Some of Michigan’s juvenile lifers: (l to r, top through bottom row), Cortez Davis, Raymond Carp, Dakotah Eliason, Henry Hill, Keith Maxey, Dontez Tillman, Charles Lewis, Jemal Tipton, Nicole Dupure, Giovanni Casper, Jean Cintron, Matthew Bentley, Bosie Smith, Kevin Boyd, Damion Todd, Jennifer Pruitt, Edward Sanders, David Walton (photos show some lifers at current age, others at age they went to prison).
Worthy seeks renewed LWOP for 40% in Wayne County, where 98% of juvenile lifers are Black, under likely unconstitutional state statute
“Lifetime in prison is a disproportionate sentence for all but the rarest of children,” — U.S. Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy
U.S. the only country in the world to sentence children to die in prison
“They created new laws to resentence a JLWOP’er to a term that may be equal to their natural life or close to the end of life.”– 41-yr. juvenile lifer
U.S. District Court Judge John Corbett O’Meara to hear motion for an injunction to stop prosecutors ,Thurs. July 28, 10:30 a.m., Ann Arbor
By Diane Bukowski
July 26, 2016
Kuntrell Jackson and Evan Miller, plaintiffs in Miller v. Alabama ruling against JLWOP. They were both 14 when they went to prison.
DETROIT – The State of Michigan and Wayne County in particular are battling to keep the largest possible number of juvenile lifers in prison until they die, in flagrant violation of two U.S. Supreme Court decisions, Miller v. Alabama (2012) and Montgomery v. Louisiana (2016). The high court found juvenile life without parole for over 2,500 prisoners in the U.S. to be unconstitutional, “cruel and unusual punishment.”
The U.S. is the only country in the world that sentences children to die in prison.
“Although Miller did not foreclose a sentencer’s ability to impose life without parole on a juvenile, the Court explained that a lifetime in prison is a disproportionate sentence for all but the rarest of children, those whose crimes reflect ‘irreparable corruption,’” U.S. Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy said in the Montgomery decision.
Michigan has the second highest number of juvenile lifers in the nation, and was one of only four states, in addition to Louisiana, New York, and Pennsylvania, to hold out until the Montgomery ruling, claiming that Miller was not retroactive.
U.S. District Court Judge John Corbett O’Meara additionally ruled in Hill v. Snyder in 2013 that ALL of the state’s juvenile lifers are eligible for parole after serving 10 years, and was essentially upheld by the U.S. Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals May 11.
On Thursday, July 28 at 10:30 a.m., he will hear arguments on a motion for an injunction to stop Michigan’s county prosecutors from going forward with current resentencing schemes under questionably constitutional state statutes passed in 2014. The hearing will be held at the Federal Building in Ann Arbor, 200 E. Liberty Street, Room 628.
Attorney Deborah LaBelle
“To date, prosecutors have sought to impose life-without-parole sentences under M.C.L. § 769.25a for the vast majority, instead of what the Supreme Court has unequivocally held must be only the “rarest” and “uncommon” youth for whom such a sentence would be constitutional,” Attorney Deborah LaBelle wrote in the motion.
“This prosecutorial misconduct demonstrates why this Court should grant Plaintiffs’ motion for a preliminary injunction. . . .M.C.L. § 769.25a subjects Plaintiffs to ongoing unconstitutional punishment. Absent a preliminary injunction, Plaintiffs—who are still serving unconstitutional mandatory life sentences without a meaningful opportunity for release—will continue to face cruel and unusual punishment from state officials who are intent on thumbing their nose at the Supreme Court, doing everything in their power to delay the implementation of a fair process that would provide Plaintiffs and similarly situated individuals a meaningful opportunity for release, and seeking unconstitutional life-without-parole sentences for hundreds of youth for whom such a sentence would be unconstitutional. The Court should therefore enjoin Defendants from proceeding with these life-without-parole resentencings pending a final determination as to the constitutionality of the statute.”
LaBelle notes in her motion particularly egregious conduct by Oakland County Prosecutor Jessica Cooper and Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy.
