Facebook Event at https://www.facebook.com/events/179305295867095/
Facebook Event at https://www.facebook.com/events/179305295867095/
Class Action Lawsuit Filed
December 1, 2016
More than 2,000 US military veterans have formed Veterans Stand for Standing Rock and plan to act as a human shield around protesters demonstrating against the Dakotas Access Pipeline.
Over 2,000 members of Veterans Stand for Standing Rock are planning to travel to a campsite near Cannon Ball, North Dakota, to create a human barrier between protesters and law enforcement this weekend. The news comes just a day following the US Commission on Civil Rights accusing law enforcement of using “military-style equipment and excessive force” against Native American protesters.
Errick Lizandro Marroquin, one of the Veterans Standing for Standing Rock members, told RT America’s Ed Schultz that they acknowledge the risks of coming into conflict with law enforcement or other authorities that have been accused of excessive force.
“When we get there, we’re not just Latinos, blacks or whites, we are veterans,” Marroquin stated. “So, they will be shooting or threatening the uniform of the United States military. But it doesn’t have to get to this point.”
The veterans are not only hoping to offer some protection to the protesters, but also a respite from demonstrating.
“We want to give them a moment of peace so we can take a little bit of pressure off,” Ashleigh Jennifer Parker, a Coast Guard veteran and spokeswoman for Veterans Stand for Standing Rock, told USA Today.
The veterans will be going to the Oceti Sakowin campsite, which has been the target of a number of recent orders from the government. This weekend will be a critical time for the camp, as the US Army Corps of Engineers announced that it would close the protest camp on Saturday. While authorities say they do not plan to forcibly remove protesters, all remaining persons would be subject to prosecution and arrest.
On Monday, Governor Jack Dalrymple (R) ordered an emergency evacuation of the camp, citing harsh weather conditions. In addition, local law enforcement announced plans to block supplies from entering the campsite but walked back on that, claiming they would only check vehicles for prohibited supplies and issue fines of as much as $1,000 for violating the governor’s order.View image on Twitter
However, that did little to deter Veterans Stand for Standing Rock, who appear motivated to support the cause.
“I figured this was more important than anything else I could be doing,” Guy Dull Knife, 69, a Vietnam War Army veteran, told Reuters.
Dull Knife has been at the campsite for months and will soon by joined by many more veterans, including Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii) and a major in the Hawaii Army National Guard.
Parker explained to USA Today that she and the other veterans are not concerned about violent treatment, because it would only bring more attention to the cause.
“We’re hoping if we stand together in formation and look the aggressors in their face… if they can treat us the same way [as protesters] then that should showcase to the American people what’s going on up there,” Parker said.
‘Excessive military-style force’ used against DAPL protesters, says US Commission on Civil Rights
December 1, 2016
The US Commission on Civil Rights has suspected “disproportionate” use of excessive force and “military-style” equipment by police against the Dakota Access Pipeline protests. The activists have also filed a lawsuit, alleging illegal use of “highly dangerous weaponry.”
The Commission has also called for officials to deescalate tensions and guarantee safety of protesters exercising their First Amendment Rights.
Those demonstrating against the pipeline’s proposed route under a river less than a mile from the Standing Rock Reservation in North Dakota have been attacked by dogs, seriously injured by rubber bullets and exposed to water cannons in freezing temperatures by law enforcement.
The Commission’s statement begins with a reminder that November is Native American Heritage Month and that the protest “have highlighted the intersection of numerous issues the Commission has investigated recently, including the excessive use of force by police, the civil and sovereign rights of Native Americans, and environmental justice.”
The Commission expressed concern over reports of “military-style equipment and excessive force” being used against Native American protesters, “who are more likely than any other racial group to be killed by police.”
“Protesters have a constitutional right to peacefully assemble and lawfully express their concerns about the environmental and cultural impacts of the pipeline,” it said. “We call upon federal, state, and local officials and law enforcement to work together to deescalate the situation and guarantee the safety of protesters to exercise their First Amendment rights.”
On Monday, several protesters filed a class action lawsuit against Morton County and law enforcement agencies, who they accuse of “illegal use of force,” including “highly dangerous weaponry,” on the night of November 20 and early morning of November 21.
Protesters behind the lawsuit are seeking “an immediate court order to prohibit the unlawful use of excessive force.”
Nine activists, including five Native Americans, have also filed a mass-action complaint, in which they are seeking “compensatory, general and special damages” after sustaining injuries.
One of the activists, Vanessa Dundon of the Navajo Nation, was hit in the eye with a tear gas canister, shot by police. Another water protector, Jade Kalikolehuaokakalani Wool, had her face burned after two grenades blew up near her head. He had to be hospitalized. Crystal Wilson was shot with a water cannon, tear gassed and shot with a munition. An activist who was filming police was hit from a water cannon and then in the hand with a munition, which resulted in several bone fractures.
“No orders to disperse, or warnings were given before deployment of these high levels of force against the unarmed water protectors. On this night, over 200 water protectors, including Plaintiffs, were injured by excessive police force, some of them very seriously,” the group said.
Demonstrators are concerned the pipeline would threaten the water source of the Standing Rock Sioux tribe. The company behind the oil pipeline, Energy Transfer Partner, has seen its pipelines leak at least 18,845 barrels of oil since 2005 and has been fined over $22 million by the US government for environmental and other violations since 2010.
It highlighted a preliminary Environmental Assessment of the pipeline by US Army Corps of Engineers which determined a pipeline route near Bismarck, which the Commission points out is a largely white area, was not viable because of its “proximity to municipal water supply lines.”“The pipeline also poses a threat to the water supply of the Standing Rock Sioux, which raises issues of environmental justice and the lack of power of marginalized communities to have a say in the environmental health of their communities,” the statement continued.
Meadows has been incarcerated for 47 years, since the age of 16
On Sept. 23, Judge Bruce Morrow sentenced Meadows to 25-45 yrs. with a credit of 16,930 days; Chief Judge Timothy Kenny signed off on sentence
Prosecution appealed, demanding 60 year max; case awaits COA hearing
Support Edward Sanders and David Walton at re-sentencing Tues. Nov. 29 at 9 a.m. — Judge James Chylinski should look at Meadows case
“I really don’t feel that there should be every door slammed shut on a sixteen-year-old.” – Detroit Recorders Court Judge Susan Borman, 1975
By Diane Bukowski
November 25, 2016
DETROIT – A ray of light has broken through the mean clouds surrounding Michigan’s draconic juvenile lifer re-sentencing processes, in the case of Zerious Bobby Meadows.
On Sept. 23, Wayne County Circuit Court Judge Bruce Morrow re-sentenced Meadows to a term of 25-45 years with a time-served credit of 16, 930 days. The sentence was signed off on by Chief Criminal Court Judge Timothy Kenny. It should have meant Meadows’ immediate release.
However, Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy appears determined to exact every pound of flesh possible from the county’s juvenile lifers, even if it means their dying in prison. She appealed Judge Morrow’s re-sentence of Meadows, without giving notice during the hearing. She claims that state statutes governing juvenile lifer re-sentencing MANDATE a maximum term of 60 years for those for whom the prosecutor does not re-recommend JLWOP. She has also asked for his case to be re-assigned to another judge. The case has now been stayed pending an appeals court decision.
Mr. Meadows was sentenced to juvenile life without parole (JLWOP) for a crime of felony murder committed in 1970 when he was 16. He has now served 47 years in prison and is 62 years old. He has a stellar prison record, with only 3 misconducts in 47 years, the last 20 years ago. He also has a large number of family members and friends ready to support him on release, according to his attorney Melvin Houston.
