Click on Rasmea-Flyeract to download the complete flyer, with support activities.
Injustice in Detroit: Ruling paves way for repressive climate at Rasmea Odeh trial; pack Judge Drain’s court, October 21, 231 W. Lafayette, Rm. 110, support esteemed Palestinian leader Oct. 21
By Rasmea Defense Committee
October 18, 2014
U.S. District Court Judge Gershwin Drain
On October 16, Judge Gershwin Drain made an important ruling in the case of Palestinian American leader Rasmea Odeh. At issue was a bizarre motion by the prosecution that characterized the efforts of the Rasmea Defense Committee as “jury tampering” and “almost certainly criminal.”
While we are pleased that Judge Drain rejected the “Anonymous Jury” motion from the prosecution, we are still very concerned about the ruling to allow partial sequestration. The decision to have the jury meet at a secret location, and drive to the courthouse in a sealed van, creates a militarized and security state atmosphere that will cause apprehension amongst the jury members, and prompt them to believe that Rasmea is somehow dangerous. She is innocent, and this ruling does not guarantee her a fair trial.
Rasmea has done nothing wrong and the trumped up immigration charges against her should be dropped. She is an iconic leader in the Palestinian community of Chicagoland, the U.S., and the world. Forty-five years ago, she was jailed and tortured by the Israeli authorities. That she is facing jail again, this time at the hands of Detroit’s U.S. Attorney, Barbara McQuade, is nothing short of shameful.
U.S. Attorney Barbara McQuade at Detroit police press conference June 30, 2013. The FBI, under the Justice Dept., had just assassinated Black Muslim leader Imam Luqman Abdullah in Dearborn in 2009.
The prosecution’s talk about “jury tampering” is an attempt at intimidation and an act of desperation. McQuade’s office is trying to criminalize activities protected by the first amendment, like protesting outside the courthouse and calling the Department of Justice to demand the charges against Rasmea be dropped.
We urge all supporters of civil liberties and Rasmea Odeh to join us in Detroit for her next hearing October 21 at 11 a.m. before Judge Drain in the U.S. District Court at 231 W. Lafayette, Room 110. Rasmea’s trial starts November 4. Let’s pack the courtroom!
MWRO’s statement on today’s decision by the federal bankruptcy court NOT to stop residential water shut-offs, restore water to residential customers without water, NOR implement a water affordability based on fixed incomes for low-income seniors, families with children and persons with disabilities:
Of course, we are not surprised that our capacity to seek relief from the Federal Courts no longer exists! The fact that low income customers were ushered into court and testified how miserable their lives were because water was cut-off without an option for them to make arrangements with the DWSD could not have impacted the Court because the Court concentrated on what the 1% needed to continue their reign of terror tied to the Emergency Manager and this bankruptcy ploy.
International protest against Detroit water shut-offs in downtown Detroit July 18, 2014.
This is the humanitarian crisis of our times here in America, where every step we take is being analyzed to see which fights we launch as the corporate class encroaches on our standard of living. Denying specific populations access to clean drinking water was today deemed legal even though rich and wealthy water customers receive a different standard of treatment. Millions are owed by these corporate pirates while $150 and two months behind is the rule applied to our constituency — a position clearly supported by the Federal Court.
Poor people, their children, seniors, the disabled, veterans — it doesn’t matter — if you can’t pay for water, you can’t have it. Go to the river with a bucket and get what you need still remains the sentiment by this draconian class and they have no shame in taking this position. This sham court-case was just that…a plot to look like justice would prevail if we just had a chance to plead our case. The answer was always going to be NO!!!
So what are we going to do…give up the fight for social justice? We think not!
Protesters block water shut-off trucks from leaving Homrich facility July 18, 2014.
In the movie, The Untouchables, the question was asked, “What are you prepared to do about this??” When brilliant lawyers went to court to file suit against slavery, and against lynching, at first the Court said “NO”…there is no enforceable right to not be lynched if that is the custom in that area of the country! The Court’s explained that with the laws on the books at that time, Blacks, Hispanics, Native Americans, women, children, and other oppressed folks should be able to manage their lives and avoid pain and suffering, and if not, they had every right to return to Court! Madness and Madness today!
Our case demonstrated great attorneys, courageous plaintiffs, determined advocates versus conservative, corporate courts who prefer the company of the rich & famous and will not rock the “status quo.” We march on…
People’s Water Board Coalition protests outside Water Board building in downtown Detroit in 2012.
PEOPLE’S WATER BOARD COALITION CALLS REGIONAL WATER AUTHORITY AN ASSAULT AGAINST DEMOCRACY AND THE HUMAN RIGHT TO WATER
Community calls for protection and representation for all region’s residents
Lynna Kaucheck, Food & Water Watch, (586) 556-8805
Tawana Petty, People’s Water Board, (313) 433-9882
Sept. 10, 2014
Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan, flanked by officials from Wayne, Oakland and Macomb Counties, announces plan to take DWSD from people and workers of Detroit. Photo: Diane Bukowski
Detroit, Mich. – The People’s Water Board decried Mayor Mike Duggan’s plan to create a regional water authority as undemocratic and a threat to the human right to water for many in the region. We have access to the largest body of surface freshwater in the world, so it would seem abundance and access should not be an issue. However the manner of governing this valuable resource as responsible environmental stewards for the world has left many communities without trust.
The deal was negotiated behind closed doors without any input from the public and is the next step on the pathway to privatization. It takes away the rights of both the Detroit City Council and the citizens of Detroit to have input on big decisions impacting the system.
“Suburban customers should not be fooled into thinking that this deal gives them more control or influence over the water system,” said Lynna Kaucheck of the People’s Water Board. “The new authority will be made up of unelected officials who are accountable to no one. People need to know that this deal doesn’t take privatization off the table.”
Protesters demand a stop to water privatization.
Veolia Water North America, the largest private water company operating in the United States, has been hired to evaluate the management of the system and clearly has a vested interest in privatization. Privatization typically results in skyrocketing rates, decreased service quality and the loss of jobs. In fact, corporate profits, dividends and income taxes can add 20 to 30 percent to operation and maintenance costs, and a lack of competition and poor negotiation skills can leave local governments with expensive contracts. In the Great Lakes region, large private water companies charge more than twice as much as cities charge for household water service. This is not the solution for Detroit or the region.
“The regionalization plan is unacceptable. We need a system that is accountable and transparent and that works for all its customers,” said Tawana Petty of the People’s Water Board. “We want an elected board of water commissioners. We want to reduce costs for the region through bulk purchasing and resource sharing. And we want to implement the Affordability Plan as passed by Detroit City Council in 2005. Detroit and suburban leaders need to protect residents and democratize the system.”
The People’s Water Board advocates for access, protection, and conservation of water, and promotes awareness of the interconnectedness of all people and resources.