Oakland Co. Pros. Jessica Cooper
Wayne Co. Pros. Kym Worthy
“In fact, the Oakland County prosecutor explicitly asserted in her motion seeking life without parole for a named Hill Plaintiff, Kevin Boyd, that pursuant to M.C.L. § 769.25a she need not specify any grounds or basis for seeking a life-without- parole sentence and that a defendant is not even entitled to file a response prior to a hearing. Similarly, the prosecutor for Wayne County, in seeking life without parole for over 60 youth, set forth no individualized bases for seeking such a sentence in any of the cases.”
Miller requires that each juvenile lifer case be considered on an individual basis, and take into account numerous factors in that individual’s life. (See box.) Worthy’s chief of communications, Maria Miller, told VOD that the Prosecutor Worthy had looked at all the factors from the Miller case before recommending that 60 juvenile lifers die in prison. “This procedure was established by the Michigan Legislature by statute. Each defendant in all the categories will have a resentencing hearing and a judge will make the decision regarding the sentence,” Miller said.
Judge Corbett O’Meara earlier granted an immediate temporary restraining order (TRO) against state prosecutors. Michigan appealed, and the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Judge Corbett O’Meara did not have the power to issue a TRO in this situation but could move forward with proceedings on the motion for an injunction.
“In many of the 81 cases where there is a term of years, we will be seeking more time than the minimum sentence of 25 years,” Worthy said in a statement. “The public should rest assured that we will aggressively pursue life without possibility of parole in 60 other cases.”
Wayne County has by far the highest number of juvenile lifers in Michigan, 144, with Oakland County running second at 50. Of the Wayne County juvenile lifers, 98 percent are Black, while the County’s population is only 40.5 percent Black. There are 136 Black men, two Black women, and six white men, according to a list released earlier by the Michigan Department of Corrections. One hundred thirty-one Wayne County juvenile lifers have served more than the 10 years before parole consideration set by Judge Corbett O’Meara. Seventy-one have served more than 25 years, while nine have served over 40 years.
Worthy has refused to release the names of the prisoners indicating what category each is in, saying her office is still trying to contact the victims’ families. The Miller decision did not address the issue of the victims at all, except in one judge’s dissenting opinion.
Edward Sanders in earlier years.
“[T]he state of Michigan has disregarded the U.S. Supreme Court’s holding in Miller by so-called new laws enacted since the court rulings including the U.S. District Court,” said Edward Sanders who has served over 41 years for a 1975 “first-degree murder” conviction in which he was not the shooter.
“They created new laws to resentence a JLWOP’er to a new term that may be equal to their natural life or close to the end of life. They took good time that has been earned that may in some cases equals more than 20 years, and added provisions to the murder statute eliminating it only for juvenile lifers. It is sad that SADO [State Appellate Defenders Office] is willing to proceed under these so called new laws.”
A little-publicized portion of M.C.L. § 769.25a says, “A defendant who is resentenced under subsection (4) shall be given credit for time already served, but shall not receive any good time credits, special good time credits, disciplinary credits, or any other credits thatreduce the defendant’s minimum or maximum sentence.”
Although all the juvenile lifers in Wayne County were convicted of “first-degree murder,” there are variations on that crime explicit in the circumstances of each conviction, including “aiding and abetting,” and “felony murder,” which means that the individual was convicted of participating in a crime during which a murder took place. Many juvenile lifers were used as participants by older individuals. Many could not afford reputable attorneys. Many had no idea how the legal system works, and pled guilty even if they were not, under pressure. It is now generally understood scientifically that the human brain does not fully mature, leaving factors such as impulse control unfinished, until the age of 25.
There are also grounds to believe that some juvenile lifers are innocent, railroaded in 2008 just as 14-year-old Davontae Sanford was by Worthy and Detroit police for four murders he did not commit. He was recently exonerated.
VOD has done several stories in particular on Charles Lewis, sent to prison in 1975 at the age of 17 for killing an off-duty Detroit police officer whose partner identified another man entirely as the killer. Lewis’ alibi witnesses were never called by a defense attorney who deliberately sabotaged his case.
Post-conviction hearings on Lewis’ case were ongoing but have been suspended because the County now claims it lost all his files prior to 2000. Lewis is therefore seeking dismissal of his case pursuant to a 1990 Michigan Supreme Court ruling in People v. Earl Dwayne Adkins, 436 Mich. 878. Adkins appealed his guilty plea, as did Sanford, but the state admitted that the record of the the plea was lost.