At the time of Meadows’ sentencing on re-trial in 1975, then Recorders Court Judge Susan Borman challenged the practice of sending children to die in prison.
“. . . I really don’t feel that there should be every door slammed shut on a sixteen-year-old, Judge Borman said. “I think there should be some room after the serving of a very long sentence, true, there should be some room for eventual parole in a case such as this. I think that there is something wrong with the law that gives the court no discretion at all. Where the defendant has to spend the rest of his natural life behind bars, and it is particularly tragic in a case where it is a sixteen-year-old child that has been convicted.”
The Appeals Court has granted a prosecution motion for immediate consideration, but denied the prosecution’s motion to waive production of the transcripts. Once those are received, the higher court’s decision should affect the cases of hundreds of other juvenile lifers being automatically re-sentenced to the maximum term of 60 years. That maximum is referred to in state laws meant to undercut the U.S. Supreme Court’s historic Miller v. Alabama (2012) and Montgomery v. Louisiana (2016) rulings that juvenile life without parole is unconstitutional, “cruel and unusual punishment.”
Those juvenile lifers include individuals like Edward Sanders, who brought Meadows’ case to VOD’s attention, and David Walton.
Their re-sentencing hearing is set for Tues. Nov. 29 at 9 a.m. in front of Judge James Chylinski. They are asking family and friends to turn out in force. Both have been locked up 41 years since the ages of 17, for a drive-by killing in which they were not the shooters. Both have excellent prison records as well. Sanders graduated from college in prison and has become a jailhouse lawyer, while Walton
With regard to Meadows, Atty. Houston told the Court of Appeals that recent court decisions are not in line with Worthy’s stance.
He cites a 2016 decision by the Sixth Circuit Court in Starks v. Easterling, which says, “lengthy sentences that approach or exceed a defendant’s life expectancy, regardless of whether that sentence bears the title ‘life without parole,’ constitutes ‘cruel and unusual’ punishment when imposed on youth, and violates the constitutional mandates of Miller and Montgomery.” Wayne County is within the Sixth Circuit’s jurisdiction.
Houston continues, “Absent the court issuing an individualized sentence for Mr. Meadows based on the extensive evidence presented, the court would be abdicating its responsibility. Another ruling Atty. Houston cites from says, “Placing the decision with the Parole Board, with its limited resources and lack of sentencing expertise, is not a substitute for a judicially imposed sentence.”
In a 2015 article, How Parole Boards Keep Prisoners in the Dark and Behind Bars, the Washington Post reported, “In 1997, the Michigan board published a report trumpeting its transformation into “a Parole Board that is much less willing to release criminals who complete their minimum sentences — and much less willing to release criminals at all, forcing many to serve their maximum sentences.”
Attorney Houston responded to the prosecutor’s appeal of Mr. Meadows’ re-sentencing under MCL 769.25a(4)(c).
That statute, Atty. Houston says, “sets the maximum as 60 years and does not prevent a term of less than 60 years. Therefore, Mr. Meadows’ sentence of 25-45 years is within the statute’s limits. The phrase ‘a maximum of 60 years’ means just that—the maximum must be 60 years. If the legislature wanted to deprive the sentencing court of any and all jurisdiction in this matter, it would easily have said ‘no less than 60 years.’ The People’s interpretation is not only contrary to Miller and Montgomery, it is inconsistent with some of the provisions recently addressed by the Michigan Supreme Court in People v. Lockridge . . .”
He compares this to language in MCL 769.25 which DOES include the language “not less than 60 years.”
“This supports the legislative intent to treat those who had already served long, unconstitutional sentences, like Mr. Meadows, and for whom the court had the opportunity to review the evidence of behavior and rehabilitation after years (in this case 47 years!) should have the authority to render a proportional sentence based on the evidence,” Atty. Houston writes.
As one precedent, he cites an unpublished decision by the 13th Judicial Circuit Court of Florida, which struck down a state statute requiring a mandatory minimum sentencing of 40 years for juvenile lifers there, calling it unconstitutional. The case is State of Florida vs. Christopher Burton.
“Miller requires ‘that a sentence follow a certain process—considering an offender’s youth and attendant characteristics—before imposing a particular penalty,” Circuit Judge William Fuente wrote in the decision. “But the mandatory sentencing provision of section 775.082(1)(b) prevents a sentencing court from exercising the full extent of judicial discretion that Miller requires. This facet of the statute is irreconcilable with prevailing Eighth Amendment jurisprudence.”
Houston says Mr. Meadows at the age of 62 is not the same person he was at 16.
“Mr. Meadows was a juvenile when he was arrested in this case and has since matured into an adult; in other words, the person convicted of setting fire to the Turner’s home back in 1970 is not the same person who was resentenced on September 23, 2016. Mr. Meadows completed his G.E.D., as well as some post-high school education while incarcerated. He has also completed both AA and NA programs offered by the MDOC.
“Mr. Meadows’ work performance has received numerous positive evaluations. . . These reports note that Mr. Meadows is a good worker, doing a good job, and that he takes pride in completing assignments. Mr. Meadows was recommended for and completed Machine Shop I and II. He has clearly taken advantage of the opportunities made available to him by the MDOC.”
Houston adds, “On a personal note, Mr. Meadows enjoys broad support from his large circle of family and friends. He has seven surviving siblings, along with numerous nieces and nephews. Since his incarceration began, the record shows Mr. Meadows has received at least one visit each month from either his mother (his father, who passed away about twenty years ago, was also a frequent visitor), one of his sisters, one of his brothers, the children of his siblings, or one of his many friends. Because of this large support network, Mr. Meadows will have a stable place to live with the support of people who love him.”
The Appeals Court panel that will rule on Mr. Meadows’ re-sentencing is composed of Christopher M, Murray, Presldlng Judge, and Judges Karen M. Fort Hood and Michael J, Riordan.
#FreeZeriousMeadowsNOW, #Justice4TimothyKincaid, #Justice4WaymonKincaid, #FreeCharlesLewis, #FreeEdwardSanders, #FreeDavidWalton, #FreeMichiganJuvenileLifers, #FreeMichiganParolableLifers, #TeardownPoliceStatePrisonNation
UPDATE: FUNERAL ARRANGEMENTS:
KERNAN FUNERAL HOME
1020 FORT STREET, LINCOLN PARK
VISITATION SUN. NOV. 27 1-5 PM
SERVICE MON. NOV. 28 AT FUNERAL HOME
FAMILY HOUR 10 A.M. SERVICE 10:30 A.M.
CORNELL EDWARD SQUIRES, Sunrise JUNE 18, 1957 Sunset NOVEMBER 19, 2018 Loving father of Cornell. Cherished son of Vester and the late Eugene. Dear brother of Eugene Jr., Jeanette and Calvin (Kelly). Proud grandfather of Cordai and Ari. Loved dearly by nieces and nephews Freddie, Maurice, Morgan and Camille.
For further information, visit http://www.kernanfs.com/obituaries/Cornell-Squires/
Commentary by Voice of Detroit staff
November 20, 2016
DETROIT — The world is a much smaller place today since the passing of our beloved brother, dear friend to so many, dear son, father, brother and grandfather, and fellow activist Cornell Squires on Nov. 19, 2016, at the age of 59.
His heart was larger than that world. It will never be the same without him; we will mourn him for the rest of our lives, but be assured that we will follow in his footsteps as well. He taught so many so much and was an inspiration for the ages.
