JUDGE DENIES MISTRIAL IN KILLER COP WEEKLEY’S CASE AFTER AIYANA JONES’ GRANDMOTHER’S TESTIMONY

March in June, 2010 to "Redeem Aiyana's Dream." Photo: Herb Boyd

March in June, 2010 to “Redeem Aiyana’s Dream,” organized by Jewel Allison (r) with daughter Honesti (l) Photo: Herb Boyd

Weekley killed Aiyana Stanley-Jones, 7, in 2010, with MP-5 semi-automatic

Defense contended emotional testimony from grandmother, who witnessed the killing, was a deliberate “show” to influence the jury

Judge threatens a mistrial if her “behavior” is repeated; jurors say they can render fair verdict

Courtroom packed with cops and their families; activist calls for supporters of Jones family to attend Sept. 30

By Diane Bukowski

September 29, 2014

Wayne County Circuit Court Judge Cynthia Gray Hathaway
Wayne County Circuit Court Judge Cynthia Gray Hathaway

DETROIT — In a courtroom packed with police officers, some armed, and their families, Wayne County Circuit Court Judge Cynthia Gray Hathaway today denied a defense motion for a mistrial in the case of Detroit Police Officer Joseph Weekley.

 Weekley killed Aiyana Stanley-Jones, 7, on May 16, 2010, with one shot to the head from an MP5 semi-automatic machine gun as a military police unit stormed her home. He faces one charge of involuntary manslaughter and one charge of reckless use of a firearm resulting in death in this retrial.

Defense attorney Steven Fishman cited emotional testimony given Sept. 24 by Aiyana’s grandmother Mertilla Jones, who saw her granddaughter killed in front of her. He claimed her “behavior” was premeditated, and asked for a mistrial.

Judge Hathaway said if Ms. Jones reacted similarly on cross-exam, she WOULD call a mistrial, and that it was likely Weekley would never be tried again. She also threatened to take action against Ms. Jones.

See raw video of Ms. Jones’ testimony Sept. 24 below and decide for yourself.

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Police brutality activist Ron Scott called characterizations of Mertilla Jones during arguments on the motion, “racist and sexist.” He cited defense attorney Steve Fishman’s references to her “behavior” and “acting the fool” as if she were a child, along with Judge Hathaway’s reference to turning the courtroom into a “zoo.” A Detroit News article repeatedly called Ms. Jones’ testimony a “tirade.”

Mertilla Jones and Ron Scott after June, 2013 mistrial declared in Weekley case,
Mertilla Jones and Ron Scott after June, 2013 mistrial declared in Weekley case,

Scott called on supporters of the Jones family to come to court on her behalf Tues. Sept. 29. Due to crowding of the courtroom today, it is likely they will have to be there quite early, well before 9 a.m., to get a seat.

During his argument for a mistrial, Fishman said, “Mr. [Robert] Moran, the court and I all know that what she [Jones] did was deliberate and premeditated.”

The judge had just individually polled all jurors in a closed session to see if Ms. Jones’ testimony made it impossible for them to carry out fair and impartial deliberations. Most said they had expected emotional content to the trial but would not let it influence their consideration of the evidence. One juror, however, noted that Fishman was treating police officer witnesses and members of Aiyana’s family differently when he cross-examined them.

“It’s almost like the police got respect, and the family didn’t get respect … that upset me,” she said.

Fishman had been extremely confrontational and hostile to Aiyana’s aunt LaKrystal Sanders during her cross exam.

Fishman noted today that Jones had not reacted as severely in three previous hearings.

Steve Fishman after earlier trial.
Steve Fishman after earlier trial.

“Do we allow a witness to deliberately sabotage a defendant’s right to a fair trial? . . .From the beginning, she took this to the press, telling them [Weekley] ‘was a dirty cop and I never touched him,’ and ‘he’s a lying m-f cop.’ She told Channel Four News she was worried about the jury, saying she was from the ghetto in the city, and ‘they look at us like we’re dirt.’”

 The jury in Weekley’s first trial in June, 2013, which Hathaway declared hung after only three days of deliberations, had only one Black member. The current jury has five African-Americans, one woman who appears to be from India, and one who appears to be Arabic. There are seven Caucasians on the 14-member panel.

Fishman said case law indicates that “an irregularity prejudicial to the rights of the defendant impairs the ability to get a fair trial,” and declared that “the rights of the defendant are paramount.”

Malice Green autopsy photo.
Malice Green autopsy photo.

Then he launched into a diatribe against Ms. Jones. “Irregularity is a mild word to apply to Ms. Jones’ outburst.” Fishman declared. “The video shows her words, her antics and behavior, when she got close to Weekley, pointing and yelling and talking. . . .her diatribe went on and on and on . . . .it was extraneous, she said things she never should have been allowed to say.”

 Citing a related appeals court decision, Fishman compared Ms. Jones’ testimony to the showing of the movie “Malcolm X” to a majority-Black jury during the trial of Officers Larry Nevers and Walter Budzyn. In 1992, Nevers and Budzyn beat Malice Green, an unemployed steelworker, to death with their heavy flashlights so severely that an autopsy showed his scalp had become detached. The jury found them guilty of second-degree murder.

The verdict was overturned on appeal. Later, the Michigan State Legislature abolished Recorders’ Court, considered one of the most efficient in the country, because it required that all judges and juries be from the majority-Black city of Detroit.

“We must teach our children that our actions have consequences,” Fishman continued. “You can’t come in here and act the fool. For the Court of Appeals, if this motion is not granted, I’m going to be in an impossible position which I wouldn’t be in if she [Ms. Jones] had behaved herself on Wednesday. Now I don’t have a choice but to bring out all the other stuff—the lying she did, the fact that there was a hung jury.”

Weapons expert Brent Sojea with gun that killed Aiyana.
Weapons expert Brent Sojea with gun that killed Aiyana.

Fishman said nothing about the consequences a police officer should face for killing a seven-year-old child. He claimed in his opening statement that Ms. Jones “interfered” with Weekley, causing the gun to fire. But a weapons expert testified earlier in the trial that Weekley’s gun could not fire without its carrier exerting eight to nine pounds of pressure on the trigger.

Other members of the “Special Response Team” said the gunshot that killed Aiyana went off within “seconds” of the team’s entry into the home, with Weekley in the lead position. They said they were trained to keep their finger off the trigger even if someone tried to take the gun from them.

An officer who entered the house early on testified that he saw the casing from the spent cartridge directly inside the doorway, on the floor next to left side of the couch where Aiyana was sleeping. But an evidence technician testified later that he found the cartridge in the middle of the room, near where Ms. Jones had been sleeping. It appeared as if someone had moved the casing to lend weight to Weekley’s claim that Ms. Jones struggled with him.

Expert depiction of Aiyana Jones' killing.
Expert depiction of Aiyana Jones’ killing.

An original autopsy report said Aiyana had been shot in the neck, with the bullet wound exiting in her head, also in line with Weekley’s claimed scenario. After an independent autopsy, however, the Wayne County Medical Examiner revised his report to show the entrance wound at the top of Aiyana’s head.

 Moran responded to Weekley’s argument, “I’m struck by the defense asking in its brief for a mistrial to ‘punish’ Ms. Jones. That is not what this is about. When the outburst happened last week, I had much discussion with Mr. Fishman. I was also worried about the effect it might have on the jury. We spent the entire weekend researching and thinking. Honestly I was conflicted. [Her testimony] was emotional, non-responsive to the questions. I hadn’t even got to the facts. When we polled the jurors, I was quite honestly surprised.”

Hathaway responded, “I was not. They were using their common sense.”

She said she too had researched precedent on the cases cited by Fishman, but did not receive the motions until that morning. Fishman said he did not work Thursday and Friday due to the Jewish holidays.

Atty. Geoffrey Fieger holds press conference May 27, 2010; l to r Aiyana's father Charles Jones, mother Dominika Stanley-Jones, grandmother Mertilla Jones (weeping), Both mother and grandmother have lost significant amounts of weight and experienced PTSD since that time,

Atty. Geoffrey Fieger holds press conference May 27, 2010:  l to r Aiyana’s father Charles Jones, mother Dominika Stanley-Jones, grandmother Mertilla Jones (weeping). Both mother and grandmother have lost significant amounts of weight and experienced PTSD since that time. Father Charles is serving a 40-60 year term in prison in the killing of JeRean Blake. Jury found him guilty of second-degree murder although they acquitted him of gun charges which were the basis for the murder charge. His case is on appeal.