The People’s Water Board includes: AFSCME Local 207, Baxter’s Beat Back the Bullies Brigade, Detroit Black Community Food Security Network, Detroit Green Party, Detroit People’s Platform, Detroiters Resisting Emergency Management, East Michigan Environmental Action Council, Food & Water Watch, FLOW, Great Lakes Bioneers Detroit, Matrix Theater, Michigan Coalition for Human Rights, Michigan Emergency Committee Against War& Injustice, Michigan Welfare Rights Organization, Rosa and Raymond Parks Institute, Sierra Club, Sisters of Mercy, Voices for Earth Justice and We the People of Detroit.
Lawyers and financial advisors for the City of Detroit (meaning EM Kevyn Orr, seated center) and creditor FGIC, gather with mediator Judge Gerald Rosen (to left of Orr) after reaching proposed deal, at 2 a.m. Oct. 16, 2014. Bloomberg did not even identify Orr in this courtesy photo.
DETROIT CREDITORS SEEKING CASH WILL SETTLE FOR “THE JOE”
By Steven Church and Chris Christoff
Oct 16, 2014 5:47 PM ET Bloomberg
(Headline at very top is by Voice of Detroit. VOD analysis in the works. These creditors should instead be going to jail under the RICO act for conspiracy to commit fraud, along with lenders UBS, BOA, SBS Financial, and various others. Former Detroit CFO Sean Werdlow among other city officials should also be indicted. The creditors’ claim is based on the disastrous $1.5 billion COPS loans of 2005-06. As part of this deal, the “City” –meaning Kevyn Orr/Jones Day–will withdraw its lawsuit against the loan, in which it called the deal “void ab initio, illegal and unenforceable.” In an independent analysis, Wallace Turbeville of DEMOS concurred, and went further to declare the Detroit bankruptcy a hoax.)
Joe Louis Arena (bottom) on valuable Detroit riverfront property.
DETROIT — A milestone agreement in Detroit’s record bankruptcy requires its last major creditors to help revitalize the city’s downtown in return for cutting their losses from a $1.4 billion pension deal that went sour.
Financial Guaranty Insurance Co. would indirectly own and pay to redevelop the riverfront site of Joe Louis Arena — home of the National Hockey League’s Detroit Red Wings — which will be demolished in 2017 when a new arena opens a mile away. FGIC would also get a share of $141.4 million in new notes in a deal announced today in federal court in Detroit.
The agreement brings the city closer to resolving its $18 billion bankruptcy, and would put a group of creditors that includes Aurelius Capital Management LP and and BlueMountain Capital Management LLC, owed about $1.1 billion, in charge of building a hotel and retail space in a downtown that city leaders view as a linchpin of economic recovery.
“There wasn’t any more cash,” Mayor Mike Duggan said in an interview. “They made an assessment that their best chance for a return was to participate in Detroit’s redevelopment.
‘‘The more successful their development is, the more of their claim they get back. It’s great for both of us.”
The deal is modeled on one the city struck with another bond insurer, Syncora Guarantee Inc. Both companies insured $1.4 billion of pension debt that won’t be repaid under the city’s debt-cutting proposal.
Instead, the bond insurers would collect cash, notes and land that they would use to help pay the pension debt holders. Depending on the structure of the final deal, Aurelius and the other investors would indirectly own from 83 percent to more than 90 percent of the land under the FGIC deal.
The debt holders have not yet agreed to a deal, but may do so in the next few days, said their attorney, Thomas Moers Mayer.
Requiring creditors to invest more in the city is at least rare, and may be unprecedented in a municipal bankruptcy, attorney James E. Spiotto said in an interview. The deal resembles a corporate restructuring, he said.
“To some degree it’s a lot like Chapter 11, where they are giving them a chance to buy equity in the debtor,” Spiotto said. “They have to put something into it to get something out.”
Mayer said the arena and its parking garage would be owned by a trust for the benefit of the debt holders and managed by FGIC.
Statue of Joe Louis at Cobo Hall, also given away to regional authority, with back turned to wealthy elite celebrating Auto Show Jan. 18, 2013.
Nicknamed “The Joe,” the hulking, windowless edifice was built by the city in the late 1970s to keep the Red Wings from moving to a suburb. It was host for the 1980 Republican National Convention, where Ronald Reagan was nominated candidate for president.
Built as part of a downtown revitalization plan, it now will give way to another one 35 years later.
The redeveloped site would book-end a commercial-entertainment district with a $650 million development anchored by the new hockey arena to the north. That project, led by billionaire Mike Illitch, owner of the Red Wings, also would include a hotel, residential housing and retail establishments.
While Detroit continues to lose population, 10,800 jobs have been added in the central business district since 2010, when 52,100 employees worked in the area, according to the Southeast Michigan Council of Governments.
Sculpture in black of Joe Louis’ fist in downtown Detroit. To many Black Americans, Joe Louis represented the defeat of white supremacy, now embodied in “blight (Black) removal” plans.
The settlement would enable Detroit to carry out a rebuilding program that calls for spending of at least $440 million clearing blight from troubled neighborhoods.
During the hearing, Mayer told U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Steven Rhodes that the hedge funds pulled out last night when they learned of a last-minute change in the proposal.
Mayer said in an interview that his clients were ready to join the deal last night when they learned that an upfront cash payment of about $171 million would instead be spread out over several years.
Whether the hedge funds get the payment up front or over time, they are still getting more than what Detroit had initially proposed, Mayer said. The city had estimated pension bondholders would get back no more than about 10 percent of the $1.4 billion they are owed.
FGIC and the bondholders would have three years to build a hotel and the retail center on the site. The development may be completed by 2022, said Corinne Ball, a lawyer for the city.
FGIC was taken over by the State of New York in 2011, after earlier declaring bankruptcy.
The deal needs at least three approvals before it’s final. New York state regulators that oversee FGIC must sign off, as must the Detroit city council or, if the council rejects it, a Michigan loan board that helps oversee Detroit’s finances. Rhodes has the final say on the settlement and the overall plan, which would shed about $7 billion of debt.
Detroit already reached settlements with other creditors, including public pension systems, under court-supervised mediation in the past year.
Rhodes scheduled a hearing for next week, saying he still plans to hear testimony from a court-appointed expert hired to examine the city’s proposal.
Detroit filed for bankruptcy in July 2013, following decades of decline. The city listed $18 billion in liabilities and said it couldn’t meet its financial obligations while still providing necessary services to the public.
At the center of the plan is an agreement with the state of Michigan and large philanthropies to protect Detroit’s art collection in exchange for hundreds of millions of dollars to shore up public pension funds. Some opponents said the art should be sold or used to secure loans to repay creditors.
FGIC agreed to drop all its objections to the plan under the deal.
“We are happy to report what has seemed like Detroit’s own version of the Gordian knot has been cut,” Ball said today in court. “We now have it done.”
The case is In re City of Detroit, 13-bk-53846, U.S. Bankruptcy Court, Eastern District of Michigan (Detroit).
MayDay protest against Detroit bankruptcy, emergency management blocks Woodward Ave. May 1, 2014.
Say plan is racist attack mounted by state that owes Detroit $1.5 B, vow appeal
Call city’s failure to disclose interest rate on ASF clawbacks fraudulent
Bankruptcy Judge Rhodes more interested in FGIC settlement, trial end
Daily media insults pro se testifiers
By Diane Bukowski
October 16, 2014
Stephen Brogan, head partner at pro- corporate law firm of Jones Day, with Detroit EM Kevyn Orr, its “former employee.”