Cornell Squires, born June 18, 1957, passed away unexpectedly but peacefully, likely of a heart attack, as he was assisting his long-time dear friend Arnetta Grable, Sr. at the hotel where she was temporarily staying in Southfield, Michigan. He took a brief rest in a chair, and went to sleep. Then he went home to Allah, the Great Spirit, God, or the many other names under which people know that eternal life force. Cornell himself was extremely spiritual and began each day by calling his dear mother Vester Squires to pray with her.
Mrs. Squires, Cornell’s son Cornell Emmanuel and Cornell Emmanuel’s mother Carla, grandson Cordai, Cornell’s brothers, Mrs. Grable and her son Aaron Grable and daughter’s friend Shae gathered at the hotel after his death, along with several fellow activists including this writer, to grieve his passing. His family will be announcing his funeral arrangements shortly, which will be published here.
“It’s time for younger and older men alike to stand against corruption, police brutality, and all injustice in our communities,” Cornell, a reporter and photographer for Voice of Detroit, wrote in an article April 9, 2015, last year.
“Americans must stand up for the truth and our personal freedom! All human beings have a constitutional right for equality and God given rights no man can take away! God is the true lawgiver.”
He continued, “America has a double standard in our legal system and we must demand a new legal system immediately! This is also an unfair, hateful, malicious, ungodly and disrespectful system to our city’s residential homeowners and the taxpayers in our communities.” (See full article at http://voiceofdetroit.net/2015/04/19/stop-police-murders-and-frame-ups-of-our-black-youth-jail-killer-cops/.)
Cornell Squires cannot be replaced. He was unique in that he had no personal agenda. He was motivated by a true love for the people, as Che Guevara said. He cared about each individual he worked with, their families, and their individual problems. He freely gave his heart and hard work to each person he worked with for justice.
When called to help, he would arrive with his large, calm, reassuring presence, comfort those who needed it, and go on with whatever work was needed for them.
As a paralegal with We the People for the People, RicoBusters, the Detroit Active and Retired Employee Association (DAREA), the Coalition to Free Rev. Edward Pinkney, the Detroit Coalition Against Police Brutality, the National Oct. 22 Coalition, the Detroit Black Farmers, and numerous other groups, he personally assisted thousands of people across Detroit and Michigan in saving their homes, their children from state kidnapping and from prison, and their very lives in the battle against police murders.
Cornell recently did tireless paralegal work to stop the outrageous imprisonment of Mary Stafford, sentenced to 1-10 years by Wayne County Circuit Court Judge Michael Hathaway after a “deed fraud” trial of Mrs. Stafford and her husband Clifford Stafford, rife with judicial and prosecutorial misconduct, and based on falsified evidence.
Cornell took on the battle against the Dearborn police in the case of Terry Jerome Jones, injured for life by Dearborn police for “walking while Black,” down Michigan Avenue on Sept. 4, 2011. He helped Jones’ cousin Antoinette Austin initiate and fight an ongoing lawsuit against the city and the police. He went on to cover the brutal killing of Kevin Matthews, another mentally challenged man, by a Dearborn cop on Dec. 23, 2015.
VIDEO BELOW BY CORNELL SQUIRES
Earlier, with his dear friend the late great attorney Leonard Eston, one of the last great legal warriors from the 1960’s, Cornell fought hundreds of cases, many times with no compensation. Cornell and Leonard Eston successfully restored the law license of the late people’s hero and Mayor of Mississippi, Chokwe Lumumba, also a friend of Cornell’s.
One of the people they helped was Ed Wilcox, a Detroiter whose neck was broken by the six white Southfield cops in 2009. They pulled him out of his car, threw him on the ground, put a foot on his neck, and tasered him four times. He nearly died from the beating.
He survived chiefly by yelling just so he could breathe before a friend took him to the hospital, and doctors discovered a disc had nearly severed his spine, which would have left him a paraplegic. He still suffers from seizures causing his arms and legs to shake, pain, and has to take medication just to sleep.
Cornell and Leonard Easton worked with him on a federal lawsuit which got thrown out of the Eastern District six times before the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals sent it back and ordered the district to deal with it. After Eston passed, Cornell kept working with Wilcox, filing a case with the U.S. Department of Justice, going to U.S. Rep. John Conyers, and also to Barbara McQuade of the Detroit Attorney General’s office.
Another dear friend Cornell went all out to support in her battles against her own eviction and the gentrification of Brush Park was Gwendolyn Mingo. She herself became a leader of hundreds, fighting to preserve the homes of families who had lived there for decades. The area has now become a playground for the well-to-do, including a complex of sports arenas for the Red Wings, Pistons, Tigers, and Lions, all of them owned by multi-billionaires, surrounded by luxury condo developments, restaurants and retail establishments. But through Gwen’s efforts, aided by Cornell, Arnetta Grable, Ron Seigel of the Michigan Citizen, and numerous others, she still lives in her own home there.
Cornell was also a City of Detroit retiree. He worked for 12 years as an EMS technician, and fought the administration to get better ambulances and conditions for the workers. Then he was forced to fight for his disability pension, which he only started receiving last year, many years after he had to leave the job due to stress and harassment by management.
He joined the struggle with the Detroit Active and Retired Employee Association after the emergency manager takeover of Detroit, and the phony bankruptcy which followed. He worked on the legal committee which helped draft ongoing lawsuits against the drastic cuts retirees experienced to their annuity savings fund and health care.
Cornell worked with Bert Dearing of Bert’s Warehouse and Theater to draft a federal lawsuit which put a stay on the foreclosure and takeover of Dearing’s property, part of the assault on Black-owned businesses in Detroit. Cornell himself was previously a business owner, of a car lot on Detroit’s southwest side. He also worked tirelessly to find opportunities for the youth in his distressed far southwest neighborhood for recreation and employment.
Cornell recently began attending meetings of New Era Detroit, held at Bert’s Warehouse every Thursday. He was excited to see young Detroiters beginning to organize independently for the future of the youth and of Detroit.
All of those who benefited from Cornell’s love and hard work will have many stories to tell. The Voice of Detroit invites all to contribute to the coverage of this great man’s life by either submitting their comments below or writing their own articles and sending them to firstname.lastname@example.org or the Voice of Detroit, P.O. Box 32684, Detroit, MI 48232.
Cornell’s death felt like a grenade lobbed through our chests, leaving a huge hole that will nonetheless eventually heal, cradling him and his heart and spirit at the center of our beings.
Part of the story of Cornell’s life with the Voice of Detroit, the Detroit Coalition Against Police Brutality, the Detroit Active and Retired Employees Association, and the battle for Michigan’s juvenile lifers is portrayed here in photos. There will be much more to come after his home-going ceremonies are complete.
Cornell, you carried out your mission with courage, bravery, unbounded love, and unflagging determination and you were loved by thousands. When God felt it was time and your mission was complete, he called you home. Rest in his loving arms and the arms of your late father Eugene Squires, and late brother Odell Squires, in power and in peace, and in our love.
The world as we know it will never be the same without you. Love you forever, Cornell.
Cornell is shown at right with (l to r) Mailauni Williams, her mother Lennette Williams, behind them Ron Hereford, and Arnetta Grable, Sr. He and Arnetta fought for Lennette to maintain custody of her daughter and control of her finances against vicious Probate Court officials who savaged a settlement awarded to the Williams family related to hospital neglect in Mailauni’s birth.
CORNELL SQUIRES WAS AN ACTIVE MEMBER OF RICOBUSTERS. ONE OF THEIR MANY VIDEOS IS SHOWN BELOW.
by BAR editor and columnist Dr. Marsha Adebayo
November 15, 2016
Lead kills brain cells, but it took a federal judge to order that households in Flint, Michigan, be delivered four cases of bottled water to prevent further damage to their health. Meanwhile, the perpetrators of the mass poisoning “were rewarded with blanket immunity and protection by the State.” One wonders, “How different the reaction of the Obama administration would have been had ISIS claimed responsibility.”
“The Flint water crisis is the pathway for future genocidal acts against Africans in America just as the Tuskegee experiment was the pathway to Flint.”
For nearly one year, EPA and state officials (and presumably the president) knew, according to Congressional testimony, that residents of Flint, Michigan, were drinking, bathing, washing dishes in lead-poisoned water, and providing formula laced with poisoned water to infants. There is little hope for Flint’s predominantly black children who have ingested, and absorbed dangerous levels of lead. The poisoning of Flint’s water supply was simply the latest act of domestic terrorism towards Africans in America.
But, the horror of the Flint water crisis has not stopped. What has stopped is the corporate media coverage of the carnage.
This week, a federal judge, David Lawson, ruled that residents of Flint who continue to face lead contamination of their water supply are entitled to delivery of free bottled water to their homes. State officials must deliver each week four cases of bottled water to Flint households that don’t have “properly installed taps.” This ruling, while important, clearly falls short of the dignity and respect Flint residents deserve. In fact, the State of Michigan, without remorse or shame, has argued against such provisions.
“If the residents of Flint were considered fully human or valued citizens why should they have to fight for the provision of clean water?”
Flint residents have complained that the approximate $234 million that has been committed by the state of Michigan is inadequate to replace lead service lines, provide additional healthcare, clean water and water filters. Victims of this crisis have voiced concern that phone lines to arrange for water delivery and staffing at water stations have proved insufficient to meet the needs of the community. In addition, the State reduced service hours and eliminated service at water supply stations altogether on Sundays. One resident complained:
“Most of the people who’ve called [the phone service] never had people come out. It’s just not staffed.”
The State has argued that water delivery to qualifying households is an additional unnecessary expense costing $9 million. It was this same kind of argument that led the City Manager appointed by Michigan Governor Rick Snyder in April, 2014, to switch the city’s water supply to the polluted Flint River and then failed to require the city, because of financial considerations, to use corrosion controls to prevent lead from leaching off water pipes to private homes.
If the residents of Flint were considered fully human or valued citizens why should they have to fight for the provision of clean water? As humans and citizens this is their right! The State has shown, once again, that Black lives do not matter in Flint and that residents will have to fight for life-sustaining water.
The poisoning of Flint water should be considered an act of terror and should have been prosecuted under US terrorism laws and all involved indicted for domestic terror. But not one senior EPA or state official was fired or indicted — criminal blame was reserved for low-level technicians. The poisoning was never treated as an “emergency” situation. In fact, until residents of Flint started to protest, federal and state officials were content to allow the poisoning to continue.
“Victims of this crisis have voiced concern that phone lines to arrange for water delivery and staffing at water stations have proved insufficient to meet the needs of the community.”
What this crisis has clearly exposed is that Flint was a deliberate poisoning of a low-income Black community. The perpetrators of this terrorist act were rewarded with blanket immunity and protection by the State. The EPA Administrator and Governor of Michigan will soon reap the benefits of being “good Germans” as they leave public service for lucrative private sector positions.
It took President Obama nearly two years to travel to Flint for what was promoted as a “briefing.” How different the reaction of the Obama administration would have been had ISIS claimed responsibility for poisoning Flint.
The EPA had the power to issue a cease and desist order against the State of Michigan under the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA Section 1431) that allows the EPA to seize control of State’s water system:
“… Upon receipt of information that a contaminant that is present in or likely to enter a public water system or an underground source of drinking water … that may present an imminent and substantial endangerment to the health of persons, the EPA administrator may take any action she deems necessary to protect human health.”
According to congressional testimony by EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy, the EPA’s paltry excuse for not invoking congressionally mandated emergency powers was that they wanted to allow Michigan State agencies enough time to settle this matter. In the interim, women suffered miscarriages, Flint residents suffered strokes, and children developed neuro-toxic levels of lead poisoning that impact their intellectual and cognitive function.
“The EPA Administrator and Governor of Michigan will soon reap the benefits of being ‘good Germans’ as they leave public service for lucrative private sector positions.”
Members of Congress called for the resignations of both the Michigan Governor and the EPA Administrator. While Obama did not have the power to unseat an elected Governor, he has the power to fire EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy who serves at the pleasure of the president.
His decision was to leave McCarthy in place presumably because of the good job she performed in Flint. What is perhaps most revealing about the background story of the poisoning incident is that President Obama, by leaving McCarthy as head of the EPA, reaffirmed his faith in her abilities to carry out the mandate of his administration, including handling the more than over 300 additional water systems throughout the country, primarily in Black and low income communities, that indicate toxic levels of lead in the water.
History will judge that the Flint water crisis is the pathway for future genocidal acts against Africans in America just as the Tuskegee experiment was the pathway to Flint. One should note that the Tuskegee experiment (1932-1972), conducted by the US Public Health Service, consisted initially of a sample size of 399 Black men. The Flint water poisoning “experiment” (starting in 2014) consisted of a city of nearly 100,000 residents. The escalation of organized violence, such as Tuskegee and Flint should trigger a mass movement to protect African life particularly as we contemplate policies of the Trump Administration.
Dr. Marsha Adebayo is the author of the Pulitzer Prize nominated: No FEAR: A Whistleblowers Triumph over Corruption and Retaliation at the EPA. She worked at the EPA for 18 years and blew the whistle on a US multinational corporation that endangered South African vanadium mine workers. Marsha’s successful lawsuit led to the introduction and passage of the first civil rights and whistleblower law of the 21st century: the Notification of Federal Employees Anti-discrimination and Retaliation Act of 2002 (No FEAR Act). She is Director of Transparency and Accountability for the Green Shadow Cabinet and serves on the Advisory Board of ExposeFacts.com.
Related stories from VOD:
By Dan Glazebrook*
November 12, 2016
In late 2012, Peter Turchin, a professor at the University of Connecticut made a startling claim, based on an analysis of revolutionary upheavals across history.
He found there are three social conditions in place shortly before all major outbreaks of social violence: an increase in the elite population; a decrease in the living standards of the masses; and huge levels of government indebtedness.
The statistical model his team developed suggested that, on this basis, a major wave of social upheaval and revolutionary violence is set to take place in the US in 2020. His model had no way to predict who would lead the charge; but this week’s election gives an indication of how it is likely to unfold.
Let’s take the first condition, which Turchin calls “elite overproduction,” defined as “an increased number of aspirants for the limited supply of elite positions.” The US has clearly been heading in this direction for some time, with the number of billionaires increasing more than tenfold from 1987 (41 billionaires) to 2012 (425 billionaires). But the ruling class split between, for example, industrialists and financiers, has apparently reached fever pitch with Trump vs. Clinton.
As Turchin explains, “increased intra-elite competition leads to the formation of rival patronage networks vying for state rewards. As a result, elites become riven by increasing rivalry and factionalism.” Indeed, based on analysis of thousands of incidents of civil violence across world history, Turchin concluded that “the most reliable predictor of state collapse and high political instability was elite overproduction.”
The second condition, popular immiseration, is also well advanced. Forty-six million US citizens live in poverty (defined as receiving an income less than is required to cover their basic needs), while over 12 million US households are now considered food insecure. While this figure has been coming down consistently since 2011 (when it reached over 15 million), it remains above its pre-recession (per-2007) levels.
Trump’s policies are likely to sharply reverse this decrease. Trump’s second promise in his ‘contract with voters’ is a “hiring freeze on all federal employees,” amounting to a new onslaught on public sector jobs. This is in addition to what seems to be a promise to end the direct funding of state education (to, in his words, “redirect education dollars to…parents”), and to end all federal funding to so-called ‘sanctuary cities’, that is cities which do not order the state harassment of immigrants or force employers to reveal the nationalities of their workers. These cities are some of the most populated in the country, including NYC, LA, Dallas, Minneapolis and over two dozen others.
In concert with his avowed intention to lower taxes on the wealthy, including slashing business tax from 35 to 15 percent; to smash hard fought workers’ rights (under the mantra of ‘deregulation’); and to scrap what little access to healthcare was made available to the poor through Obamacare – not to mention his threat to start a trade war with China – poverty looks set to skyrocket. It is not hard to see how social unrest will follow.
As for the third condition–government indebtedness – it is hard to see how the massive tax breaks Trump has proposed can lead to anything else.
Turchin writes that “As all these trends intensify, the end result is state fiscal crisis and bankruptcy and consequent loss of military control; elite movements of regional and national rebellion; and a combination of elite-mobilized and popular uprisings that manifest the breakdown of central authority.”
But Trump is also preparing for that. Exempt from his public spending cuts, of course, are police and military budgets, both of which he promises to increase. And when questioned on the issue of police brutality last year, Trump said he wanted to see the police be given more powers. In other words, the tacit impunity which currently exists for police violence looks set to be legalized. And history shows that there is nothing like police impunity to spark a riot.
Meanwhile, as his policies fail to deliver the land of milk and honey he has promised, the demonization of scapegoats will continue. Having already vowed to round up and deport two million immigrants, and to ban Muslims from entering the US, it is already clear who these scapegoats will be. However, as well as migrants, popular anger will also be directed toward whatever namby-pamby liberals have blocked him from waging his promised war against them: be it Congressmen, judges, trade unions, pressure groups, or whoever. A combination of increased executive powers plus the use of his newly mobilized mass constituency will be directed toward purging these ‘enemies within’.
“My model suggests that the next [peak in violence] will be worse than the one in 1970” says Turchin, “because demographic variables such as wages, standards of living and a number of measures of intra-elite confrontation are all much worse this time”. All that remains to be seen is – who will win.
*Dan Glazebrook is a freelance political writer who has written for RT, Counterpunch, Z magazine, the Morning Star, the Guardian, the New Statesman, the Independent and Middle East Eye, amongst others. His first book “Divide and Ruin: The West’s Imperial Strategy in an Age of Crisis” was published by Liberation Media in October 2013.
It featured a collection of articles written from 2009 onwards examining the links between economic collapse, the rise of the BRICS, war on Libya and Syria and ‘austerity’. He is currently researching a book on US-British use of sectarian death squads against independent states and movements from Northern Ireland and Central America in the 1970s and 80s to the Middle East and Africa today.
The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.
By BAR editor and senior columnist Margaret Kimberley
November 8, 2016
(Photos added by VOD)
Donald Trump, the white nationalist that claimed to oppose the corporate establishment, appears to have won the U.S. presidency. But, “even the victory of the openly bigoted Trump poses an opportunity to right our political ship.” The Democrats were not “our” party, but the party that thought they owned us. Their “rejection must be complete and blame must be laid squarely at their feet” for raising those chickens that have come home to roost.
“The Democrats were so entrenched in their corruption and self-dealing that they didn’t see the Bernie Sanders campaign for modest reform as the savior it might have been.”
This columnist did not see a Donald Trump victory coming. The degree of disgust directed at an awful candidate was more than I had predicted. Neither the corporate media, nor Wall Street nor the pundits nor the pollsters saw this coming either. Their defeat and proof of their uselessness is total. Those of us who rejected the elite consensus and didn’t support Hillary Clinton should be proud.
Black people are now in fear and in shock when we ought to be spoiling for a fight. All is not lost. Even the victory of the openly bigoted Trump poses an opportunity to right our political ship. Not the electoral ship, the political one.
For decades Black Americans have been voting for people who have done them wrong. Bill Clinton got rid of public assistance as a right, and undid regulations that kept Wall Street in check. He put Black people in jail and yet Black people didn’t turn on him until he and his wife tried to defeat Obama. But Obama gave us more of the same. Bailouts of Wall Street, interventions and death for people all over the world, and a beat down of Black people who still loved him. Despite the fear of Republican victory we end up losing whenever a Democratic presidential candidate wins.
“Obama bailed out banks, insurance companies, Big Pharma and even Ukraine.”
Victory is ours if we dump the Democrat Party and their Black misleaders. The Democrats were so entrenched in their corruption and self-dealing that they didn’t see the Bernie Sanders campaign for modest reform as the savior it might have been.
Instead they marched in lock step with a woman who was heartily disliked. Sanders went along as the sheep dog who led his flock straight over the cliff. The Democrats inadvertently galvanized people who had stopped participating in the system and who want change from top to bottom.
One of our biggest problems lies not in facts but in perceptions. What did Democrats do for Black people? The Democrats ship living wage jobs off shore in corrupt trade deals like NAFTA and TTP. They don’t prosecute killer cops or raise the minimum wage. Trump will be hard pressed to deport more people than Obama did. The list of treachery is very long.
When Donald Trump asked Black people, “What have you got to lose?” his words were met with derision. But in reality he posed a good question. What do we have to show for years of Democratic votes?
Obama bailed out banks, insurance companies, Big Pharma and even Ukraine. But he didn’t rebuild Detroit or New Orleans. The water in Flint, Michigan is still poisoned and the prisons are still full.
“There may be opportunity in this crisis if we dare to seize it.”
The outpouring of love for Barack Obama was purely symbolic. In state after state, Black people who gave him victory in 2008 and 2012 stayed home. They loved seeing him and his wife dressed up at state dinners but they were never fully engaged in politics because that is not what Democrats want. The love was phony and void of any political intent. Donald Trump will be president because of that veneer of political activism.
As for white people who voted for Trump, of course many of them are racists. However they are not without valid complaints. They don’t want neoliberalism but Black people don’t either. They don’t want wars around the world and neither do Black people. We corrupt our own heritage of radicalism in favor of shallow symbolism.
While we slept walk in foolish nostalgia for Obama and cried at the thought of him leaving office, white people kept their hatred of Hillary to themselves or lied to pollsters. They want America to be great again, great for them. White nostalgic yearnings are dangerous for Black people, and we must be vigilant. But there may be opportunity in this crisis if we dare to seize it.
Republicans have been the white people’s party for nearly 50 years. Trump just made it more obvious. He didn’t tell us anything we didn’t already know. We don’t have to be the losers in this election. Let us remember what we have achieved in our history. Half of Black Americans didn’t even have the right to vote in the 1960s yet made earth shattering progress in a short time. But we must understand the source of that progress. It came from struggle and daring to create the crises that always bring about change.
“The dread of redneck celebration should not be our primary motivation right now.”
Yes white people will strut for president Trump but that doesn’t mean we must submit as if we are in the Jim Crow days of old. We have ourselves to rely on and we can reclaim our history of fighting for self-determination. The dread of redneck celebration should not be our primary motivation right now. Before we quake in fear at white America we must send the scoundrels packing.
The Black politicians and the Democratic National Committee and the civil rights organizations that don’t help the masses must all be kicked to the proverbial curb. The rejection must be complete and blame must be laid squarely at their feet.
Those of us who voted for the Green Party ticket of Jill Stein and Ajamu Baraka must stand firmly and proudly for our choice. We must strategize on building a progressive party to replace the Democrats who never help us. We must applaud Julian Assange and Wikileaks for exposing their corruption. There should be no back tracking on the fight to build left wing political power.
“We must strategize on building a progressive party to replace the Democrats who never help us.”
The Black people who didn’t return to the polls shouldn’t be blamed either. Those individuals must have personal introspection that is meaningful and political. Their lack of enthusiasm speaks to Democratic Party and Black misleadership incompetence. We should refrain from personal blame and help one another in this process as we fight for justice and peace.
The end of the duopoly is the first step in liberation. Staying with a party that literally did nothing was a slow and agonizing death. Sometimes shock therapy is needed to improve one’s condition. If we don’t take the necessary steps to free ourselves this election outcome will be a disaster. Instead, why not bring the disaster to the people who made it happen? The destruction of the Democratic Party and creation of a truly progressive political movement is the only hope for Black America.
Video below: Glen Ford of Black Agenda Report speaks at Black is Back Coalition meeting in April, 2016.
Margaret Kimberley’s Freedom Rider column appears weekly in BAR, and is widely reprinted elsewhere. She maintains a frequently updated blog as well as at http://freedomrider.blogspot.com. Ms. Kimberley lives in New York City, and can be reached via e-Mail at Margaret.Kimberley@BlackAgendaReport.com.
(Video above shows Atty. Bryan A. Stevenson, who argued and won Miller v. Alabama case in Supreme Court, which declared JLWOP unconsitutional)
In prison since the age of 16, Kincaid re-sentenced to 30-60 years, recommended for immediate parole by judge
“If given the opportunity for release, I want to help juveniles outside” –Kincaid
“I only wish his mother could have been here to see this”—Aunt Mattie Fudge
By Diane Bukowski
November 8, 2016
(VOD: apologies for quality of photos; IPhone camera flash was off in court, forgot to turn it back on outside court.)
DETROIT—“Ostensibly, this is going to be a wash,” Wayne County Circuit Court Judge James Callahan said as he re-sentenced juvenile lifer Timothy Kincaid to 30-60 years during a hearing Nov. 4.
“According to the probation officer, the surviving victim believes she is still alive through the intercession of Mr. Kincaid, in light of his protective conduct during the shooting. She even visited him while he was housed in the Department of Corrections.”
Judge Callahan noted that pre-sentence report guidelines indicated Kincaid had already served years past the time recommended, and that the probation officer believed Kincaid had been rehabilitated.
“The Judge wanted him released today,” Evelyn told Kincaid’s family and friends afterwards. “But he still has to see the parole board to determine the accuracy of the guidelines, and he also has good time they have to look at.”
Evelyn said that although Michigan’s juvenile lifer resentencing statutes ban the use of good time, negotiations are proceeding on that issue in a federal lawsuit, Hill v. Snyder, filed by the American Civil Liberties Union. It is currently in front of U.S. District Court Judge John Corbett O’Meara in Ann Arbor, with the next hearing set for Tues. Nov. 17 at 10:15 a.m.
Evelyn said it helped that Kincaid still had a “6500 motion” proceeding before Judge Callahan, which VOD covered (date). Otherwise known as a motion for relief from judgement, a 6500 motion is the last chance to raise and exhaust issues in state court.
“I want to express my remorse to the court, to my family and to the victims,” Kincaid said. “I’ve been locked up 36 years now, and if given the opportunity for release, I would like to help juveniles outside. I was working in preventive programs while I was in prison.”
Kincaid has served 36 years of a juvenile life without parole sentence for the first-degree murders of three women, carried out by two older men in 1976, when Kincaid was 16. He testified at his trial in 1982 that he took the fourth woman into another room and aimed a shotgun at the floor to make the others think he had killed her.
Kincaid’s aunt Mattie Fudge, who attended with her granddaughter Matysha Neeley, was joyful at the outcome, as were three childhood friends of Kincaid’s, Minister Ervin Bell, Greg Kelly and Mike Hudson.
“I’m glad it’s finally over,” Fudge said. “I only wish his mother could have been here to see this.” She said Kincaid now has a grandson.
Kincaid’s mother Odessa Kincaid passed away in 2011, before either of her sons finally saw release from Michigan’s increasingly restrictive prison system. She and her daughter Vivian Kincaid campaigned both against juvenile life without parole and former Governor John Engler’s changes to the status of “parolable lifers.”
Waymon Kincaid was 19 in 1975 when he was sentenced to parolable life for second-degree murder. He was a plaintiff in a federal class action lawsuit filed by U of M’s Clinical Law program in April, 2005 on behalf of Kincaid, John Alexander, Kenneth Foster-Bey, William Sleeper, Robert Weisenauer, Eric McCollum, Gerald Lee Hessel and over 800 other “parolable lifers” in Michigan’s system.
Prior to Engler’s term, judges sentenced defendants to “parolable life,” intending that if they showed evidence of rehabilitation, they could be released starting from 10 to 15 years after sentencing. Engler converted the civil service parole board into a board appointed by the governor.
One of the new parole board’s declarations was that “life means life.” It began keeping “parolable lifers” indefinitely, causing skyrocketing costs to the state’s prison budget.
The lawsuit did not ultimately succeed. However, Waymon Kincaid reportedly has finally been paroled subsequent to a Sept. 1 hearing, and John Alexander’s case is set for parole board consideration Nov. 14. The other named plaintiffs were all paroled far beyond the terms their judges intended.
Jeremaine Tilmon, stepfather of Davontae Sanford, found murdered on Detroit’s east side Nov. 2
Great joy of Sanford’s release turns into great sorrow for his mother, Taminko Sanford-Tilmon, family and youth he mentored
Tilmon worked tirelessly to stop gang violence in his community
Police investigating–still many questions
By Diane Bukowski, Editor Voice of Detroit
November 3, 2016DETROIT — The staff of Voice of Detroit expresses our absolute shock, grief and condolences to the family and world-wide circle of supporters of Davontae Sanford, regarding the brutal execution-style murder of his stepfather Jeremaine Tilmon yesterday, Nov. 2, 2016.
Channel Two news reported, “According to Detroit Police, Jeremaine Tilmon was killed in the 3600 block of Chatsworth on Detroit’s east side Thursday morning around 2:30,” and more as in video above.
Jeremaine Tilmon was a Rock of Gibraltar for the family all through Davontae’s nine-year ordeal, present at all rallies, press conferences, court hearings, prayer breakfasts and other events. At a candlelight vigil Nov. 3, youth from East English Village Academy mourned the loss of this stalwart man who guided them away from the violence of the streets.
Tilmon married the love of his life Taminko Sanford before Davontae was finally freed June 8, 2016, after the 14-year-old child spent nine years since the age of 14 in Michigan’s prison system, for crimes he did not commit.
Mr. Tilmon was outspoken in support of Davontae throughout all the events. He also headed a choral group that sang at a prayer breakfast for Davontae last February and was reportedly a school counselor.
Voice of Detroit interviewed him numerous times, and has photos and videos of him beginning from the early years of the battle for Davontae’s release, which are published here.
Hitman Vincent Smothers confessed to the murders of the four people in an alleged drug house in 2007 blamed on Davontae, shortly after the child was sentenced by Judge Brian Sullivan.
Despite that, Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy and Circuit Court Judge Brian Sullivan refused to relent in their persecution of this child until broad support for his cause forced them to back off. However, both Kym Worthy’s press conference on Davontae’s release, the joint motion to dismiss without prejudice (meaning charges can be brought back) by Worthy and SADO attorney Valerie Newman, and Judge Sullivan’s court order granting that motion painted a negative picture of Davontae as Worthy sought to salvage her reputation.
Sullivan did the same, defending his years-long trial of Davontae despite clear evidence of a child’s false confession, and even questioning the validity of Vincent Smothers’ confession. Worthy and Sullivan left open to question whether Davontae was actually innocent and leaving him open to possible repercussions from others.
At Davontae’s press conference June 9, a cordon of Detroit police officers including Gang Squad members hovered outside, allegedly to protect the family because it had received threats from the Runyon Street victims’ families. Police continued to escort Davontae on his speaking engagements afterwards.
Where were they when a vicious gunman shot Davontae’s beloved stepfather down to the ground and then pumped more bullets into him? Who executed Jeremaine Tilmon and why? Will the DPD truly investigate this case or will there be another cover-up?
The Michigan State Police report and other sources showed that Worthy and the Detroit Police knew Davontae was not guilty almost from the beginning, as indicated in the list of stories below. Eyewitnesses at the scene of the Runyon Street killings, including a woman inside the house, identified a man taller and older than Davontae.
We’re just too heartsick to continue right now, but are publishing the photos we have of that loving family, so filled with joy at Davontae’s release, and now so overwhelmed with grief, as well as links to VOD’s stories on Davontae and his family.
We will continue to follow events in Jermaine’s killing as they develop.
Below: Jeremaine Tilmon speaks in video about his stepson, Aiyana Jones, and Trayvon Martin, by VOD videographer Kenny Snodgress.
Please help this family with funeral costs; they are not well off and need your help now. GoFundMe: https://www.gofundme.com/jermaine-tilmon
Lewis motion: rulings vacating convictions where partial court files were lost or corrupted must be applied in his case, where entire record is missing
APA Jason Williams wants life without parole; “defense” atty. Valerie Newman wants 40-60 years, under juvenile lifer statutes
Judge Lillard, Gov. Rick Snyder appointed, celebrates his new appointee to 3rd Circuit Court; Mich. has strongly opposed JLWOP changes
Angry family demands Lewis’ release, condemns Newman’s stance
Court Register of Actions shows next Lewis hearing set for Nov. 23, 2016
Next Detroit juvenile lifer hearings for Timothy Kincaid Nov. 4, Edward Sanders and David Walton Nov. 29
Hearing on ACLU motion in Hill v. Snyder challenging state statutes Nov. 17
By Diane Bukowski
October 31, 2016
Updated Nov. 7, 2016
DETROIT – Should Charles Lewis, 58, in prison for 41 years, have his conviction and sentence of life without parole vacated due to the loss of his entire official court file, as he has asked in his court motion, which cites U.S. Supreme Court and Michigan court precedents with that outcome?
The motion also says Wayne County Circuit Court Judge Edward Ewell was the last judge to actually read Lewis’ file before ruling on Oct. 17, 2012 that he should be re-sentenced. This was before controversial state statutes on re-sentencing were passed in 2014. Lewis contends that any further proceedings should go before Judge Ewell. (Link to motion below story.)
“All these cases have the same remedy—to vacate the sentence,” Lewis told Wayne County Circuit Court Judge Qiana Lillard Oct. 28 regarding the precedents in his motion. “I am asking you as judge to follow established law. You have to evaluate both sides and decide.”
The Detroit News’ Oralandar Brand-Williams reported Nov. 6, “Wayne State University Law School professor Peter Henning, who is also a former federal prosecutor, says a lost file could have serious consequences.
“In the absence of documentation it could make it impossible to impose a life sentence again,” Henning said. “There is no basis to impose it if (the court file) is missing. What is the appropriate sentence? How does the judge make a decision in the dark? The court is really hamstrung on whatever sentence it can impose.”
Or should Lewis be re-sentenced as Asst. Prosecutor Jason Williams and State Appellate Defender’s Office Attorney Valerie Newman contend, under draconic state statutes, concocted in the wake of the USSC’s 2012 Miller v. Alabama ruling that juvenile life without parole is unconstitutional?
The statutes are currently being challenged as unconstitutional in federal court in the ACLU’s Hill v. Snyder case, and negotiations are going forward regarding alterations. The next hearing on that case is November 17 in front of U.S. District Court Judge John Corbett O’Meara.
Lillard said at the conclusion of the Lewis hearing she would issue a ruling within 14 days. She wants to conduct ex parte consultations with Chief Criminal Court Judge Timothy Kenny and Chief Judge Robert Colombo, and meet with Assistant Prosecutor Jason Williams and court-appointed Attorney Valerie Newman, to go over copies of the records they claim to have. She did not indicate that Lewis, himself a party in the case with his own motions on the record, would be present.
“You see what I have here,” Lillard said, holding up a slim file. “I need what you have.”
Lillard signaled to a Deputy Sheriff to remove Lewis from the hearing before discussing those meetings, as can be seen in the video above, where Lewis is missing. He objected because proceedings were continuing. Newman did not object to his removal.
The Court’s Register of Actions (ROA) now shows a hearing on Lewis’ case will be held Nov. 23 at 9 a.m.
Lillard’s impartiality in this case has been in question because she is an appointee of Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder. Snyder and other Republican state officials have strongly opposed any changes in laws on juvenile life without parole, as has Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy.
Judge Kenny earlier removed Lillard from the case involving Theodore Wafer’s second-degree murder of Black Detroit teen Renisha McBride due to her ties with members of the Prosecutor’s Office on Facebook.
Lillard just posted on Facebook,
So excited to learn that Governor Snyder has appointed another Domer to the 3rdcc bench!! Congratulations to my dear friend Paul Cusick #GoIrish #NDFamily http://www.michigan.gov/…/0,4668,7-277-57577_57657-396322–…
The State Court Administrator’s Office has not returned a call from VOD asking whether records retained by others than the County Clerk can be considered part of a court file. State law mandates that the County Clerk supervise and protect all court records.
Lewis’ family and friends packed the courtroom, calling afterwards for his immediate release and condemning his court-appointed defense attorney Valerie Newman’s betrayal of his wishes, even calling for her disbarment. His family calls him by his middle name “Lamont.”
(l to r) Mother Rosie Lewis, sister Wendy Lewis, brother Mark Lewis
Lewis along with numerous eyewitnesses, including the partner of Detroit police officer Gerald Swypitowski, have maintained his innocence of killing the officer on July 31, 1976 during two trials held in 1977, the first of which was mysteriously concluded before sending it to the jury. The testimony of his alibi witnesses was never taken. Transcripts of those hearings should be in his missing court file.
Not only is Lewis’ official court file missing, but his computerized Register of Actions has been savaged. It falsely says he was convicted on April 3, 2000 in front of Judge Gershwin Drain and lists only actions after that date. Lewis has been in prison since 1977.