“The only thing we haven’t done is that the witness deserves to know without a doubt what the consequences are if she continues to behave with outbursts like last week,” Hathaway said.

“If this continues, there is no question that the trial will basically turn into a zoo. I’m not going to let that happen. The court is going to instruct Ms. Jones that this trial is in their hands. If the witness decides to come in and put on a show which I think may influence the jury, I will declare a mistrial, and there may be some jeopardy, some consequences [to the witness]. If this continues, they are telling me they don’t care about a mistrial, and in that case, we may never try [the defendant] again.”

Hathaway earlier delayed Weekley’s trial repeatedly, claiming that a separate murder case against Aiyana’s father Charles Jones and common-law uncle Chauncey Owens had to be decided first. Weekley was tried in June, 2013, but Hathaway declared a mistrial after only three days of jury deliberations.

Detroit officers Jennifer Fettig and Matthew Bowens, killed in 2004 during traffic stop. Audience appeared to have confused "cop-killers" with "killer cops."
Detroit officers Jennifer Fettig and Matthew Bowens, killed in 2004 during traffic stop. Court attendees appeared to have confused “cop-killers” with “killer cops.”

During editorial commentary on Ms. Jones’ testimony last week, one TV analyst said it looked like Weekley had no support in the courtroom, that only Aiyana’s family members were present.

It was clear there was a concerted effort to reverse that today, and that it will continue tomorrow. Although this case is about an officer killing a child, several family members of officers who had BEEN killed were in the audience, including James Bowens, the father of Detroit police officer Matthew Bowens. Bowens and Officer Jennifer Fettig, both rookies, were shot to death in 2004.

Bowens then began an unsuccessful campaign for Michigan to restore the death penalty, although Michigan was the first state to abolish it in 1957.

Eric Lee Marshall, then 21, was found guilty of the killings of the two officers despite remaining questions. He died after six years in prisons all over Michigan and the removal of several of his organs. He told his brother during a visit that guards were trying to kill him. Fettig grew up in a town in the Upper Peninsula near the first prison he was in.

Stories related to this trial:

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2014/09/24/aiyanas-grandmother-confronts-killer-cop-from-witness-stand-weekly-re-trial-suspended/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2014/09/24/did-police-tamper-with-key-evidence-in-killing-of-aiyana-jones-7-to-back-up-killer-cop-weekley/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2014/09/18/stunning-revelation-in-cop-killing-of-aiyana-jones-7-direct-contact-gunshot-could-have-killed-her/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2010/10/27/eric-lee-marshall-29-dead-after-six-years-of-prison-torture-including-organ-removal/  


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“NO FUN WHEN THE RABBIT HAS THE GUN,” FERGUSON COP SHOT, WOUNDED

Ferguson police set up a staging area near scene of Mike Brown's shooting after cop shot; the cop was shot over 2 miles away at the Ferguson Community Center. Confrontations between bystanders and police resulted at this scene.

Ferguson police set up a staging area near scene of Mike Brown’s shooting after cop shot; the cop was shot over 2 miles away at the Ferguson Community Center. Confrontations between bystanders and police resulted at this scene as well as at Ferguson police station where crowd gathered after news of the cop’s shooting.

By JIM SALTER Associated Press

September 28, 2014, 3:14 AM ET

Ferguson police surround angry neighborhood crowd on W. Florissant two miles from scene of officer's shooting at Community Center,
Ferguson police surround angry neighborhood crowd on W. Florissant two miles from scene of officer’s shooting at Community Center,

FERGUSON, Mo. – A Ferguson police officer was shot in the arm Saturday night after encountering two men at a community center who ran from him and then opened fire during a foot chase, authorities said.

St. Louis County Police Chief Jon Belmar said at a media briefing early Sunday that the officer approached the men around 9:10 p.m. because the community center was closed. As the officer approached, the men ran away. When the officer gave chase, “one of the men turned and shot,” Belmar said.

The officer was shot in the arm and is expected to survive, he said. Belmar did not identify the officer or give further details about his condition. He said the officer returned fire but said police have “no indication” that either suspect was shot.

Ferguson Community Center

 

A search was underway for the suspects early Sunday in Ferguson, the St. Louis suburb that’s been the scene of racial unrest in the wake of the August shooting death of an unarmed Black 18-year-old by a white police officer [Darren Wilson].

Belmar said he did not think the officer’s shooting was related to two separate protests about Michael Brown’s shooting that were going on Saturday night around the same time.

Around midnight at the police station, approximately two dozen officers stood near a group of about 100 protesters who mingled on a street corner, occasionally shouting, “No justice; no peace.”

Michael Brown, 18 when he was shot multiple times and killed by Officer Darren Wilson. No charges have been brought,
Michael Brown, 18 when he was shot multiple times and killed by Officer Darren Wilson. No charges have been brought,

Nearby, part of a road was closed in town as police conducted a search for the suspects. Numerous law enforcement agencies were responding, and police helicopters were canvassing the area.

The officer’s shooting comes after Ferguson Police Chief Tom Jackson issued a videotaped apology to Brown’s family earlier in the week and attempted to march with protesters, an effort that led to a clash with activists and several arrests on Thursday.

Brown’s parents told The Associated Press on Saturday they were unmoved by the apology.

Brown’s mother, Lesley McSpadden, said, “yes,” when asked if Jackson should be fired, and his father, Michael Brown Sr., said rather than an apology, they would like to see the officer who shot their son arrested.

Darren Wilson receiving award two months before he killed Michael Brown.

Darren Wilson receiving award two months before he killed Michael Brown.

A county grand jury is weighing whether to indict Ferguson officer Darren Wilson in Brown’s shooting.

The Justice Department, which is investigating whether Brown’s civil rights were violated, is conducting a broader probe into Ferguson police. On Friday, it urged Jackson to ban his officers from wearing bracelets supporting Wilson while on duty and from covering up their name plates with black tape.

Ferguson residents complained about the bracelets, which are black with “I am Darren Wilson” in white lettering, at a meeting with federal officials this week.

Brown’s shooting has also focused attention on the lack of diversity in many police departments across the country. In Ferguson, of 53 officers in a community that is two-thirds black, only three are African-American.

Cop with I am Darren Wilson bracelet FergusonAlso early Sunday, not far from Ferguson, an off-duty St. Louis city police officer was injured on Interstate 70 when three suspects fired shots into his personal vehicle, a police spokeswoman said.

Schron Jackson said the officer, who has nearly 20 years of experience, was being treated at a hospital for a minor injury to his arm from broken glass. She said there is no reason to believe the two shootings were related.

Excerpt from International Business Times:

The suspect in the shooting is still at large, according to a report from CNN, citing emergency agency sources. KDSK St. Louis reports that a manhunt is underway for the suspect in the shooting. The suspect is described as a black male, 5’11”, with dreadlocks and wearing dark clothing.

KMOV-TV, St. Louis, reported a police staging area was set up around the area of West Florissant and Stein, not far from where Mike Brown was fatally shot by police officer Darren Wilson Aug. 9. The area has been the focal point of ongoing protests and tension between police and the largely African-American community. Reports an officer had been shot quickly had police rushing to the area, according to a wave of social media activity from residents in the area.

Ferguson police detain protester Aug. 18, 2014, nine days after Mike Brown was killed Aug. 9, 2014.

Ferguson police detain protester Aug. 18, 2014, nine days after Mike Brown was killed Aug. 9, 2014.

Police Captain Ron Johnson visited the scene of a protest in Ferguson, the intersection of Stein and W Florissant streets, which is nearby where teenager Michael Brown was shot by police officer Darren Wilson. According to reports on social media, he told the crowd that “a police officer was shot, no-one else.Alderman Antonio French tweeted that Johnson told protesters to leave the scene, and that would be their only warning. A live stream recorded by people on the scene shows protesters chanting and engaged in heated discussions with officers.

French later added that there was a major police presence, with heavily armed officers at the scene.

Tweets by and to City of St. Louis Alderman Antonio French: 

Antonio French, St. Louis City Alderman
Antonio French, St. Louis City Alderman

Antonio FrenchVerified account@AntonioFrench

Johnson arrived. He told the crowd no one other than the officer was shot. Then told them to leave, saying that would be their only warning.

@AntonioFrench Now its a “manhunt”, but we know who killed MB he’s still free.

@AntonioFrench they should stick Darren Wilson’s ass in jail for life first.

@AntonioFrench let’s do the same for the cop who shot #MikeBrown oh wait.. we protecting him even though he’s guilty #backwards

@AntonioFrench Why is Wilson free getting paid taxpayer money. It’s no fun when the rabbit has the gun#RipMikeBrown#Wearenotprey

VINE posts:

Bad situation. Reports of a cop killed. Angry cops, angry people in #Ferguson. https://vine.co/v/OZpnKUZqBzp

Police. Everywhere. #ferguson https://vine.co/v/OZpeq2jLr3d 

Police. Standstill. Anger. #ferguson https://vine.co/#/v/OZprrgO0zj1

 Tons of police. #ferguson https://vine.co/#/v/OZpOFQ6mU9H

 Police everywhere. #ferguson https://vine.co/#/v/OZd6IZvwuXX


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FERGUSON REBELLION CONTINUES: OPEN LETTER FROM PROTESTERS

Protesters march outside Ferguson police station Sept. 25, 2014.
Protesters march outside Ferguson police station Sept. 25, 2014.

AN OPEN LETTER FROM FERGUSON PROTESTERS

September 26, 2014 

We write to reflect on the hiring/firing of PR consultant Devin James and the actions of Chief Jackson, all occurring on Thursday, September 25th. On Thursday, September 25th, the City of Ferguson fired Devin James, the man hired to manage public relations for the City in the wake of Michael Brown’s murder at the hands of Officer Darren Wilson.

Ferguson PR assistant Devin James, hired then fired after criminal record exposed.
Ferguson PR assistant Devin James, hired then fired after criminal record exposed.

Mr. James was then fired because it came to light that he was convicted of reckless homicide in 2004. It has come to our attention that the City of Ferguson knew about this previous conviction but hired him in an attempt to ‘give Mr. James a second chance.’ In a world where African American men are systematically placed into the criminal justice system and then denied employment based on past charges, we actually applaud the thought of city’s original intent in hiring Mr. James, though we questioned his public relations tactics at times.

However, firing Mr. James once the news of his previous conviction came to public attention, despite knowing of this record before hiring him, is yet another example of the lack of integrity and sense of honor in City leadership. If the City of Ferguson was going to give Mr. James a ‘second chance,’ then they should have done so without reprieve, and stood by Mr. James once this news became public. We can only suspect that the City of Ferguson planned to hide this information from the public – another cover-up and an intentional pattern of secrecy displayed by City leadership. Whether or not we agreed with Mr. James’ approach, we believe this once again displays the corroded moral fiber of the leadership in the City of Ferguson we have seen for over 48 days now.

On the same day of Mr. James’ termination, a video of Chief Thomas Jackson reciting a scripted apology to Michael Brown’s family and to protestors was released (see above). The video did more harm than good. The apology was 48 days too late, should have occurred in person, and should have been authentic and heartfelt. A 6 week old scripted video is unacceptable and disrespects the depth of pain in this community.

Protestors decided to peacefully protest these and other actions of Chief Jackson’s outside of the Ferguson Police Department on Thursday night, the site of peaceful assemblies and civic actions since August 9. During this time, in an unnecessary act of clear provocation and intimidation, officers ripped down the banner that protestors had displayed at their protest site.

Ferguson police chief Thomas Jackson just before police attacked protesters, who were protecting him.

Ferguson police chief Thomas Jackson just before police attacked protesters, who were protecting him.

On Thursday evening, Chief Jackson came to the sidewalk in front of the Ferguson Police Department parking lot to speak with peaceful protestors angry with him and with the police. He was criticized for his apology and for his actions since August 9, 2014. Upon being asked to march with the protestors, Chief Jackson agreed. He crossed the police line and began marching. Several peaceful protesters marched very closely to him to ensure his protection and peace amongst the crowd. People marching included peaceful protestors and members of the media.

Michael Brown 2
Michael Brown

Chief Jackson told the police officers lined up to stand down. Less than 90 seconds after the march began, a few police officers ran into the group of protestors from behind and began grabbing people. Seconds later, nearly all of the police officers present stormed the crowd of protestors, most of them in riot gear.

(Click on https://vine.co/v/OZKAFBFFqH3)

During this brief but peaceful march, lawful protestors also report a staff member of Faracai Pizza North, who was inside the business after it had closed for the evening, came outside of the establishment. During this time, he pointed a gun directly at peaceful protestors, another act of threat and intimidation, this time at the hands of a fellow citizen. At the time of this letter, we have heard he has not been arrested.

Prior to the violent officer interruption of this peaceful march, Chief Jackson was not harmed in any way. There is video that proves this fact. Video evidence also shows police officers storming the peaceful protestors unprovoked.

Beginning of police confrontation with Ferguson protesters Sept. 25, 2014.

Beginning of police confrontation with Ferguson protesters Sept. 25, 2014.

The guilty police officers kicked, grabbed, shoved, and hit peaceful protestors with their hands and batons. Seven peaceful, lawful protestors were arrested. One of these protestors was Joshua Williams, an area 18-year-old active in peaceful assemblies. Police officers beat and choked Joshua and slammed him into the ground before arresting him.

He was denied medical treatment.

Joshua Williams speaking
Joshua Williams

Another peaceful protestor, Coco, was picked up and slammed into the ground repeatedly before being carried off by several police officers, her body limp.

Police officers arrested Umar Lee, a citizen journalist, and hit his head on concrete before arresting him.

Despite carrying out these atrocious human rights violations, the police continued to threaten and intimidate lawful protestors. Peaceful protesters were told that if we remained on one side of the street (leaving one lane open) the people arrested would be released. The arrested protestors were, apparently, also told this. Several of them had their phones with them while they were held in vans behind the Ferguson police station.

Umar Lee

Umar Lee

Despite promises, no one was released from custody. Officers then said that if we got out of the street, they would release the protestors. Again, protesters who had been arrested were apparently told the same thing.

We complied again. And again, no one was released.

Arrested protesters were eventually transferred to another jail. Several were still denied medical treatment. As of the writing of this letter, only one arrested protestor has been Arrested protesters were eventually transferred to another jail. Several were still denied medical treatment. As of the writing of this letter, only one arrested protestor has been released.

Police attempted to hold the unlawfully arrested and abused protestors hostage in undeserved lockup, and promised their freedom in exchange for the rest of us leaving the protest site. Based on the injustice of this exchange and lack of grounds for the arrests, we peacefully refused.

Woman is arrested by Ferguson police Sept. 25, 2014.

Woman is arrested by Ferguson police Sept. 25, 2014.

Chief Jackson’s actions and the failure of those of the men in his charge to follow orders have caused further injury, unnecessary harm and detainment, and put more lives at risk. Given the unprovoked brutality present throughout this crisis and displayed once again last evening, we conclude that none of these police officers should be working in law enforcement anywhere, until they can do so in a professional manner, follow orders, and truly protect and serve all those who step foot in Ferguson. It is an issue of public safety and basic respect for human dignity.

In Protest,

Ferguson

Note: This was written and edited by several protesters during the morning after the events.

Police allowed Mike Brown's body to remain in the street for 4 hours as his blood turned black, and relatives and neighbors pled with police at least to cover him.

Police allowed Mike Brown’s body to remain in the street for 4 hours as his blood turned black, and relatives and neighbors pled with police at least to cover him. No charges have yet been brought against killer cop Darren Wilson for this cold-blooded execution.


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THE REAL REASON WE ARE BOMBING SYRIA

Syrian men help survivors out of building in Aleppo after air strikes.

Syrian men help survivors out of building in Aleppo after air strikes.

 

Dennis Kucinich
Dennis Kucinich

 

By Dennis J. Kucinich

Former 16-year member of the U.S. Congress and two-time U.S. presidential candidate

September 24, 2014

The administration’s response to the conjunction of this weekend’s People’s Climate March and the International Day of Peace?

1) Bomb Syria the following day, to wrest control of the oil from ISIS which gained its foothold directly in the region through the U.S., Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Turkey and Jordan funding and arming ISIS’ predecessors in Syria.