Right to appeal
The Michigan Supreme Court ruled in Adkins, ” . . . .we VACATE the defendant’s convictions and REMAND this matter to the trial court for further proceedings. The transcript of the hearing at which the defendant’s guilty pleas were accepted is not able to be produced because the notes of the stenographer have been lost . . . .the record is inadequate for meaningful appellate review and so impedes the enjoyment of the defendant’s constitutional right to an appeal.”
Lewis has so far unsuccessfully requested that his current attorney, Valerie Newman, appointed through the State Appellate Defenders’ Office, file a motion to dismiss his case since there are no records of even his two trials and one conviction remaining.
The state has assigned and is paying SADO to defend most juvenile lifers in the re-hearings, although it was Attorney LaBelle and the American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan who first set up an independent system of pro bono attorneys after the Miller decision in 2012, to cover every juvenile lifer in Michigan.
SADO attorney Valerie Newman
Attorney Peter Van Hoek of SADO’s Detroit office earlier told VOD after SADO’s assignment that SADO would not attempt to challenge the state statutes.
SADO attorney Valerie Newman told VOD she is in charge of SADO’s juvenile lifer unit for the whole state. Newman said they are in the process of notifying juvenile lifers they represent about what prosecutors have recommended in their cases. She declined to give a copy of the list to VOD pending completion of that notification.
“The decision is in the hands of the prosecution, which has filed motions under a state statute,” Newman said. “No one has said the statute is not legitimate, no ruling has been made. In the meantime to do nothing means that people who are going to get a term of years will not get a chance to get in front of the parole board right now. We have plenty of people who have done more than the minimum. If my client is immediately eligible for parole, why wouldn’t I want to proceed? Even if (s)he gets a term of 40 to 60 years (s)he will be immediately eligible for parole. It remains to be determined how the parole board will handle it. A lot of these folks are very well positioned to go see the parole board and would have a good chance at parole. Until I see otherwise, I am going under the presumption that parole board will do its job, evaluate people and release those who deserve to be released.”
Meanwhile, Michigan’s juvenile lifers, who were jubilant after the Miller decision was handed down in 2012, must endure more excruciating “cruel and unusual punishment” in the coming months as state prosecutors, who have practically without exception supported juvenile life without parole for years, continue to fight to ensure that they die in prison.
Dozens traveled to Lansing to oppose state dismantling of DPS district, and further debt of $385 million
Board files whistleblower complaint with SEC alleging that loan rates of up to 18% have cost DPS over $400 million under previous EM’s
EM Rhodes’ advisors told him plan would be “enormously costly”
Parthenon Group involved: “All students are not equal; SOME ARE MORE PROFITABLE THAN OTHERS”
By Diane Bukowski
July 23, 2016
Detroit school board members (l to r) Lamar Lemmons, Tawanna Simpson and Elena Herrada with sign showing how 16 years of state control has devastated DPS finances, after loan board vote.
LANSING – “You just voted for Jim Crow,” Detroit’s elected school board members and supporters shouted at the Michigan Local Emergency Financial Assistance Loan Board July 18, after it approved the transfer of over $1.5 billion in Detroit Public Schools (DPS) assets to a state-operated “community district,” and $385 million in initial loans, some at an 18 percent interest rate.
Speakers at the meeting called the plan “genocide,” and said it makes Detroit’s children second-class citizens.
“You are taking money from Detroit school kids to pay off a debt the state created,” Board of Education President Lamar Lemmons said.
A state-controlled “community district” was created July 1 under Public Acts 192-197. DPS itself will remain only to pay off about $3 billion in outstanding debt to the banks, left behind by 16 years of state control. That will come from funds meant to educate Detroit’s children, 59 percent of whom live below the poverty level. The district will be the only one in the state allowed to hire non-certified teachers. Many more of the 104 schools left in the district, down from 261 in 1992, will be required to close.
Elder Helen Moore speaks during loan board meeting July 18, as others crowd behind her waiting their turn to oppose destruction of DPS, loans.
Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder, the state legislature, and Emergency Manager Steven Rhodes launched the plan July 1. Rhodes presided over the City of Detroit’s bankruptcy. He has hired many of the same costly consulting firms to effectuate the DPS plan.
They include Ernst & