle East and Africa.

Foreign heads of state lead march in Paris. Many of their countries participated in the “shock and awe” destructions of Iraq and Libya, two of the most progressive regimes in the Middle East and Africa.

In the midst of all the post-Paris grief, hypocrisy and hyperbole abounds. Yes, the attack was an act of unquantifiable evil; an inexcusable and merciless murder of innocents. But was it really a “bid to assassinate [5]” free speech (ITV’s Mark Austin), to “desecrate” our ideas of “free thought” (Stephen Fry [6])? It was a crime – not an act of war – perpetrated by disaffected young men; radicalised not by drawings of the Prophet in Europe in 2006 or 2011, as it turns out, but by images of US torture in Iraq in 2004.

Please get a grip. None of us believes in an untrammelled right to free speech. We all agree there are always going to be lines that, for the purposes of law and order, cannot be crossed; or for the purposes of taste and decency, should not be crossed. We differ only on where those lines should be drawn.

Cherif and Said Kouachi. CNN reported that a former teacher said, "They were a bit weak really, and they ended up with these Muslim fundamentalists. They didn't have the intellect to resist." Most Muslims in Paris did not participate in the Charlie rallies.

Cherif and Said Kouachi, killed by police. CNN reported that a former teacher said, “They were a bit weak really, and they ended up with these Muslim fundamentalists. They didn’t have the intellect to resist.” Most Muslims in Paris did not participate in the Charlie rallies.

Has your publication, for example, run cartoons mocking the Holocaust? No? How about caricatures of the 9/11 victims falling from the twin towers? I didn’t think so (and I am glad it hasn’t). Consider also the “thought experiment” offered by the Oxford philosopher Brian Klug [7]. Imagine, he writes, if a man had joined the “unity rally” in Paris on 11 January “wearing a badge that said ‘Je suis Chérif’” – the first name of one of the Charlie Hebdo gunmen. Suppose, Klug adds, he carried a placard with a cartoon mocking the murdered journalists. “How would the crowd have reacted? . . . Would they have seen this lone individual as a hero, standing up for liberty and freedom of speech? Or would they have been profoundly offended?” Do you disagree with Klug’s conclusion that the man “would have been lucky to get away with his life”?

Let’s be clear: I agree there is no justification whatsoever for gunning down journalists or cartoonists. I disagree with your seeming view that the right to offend comes with no corresponding responsibility; and I do not believe that a right to offend automatically translates into a duty to offend.

Charlie Hebdo’s cartoon of Minister Taubira

French Justice Minister Christiane Taubira

French Justice Minister Christiane Taubira condemned racist killings by U.S. police

When you say “Je suis Charlie”, is that an endorsement of Charlie Hebdo’s depiction of the French justice minister, Christiane Taubira [8], who is black, drawn as a monkey? Of crude caricatures of bulbous-nosed Arabs that must make Edward Said turn in his grave?

Lampooning racism by reproducing brazenly racist imagery is a pretty dubious satirical tactic. Also, as the former Charlie Hebdo journalist Olivier Cyran argued in 2013 [9], an “Islamophobic neurosis gradually took over” the magazine after 9/11, which then effectively endorsed attacks on “members of a minority religion with no influence in the corridors of power”.

Muslim police officer Ahmed Merabet, one of Charlie raid victims.

Muslim police officer Ahmed Merabet, one of Charlie raid victims.

It’s for these reasons that I can’t “be”, don’t want to “be”, Charlie – if anything, we should want to be Ahmed, the Muslim policeman who was killed while protecting the magazine’s right to exist. As the novelist Teju Cole has observed, “It is possible to defend the right to obscene . . . speech without promoting or sponsoring the content of that speech.”

And why have you been so silent on the glaring double standards? Did you not know that Charlie Hebdo sacked the veteran French cartoonist Maurice Sinet [10] in 2008 for making an allegedly anti-Semitic remark? Were you not aware that Jyllands-Posten, the Danish newspaper that published caricatures of the Prophet in 2005, reportedly rejected cartoons mocking Christ because they would “provoke an outcry” and proudly declared it would “in no circumstances . . . publish Holocaust cartoons”?

Muslims, I guess, are expected to have thicker skins than their Christian and Jewish brethren. Context matters, too. You ask us to laugh at a cartoon of the Prophet while ignoring the vilification of Islam across the continent (have you visited Germany lately?) and the widespread discrimination against Muslims in education, employment and public life – especially in France. You ask Muslims to denounce a handful of extremists as an existential threat to free speech while turning a blind eye to the much bigger threat to it posed by our elected leaders.

U.S. Pres. Barack Obama with Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu.

U.S. Pres. Barack Obama with Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu.

Does it not bother you to see Barack Obama – who demanded that Yemen keep the anti-drone journalist Abdulelah Haider Shaye [11] behind bars, after he was convicted on “terrorism-related charges” in a kangaroo court – jump on the free speech ban wagon? Weren’t you sickened to see Benjamin Netanyahu, the prime minister of a country that was responsible for the killing of seven journalists in Gaza in 2014, attend the “unity rally” in Paris? Bibi was joined by Angela Merkel, chancellor of a country where Holocaust denial is punishable by up to five years in prison, and David Cameron, who wants to ban non-violent “extremists” committed to the “overthrow of democracy” from appearing on television.

Then there are your readers. Will you have a word with them, please? According to a 2011 YouGov poll, 82 per cent of voters backed the prosecution of protesters who set fire to poppies.

Apparently, it isn’t just Muslims who get offended.

Yours faithfully,

Mehdi

Mehdi Hasan is a New Statesman contributing writer and the political director of the Huffington Post UK


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DETROIT RETIREES ANNOUNCE FEDERAL APPEAL OF BANKRUPTCY, CALL FOR MASSIVE SUPPORT

Retirees and others pack hall for press conference announcing DAREA appeal of Detroit bankruptcy, held Jan. 8, 2015.

Retirees and others pack hall for press conference announcing DAREA appeal of Detroit bankruptcy, held Jan. 8, 2015.

DAREA coordinates legal appeal to U.S. District Court, intense organizing, fund-raising campaigns 

Bankruptcy called a “terrorist attack,” “racketeering,” aided by the mainstream media

 DAREA members earlier confronted Detroit General Retirement System trustees for agreeing to plan, freezing annuity savings Oct. 29 

By Diane Bukowski 

January 10, 2015 

DAREA President Bill Davis speaks as (l to r) DAREA VP Cecily McClellan, Committee Chair Yvonne Williams-Jones, and Stop the Theft of Our Pensions Committee leader Dave Sole listen, on Jan. 8, 2015.

DAREA President Bill Davis speaks as (l to r) DAREA VP Cecily McClellan, Committee Chair Yvonne Williams-Jones, and Stop the Theft of Our Pensions Committee leader Dave Sole listen, on Jan. 8, 2015.

DETROIT – City retirees, workers and their supporters packed Nandi’s Knowledge Café Jan. 8 to announce their appeal of Detroit’s bankruptcy confirmation, scheduled to be heard by U.S. District Court Judge Bernard Friedman, and to speak with media representatives.

They called the bankruptcy a “terrorist attack on the poor,” termed it nothing but “racketeering,” and said its perpetrators should each get 288 years in prison. They noted that language in the plan says it cannot be appealed, but they have proven that wrong. They vowed to take the case all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court if necessary.

The Detroit Active and Retired Employees Association (DAREA), which sponsored the event, has been steadily growing since retirees are now seeing in hard numbers just how much they will lose under the bankruptcy. DAREA leaders said they are determined to collect enough funding to retain attorneys and file a brief by the Jan. 28 deadline, using an online donation site at  http://www.gofundme.com/pensiondefensefund. #sthash.zhqNKVny.dpuf  and through other collections routed to DAREA P.O. Box 3724, Highland Park, MI 48203.

CEO's of global banks testified on their fraudulent practices before the U.S. Senate. They are once again getting away with grand theft in the Detroit bankruptcy,

CEO’s of global banks testified on their fraudulent practices before the U.S. Senate. They are once again getting away with grand theft in the Detroit bankruptcy, grabbing nearly 100 percent of their debt claims while retirees get 13.7 percent.

“If people from the media were to be open and objective,” DAREA president William Davis said, “you would report that Tricky Rick Snyder got a free ride. If Kwame Kilpatrick is serving 28 years in prison, then each of the people involved in this bankruptcy should get 288 years.”

He noted later that he shouldn’t have to choose between paying for his family health care and sending his sons to college.

Tricky Rick Snyder takes over Detroit under unconstitutional, fraudulent bankruptcy.

Tricky Rick Snyder steals Detroit under unconstitutional, fraudulent, racist bankruptcy.

All general system retirees who left in 2003 and afterwards are losing huge chunks of their Annuity Savings Funds, money they paid in themselves apart from pension subsidies. Davis is a Detroit Water and Sewerage Department retiree who spent over 31 years there. He stands to lose $142,000 from his annuities.

He explained, “Those employees who retired beginning in 2003 are mostly Black, hired in under Mayor Coleman Young 30 years ago.”

Yvonne Williams-Jones took apart the media’s continuing claim that retirement system members voted “overwhelmingly” for the plan.

DAREA leader Yvonne Williams-Jones.

DAREA leader Yvonne Williams-Jones.

“Only 6,000 voted to accept in Class II, while 2,700 voted NO,” Williams-Jones said. “Less than 49 percent of the membership voted at all. That small Yes vote was rammed down retirees’ throats through deceit and lies.”

Dave Sole of the Stop the Theft of Our Pensions Committee congratulated DAREA on filing its appeal.

“This is nothing but a vicious terrorist attack against tens of thousands of poor people,” he said. “Kevyn Orr boasted that they carried out this grand theft ‘without a civil uprising.’ Perhaps we could have stopped it the way young people around the country are rising up against killings by police—by shutting down freeways, streets, banks and courts. The banks took almost 100 percent of what they were owed in this deal and walked away. The ‘Grand Bargain’ is only $190 million over 20 years, about the same amount lawyers from Jones Day and other firms pushing the bankruptcy got over 18 months.”

Stop the Theft of Our Pensions leader Dave Sole.

The “Grand Bargain” (a/k/a “Grand Theft)” was negotiated by bankruptcy sponsors with the unions and retirement systems to provide a small amount of funding for pensions. In return, the city got out of paying its share into the system for at least the next 10 years, and thousands of city workers’ jobs are being privatized, further diminishing payments into the retirement systems.

“Other states and cities, and the federal government, are now contemplating bankruptcy,” Sole added. “But we plan to fight. We’re old but we ain’t dead.”

DAREA Vice-President Cecily McClellan blasted the state of Michigan for refusing to contribute what it owes to Detroit.

“The state withheld over $1 billion in revenue-sharing to Detroit,” she said. “It was aided by an unfair and tremendously negative media campaign. In return, it got nearly all the city’s assets, and stole our pensions and health care.”

DAREA VP Cecily McClellan

DAREA VP Cecily McClellan

Later, she said DAREA is actively recruiting attorneys, noting that Pontiac city employees were successful in restoring their health care benefits, even under an emergency manager, after their case was heard at the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals. She also noted that both County and State retirees have been successful in having their “13th check,” a bonus drawn from their retirement system’s investments, restored. Detroit retirees lost theirs in 2003.

This reporter, who is also a city retiree and member of DAREA, noted that a Voice of Detroit analysis of the bankruptcy’s 16 claims classes showed that corporations and the banks got 95.9 percent of their original debts, once land and assets ceded to Syncora and FGIC, and the creation of the Great Lakes Water Authority including restoration of $2 billion in impaired DWSD claims were included in the mix. Meanwhile, retirees got 13.7 percent of their claims.

Joe O

WALL STREET JAMS DETROIT: Joe O’Keefe of Fitch Ratings and Stephen Murphy of Standard & Poor’s tell Detroit City Council to pass POC’s or face ratings downgrade, Jan. 31, 2005. They downgraded the city’s ratings anyway in Dec. 2005. Photo: Diane Bukowski

“Syncora and FGIC insured the 2005-06 Pension Obligation Certificates, which even Kevyn Orr said in a lawsuit filed in bankruptcy court, were ‘void ab initio, illegal and unenforceable,’” Bukowski said. “The lawsuit was withdrawn as part of the confirmation. Meanwhile, Mike Illitch’s hockey arena plan is funded 60 percent by public tax dollars, including school aid money, and Dan Gilbert is taking over downtown. This is genocide—all you have to do is look at Campus Martius to see that downtown Detroit is now overrun by whites in an 82 percent Black city.”

Walter Knall, who spent 31 ½ years at the now dismantled Detroit Health Department, said Detroit’s future is bleak despite media reports that the city has been “reborn.”

Detroit Health Dept. retiree Walter Knall

Detroit Health Dept. retiree Walter Knall

“On March 1, foreclosure notices will go out to put another 32,000 people out of their homes,” Knall said. “The banks are not only attacking pensioners, but citizens as well.”

Detroit’s public safety uniformed workers, while not taking pension cuts, have been deprived of their health care, as have all active and retired city workers under the age of 65, who must now apply for Obamacare. Active city employees are also re-applying for their own jobs, from the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department, handed over to the Great Lakes Water Authority, to finance, purchasing, payroll and other workers at the Coleman A. Young Center.

Tijuana Morris, a retired Detroit police officer, elicited loud applause when she cried out, “We are human beings! I’m going to fight until I can’t fight no more!”

Keith Hines, of Diamond II Productions, said, “Through this bankruptcy, the city qualifies under legal definitions as a syndicate, racketeers subject to the RICO (Racketeer-Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act).”

Detroit city worker, enraged at attack on Black city of Detroit.

Detroit city worker, enraged at attack on Black, poor city of Detroit.

An active worker with the City of Detroit sign shop, was also enraged.

“Show us in writing where a 7.9 percent return on our annuities is illegal,” he said. “That’s OUR money. I got up every day and worked for it. You owe US for everything you took. This is a war against a BLACK city. The whole world is based on the rich and the poor. Meanwhile, while the dope boy makes money, [Detroit’s young people have to get minimum wage jobs.]”

Wanda Hill of the DAREA fund-raising committee, said if 2,000 retirees contribute $200 each, that would total $400,000, enough funds to retain an attorney. She announced that in addition to its GoFundMe campaign, DAREA will sponsor a champagne reception/fundraiser Feb. 19 at the Detroit Repertory Theatre, which is showing the play, “Sweet Pea’s Mama,” a story about racial dignity and a developmentally challenged son. Information on the play is available at the DRT website, http://www.detroitreptheatre.com/.

Numerous new members of the audience signed up to work with DAREA’s fund-raising, legal, communications, and other committees.

DAREA leader Wanda Hill's grandkids talk to Earline Jones after meeting. Both Hill and Jones are former Health Dept. workers.

FIGHT FOR THE NEXT GENERATION: DAREA leader Wanda Hill’s grandkids talk to Earline Jones after meeting. Both Hill and Jones are former Health Dept. workers.

PETITION: Sign the petition to halt changes to pensions and other benefits, to  U.S. Justice Department, at http://petitions.moveon.org/sign/selective-enforcement?source=s.icn.em.mt&r_by=9645222.

FUNDRAISING: To donate to DAREA’s LEGAL DEFENSE FUND, click on  http://www.gofundme.com/pensiondefensefund. Or checks can be made payable to the Detroit Active and Retired Employees Association (DAREA), at P.O. Box 3724, Highland Park, Michigan 48203.

WEEKLY MEETINGS: Mondays, 11 AM, at Nandi’s Knowledge Café, 12511 Woodward, Highland Park, 48203. To receive notices of meetings, updates on the appeal and events information please provide your email address and phone numbers via email at Detroit2700plus@gmail.com or call DAREA at 313-649-7018.

Read DAREA’s position statement at DAREA Call/.

_______________________________________________________________

RETIREES CONFRONT DGRS TRUSTEES

Both Detroit retirement systems approved bankruptcy theft of pensions.

Both Detroit retirement systems approved bankruptcy theft of pensions.

DETROIT — Earlier, on Dec. 22, DAREA members confronted trustees of the Detroit General Retirement System, which along with the Detroit Police and Fire Retirement System, AFSCME Council 25, and other retiree associations sold out their memberships by agreeing to the bankruptcy plan of adjustment, even withdrawing their appeals to the Sixth Circuit Court.

The trustees appeared frightened now that retirees are beginning to see how much they have lost. They focused primarily on making retirees over 60 aware of their options under the plan’s “income stabilization” fund, which is supposed to make small additional payments to them if they fall slightly above or below the poverty line.

Detroit retiree protests at Coleman A. Young Municipal Center.

Detroit retiree protests at Coleman A. Young Municipal Center.

Trustee Felicia Johnson, however, blasted the bankruptcy plan.

“My aunt just called me and said she received a letter indicating she is losing $11,000 under this plan,” Johnson said. “I don’t know how we got to thinking this is the only way of solving Detroit’s problems. Where are the Federal and State governments? We just gave millions to Mike Illitch for his stadium, and we helped bail out the auto industry.  But retirees will end up living at the poverty level. Somebody’s going to jump out a window. Do we have an end in mind for this madness? My dad was one of the first Black bricklayers for the city. We need to go back and re-open this deal!”

Trustee Rev. Wendell Anthony said they could not sue while the bankruptcy was pending, because “it would have stopped the whole process.” The retirement systems and unions all agreed NOT TO APPEAL even after confirmation, or challenge the bankruptcy under the state and federal constitutions despite the fact that Art. 9, Sec. 24 of the State constitution protects public pension benefits. It is in fact enshrined in PA 436, the Emergency Manager Act, which requires EM’s to adhere to its provisions.