2) Send the president to UN General Assembly, where he will inevitably give a rousing speech about climate and peace, while the destruction of the environment and the shattering of world peace is on full display 5,000 miles away.

In a speech before the United Nations on Wednesday, President Obama asked the world to join the fight against the Islamic State.Credit Damon Winter/The New York Times
In a speech before the United Nations on Wednesday, President Obama asked the world to join the fight against the Islamic State.Credit Damon Winter/The New York Times

Nothing better illustrates the bankruptcy of the Obama administration’s foreign policy than funding groups that turn on the U.S. again and again, a neo-con fueled cycle of profits for war makers and destruction of ever-shifting “enemies.”

The fact can’t be refuted: ISIS was born of Western intervention in Iraq and covert action in Syria.

This Frankenstein-like experiment of arming the alleged freedom-seeking Syrian opposition created the monster that roams the region. ISIS and the U.S. have a curious relationship — mortal enemies that, at the same time, benefit from some of the same events:

  1. a) Ousting former Iraqi President Nouri al Maliki for his refusal to consent to the continued presence of U.S. troops in his country.
  2. b) Regime change in Syria.
  3. c) Arming the Kurds so they can separate from Iraq, a preliminary move to partitioning Iraq.

US spending on war in IraqWhat a coincidence for war-profiteering neo-cons and the war industry, which has seen its stock rise since last week’s congressional vote to fund the rapid expansion of war. We have met the enemy and he isn’t only ISIS, he is us.

Phase two of the war against Syria is the introduction of 5,000 “moderate” mercenaries (as opposed to immoderate ones), who were trained in Saudi Arabia, the hotbed of Wahhabism, at an initial installment cost of $15 billion. These new “moderates” will replace the old “moderates,” who became ISIS, just in time for Halloween.

The administration, in the belief that you can buy, rent, or lease friends where they otherwise do not exist, labor under the vain assumption that our newfound comrades-in-arms will remain in place during their three-year employment period, ignoring the inevitability that those “friends” you hire today could be firing at you tomorrow.

One wonders if Saudi training of these moderate mercenaries will include methods of beheading which were popularized by the Saudi government long before their ISIS progeny took up the grisly practice.

The U.S. is being played.

Saudi Arabia mapQatar and Saudi Arabia can now overtly join with the U.S. in striking Syria, after they have been covertly attempting for years to take down the last secular state in the region. We are now advancing the agenda of the actual Islamic States — Saudi Arabia and Qatar — to fight the ersatz Islamic State of ISIS.

Now U.S. bombs and missiles might inadvertently “make the world safe” for theocracy rather than democracy. Today we read reports that Israel has shot down a Syrian warplane, indicating the terrible possibility of a wider regional conflict.

What does this have to do with the security of the 50 States United? Nothing!

Last week Congress acted prematurely in funding a war without following the proscriptions of Article I, Section 8 of the U.S. Constitution. (The day of the vote, I urged Congress to resist this dangerous and misguided legislation.) But even while the funding was given, the explicit authorization to go to war was not. To authorize a war, Congress must vote for war. It has not done that yet.

To sell its case, the administration is borrowing from the fear mongering tactics of the Bush administration. ISIS poses no direct, immediate threat to the United States — The White House even said so yesterday, just hours before bombing commenced – yet we are being sold make-believe about ISIS sleeper cells.

Obama following same war path as Bush.
Obama following same war path as Bush.

This attack on Syria, under the guise of striking ISIS, is by definition, a war of aggression. It is a violation of international law. It could lead to crimes against humanity and the deaths of untold numbers of innocent civilians. No amount of public relations or smooth talking can change that.

And yes, members of this Democratic administration, including the president who executed this policy, must be held accountable by the International Criminal Court and by the American people, who he serves.

But as we know, war is a powerful and cynical PR tactic. I expect the bombing of Syria will momentarily boost the White House’s popularity with self-serving heroic accounts of damage inflicted upon ISIS (and the U.S. equipment they use). Stuffing the November ballot box with bombs and missiles may even help the Democratic Party retain the Senate.

But after the election the voters will discover that the president played into the hands of extremists, hurt civilians, and embroiled our country deep into another conflict in the Middle East.

No blood for oilThere were alternatives. The U.S. and the international community could have contained and shrunk ISIS by cutting off its funds and its revenue from sale of oil on the black market. We could have looked to strike a deal with Syria and Iran.

In foreign policy, the administration has failed. Congress has failed. Both the Democratic and Republican Parties have passed the national checkbook to their patrons in the war contracting business. And passed the bill to future generations.

The American people, who in 2008 searched for something redemptive after years of George W. Bush’s war, realize in 2014 that hope and change was but a clever slogan. It was used to gain power and to keep it through promoting fear, war, the growth of the National Security state, and an autumnal bonfire of countless billions of tax dollars which fall like leaves from money trees on the banks of the Potomac.

Follow Dennis J. Kucinich on Twitter: www.twitter.com/Dennis_Kucinich


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AIYANA’S GRANDMOTHER CONFRONTS KILLER COP FROM WITNESS STAND; WEEKLY RE-TRIAL SUSPENDED

video platformvideo managementvideo solutionsvideo player

Both Mertilla Jones and aunt LaKrystal Sanders break down on stand

Judge Hathway threatens witnesses, others with arrest

Cops high-five each other near witness room with no reprimand

Michael Brown rebellion in Ferguson, MO re-ignites in meantime

By Diane Bukowski

Sept. 24, 2014

One of Mertilla Jones' favorite photos of her granddaughter Aiyana, from her Facebook page.
One of Mertilla Jones’ favorite photos of her granddaughter Aiyana, from her Facebook page.

DETROIT —  Mertilla Maria Sanders Jones, who saw Detroit police officer Joseph Weekley kill her seven-year-old granddaughter Aiyana Stanley-Jones directly in front of her May 16, 2010, broke down uncontrollably on the stand today, during Weekley’s re-trial on charges of involuntary manslaughter and reckless use of a firearm.

 

Assistant Wayne County Prosecutor Robert Moran had just asked her whether Weekley put his MP5 submachine gun to Aiyana’s head and pulled the trigger, in the course of a militarized police raid on the family’s home.

“That’s what I felt I saw,” Ms. Jones responded. “Then more cops came rushing in and I asked someone to help my granddaughter. Oh my God, oh Jesus, why did he do that?”

Looking directly at Weekley as she passed by him while being escorted off the stand, she continued, “Why did you do it? Please tell me why you came in my house. You killed Aiyana. You know I never touched you. You’re wrong. She was my baby. I told you all, I get no sleep, I keep having flashbacks. I’m sick. I wouldn’t wish that on nobody. You’re the people who are supposed to protect and serve.”

Defense attorney Steve Fishman angrily confronts Aiyana's aunt LaKrystal Sanders during her testimony as Joseph Weekley watches.
Defense attorney Steve Fishman angrily confronts Aiyana’s aunt LaKrystal Sanders during her testimony as Joseph Weekley watches.

Weekley and his attorney Steve Fishman watched without evident emotion, except for what appeared to be a darker track down Weekley’s face from his left eye.

 During Weekley’s first trial, Fishman accused Jones of trying to grab Weekley’s gun and lying that Weekley deliberately shot Aiyana, among other matters. Without naming Jones in his opening statement this time, he scathingly called her a liar numerous times, asking the jury outright if they could believe Weekley would have killed a child deliberately. He said two of her sons were in prison and otherwise assassinated her character.

The prosecution did not object to those statements.

Wayne County Medical Examiner Carl Schmidt testified last week, however, that a gunshot wound resulting from direct contact with the victim’s head would leave no stippling. The lack of stippling in Aiyana’s case led some to contend that Weekley was a distance away. However, other officers on the raid team earlier corroborated Ms. Jones testimony today, that the gunshot went off within seconds of Weekley’s entry into the house, after a stun grenade had landed on the couch where the little girl and her grandmother were sleeping.

A&E First 48 video of raid on Jones home

Many of Aiyana’s relatives in the courtroom also began weeping with Ms. Jones. They left after she was escorted into the witness room, where she could still be heard loudly crying WHY? The jury was also escorted into the jury room, but first Judge Hathaway instructed them not to try the case based on emotions, but facts and evidence. She ended the hearing for that day. No trial was scheduled for Sept. 24 and 25.

In the hallway, Ms. Jones’ daughter LaKrystal Sanders and Aiyana’s mother Dominika Stanley-Jones asked to talk to her to calm her down, and court security officers brought Ms. Jones out. She slid to the floor while Dominika and LaKrystal embraced her and began weeping again themselves. Several other family members grouped around them were crying, including a young man who was sobbing and hyperventilating. Eventually Ms. Jones and her family left the building with court security to get some air.

Mertilla Jones holds grandchildren after second police raid on their new address in June, 2012.
Mertilla Jones holds grandchildren after second police raid on their new address in June, 2012.

Prior to Ms. Jones’ testimony, while she was not in the courtroom, Hathaway said, “I want everyone to know—and it is unfortunately the case that some of the people are still in the hallway—that I am convinced there is no one in this courtroom who does not feel bad about this situation. I’m not patient about making the situation worse. To the witnesses and everyone else, lawyers, the audience, the media, we have an excellent process for allowing the jury to decide the case. Keep all these things in mind. I would hate to order arrests of witnesses, visitors and citizens, but I will not hesitate to do so.”

Weeping, Sanders had told defense attorney Fishman after a prolonged time on the stand, “You keep asking the same questions. That man killed my niece and she’s gone.” Hostile, Fishman accused her of hating all police, and read a statement she had given earlier to that effect.  . Moran asked her whether that statement was made after her niece was killed, which she confirmed. She was led out to the witness room for a break still crying.

Directly afterwards, a group of police officers standing next to the witness room started talking loudly and high-fiving each other within earshot of the witness room, where Ms. Jones and other witnesses still waited to take the stand. They were not that court’s officers but evidently had come armed to court to support Weekley. Although the jury did not observe their behavior, many of Aiyana’s relatives did.

Judge Cynthia Gray Hathaway
Judge Cynthia Gray Hathaway

When Sanders returned to the stand, before the jury was recalled, Hathaway admonished her, “You’re not respecting others or yourself.”

 After standing and being recognized to speak, this reporter asked Hathaway, “Judge, would you please include police officers in your warning because they were just out here high-fiving each other?”

Hathaway at first denied the incident occurred, but then said, “I will take your comments into consideration, and let officers know that we have a certain way of addressing matters in this courtroom, and that is strictly professional.”

Hathaway is currently married to a Wayne County Deputy Sheriff.

Ms. Jones was called back upstairs after she left the building, to confer with Moran. She reported that Moran told her he did not want a mistrial as happened previously. She also reported that Moran said ALL the jurors in the first case wanted to convict Weekley of involuntary manslaughter.

VOD reported at that time that Hathaway called a mistrial after only three days of deliberations as follows:

 “On the morning of June 18, loud shouting was heard as the Weekley jury, composed of 11 whites and one Black, continued a third day of deliberations in their room.

“Later, they sent three notes to Hathaway. The first said they were “stuck,” the second asked if they could find Weekley guilty of only some of the elements of involuntary manslaughter, and the final note, sent only an hour later, said they could not reach a verdict. They had been told they could only consider the second charge of reckless discharge of a firearm resulting in death if they found Weekley guilty of the first charge, according to a report from Detroit’s Channel 7 News.

“Hathaway told them they had to find Weekley guilty of all elements, and asked them to continue deliberating after the first two notes. After the third note, she declared a mistrial and thanked the jury profusely for their service.”

Hathaway’s role in the Weekley trial has been open for question for some time.

The First 48's Allison Howard at defense table with Joseph Weekley several years ago.
The First 48’s Allison Howard at defense table with Joseph Weekley several years ago.

She repeatedly delayed his trial, with the agreement of both prosecution and defense, saying she was waiting for “a related matter,” the trial of Aiyana’s father Charles Jones and Chauncey Owens in the death of JeRean Blake two days before Aiyana was killed, to occur first.

 The only legally related matter, however, was the trial of Weekley’s co-defendant Allison Howard, a photographer for the “First 48” camera crew that shadowed  Detroit homicide officers and the SRT team as it investigated Blake’s killing and raided the Jones home. Howard, who took the tape of the raid to a party afterward and then lied about it, was given probation by Hathaway.

The Jones-Owens trial was delayed because Wayne County Circuit Court Judge Richard Skutt ruled that jail-house snitch Jay Schlenkerman would not be allowed to testify against Jones. His ruling was appealed all the way to the Michigan Supreme Court, which took months.

Jail-house "snitch" Jay Schlenkerman in latest MDOC photograph. He is currently serving at least 6 years after multiple counts of DUI and domestic abuse,
Jail-house “snitch” Jay Schlenkerman in latest MDOC photograph. He is currently serving at least 6 years after multiple counts of DUI and domestic abuse,

 

Moran also prosecuted Jones and Owens, in what many considered a blatant conflict of interest. An anonymous source with friends in the prosecutor’s office told VOD that many others there are upset with the way the Jones family is being treated in this matter.

Jones and Owens were finally tried earlier this year, resulting in a guilty verdict of second-degree murder for Jones and an innocent verdict on gun charges, although he was accused of murder solely on the contention that he aided and abetted Owens by giving him the gun to kill Blake. Owens was found guilty of first-degree murder. Both verdicts are being appealed.

Ironically, the Jones split verdict, accepted by Judge Skutt, was similar to the split verdict during Weekley’s first trial, which Judge Hathaway did not accept.

Hathaway did deny the defense’s request for another delay in Weekley’s trial this time. Fishman contended that the police killing of Michael Brown in Ferguson, MO (date) and repeated news stories on the militarization of police in the U.S. would prejudice the jury.

 The rebellion which followed Brown’s brutal execution by officer Darren Wilson re-ignited over the past two days after a memorial to Brown was found burned down, and the Ferguson City Council delayed a decision on whether to establish a civilian police review board. Protesters and Brown’s parents said an apology by Ferguson’s mayor, scripted by a public relations firm, was insulting, and that they wanted Wilson arrested.

Prior to Sanders’ and Jones’ testimony, Jones’ son Vincent Ellis took the stand. He was staying at Jones’ home in a bedroom to one side of the living room. Fishman repeatedly asked him whether police officers who raided the home asked him “Where are the guns?” or “Where is the gun?”

Ellis said he had never had a gun at that address although he said a Facebook photo showing him with one was taken at another location.

Police found no guns or drugs found in the Jones home during the raid according to earlier testimony. Many of the family’s members have however been continually harassed and arrested by Detroit police since Weekley killed Aiyana.

It is a pattern common to the Department, which has also arrested children and relatives of other police brutality victims. They have included Arnetta Grable, who lost her son Lamar Grable to three-time killer cop Eugene Brown, and Cornell Squires, whose son was framed up on a carjacking charge by cop William Melendez, one of the chief defendants in a federal trial of 18 southwest Detroit police officers for framing up, beating and harassing witnesses.

Jones family members join other families from across the country whose loved ones were killed by police,

Jones family members join other families from across the country whose loved ones were killed by police. Arnetta Grable, who hosted the meeting, is at right.

Above: USA Today video on recent police killings across the U.S.

Recent related stories:

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2014/09/24/did-police-tamper-with-key-evidence-in-killing-of-aiyana-jones-7-to-back-up-killer-cop-weekley/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2014/09/18/stunning-revelation-in-cop-killing-of-aiyana-jones-7-direct-contact-gunshot-could-have-killed-her/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2012/01/22/aiyana%e2%80%99s-family-joins-other-police-victims-at-national-meeting-in-metro-detroit/

http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2014/09/24/break-in-reported-protesters-gather-in-ferguson/16138611/

http://www.cbsnews.com/news/tensions-mount-in-ferguson-again-after-michael-brown-memorial-burned/


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DID POLICE TAMPER WITH KEY EVIDENCE IN KILLING OF AIYANA JONES, 7, TO BACK UP KILLER COP WEEKLEY?


Video above by Silo Sh3llz “RIP Aiyana Jones”

NOTE: VOD WILL HAVE STORY UP LATER TODAY ON EVENTS IN THE COURTROOM SEPT. 24.

Mertilla Jones (l) weeps in agony at candlelight vigil for Aiyana shortly after her death; Aiyana's mother Dominika and father Charles are at right.
Mertilla Jones (l) weeps in agony at candlelight vigil for Aiyana shortly after her death; Aiyana’s mother Dominika and father Charles are at right.

Aiyana’s grandmother Mertilla Jones broke down weeping uncontrollably on the stand Sept 24 and repeatedly asked Weekley WHY he had killed her granddaughter and then lied about her trying to get his gun.

 She was escorted from the courtroom, and continued directly accusing him as she passed. Numerous relatives seated in the court also began weeping uncontrollably, including a young man who was sobbing and hyperventilating in the hallway outside. After Aiyana’s mother and aunt asked to speak to her to calm her down, Ms. Jones came into the hallway and slid to the floor while Dominika Jones and LaKrystal Sanders consoled her, crying as well. At least six family members in the hallway surrounded her, some weeping as well, for a lengthy time before court officers escorted them outside so Ms. Jones could get some fresh air. Judge Cynthia Gray Hathaway, who earlier threatened witnesses with arrest after LaKrystal Sanders similarly broke down prior to Mertilla Jones’ testimony, halted the trial for the rest of the week.

SRT officer says he found shell casing from fatal bullet by front doorway

Evidence techs photographed it in middle of room two hours later

Firearms expert: MP-5 gun could not have gone off accidentally

Police testimony replete with military jargon

 September 23, 2014

 By Diane Bukowski

Charles and Dominika Jones (l), parents of Aiyana Jones (r) Photo: Facebook
Charles and Dominika Jones (l), parents of Aiyana Jones (r)
Photo: Facebook

DETROIT – Police testimony in the trial of Officer Joseph Weekley this week for killing Aiyana Jones exposed a glaring contradiction regarding the spent casing from the bullet that killed the 7-year-old child during the military-style assault on her home May 15, 2010.

Sgt. Brian Bowens, part of the “Special Response Team” involved, testified Sept. 22 that he saw the casing directly inside the front doorway when he entered just after two officers rushed the little girl out of the house to St. John’s Hospital. She had been shot “within seconds” after the team broke into her home in the middle of the night according to other testimony.

“It [the casing] was on the floor between the couch [where Aiyana was shot] and the door extending out,” Bowens said. “It was very tight confines. As soon as you walked in, there was a couch directly to your left and another to your right. There was blood on the couch to the left of the door.”

Asst. Prosecutor Mark Hindelang displayed Bowen’s diagram of the scene to the jury, with the casing inside the front doorway circled in red, and Bowens’ initials next to it.

Police evidence photo of couch on which Aiyana Jones was shot by Police officer Joseph Weekley.
Police evidence photo of couch on which Aiyana Jones was shot by Police officer Joseph Weekley.

Bowens said when he entered the room, four people including murder suspect Chauncey Owens were sitting on the bloody couch where Aiyana had been shot, under police guard. Aiyana’s mother Dominika Stanley-Jones earlier testified that police had ordered herself, Aiyana’s father and grandmother, and Owens to sit there. Bowens said the only people moving about were police officers.

 Owens had just come down from the upper flat where he lived, under police guard. Thus, Owens’ entrance into the lower flat moments after the shooting apparently had not dislocated the casing.

However, a police evidence technician who processed the scene about two hours after the shooting testified today that he found both the spent casing and bullet in front of the couch on its far side near where Aiyana’s grandmother, Mertilla Jones, had been sleeping.

Artist depiction of Aiyana's shooting, presented by family attorney Geoffrey Fieger shortly after her death and a second autopsy which showed gunshot wound at top of forehead, exiting through neck.
Artist depiction of Aiyana’s shooting, presented by family attorney Geoffrey Fieger shortly after her death and a second autopsy which showed gunshot wound at top of forehead, exiting through neck.

The prosecution showed an evidence technician’s photograph of the bullet and casing with two yellow crime scene markers next to them at that location.

Weekley’s defense attorney Steve Fishman contended in his opening statement and during cross-examinations of several witnesses that Weekley’s gun went off because an individual [Aiyana's paternal grandmother Mertilla Jones] “interfered” with Weekley, perhaps grabbing his gun. Mertilla Jones had been sleeping with Aiyana on the front couch, on its left-hand side near where the casing was shown in the evidence technician photograph.

Did officers move the bullet casing to that location before the evidence technicians arrived on the scene, to back up Weekley’s story? Many supporters of the family have contended that not only Weekley, but the SRT, and the whole chain of command over them, should have been charged with murder in Aiyana’s death. Only Weekley faces a charge of “involuntary manslaughter.”

Fieger press conference after raid: Mertilla Jones and aunt LaKrystal Sanders . AP photo by Carlos Osorio
Fieger press conference after raid: Mertilla Jones and aunt LaKrystal Sanders . AP photo by Carlos Osorio

Jones is possibly expected to testify Sept. 24, in the face of Fishman’s blistering opening statement during which he repeatedly called her a “liar” for saying Weekley deliberately “murdered” Aiyana, and added that two of her sons are in prison. Asst. Prosecutors Moran and Hindelang offered no objection during his statement.

 “I figured what all of them came to do was murder,” Jones testified during Weekley’s first trial. “From the way they came in, and they knew there were children in the house, they came to kill, and they just killed a 7-year-old. I saw the officer come in, put the gun to Aiyana’s head, and just shoot. . . . The gun was placed right there at Aiyana’s head, and they pulled the trigger. I saw the light leave out of her eyes, and blood gushed out of her mouth. I knew she was dead.”

Denessa, April and Martin Westbrook described similar circumstances in a 2007 lawsuit they filed against Weekley and other SRT members in federal court.

“Defendants entered the home and did not knock or announce their presence,” their lawsuit said. “Immediately upon barging into the home, Defendants had their guns blazing and they began shooting. There were children and an infant present in the home. Without any justifiable reason whatsoever, Defendants shot Plaintiffs’ two dogs, while a child was in the same room as the dog. Defendants wrongfully detained Plaintiffs for nearly an hour. Defendants had their guns pointed at Plaintiffs and the child and infant.”

Brent Sojea, weapons expert, demonstrates MP5 semi-automatic machine gun which killed Aiyana during Weekley's earlier trial. He testified Sept. 23 again that the gun could not have fired accidentally.
Brent Sojea, weapons expert, demonstrates MP5 semi-automatic machine gun which killed Aiyana during Weekley’s earlier trial. He testified Sept. 23 again that the gun could not have fired accidentally.

The Westbrook lawsuit for “unconstitutional entry, search, detention and destruction of property” was settled for $27,000 according to Detroit City Council records.

Regarding Fishman’s contention that Weekley did not deliberately fire his gun, firearms and tool markings expert Brent Sojea testified today that was not possible, while other SRT officers testified that they are trained to keep their fingers away from a gun’s trigger even during “firearms retention” if someone tries to seize their weapon.

Sojea confirmed that Weekley’s gun fired the bullet and casing that killed Aiyana, the only ammunition in the room.

Holding Weekley’s Heckler and Koch MP5 submachine gun, Sojea said it could be fired as a semi-automatic or in automatic mode, during which it would fire 800 rounds a minute. He said he tested the gun in numerous ways to see if it could fire without pressing the trigger.

“I tested it by dropping it and banging it on its side, muzzle and butt from different heights onto a rubber mat,” Sojea said. “I used a six-plane safety test, in which I banged on it with a mallet on all sides. It would not fire.”

Sojea said tests showed that the gun required eight to nine pounds of pressure to pull the trigger.

Still from A&E video of SRT team breaking into Jones home May 16, 2010.

Still from A&E video of SRT team breaking into Jones home May 16, 2010.

The prosecution also showed evidence technician photographs of the scene and the A&E “First 48″ film of the actual raid, from a distance. Another video, likely by police, which showed the raid closer up, has not been introduced by the prosecution.

Several photographs showed brightly colored children’s toys on both sides of the two-family flat’s entrance steps, and on the porch near the entrance to the Jones’ family’s door. But all SRT officers who testified said they saw no evidence of the presence of children, including toys, during the raid. One officer testified all he saw during daytime surveillance was “a mess of people.”

Charles Jones is interviewed by Channel 2 reporter Amy Lange the morning of his daughter's death on family's porch. Toys shown are also in evidence tech photos of the scene directly after the raid.
Charles Jones is interviewed by Channel 2 reporter Amy Lange the morning of his daughter’s death on family’s porch. Toys shown are also in evidence tech photos of the scene directly after the raid.