Detroit—City retirees and citizens, all without lawyers, faced off against Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr and other corporate profiteers in court Oct. 15, as the largest Chapter 9 bankruptcy case in U.S. history proceeded to a close at breakneck speed.
Those who testified had filed objections to the Plan of Adjustment (POA), then compiled motions and briefs, identified witnesses, and stood proudly in court to present their cases. They had been given only one day’s notice, a phone call from the bankruptcy clerk, to appear at the hearing, which lasted about three hours. U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Steven Rhodes had previously killed many other motions by pro se objectors.
“We have stayed the course, and are taking it to the end,” objector Cecily McClellan of the Detroit Active and Retired Employees Association (DAREA), told VOD after the hearing. “We won’t just go away. We have resources and we are planning an appeal, not only for what’s fair and just, but also for leverage. Most judges don’t like being appealed.”
Fredia Butler, a dignified well-dressed senior citizen, who attended the hearing with Stop the Theft of Our Pensions Committee leader Ezza Brandon, hit the nail on the head during her testimony.
Orr the overseer, Snyder the master
Slavemaster Gov. Rick Snyder takes over Michigan’s Black-majority cities, including Detroit, under Emergency Manager laws.
“This Plan of Adjustment will send many retirees into poverty, people who worked many years with the promise and hope they could live a decent life at the end,” Ms. Butler said. “I am an African-American, and I know from our history that they always put someone who looks like us in charge. Kevyn Orr is the overseer. [Gov. Rick] Synder is the master. Detroit did not have to be placed in bankruptcy. It is a power grab, taking our tax dollars to give to corporations for profit, a planned racist act, involving reductions in pensions, benefits, and unjust clawbacks. . . .[by] Wall Street.”
She also noted the seizures of the city’s assets including the Water Department, Belle Isle, and art owned by the city in the Detroit Institute of Art.
Detroit is the only city in the U.S. undergoing bankruptcy proceedings filed by an unelected official, Orr. Stockton and San Bernadino, CA filed over a year before Detroit did, but have not yet reached the POA stage.
They have so far held off on pension cuts and their bankruptcy plans do not include asset seizures, which are forbidden under Chapter 9 “unless the debtor consents.”
UNBIASED? Judge Rhodes chairs Oct. 10, 2012 forum on Chapter 9 and EM’s with one-sided panel including (l to r) Frederick Headen, state treasury official who has led many takeovers, Edward Plawecki, Emergency Manager trainers Douglas Bernstein and Judy O’Neill (who co-authored Michigan’s original EM law, PA 4), and Charles Moore of Conway McKenzie, a chief witness for Jones Day at the bankruptcy trial.
In this case, U. S. Bankruptcy Judge Steven Rhodes early on recognized Detroit Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr as the debtor, in response to a motion by his “former” employee, Jones Day, which Rhodes recognized as representing the City of Detroit.
U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Steven Rhodes heard the mostly Black objectors as he awaited a settlement with the city’s largest hold-out creditor, Financial Guaranty Insurance Corporation (FGIC), on a claim of $1.1 billion, the following day. He said during the hearing he expected to hold closing arguments by Oct. 21 or 22 next week.
Former two-term City Councilwoman JoAnn Watson said the state has a conflict of interest in “shepherding” Detroit into bankruptcy.
Michigan owes Detroit about $1.5 B, says Councilwoman Watson
“The state is a debtor to the city,” she explained, saying it owes Detroit at least a billion and a half dollars.
JoAnn Watson pleads her case at an earlier Detroit City Council meeting. She and three others voted NO on the consent agreement which led to the appointment of an Emergency Manager.
She cited a recent report from the Michigan Municipal League which showed that the state has deliberately withheld $732 million in revenue-sharing to Detroit over the last 10 years. She also said the state reneged on an agreement between former Governor John Engler and former Mayor Dennis Archer to increase revenue-sharing in exchange for decreasing taxes on non-residents. As a result, she said, the city lost an additional $224 million in revenue sharing and $600 million in non-resident income taxes.
“The City of Detroit’s executive and legislative branches never saw the bankruptcy filing, the most historic in the U.S.,” Watson continued. “Over 2.3 million citizens repealed the Emergency Manager law in 2012, but the state re-enacted basically the same law. If the executive and legislative branches had an opportunity to deliberate on the bankruptcy, there might have been a decision to litigate the swaps and recoup some of that money.”
Watson referred to the interest-rate swaps associated with the $1.5 billion Pension Obligation Certificates loan of 2005-06, but Judge Rhodes responded that Orr filed litigation which is before him now. He referred to the entire loan, which Orr filed suit against on Jan. 17, calling it “void ab initio, illegal, and unenforceable.”
Orr/Jones Day have reportedly offered to withdraw that lawsuit in exchange for a settlement with FGIC.
Jan. 31, 2005: Fitch Ratings Joe O’Keefe (at mike) with Stephen Murphy of Standard & Poor’s press City Council to approve disastrous $1.5 Billion POC loan. They are assisted by then Detroit CFO Sean Werdlow, who shortly afterwards took a high level job with one of the lenders, and (r) Deputy Mayor Anthony Adams.
Many object to non-disclosure of 6.75% interest rate on annuity clawbacks; Orr: “I don’t know”
Much of the testimony centered on a 6.75 percent interest rate attached to the so-called “claw-backs” from retirees’ annuity savings funds (ASF), large cuts which would last the lifetime of retirees and beyond, affecting their beneficiaries. While retirees themselves contributed the money, Orr/Jones Day contended the payments they received included interest rates that surpassed the going rates of return.
Retirees did not discover the facts about the rate until a July 17 and July 21 bankruptcy hearing after they had already voted on the plan. Retiree Stephen Wojtowicz brought it to light then. During the Oct. 15 hearing, many demanded that both the interest and the entire ASF clawbacks be eliminated from the plan.
Wanda Hill during earlier run for City Council.
City retiree and former City Council candidate Wanda Jan Hill calmly and professionally queried Orr himself as part of an apparently thoroughly researched presentation on that issue. She went back through the various Plans of Adjustments (there are now seven) as well as numerous other documents that failed to include any mention of the 6.75 percent interest rate.
“It was never presented or listed as part of the official record until April 10, when it was included under ‘other factors,’” she told Orr. “It was not mentioned when dealing with the ballots April 17, but you had already decided on the claw-backs. Did you know about the interest rate at that time?”
“I don’t know, I would have to look at my notes,” Orr replied. “It was not included in the disclosure statement. There was some information on the city website. I don’t know if the documents sent to the retirees were put on record with the court.”
Jones Day attorney Heather Lennox rushed to the witness stand to make up for Orr’s lack of expertise. Coughing nervously, she argued that ballots listed the actual amounts resulting from the additional interest, and that the actual percentage was in the disclosure statement, and was discussed at two informational meetings for retirees in metro Detroit.
She said she assumed pensioners understood the complicated ASF process at the time of their retirement.
“We have to stop dealing with assumptions,” Hill retorted. “For 30 years and more, people set aside spendable cash so they would be in a position to live in comfort during their retirement. It should have been plainly explained in the ‘plain language statement.’ We needed the calculation and the reason for it. The [lack of disclosure] was nothing but a ruse.”
Retirees would likely have voted against plan if ASF interest rate disclosed
Walter Knall is earlier protest against EM takeover, bankruptcy.
She argued that if retirees had known about the interest rate, they may have voted against the plan.
Elaine Thayer, representing her city retiree mother as well as her “significant other,” called the lack of disclosure of the interest rate “fraud” under the legal definition of the term.
Retiree Walter Knall blasted the ASF cuts and the undisclosed interest rate.
“I have engaged in no fraud or deceit with regards to my own annuity, which I subscribed to according to pension fund standards, and therefore I am not liable [for repayment],” he testified. “The idea that me and my fellow retirees should be asked to pay back tens of thousands of dollars from our savings funds is outrageous and illegal.”
He concurred with objections including citations of state and federal laws violated, wich were filed by Law Department retirees James Karwoski and John P. Quinn. Karwoski is himself an attorney who did not testify, but said he has participated in the bankruptcy hearings by cross-examining witnesses and plans to participate in closing arguments as well. He said he felt the retirees who did testify did very well in presenting their cases.
Retirees McClellan and Yvonne Williams-Jones called David Kausch, chief actuary for the global firm Gabriel, Roeder and Smith (GRS) to the stand. GRS has done actuarial reports for Detroit’s retirement systems for 75 years. Earlier, it contested the Orr/Jones Day estimate that the systems are underfunded by up to $3.5 billion, based on a report by Milliman, Inc. that was never completed. They issued a statement in June criticizing the Milliman estimate, available at link below story.
Kausch testified that the General Retirement System is 70 percent funded as of June 30, 2013. In 2012, it was 77 percent funded, and in 2011, 83 percent funded. Those percentages actually exceed those of the State of Michigan and other large cities in the U.S.
Kausch said long-term solvency is based on cash contributions to the system from both employees and employer over time. The City of Detroit stopped its federally-mandated contributions to the System when it declared bankruptcy, so they are not included in the 2013 report.
Yvonne Williams Jones
It does not intend to reinstitute them until 2023 under the proposed Plan of Adjustment. It wants to replace them with a one-time “Grand Bargain” payment of $816 million that is not yet fully in place and nowhere near commensurate with what payments would have been.
Kausch said the Great Recession of 2008, caused by Wall Street itself, was responsible for losses to pension systems across the U.S. He said the retirement system is gradually recovering along with the economy.
For solvency, he said, “the city must make contributions on a continued basis.” Under the Plan of Adjustment, he said, the city has proposed adjusting interest rates down to 6.75 percent.
“That means they are assuming the system’s assets are not going to grow as fast,” Kausch said. He explained that means the city’s required contributions will increase in order to maintain required payments to retirees.
Stephen Wojtowicz, who first exposed the 6.75 percent interest rate on the ASF recoupment, pointed out that while the system lost money during the Great Recession, in other years it earned rates as high as 22 percent while paying out only the standard 7.9 percent to retirees and returning the remainder to the system as a whole.
Michael Karwoski, retiree and attorney
Many local mainstream media reports mocked the retirees’ testimony and questioning of witnesses as unprofessional, although Attorney Karwoski said it was handled very well. In a covertly racist and insensitive comment, Christine Ferretti of the Detroit Free Press, a young white reporter, said Ms. Butler “was allowed to wear a floppy hat,” and left out the essence of her testimony that the bankruptcy is a profound racist assault on the people of the nation’s largest Black-majority city.
In contrast, Reuters reported largely on Ms. Butler’s testimony (see link below) and a local TV anchor was seeking her out for an interview during the break. However, Ms. Butler had already left.
City retirees protest draconian cuts during Detroit bankruptcy hearing Aug. 19, 2013
DAREA says they have resources to appeal trial outcome if it benefits only banks, not retirees
FGIC, party to infamous $1.5 billion COPS loan, reported ready to settle in exchange for unknown amount, city real estate
Kevyn Orr on COPS loan: “Void ab initio, illegal and unenforceable”
By Diane Bukowski
October 14, 2014
DAREA meets July 17, 2014
DETROIT – The Detroit Active and Retired Employees Association (DAREA) say they and others will appeal U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Steven W. Rhodes’ final ruling on the Plan of Adjustment if it continues to devastate retirees. As the case stands now, it appears likely only global banks will profit from the POA.
Major creditor and final hold-out Financial Guarantee Insurance Corporation (FGIC), which along with Syncora, Inc. insured the notorious $1.5 billion “Certificates of Participation” loan to Detroit in 2005-06, is reported to be ready to settle by Oct. 16. In exchange, they will get cash from bond issues and large chunks of revenue-producing downtown city real estate.
DAREA leader and city retiree Cecily McClellan
“We have the resources for an appeal now,” retiree Cecily McClellan told VOD.
“The Objectors to the bankruptcy are being called today to appear in court tomorrow at 8:30 a.m. The lack of notification is to prevent participation, preparation and public awareness. These are citizens without attorneys. We need your support and presence in court Wednesday at 8:30 a.m. in Room 242 of the Federal Building, 321 W. Lafayette.”
Individual objectors, including former Detroit City Councilwoman JoAnn Watson, along with many DAREA members, prepared motions with witnesses and briefs at Rhodes’ command weeks ago, but were not informed exactly when the hearing would be. Rhodes said at the time that he planned to schedule it on the last day of the POA trial.
Jones Day, on behalf of the city, has already filed an omnibus response to the objectors, likely to speed Rhodes’ final decision along.
McClellan noted that drastic cuts to retirees’ pensions and annuities proposed in Detroit’s bankruptcy are now being considered in the California bankruptcy proceedings of Stockton and San Bernadino. Previously, those cities had refused to touch pensions themselves, while at the same time enacting cuts in retiree health care. CalPERS (California Public Employee Retirement System), the largest in the U.S., wielded its clout in hearings to protect pensions.
Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) public workers on strike in California last year.
CalPERS also came to the aid of Detroit, filing an amicus brief with the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals to support appeals of Judge Rhodes’ bankruptcy eligibility decision by seven Detroit retiree and union entities. All seven have now indicated they will withdraw their appeals if the so-called “Grand Bargain,” $816 million to the retirement systems while the city withdraws its legally obligated payments for at least the next 10 years. Detroit’s retirement systems are worth about $6 billion.
But Stockton bankruptcy judge Christopher Klein, taking a page from Rhodes’ eligibility decision last December, ruled Oct. 1 that California’s public employee retirement law “is simply invalid in face of the U.S. Constitution.” Terming state public pension protections nothing but contracts, as did Rhodes, he said they can be cancelled or modified under the U.S. Bankruptcy Code in order to pay off bankers.
Oakland CA public workers demand “Make the banks pay”
Klein has not actually sanctioned pension cuts yet, because the Stockton bankruptcy has not even reached the Plan of Adjustment stage, although it was filed a year before Detroit’s. Detroit is the only city that filed Chapter 9 bankruptcy under at the command of an unelected Emergency Manager, Kevyn Orr.
Bloomberg News reported that Californians for Retirement Security, a coalition of school teachers, police officers and other public employees, blasted Klein’s ruling. .
“We are disappointed that the judge has sided with Wall Street in a decision that has the potential of devastating citizens, employees, and making bad situations worse,” said Dave Low, the group’s chairman.
The Detroit Free Press reported today that FGIC, after months of closed-door mediation supervised by U.S. District Court of Eastern Michigan Chief Judge Gerald Rosen, is ready to reach a deal by Oct. 16, 2014.
Joe O’Keefe of Fitch Ratings smirks as Stephen Murphy of Standard & Poor’s presses disastrous $1.5 BILLION COPS loan on Detroit City Council Jan. 31, 2005. Rhodes has not yet ruled on Kevyn Orr’s lawsuit challenging this loan as “void ab initio, illegal and unenforceable.” Photo by Diane Bukowski
“City lawyer Tom Cullen told U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Steven Rhodes that the sides are close to a deal and hope to announce it in court Thursday morning,” reported Matt Helms. “Cullen said only that the deal would involve a share of bonds the city will issue to pay off creditors and ‘development aspects’ he didn’t detail.
“People familiar with the negotiations have told the Free Press that the deal with Financial Guaranty Insurance Co. would involve cash from bonds and access to downtown real estate, including possible long-term leases of city parking garages. FGIC has a $1.1 billion claim against the city.”
Syncora, the other POC insurer, reached a similar deal with the City (i.e. Kevyn Orr-Jones day) Sept. 15. Syncora was a minor insurer compared to FGIC. Their deal involves a $44.8 million pay-out from new debt, plus control of the Detroit-Windsor Tunnel, and the Grand Circus Park Garage, including all their revenues.
FGIC CEO Timothy Travers. FGIC itself has just emerged from a financial crisis.
FGIC’s deal can be expected to be much larger.
In January, EM Orr filed a lawsuit against the POC holders, stating the entire debt, which has skyrocketed to $2.8 billion with interest and default fees, is “void ab initio, illegal and unenforceable.” But instead of canceling the debt in toto, Orr and Jones Day have played footsie with the creditors under the table during Rosen’s secret mediation sessions. Rhodes has never heard the lawsuit.
Rally against DTE at its headquarters March 10, 2011. Participants also stormed inside and took over the lobby.
State Senator Tupac Hunter adds hardship to poor families
Hunter also supported legislation to allow 20-year state takeover of Detroit
By Agnes Hitchcock 313-873-1513
Sept. 29, 2014
I am personally experiencing the negative repercussion of legislation introduced by Tupac Hunter (Primary Sponsor) and other regional legislators. This legislation holds a property owner liable for utilities used by any occupants (tenants, squatters, freeloaders) when DTE loosely uses the term “utility theft.” This practice destroys lives without an explosion. Not only does it destroy lives, it also further destroys the housing stock in the city of Detroit. DTE is at the point of calling unpaid bills utility theft.
Gov. Rick Snyder(r), with State Sen. Tupac Hunter and Detroit EM Kevyn Orr at left, laud the passage of 11 bills that will keep Detroit under state control for the next 20 years.
Attached is my complaint to the Michigan Public Service Commission. I further intend to forward a complaint to Attorney General for the State of Michigan, the United States Department of Justice, the ACLU and any other individual or entity I find associated with the legislation I believe it is fundamentally wrong to deny an individual a basic necessity to life: particularly to make a profit for DTE.
DTE, Public Act 128 and Senate Bill 1310 are telling me:
Once DTE alleges Utility Theft
As a property owner I am liable for the unpaid bill USED BY ANYONE AT THE ADDRESS once DTE used the term “utility theft.”
DTE has a right to deny future service at the address for anyone.
DTE can transfer a bill to another account and threaten or carryout shut off because of an unpaid bill at a different property.
Youth participate in demo against DTE March, 2011.
DTE can charge additional fees and tariffs.
DTE can charge a property for installation of additional utility facilities (Whatever that means.)
DTE loosely defines unpaid bills as utility theft.
Further details will be provided to anyone interested. You or someone you know may be the next one impacted by this legislation. If you know of anyone else caught in this situation, please forward the information to me.
A fund raiser/awareness event is being planned for the payment of this ransom. Further details will follow.
Attached: Public Act 128/Senate Bill 1310 July 2010
Judge, prosecution, defense conspired to protect Detroit police state
Family left in agony, as St. Louis rises up
By Diane Bukowski
October 11, 2014
Warrior cops on streets of St. Louis this week.
DETROIT – As “warrior cops” armed with assault weapons and tanks rode through the streets of St. Louis this week to stem protests against police killings of three young Black men, here in Detroit, a mistrial was declared Oct. 10 in the case of another “warrior cop,” Joseph Weekley, Jr., for the second time.
Weekley shot seven-year-old Aiyana Stanley-Jones to death May 16, 2010, shortly after midnight, during a military assault on a home on the city’s impoverished east side, as cameras from A&E’s “First 48” TV program rolled. Four young children, with their parents, grandmother, great-aunt, uncles and cousins, were asleep there when an incendiary grenade shattered the flat’s front window. Within seconds, Weekley stormed in and shot Aiyana through the top of her head with his MP5 submachine gun.
From that moment in occupied Detroit, the fix was in.
“As soon as they hit the window, I hit the floor and reached for my grandbaby,” Aiyana’s grandmother Mertilla Jones said after police released her several days later. They had arrested her immediately after shooting Aiyana to death. At the time, police admitted that Weekley’s story that she interfered with him, causing his gun to fire, was not supported by the evidence. (See her testimony at this trial, above.)
“I saw the light go out of her eyes and blood coming out of her mouth,” Ms. Jones, the mother of eight children, said. “I had never seen anything like that before: my beautiful, gorgeous granddaughter. I can’t trust them; I can’t trust the Detroit police.”
Joseph Weekley shown as star on A&E’s Detroit SWAT website.
She spoke at a press conference held by family attorney Geoffrey Fieger May 19, 2010, after this reporter questioned her to counter the first question asked by a mainstream reporter, “Didn’t Charles give Chauncey the gun?” in the killing of JeRean Blake, 17, on May 14, 2010.
Shocked, Fieger asked, “What has that go to do with it?”
Aiyana’s father Charles Jones was not charged in the Blake case until 17 months later. An inside source has said that a Michigan State Trooper investigation of Aiyana’s death was primarily aimed at setting her father up to justify the invasion of her home. The source said shell casings found in the backyard, produced as evidence in the trial of weaponry in the home, were dug up and looked as though they had been there for years. No weapons or ammunition were found during the raid. The only person named in a warrant for the raid was Chauncey Owens, who lived in the upper flat with Aiyana’s aunt.
From that point on, most of the mainstream media has acted as virtual press spokespersons for the Detroit Police Department, taking advantage of deliberate police leaks. In recent months after the Jones-Owens’ convictions, many reported that police had a warrant for Jones before the raid, an utter falsehood never testified to in any trial. They have also repeatedly reported that Owens was “hiding” in the upper flat, when in fact that was where he had lived for a lengthy time.
Warren Evans in trailer for A&E series “The Chief.” He was fired shortly after his plans for this series became known. He is now running for Wayne County Executive.
Then Detroit police chief Warren Evans sanctioned the embedding of “The First 48” crew with raid teams and authorized “no-knock” raids without first asking the person sought to step outside, which Owens did on his own the night of April 16.
Police reported in Weekley’s first trial that they had surveilled the home all day before the raid, and saw Owens emerge several times. Despite their denials, four minutes (the time it took VOD to walk the distance reported at the trial) was clearly long enough for them to speed around the corner and arrest him without incident.
They also took take daytime photos of numerous brightly-colored children’s toys in the two-family flat’s front yard, shown in evidence at both trials. Nearly every “Special Response Team” member questioned during Weekley’s trial denied seeing the toys, a virtual impossibility. They are even partially seen in the A&E video of the raid. Aiyana’s cousin Mark Robinson, held outside while the “warrior cops” invaded the home, testified that he repeatedly cried out, “there’s children in the home.”
This photo was taken hours after Weekley shot Aiyana to death, by VOD. Toys seen here are the same toys portrayed on slides during Weekley’s trials.
Weekley’s testimony that Mertilla Jones grabbed his gun, contradicted by forensic and eyewitness testimony, as well as the testimony of officers who said they saw no toys, should constitute perjury.
Team leader Sgt. Tim Dollinger said they would have carried out the raid regardless but might not have used the stun grenade if children under “18 months” were in the home, towards the end of the prosecution’s case, an utterly arbitrary selection of age. In addition to Aiyana, her three baby brothers were also in the home, including Dominika and Charles Jones’ two-month-old newborn baby. In Georgia this year, a 19-month old baby was severely burned when a stun grenade landed in his crib.
Aiyana and one of her three little brothers, all present in the home when she was killed, celebrate Christmas during happier days. FAMILY PHOTO
Aiyana’s family and supporters had called for the entire police command involved in the raid, from Evans on down, to be indicted for Aiyana’s murder, but a Wayne County Grand Jury, composed of Chief Criminal Circuit Court Judge Timothy Kenny, a member of the ultraconservative Federalist Society, only authorized “involuntary manslaughter” and “reckless use of a fiream resulting in death charges.”
Weekley was released on personal bond and has been free since, while Jones and Owens were remanded without bond, and have not seen the light of day for years.
After Owens was brought to trial and accepted a plea bargain for second degree murder, the media reported for months afterwards that he named Charles Jones as the gun provider in the Blake case. This reporter combed through his court file for hours. It said only that Owens pled guilty on condition that he “tell the truth.”
Charles Jones (l) and Chauncey Owens (r) during trial; Jones’ attorney Leon Weiss with back to camera.
In police videotapes of Owens’ interrogation after the raid, shown during the Owens-Jones trial in April of this year, Owens only confessed to the killing after police allowed him to talk to his fiancée, who told him, “’Yana’s dead.” Owens repeatedly insisted that Jones did NOT give him the gun, naming another man.
In April, 2014, two separate juries found Owens guilty of first-degree murder despite lingering questions about the involvement of his brother Sh’rron Hurt. The second found Jones guilty of second-degree murder for “aiding and abetting,” although they exonerated him of the gun charges which were the only reason for his murder charges.
Owens was sentenced to life without parole. Jones, who had crawled through his daughter’s blood and brains on police orders the night of her killing, was sentenced to 40-60 years plus 10-20 years for perjury. He tried to put a brave face on at his sentencing, but broke down in tears, overwhelmed by grief for his daughter and his separation from his family, including six sons.
Both sentences are on appeal.
Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy with Asst. Pros. Robert Moran at her left, testifying at state legislative hearing.
Mostly appallingly, Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy allowed Assistant Prosecutor Robert Moran to try both Aiyana’s father Charles and Chauncey Owens, while at the same time pursuing the case against Weekley.
Moran’s demeanor during Weekley’s trials was not protective of Aiyana’s relatives, for whom he should have been advocating. He never once jumped up to object to defense attorney Steve Fishman’s continued characterization of Mertilla Jones’ emotional, weeping testimony as a “diatribe,” and his continual demeaning of Ms. Jones on the witness stand, during the second trial.
Fishman repeatedly mocked her statement that “the police came to kill,” that Weekley put his gun to Aiyana’s head. None of the rest of the media aside from VOD reported Medical Examiner Carl Schmidt’s testimony that a contact gunshot wound to the head would NOT cause stippling, a condition Fishman cited as evidence that there was no close-range firing.
Fishman continually testified FOR Weekley, who never took the stand in his second trial, that Mertilla Jones had tried to grab his gun. Forensics experts testified neither the DNA nor the fingerprints of Ms. Jones were found on the gun, which was falsely reported at first by George Hunter of the Detroit News, who also called Ms. Jones testimony a “diatribe.”
SRT police officer Shawn Stallard said he saw no struggle with Weekley.
His statements were discounted by the second officer on the scene, Shawn Stallard, who testified he never saw any struggle between Jones and Weekley, and by Sgt. John Robert Collins, who described Weekley’s frantic behavior after the shooting, coming up to him and grabbing and shaking HIS gun, after which Collins told him, “Just tell the truth.”
Moran never objected to Fishman’s irrelevant statements about Ms. Jones’ sons being in prison. During the first trial, he objected to the use of Facebook photos, taken at unknown times and places by unknown individuals, allegedly showing male family members with guns, but not in the presence of the jury, who freely saw and handled the bogus evidence.
Wayne County Circuit Court Judge Cynthia Gray Hathaway’s stance in both of Weekley’s trials has clearly been biased toward him. She instituted a thorough screening of the jury venire of hundreds, having them fill out questionnaires asking whether they would be influenced by events in Ferguson, MO or by books and articles such as “The Rise of the Warrior Cop” on the militarization of the police. Only those who were not tossed out based on their questionnaires were verbally examined in court.
She also demeaned Mertilla Jones, calling her testimony “acting out.”
Judge Cynthia Gray Hathaway.
Astounding even mainstream media, Hathaway granted a “directed verdict” dismissing the involuntary manslaughter charges against Weekley, leaving the jury to ponder only the high misdeameanor of “reckless use of a firearm resulting in death.” The prosecution’s appeal of that verdict was denied by an appeals court headed by Judge Michael Talbot, known for his racist treatment of those who come before him.
In 1986, as a Detroit Recorders’ Court Judge, he caused gasps when he sentenced Damion Todd, 17, to mandatory life in prison without parole at hard labor and in solitary confinement, for murder, a sentence that does not even exist in Michigan jurisprudence. He added another term of 100 to 200 years for assault with intent to commit murder. He likewise has ruled that the 2012 U.S. Supreme Court decision outlawing juvenile life without parole is not retroactive, a ruling being appealed by a consortium of attorneys on behalf of Michigan’s juvenile lifers.
He was on the appeals panel that summarily overturned Wayne County Circuit Court Judge Richard Skutt’s ruling barring “jail-house snitch” Jay Schlenkerman from testifying against Charles Jones, the father of Aiyana Stanley-Jones.
Jail-house snitch Jay Schlenkerman testified against Aiyana’s dad. He is shown here in his current MDOC residence.
Months ago, VOD was contacted by an inside source with friends in the Prosecutor’s office who foretold the dismissal of the manslaughter charge, and that Weekley would walk with no jail time. He said many were upset about Moran’s handling of the case, which was confirmed later by Moran’s statement to family members that many in the office were no longer speaking to him.
Where does the blame lie in this debacle? Clearly, the police state and prison nation that this country has become, the judge, the prosecutor and the defense attorney conspired to get Weekley off. Prosecutor Kym Worthy conspired to blame Charles Jones for the death of his daughter.
But what has happened to the people of Detroit?
Many conducted an angry candlelight vigil outside Aiyana’s home after her death.
But then media personalities like the late Angelo Henderson and Mildred Gaddis of 1200 AM began muddying the waters, using repeated interviews with Lyvonne Cargill, the mother of JeRean Blake, to criminalize the entire Jones family. Despite Henderson’s pro-police stance, including his daily reporting of crimes among poor people while ignoring the crime of the rich, he was hailed by many prominent Detroiters as a hero at his funeral.
Youth protest St. Louis police killing of Vonderrit Myers, 18.
In the wake of their commentary, and other biased mainstream media reporting, the people of Detroit went to sleep, unlike the people of St. Louis and Ferguson, MO, in particular the youth, who have risen up after the virtual executions of three young Black men by white police officers there.
Meanwhile, during our sleep, not only Aiyana Jones’ life, but the entire City of Detroit, including our Water Department and Belle Isle, has been stolen from under our feet with virtually no effective resistance or outcry. “Warrior cops” and the police state are meant to suppress any resistance to the blatant robbery of everything owned by Black and poor people in the U.S., beginning first with the largest Black-majority city in the country, Detroit.
WHEN WILL DETROIT RISE UP?
Related articles on this trial (put “Aiyana” in VOD search engine to review dozens of stories published since the day Aiyana was killed; VOD has covered virtually every trial and hearing in this case.)
St. Louis, MO — An off-duty police officer in St Louis has shot and killed a black teenager, prompting a repeat of the Ferguson protests that followed the death of Michael Brown two months ago today.
Police in the already conflict-ridden county of Missouri said that the officer involved was wearing his uniform but working a second job as a security guard when the incident occurred late on Wednesday night.
The officer, who is 32 years old and white, was unharmed in the incident.
Pictures from the scene on Shaw Boulevard in south St Louis showed people gathering to protest the shooting. KTVI News reported that the crowd was preparing to march on the St Louis police station, with many chanting “hands up don’t shoot”, a slogan that was used across the US after Ferguson.
Crowd confronts police car in St. Louis; tweets later reported police car and truck windows were broken out.
As with the death of Michael Brown, there were conflicting initial reports on whether or not the victim, who has been named locally as 18-year-old Vonderrit Myers, was armed.
Teyonna Myers, 23, told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch newspaper that she was the cousin of the man and that he was unarmed when he was killed.
Crowd at scene of shooting, Clemm and Shaw
“He had a sandwich in his hand, and they thought it was a gun. It’s like Michael Brown all over again,” she told the paper.
St Louis Public Radio quoted chief of police Sam Dotson as saying that the officer fired “17 times”, while alderman Antonio French, on the scene with protesters, tweeted: “At the scene of yet another young man’s death. This happens too often in our city. It’s a crisis that we should all be concerned about.”
He later wrote: “The victim’s mother was here. She fainted. An ambulance came to attend to her. There is nothing like a mother’s pain at the loss of a child.”
St. Louis Alderman Antonio French at scene.
But a spokesperson for St Louis Police, Colonel Alfred Adkins, said the officer – who has not been named – approached Myers and three other men in the street and only “returned fire” after he was shot at himself.
“As [the officer] exited the car, the gentlemen took off running. He was able to follow one of them before he lost him and then found him again as the guy jumped out of some bushes across the street,” Adkins said.
“The officer approached, they got into a struggle, they ended up into a gangway, at which time the young man pulled a weapon and shots were fired. The officer returned fire and unfortunately the young man was killed.”
Angry crowd confronts St. Louis police after off-duty cops kills Black teen Oct. 8, 2014/AP
2ND NIGHT OF PROTESTS OVER ST. LOUIS COP KILLING OF BLACK TEEN
UPDATE FROM AP
October 10, 2014
State Sen. Jamilah Nasheed jostled with police as she attempted to deliver petitions in August, calling for a special prosecutor in the case of Michael Brown, killed by Ferguson police Aug. 9, 2014.
ST. LOUIS — Protesters angered by the fatal shooting of a black 18-year-old by police faced off with officers in south St. Louis for a second night as accusations of racial profiling prompted calls for a federal investigation ahead of a weekend of planned rallies and civil disobedience.
State and city leaders have urged the Justice Department to investigate the death of Vonderrit D. Myers in the Shaw neighborhood Wednesday night, fearing he was targeted because he was black. Police say the white officer who killed Myers was returning fire, but Myers’ parents say he was unarmed.
Marchers in St. Louis block street in a second night of protests over police killing of Vonderrit Myers, 18.
“This here was racial profiling turned deadly,” state Sen. Jamilah Nasheed, a St. Louis Democrat, said at a news conference Thursday.
Myers’ death comes two months after the Aug. 9 fatal shooting of Michael Brown, a black unarmed 18-year-old, by a white police officer in nearby Ferguson. Brown’s killing sparked dozens of often violent protests in the St. Louis suburb. A state grand jury is deciding whether Officer Darren Wilson will face charges in his death.
Late Thursday night following a quiet candlelight prayer vigil for Myers, hundreds of people joined a more rowdy gathering in Shaw to protest his death.
Police in riot gear lined up on a high street, flanked by brand name stores and restaurants. Protesters yelled abuse and profanities to taunt the officers, who silently stood their ground. Police helicopters buzzed above the neighborhood. Officers used pepper spray to force the crowd back.
St. Louise police in riot gear line up to block protesters October 9, 2014. AP
Some protesters burned the American flag, while others banged on drums and shouted “This is what democracy looks like!” Some slammed the sides of police vans. Broken glass littered the street.
Eventually the protesters backed off, moving a couple of blocks away. Riot police remained in the area.
Organizers say thousands of activists and protesters from around the country are expected to come to the St. Louis area for four days of rallies, marches and civil disobedience to protest the Ferguson shooting, racial profiling and police violence. The events, which start Friday and include a march Saturday in downtown St. Louis, have taken on added urgency in the wake of Myers’ death.
Atty. Jerryl Christmas at site of protests in Ferguson, MO over Michael Brown’s killing.
“This is a racial powder keg,” said Jerryl Christmas, a St. Louis attorney who was among more than 20 black leaders who joined Nasheed at a news conference Thursday outside police headquarters. “All this is going to do is escalate the situation.”
Police say Myers was both armed and aggressive, using a stolen 9 mm gun to shoot at the officer.