DGRS Trustee Rev. Wendell Anthony

DGRS Trustee Rev. Wendell Anthony

Anthony and other trustees discussed raising private funds from DTE, which ironically has just applied for a rate increase, and other entities. Later, a retiree told Anthony that the bankruptcy process SHOULD have been stopped.

DAREA President William Davis put the trustees on notice that DAREA IS appealing the bankruptcy, and along with Vice-President Cecily McClellan fronted them off on the various irregularities and illegalities in the plan.

“You are demeaning retirees, pushing us into welfare,” McClellan said. “Seventy-five percent of retirees who got hit with annuity cuts are African-American, making us a disparate class [subject to protection under the 14th Amendment and the Equal Employment Opportunity Act.]

Russ Bellant, at funeral for Leamon Wilson, militant president of Detroit Bus Mechanics Local 312.

Retiree Russ Bellant said the DGRS itself is attacking its members’ rights independently of the bankruptcy plan.

“I was dumbfounded when I applied to take $20,000 out of my ASF funds last year, to help develop my neighborhood. I waited two months, and then received a letter denying my request because this board passed a resolution Oct. 29 saying they would take the plan recoupment money out of our annuity savings funds.”

Thus. he said, the board itself froze the funds even before the bankruptcy confirmation plan was officially finalized Dec. 10.

Some retirees folded their annuities into their pension checks at retirement to boost their monthly checks, while others rolled them over into private plans. Bellant and others, however, kept their annuities intact in the Retirement System, similar to a bank savings account.

“Our neighborhood has massive vacancies,” Bellant said. “I already put $40,000 into rehabbing two houses, and planned to finish with this $20,000. Now I will not be able to complete the job. I basically trusted you to hold my funds, not to seize them. I know a lot of other retirees put in similar requests. Why can’t you rescind this resolution?”

Cornell Squires, city disability retiree, former EMS technician.

Cornell Squires, city disability retiree, former EMS technician.

The trustees did not make a motion to do so, claiming they did not have a choice under provisions of the Dec. 10 confirmation plan.

The board did agree to assist Cornell Squires, a former Detroit EMS Technician with the Fire Department, who said he has not received a non-duty disability pension since his application was approved in 2002. He actually retired in 1993, he said, after constant harassment because he was challenging the operability and condition of the EMS trucks.

He said he was certified as disabled shortly afterwards by the Social Security System, but he said the city doctor refused to certify him as such until much later. He said he actually should receive duty disability payments due to stress from the job and his battle for decent conditions, but would agree to non-duty disability payments.

“One-third of the people working for EMS have died and continue to die from stress, and they don’t even get to collect their pensions,” Squires said. “Why do we do people wrong like this? For this Christmas, I’m asking that you pay me my disability so I can move on with my life by getting what I’m entitled to.”

RELATED:

For video of  DAREA press conference, click on http://www.detiptv.com/.

http://www.wxyz.com/news/retirees-working-on-appeal-to-detroits-plan-of-adjustment

http://www.freep.com/story/news/local/detroit-bankruptcy/2015/01/08/detroit-bankruptcy-retirees-pension-cuts/21445939/

http://michiganradio.org/post/detroit-retiree-group-vows-exhaust-appeals-process-bankruptcy-fight

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2015/01/07/appeal-of-detroit-bankruptcy-accepted-in-u-s-district-court-press-conf-thurs-jan-8-10-am/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2014/12/14/leaving-bankruptcy-detroit-takes-on-1-28-billion-of-new-debt/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2014/11/20/judge-denies-all-but-pa-436-lawsuit-equal-protection-claim-after-detroit-bankruptcy-over/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2014/11/15/detroit-bankruptcy-plan-genocide-in-usas-largest-black-majority-city-rich-get-95-9-poor-get-13-5/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2014/10/28/bankruptcy-did-little-to-stabilize-detroit-municipal-market-advisors/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2014/10/21/why-the-poor-are-paying-for-detroits-bankruptcy/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2014/10/17/detroit-bankruptcy-creditor-fgic-to-get-joe-louis-arena-billions-based-on-fraudulent-poc-deal/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2014/10/16/detroit-retirees-officials-blast-bankruptcy-plan-em-at-last-minute-hearing/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2014/09/10/detroit-bankruptcy-great-lakes-water-authority-to-steal-largest-asset-of-largest-u-s-black-city-4/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2014/09/06/racist-bankruptcy-plan-hearing-sanctions-theft-of-detroit/


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