Dominika and Charles Jones’ five children, including Aiyana and several toddlers, were staying at the home, rented by Mertilla Jones, during the period of surveillance.

 Surveillance officers also testified that they radioed a “take-down” crew when one saw Chauncey Owens exiting the downstairs flat and walking up Lillibridge eastbound to E. Canfield. That crew was supposed to apprehend Owens if he was seen outside the house, but surveillance officers claimed the take-down crew did not have enough time to get to him before he returned.

VOD walked the distance from the Lillibridge location to E. Canfield and back, which took approximately four minutes. The take-down crews were waiting only a short distance away from the scene. Many have said police were waiting to set up a dramatic night-time raid for the benefit of crews from A&E’s “First 48″ series. Weekley and other officers from the SRT team are featured as stars on A&E’s website for “Detroit SWAT,” the predecessor to “The First 48.”

Particularly striking during testimony by several SRT officers yesterday and today was their use of military terms during their descriptions of events.

Officer Joseph Weekley shown as star "Brain" on Detroit SWAT website.
Officer Joseph Weekley shown as star “Brain” on Detroit SWAT website.

They referred to the black uniforms worn by SRT members as “BDU’s” or battle dress uniforms, to the planned raid as a “mission,” and to the Jones home as a “target.” One SRT officer said he was familiar with the tactics because he had served nine years in the U.S. military.

 The “First 48” film crew tailing the SRT team during the raid was referred to as “embedded,” a term first coined to describe media crews operating with U.S. forces during various wars in Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya.

According to earlier published reports on the three days of jury selection, a large number of potential jurors were screened out after Judge Cynthia Gray Hathaway, the prosecution and defense read over questionnaires they had filled out. The potential jurors were asked if they had heard about the police killing of Michael Brown in Ferguson, MO, and whether they had read articles about the increasing militarization of U.S. police forces.

The second day of jury selection was dominated largely by the same questions asked personally during voir dire. By the third day, enough jurors had been screened out that “voir dire” focused largely on regular questions regarding their backgrounds and willingness to be fair.

Rise of the Warrior CopThe sitting jury is now comprised of three Black women, two Black men, one woman who appears to be from India, one woman who appears to be Arab, and seven white individuals. The jury in Weekley’s original trial had only one Black member.

One attorney indirectly associated with the case, however, told VOD, “Moran threw the first trial, and it is a conflict of interest for him to prosecute both Weekley and Aiyana’s father Charles Jones, along with Chauncey Owens, for the killing of Jerean Blake.”

Blake was shot to death May 14, 2010, a crime for which both Jones and Owens were convicted, but they are appealing their cases.

On Sept. 18, Wayne County Circuit Court Judge Richard Skutt denied Jones’ motion for either a directed verdict or a new trial, based on his jury’s contradictory verdict finding him guilty of second-degree murder while acquitting him of the gun charges that were the base for the murder charge. His attorneys said they plan to appeal. (VOD story to come on this.)

Previous VOD story on this trial:

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2014/09/18/stunning-revelation-in-cop-killing-of-aiyana-jones-7-direct-contact-gunshot-could-have-killed-her/


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EIGHT CIVILIANS, INCLUDING THREE KIDS, KILLED IN US-LED STRIKES ON SYRIA – MONITOR

From: RT

September 23, 2014 08:30

Eight civilians, three of them children, have been killed in the US-led air strikes on Al-Qaeda Nusra front positions, Reuters reported, citing the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

BEIRUT (Reuters) – Air strikes by U.S.-led coalition forces in Syria killed 30 fighters from al Qaeda-linked Nusra Front and eight civilians including children, a group monitoring the war said on Tuesday.

The strikes targeted a residential building in Aleppo province used by Nusra Front, said Rami Abdulrahman, who runs the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

The United States said earlier on Tuesday its forces had carried out eight strikes against al Qaeda-affiliated militants west of Aleppo.

(Reporting by Tom Perry; Editing by Andrew Heavens)

U.S. alleges these cities in Syria house ISIS rebels, who have been funded by the CIA from the start.

U.S. alleges these cities in Syria and Iraq house ISIS rebels, who have been funded by the CIA from the start.

Washington carried out a series of airstrikes on the city of Raqqa in the early hours of Tuesday. At least 30 militants died in the strikes, which were carried out on IS positions in Syria. Washington informed Damascus about the operation, according to a representative of Syrian Foreign Ministry.

“There is an exodus out of Raqqa as we speak. It started in the early hours of the day after the strikes. People are fleeing towards the countryside,” one local resident told Reuters.

The strikes targeted residential buildings in Aleppo allegedly used by Al-Nusra Front, according to Rami Abdulrahman, who runs the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

Store in Syria destroyed by drone in wave of attacks.
Store in Syria destroyed by drone in wave of attacks.

The US-led coalition’s targets also included training camps, headquarters and weapon supplies in northern and eastern Syria, with many IS locations “destroyed or damaged” around the cities of Raqqa, Deir al-Zor, Hasakah and the border town of Albu Kamal, Reuters reported.

 In particular, “[Islamic State] fighters, training compounds, headquarters and command and control facilities, storage facilities, a finance center, supply trucks and armed vehicles” were hit.

Raqqa (Al-Raqqa) is a city with a population of over 200,000 people, and is strategically located just 40km east of the largest Syrian dam. Raqqa is believed to be the IS headquarters.

Video posted to a social media website purports to show civil defence workers successfully rescuing a baby from under rubble in Aleppo and clashes involving Islamic Front fighters.2014-09-22 12:31 PM ESTLast Updated: 2014-09-22 01:28 PM EST

– See more at: http://www.ntd.tv/en/news/world/middle-east-/-africa/20140922/222599-rescuers-pull-baby-from-rubble-in-syria39s-aleppo.html#sthash.K1q9UDis.dpuf


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LAMAR GRABLE: ALIVE IN OUR HEARTS FOREVER

Lamar memorial


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OBAMA CONTINUES ON PATH OF ENDLESS WARS? – THE FINAL CALL

Final call logoBy Askia Muhammad -Senior Editor

Sep 17, 2014

Related news: ISIS: Made in the U.S.A.?

U.S. Air Force strike

U.S. Air Force strike

WASHINGTON (FinalCall.com) – In response to rapidly changing events on the ground in Iraq and Syria, President Obama has authorized U.S. airstrikes for the first time in Syria and their expansion in Iraq against the militant group Islamic State.

In a prime-time address, Obama vowed to hunt down Islamic State militants wherever they are. “We will hunt down terrorists who threaten our country, wherever they are,” Mr. Obama said in a live prime-time address from the White House Sept. 10. “That means I will not hesitate to take action against ISIL in Syria, as well as Iraq. This is a core principle of my presidency: If you threaten America, you will find no safe haven.”

“I want the American people to understand how this effort will be different from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan,” Mr. Obama continued. “It will not involve American combat troops fighting on foreign soil. This counterterrorism campaign will be waged through a steady, relentless effort to take out ISIL wherever they exist, using our air power and our support for partners’ forces on the ground.”

Pres. Barack Obama and Vice-President Joe Biden (r) meet with National Security Council Sept. 10, 2014.

Pres. Barack Obama and Vice-President Joe Biden (r) meet with National Security Council Sept. 10, 2014.

But in a clever exercise of rhetorical dexterity, Mr. Obama also announced he is sending 475 more U.S. military troops to Iraq, bringing the total to 1,600, while insisting the new operation does not constitute a new “war” in Iraq and Syria.

Reactions were predictable and drawn mostly along party lines. Conservative Republicans insisted the president had not gone far enough. Anti-war activists called the new policy wrongheaded.

Dennis Kucinich
Dennis Kucinich

“The President does not have power under the Constitution to unilaterally authorize a military attack in a situation that does not involve stopping an actual or imminent threat to the nation.”

This is a direct quote from an interview with then-Senator Obama in the Boston Globe on December 20, 2007, former Congress member Dennis Kucinich revealed in a Facebook status update concerning the President’s apparent flip-flop.

“We agree with the president that there is no military solution to the problems posed by ISIS,” Kevin Martin, executive director of Peace Action said in a statement immediately after the address. “And yet his proposed strategy relies far too heavily on the use of military force. It’s time to stop the bombing and escalation and use the other tools of U.S. foreign policy—working with allies in cutting off weapons, oil and funding streams for starters—which will be much more active in dealing with ISIS.”

“History shows that U.S. arms tends to fall into the wrong hands like in Afghanistan and now ISIS. More weapons in the Mideast is not the solution and is more like pouring fuel on a fire,” added Paul Kawika Martin, political director of Peace Action. Founded in 1957 when it was called SANE/FREEZE, Peace Action is the nation’s oldest and largest disarmament organization with more than 100,000 paid members in 100 chapters in 36 states.

Protesters outside White House earlier this month.
Protesters outside White House earlier this month.

Immediately following the President’s address, on a trip to Saudi Arabia—the chief early funding source for ISIS according to many accounts—Secretary of State John Kerry announced the formation of a new “coalition of the willing,” so-to-speak.

 He said a coalition of 10 Arab countries—Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon and six Gulf states, including Saudi Arabia and Qatar—agreed to help the United States fight the Sunni militants that have seized swaths of Iraq and Syria. The commitment came after foreign ministers from the countries met with Secretary of State John Kerry in Saudi Arabia.

“Arab nations play a critical role in that coalition,” Secretary Kerry said, “the leading role, really, across all lines of effort: military support, humanitarian aid, our work to stop the flow of illegal funds and foreign fighters, which ISIL requires in order to thrive, and certainly the effort to repudiate once and for all the dangerous, the offensive, the insulting distortion of Islam that ISIL propaganda attempts to spread throughout the region and the world.”

Protest against war on Syria in Washington, D.C.
Protest against war on Syria in Washington, D.C.

In the one year since the Obama administration floated the idea, and then abandoned it, to engage in military strikes against Syria, U.S. policymakers and their allies in the corporate-owned media, have managed to “flip the script” so that today a majority of the U.S. public favors deeper U.S. intervention in the crisis created by the invasion, occupation, and destabilization of Iraq over the past 11 years.

“I think President Obama has been hounded by the media, by the war hawks in Congress, mostly from the Republican side but also from the Democrats,” Medea Benjamin, co-founder of CODEPINK and author of “Drone Warfare: Killing by Remote Control” told Pacifica Radio’s “Democracy Now!”

The U.S. is headed along “this insane (course) not only bombing in Iraq, but also talking about going into Syria, at a time when just a couple of months ago the American people had made it very clear that we were very tired of war,” Ms. Benjamin continued.

Phyllis Bennis
Phyllis Bennis

“In fact, when (President) Obama tried to do this a year ago, the American people rose up and demanded that Congress take a vote and that Congress say no, and Obama backed out. So, I think the support of the American people is very skin deep, and that if we, as a peace-loving people, do our job right now in getting out there and making some noise, we can actually have an impact in stopping the U.S. from getting into Syria and, I think, in stopping the U.S. from this insane, never-ending war.”

 The never-ending nature of such military adventures is compounded by their utter futility, according to Phyllis Bennis, director of the Project for a New Internationalism at the Institute for Policy Studies. “This was a speech set in a vortex of solutions,” Ms. Bennis told The Final Call. “Despite what President Obama has said, we all know there is no military solution.

“Calling it something other than a war doesn’t change the fact that it is a war, and we know that wars don’t work to stamp out terrorism. In fact it will make it worse, partly because it’s going to encourage more Iraqi Sunnis to believe that the U. S. is acting as the air force for the Shia and the Kurds against them—against the Sunnis,” Ms. Bennis continued.

Islamic State fighters
Islamic State fighters

“And they are therefore going to look to ISIS as their protector, not because they’re right, not because they agree with them, but rather because Iraq’s Shia dominated government has never done right by them.

 “That’s the lesson of Afghanistan in the 1980s. You can’t create a viable military that can stand up to a powerful militia that has a lot of support, that is fighting with U.S. provided weapons.” President Obama would have done better had he said, “I tell you tonight, my fellow Americans, that the intelligence agencies have confirmed ISIS does not provide a threat to the United States. Period. Stop,” Ms. Bennis said.

Others agree that there are other important issues which should command more national attention. “ISIS is not the only problem facing America,” Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) said in a statement. “The Republicans cannot continue to ignore youth unemployment at 20 percent, the starvation federal minimum wage of $7.25, the unaffordable cost of college education, the planetary crisis of global warming, and the massive wealth and income inequality which exists in our country.”

Diplomats from around the world met in Paris, France September 15 pledging to support the fight against the Islamic State. Leaders from more than 20 nations met with Sec. Kerry for high-level discussions. The reported beheading of British aid worker David Haines—the third in recent weeks—has added increased urgency to the formation of this supposed “broad-based coalition” that aims to neutralize the threat.

A demonstrator holds up a sign portraying French President Francois Hollande wearing donkey ears with a school grade of Zero and which reads, "You, President Resign." Photo: Reuters
A demonstrator holds up a sign portraying French President Francois Hollande wearing donkey ears with a school grade of Zero and which reads, “You, President Resign.” Photo: Reuters

French president Francois Hollande, who hosted the leaders, is very unpopular at present. A recent poll showed nearly 62 percent of voters want him to resign. In Baghdad, Iraq on September 12 during a one-day visit, Pres. Hollande announced that France would provide even more support in the fight against ISIS. It is unclear right now how much his outspokenness and support for military action will help him at home. His term is up in 2017.

 According to The Guardian, the conference participants were Bahrain, Belgium, Canada, China, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Egypt, France, Germany, Iraq, Italy, Japan, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, the Netherlands, Norway, Oman, Qatar, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Spain, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, United States of America, Arab League, European Union and theUnited Nations.

“They all expressed their commitment to the unity, territorial integrity, and sovereignty of Iraq. They welcomed the formation of a new government under the authority of the Prime Minister, Mr. Haïdar al-Abadi, and offered him their full support to strengthen the rule of law, implement a policy of inclusiveness, and ensure that all components are fairly represented within the federal institutions and all citizens are treated equally,” said a statement released after the Sept. 15 talks.

CNN VIDEO RE: U.S. ROLE IN IRAQ, SYRIA, GAZA, LIBYA ONGOING WARS


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LA YOUTH JUSTICE ‘DON’T SHOOT TO KILL’ REPORT: 589 KILLED BY LA COPS SINCE 2000, INCLUDING 9-MO. OLD BABY

Youth Justice LA graphic

LA cops have killed a person every week

Detroit Police Chief James  “CCW” Craig served with LAPD for 28 years

Federal oversight has not improved either LAPD or Detroit police

Detroit police chief James Craig (l) was appointed by Detroit EM Kevyn Orr (r).
Detroit police chief James Craig (l) was appointed by Detroit EM Kevyn Orr (r).

(VOD: Detroit Police Chief James “Get your CCW” Craig spent 28 years with the LAPD. He served on an internal panel that whitewashed the infamous Ramparts scandal. The US DOJ then put the department under its oversight. The LA Youth report shows that this action, including years where AG Eric Holder, appointee of Pres. Barack Obama has been in office, has not made one iota of difference, just as the USDOJ consent decree has not affected police conduct here in Detroit.)

LA YOUTH JUSTICE COALITION: This report documents the deaths of 589 people who lived in Los Angeles County and were killed by law enforcement between January 1, 2000 and August 31, 2014.

Suzie Pena, killed by LAPD in 2005 while James Craig was still on force.
Suzie Pena, killed by LAPD in 2005 while James Craig was still on force.

In addition, the report documents all cases – with name, age, race, location and where possible incident details – from January 1, 2007 – August 31, 2014 in order to remember each individual; to investigate who is impacted by race, age, gender and community (location of the shooting); and to learn from their experiences in an attempt to save lives in the future.

Based on these specific case histories, the report looks for trends or commonalities among incidents and raises concerns regarding suspicious and troubling patterns.

Finally, the report makes some comparisons between LA and other jurisdictions, and begins to evaluate media’s coverage of officer-involved homicides.

LA Youth for Justice

LA Youth for Justice

Sign Kamala Harris’ Change.Org petition at https://www.change.org/p/kamala-harris-appoint-a-special-prosecutor-to-investigate-and-prosecute-law-enforcement-use-of-force

Justice for California youth

 


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