Syreeta Myers said her son was holding a sandwich, not a gun. “Police lie. They lied about Michael Brown, too,” she told The Associated Press by phone Thursday.
St. Louis Police Chief Sam Dotson said the officer spotted Myers and two other males around 7:30 p.m. Wednesday while working a security job and patrolling a neighborhood near the Missouri Botanical Gardens. Dotson said the officer, who was off-duty but wearing his uniform, became suspicious when one of them started to run.
He chased them, first in his car and then on foot, Dotson said.
During the chase, he got into a physical altercation with Myers, who ran up a hill, turned and fired at the officer, the chief said. The officer, who wasn’t hurt, shot back.
Ballistic evidence shows Myers fired three shots before his gun jammed, Dotson said. Police said they recovered the 9 mm gun, which was reported stolen on Sept. 26.
The officer fired off 17 rounds. Preliminary autopsy results show a shot to the head killed Myers, according to medical examiner Dr. Michael Graham.
The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported that Graham said Myers was shot six or seven times in the lower extremities and the fatal shot entered his right cheek.
Authorities have not released the name of the six-year veteran of the St. Louis Police Department. The 32-year-old officer is on paid administrative leave pending an investigation.
An attorney for the officer told the newspaper that his client served with the U.S. Marines in Iraq and was “shaken up” by the incident. He called claims that Myers was carrying a sandwich not a gun “ridiculous.”
Online court documents show Myers was free on bond when he was killed. He had been charged with unlawful use of a weapon, a felony, and misdemeanor resisting arrest in June.
Myers’ was the third fatal shooting of a black male by St. Louis-area police since Brown’s death.
“It’s imperative that we began to heal this community,” Nasheed said. “This community has been broken down. We have too many deaths at the hands of police officers.”
From the Stop Killer Cops campaign by the Congress of African People in the early 70’s to this moment, OBS and its members have consistently educated, agitated and organized our people and allies about the role of the state and how to fight for justice in a system that has disproportionately targeted black and brown people for prisons and America’s death rows.
Justice for Mike Brown
Our lived experience has been tested since the racist shooting of Mike Brown on August 9 by Ferguson cop Darren Wilson. Our local social justice movement immediately rose to action to navigate through the chaos to a place of planned strategic action. We are serious when we say “No more business as usual!”
Local authorities thought it would be a fleeting flare-up and then complacency would set in. But here we are almost two months out and there continues to be daily protests, organizing meetings and trainings.
You have shown your solidarity in many ways including holding actions in your respective cities, making financial contributions, or actually coming to the Ferguson epicenter to bring your skills and energies. Even Hong Kong youth have been inspired by the actions in Ferguson with images of the “Hands up, don’t shoot!”
OBS and our coalition partners invite you to join us for a Weekend of Resistance. If you cannot attend, pass this on to those who may be in driving distance and who can participate in one or more of the days of activities. This is a movement building moment that requires our collective wisdom and action if we are to build and sustain a national campaign to address the systemic issues of police violence.
Top: (l) Joseph Weekley (r) Aiyana Jones; bottom: depiction of shooting.
UPDATE: COA panel, headed by Michael Talbot, one of the most racist, backward judges on the bench, has denied the prosecution’s appeal of Judge Cynthia Gray Hathaway’s dismissal of involuntary manslaughter charges against Aiyana Jones’ killer, Joseph Weekley.
Appeals Court Judge Michael Talbot
The court said, “The trial court orally granted defendant’s motion for directed verdict and entered a written order to that effect. Because [this] took place before any appellate review was able to occur, the Court is barred from reviewing the trial court’s decision.”
The appeals court order was posted in George Hunter’s article in the Detroit News before it was even up on the court website, indicating that he got it from his usual source, defense attorney Steve Fishman. The decision is at Weekley final COA order.
Aiyana Stanley-Jones/photo from mother Dominika Stanley-Jones’ Facebook page
A state Court of Appeals panel is currently reviewing the Wayne County Prosecutor’s office appeal of Judge Cynthia Gray Hathaway’s order dismissing an involuntary manslaughter charge against Detroit Police Officer Joseph Weekley in the death of Aiyana Jones, 7, on May 16, 2010. (Links to appeals documents are at bottom of story.)
The panel is headed by Appeals Judge Michael Talbot and includes Kurtis T. Wilder and Kirsten Frank Kelley.
In their appeal, Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy, Chief of Research on Appeals and Training Timothy Baughman, and Asst. Prosecuting Attorney Thomas Chambers argue that the case should go to the jury as presented. They say that Judge Hathaway’s ruling was a “legal error” contrary to her actual finding in the case, and cite a 1995 Michigan Supreme Court opinion defining involuntary manslaughter.
Hathaway said as part of her ruling that “the trier of fact can decide if the Defendantfailed to use the ordinary care to avoid injuring another when to a reasonable person it must have been apparent that the result was likely to be serious injury.”
The prosecutor then cites People v. Datema, where the high court ruled that the crime of involuntary manslaughter can be committed EITHER with the intent to injure OR in a grossly negligent manner.
Judge Cynthia Gray Hathaway with husband Dewayne Hayes, a Wayne Co. Dep. Sheriff.
“In the latter instance,” it says, criminal liability is imposed because, although the defendants’ acts are not inherently wrong, the defendant has acted or failed to act with awareness of the risk to safety and in willful disregard of the safety of others.”
According to the transcript of the Oct. 3 arguments, Asst. Prosecutor Robert Moran said, “He [Weekley] knew what the standard was, he knew what ordinary care was required because they go in there with all this powerful equipment, an MP5 submachine gun, a ballistic shield, vest, whatever the case may be, they’re trained how to use it, they’re trained the proper way to use it. He could have avoided injury if he had followed his training, he didn’t. As a result of not following his training and not following the mandates of ordinary care, someone was killed.”
Numerous Special Response Team members testifed earlier that they are repeatedly trained to keep their index finger on the slide of the gun, off the trigger, even if involved in a confrontation. One officer said the training results in automatic “muscle response.”
Brent Sojea, weapons expert, said Weekley’s gun, which he is holding, cannot fire accidentally.
A weapons expert said Weekley’s gun could not be fired accidentally, only by exerting eight to nine pounds of pressure on the trigger.
Defense Attorney Steve Fishman cited only the U.S. Supreme Court case, People V. Evans, which Detroit News reporter George Hunter included in his Oct. 3 story, without acknowledging that Fishman was his source for finding the case.
In that case, Fishman said, “The United States Supreme Court has clearly stated that the trial judge’s ruling cannot be appealed and that retrial on that count is prohibited by the Double Jeopary clause of the United States Constitution. Therefore, the prosecution’s emergency application for leave to appeal should be denied.”
However the Appeals Court rules, courts have proven throughout this country that justice for people of color in particular is rarely rendered, as in the acquittal of George Zimmerman for killing Travyon Martin, and Oakland County Prosecutor Jessica Cooper’s refusal to prosecute Northland Mall security officers who killed McKenzie Cochran, 25, as he cried out, “I can’t breathe” and “I’m dying” while they held him down.