Wayne County Deputy Clerk David Baxter testified during the hearing about the loss of the physical court files themselves. Asked earlier by VOD how 23 years of the computerized Register of Actions was also lost, Baxter excused that. He said the Court’s computer system had been converted. VOD, however, has not noted such egregious deletions in numerous other criminal cases.
“A register of actions is a chronological list of events in the life of a case and is required for all cases, except district court civil infractions,” the Michigan State Court Administrator’s Office says in its General Records Retention and Disposal Schedule #16.
“Courts may keep these records permanently, but if they do not want to maintain them and the records still exist on the approval date of this schedule, the records must be transferred to Archives of Michigan. The records may not be destroyed.”
The schedule specifies that transfer to the archives can only take place 50 years after completion of a case. Similarly, according to the State of Michigan’s General Retention Schedule #19, files in capital cases (any crime with a life sentence) must be retained “until final disposition of the case plus 50 years, or the felon dies, whichever is sooner.”
Also testifying was Lisa Denise Peterson of the Clerk’s office, who denied any knowledge of Lewis’ case. Lewis told VOD afterwards, “I talked to her at least 20 times, and my attorneys from Foley & Lardner did so as well. She told me she had the files and records in her hands as we spoke.”
Assistant Prosecutor Jason Williams and Attorney Valerie Newman of the State Appellate Defenders Office, Lewis’ court-appointed defense attorney, both argued for Lewis’ re-sentencing under the contested juvenile lifer state statutes, against his wishes.
Williams wants to keep Lewis in prison until death, while Newman said she wants a term of 40-60 years, despite Lewis’ age and poor health.
Both said they have some portions of Lewis’ court files.
Williams is proceeding on the original motion filed by Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy July 21, which says only, “Defendant’s crime in the current case was not the result of unfortunate yet transient immaturity, but, rather, evinced irreparable corruption that requires a Life without Parole sentence.”
It gives no specifics regarding the alleged “irreparable corruption.” Worthy has also asked that 62 other Wayne County juvenile lifers die in prison, the highest actual number in the state. Ninety-eight percent of the county’s 147 juvenile lifers are Black.
The U.S. Supreme Court said in Miller and Montgomery that “only the rarest” juvenile should be sentenced to die in prison.
“Regarding case law on missing transcripts or records, there is no authority that I am aware of,” Williams said during the hearing. “Miller factors concern the offense and I do have transcripts of Mr. Lewis’ trial in this case that resulted in conviction, the original Detroit Police Department homicide file, and Mr. Lewis’ institutional record from the Michigan Department of Corrections. Any pleadings subsequent to conviction are not an appropriate consideration.”
However, a relevant Pearson evidentiary hearing was held on Lewis’ case Jan. 16-20, 1981, with representation by defense attorney Gerald Evelyn.
Five additional Detroit police officers at the scene after the killing contradicted the testimony of Detroit officer Lorraine Williams at Lewis’ original trial in 1977. Williams had claimed that the partner of the officer killed was too intoxicated to have identified the real killer, after copying down his license plate number.
At the time, state law held that the prosecution must produce all res gestae witnesses relevant to the charges, whether favorable to the prosecution or the defense, within a certain time limit. Lewis’ Pearson hearing was held long after the limit. He had contended that required dismissal of the case under then existing law.
Lewis has a copy of a court order signed by then Wayne County Circuit Court Judge Gershwin Drain dismissing his case on April 3, 2000, which an MDOC worker gave him ten years after it was issued.
Lewis filed for enactment of the order after he saw it, but Drain denied issuing it in 2012. In a letter rubber-stamped (not signed) with Drain’s name, he claimed that his signature on the order had been forged and also that Lewis had somehow altered court computer records.
There is no way to determine the truth of THAT situation without access to ALL of Lewis’ court files and the complete Register of Actions.
Newman filed a motion almost identical to the one Lewis filed, citing the same three court precedents he used, along with another one from the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals. In contrast to the remedies applied in those cases, she asked that Lewis be re-sentenced to 40-60 years, under the separate juvenile lifer laws.
After the hearing, Lewis’ uncle Lorenzo told VOD that he overheard Newman ask Lewis why he would ask for another attorney, in what he interpreted as a “threat.” He called for her disbarment. Lewis said he did not think her statement was an actual threat.
Newman announced for the first time that she has possession of FIVE boxes of court files on Lewis’ case, which she said can be used during a “Miller” hearing to re-sentence her unwilling client.
Where those files came from, whether she has read them, or may even have tampered with them is open to question. Newman said only that three of Lewis’ younger co-defendants testified at his original trial, against him.
She failed to mention the testimony of eyewitnesses including police officer Dennis Van Fletering (Swypitowski’s partner), William Eichman, an employee at Oty’s Saloon outside of which the shooting took place, and of Jay Smith, Gloria Ratachek, Kim Divine and Donald DeMarc, who happened to be on Harper at the scene.
Those witnesses all testified that gunfire from a white Lincoln Mark IV, later determined to be owned by Leslie Nathanial, caused Swypitowski’s death. Several also said they saw no other cars in the narrow width of Harper Avenue at the time. That contradicted the testimony of the juveniles, who claimed they and Lewis drove a yellow Ford Gran Torino to the scene, and Lewis got out of it to rob and kill Swypitowski. The three juveniles were not charged in exchange for their testimony.
Newman also failed to mention the testimony of police officers Joseph Grayer, Michael Kudle, Andrew Kuklock, Michael Yanklin, and Gerald O’Connor contradicting officer Lorraine Williams’ testimony at the Pearson hearing in 1981.
VOD has copies of those transcripts which were attached to several U.S. Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals rulings in Lewis’ case. However, they would not be considered part of the official court file, which is maintained only under the direct supervision of the Wayne County Clerk.
VOD also submitted a Freedom of Information Act request to the City of Detroit Law Department Police Division for records of witness interviews and forensic matters Sept. 19, but has not yet received a response.
Lewis told VOD he has given copies of crime scene photos from the trial and the names of his alibi witnesses to Newman, but she has refused to raise them in proceedings.
Still upcoming are re-sentencing hearings on Detroit juvenile lifers Timothy Kincaid this Friday, Nov. 4 at 9 a.m. in front of Judge James Callahan, and on Edward Sanders and David Walton in front of Judge James Chylinski on Tues. Nov. 29 at 9 a.m. Kincaid was 16 at the time of his offense, Sanders and Walton were 17.
According to the office of U.S. District Court Judge John Corbett O’Meara, a hearing in the Hill v. Snyder case, whose amended plaintiffs’ motion challenges Michigan’s juvenile lifer statutes, has been adjourned until Thurs. Nov. 17 at 10:15 a.m.in Ann Arbor. O’Meara ruled in 2013 that ALL Michigan juvenile lifers are eligible for parole after 10 years.
The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld that ruling, but remanded the case back to O’Meara for the parties to update the motions they filed. The state has taken that opportunity to try to wipe out the entire case including O’Meara’s 2013 ruling, while the ACLU is trying to negotiate changes to the state statutes including the restoration of “good time” in juvenile lifer re-sentencings. The state statutes discriminatorily bar that only for juvenile lifer defendants.
#FreeCharlesLewisNOW, #FreeTimothyKincaid, #FreeEdwardSanders, #FreeDavidWalton, #FreeMichiganJuvenileLifers, #SaveOurYouth, #FreeMichiganParolableLifers, #StopCourtCorruption, #PrisonNation, #PoliceState, #Beatbackthebullies, #Breakdownthewalls, #BlackLivesMatter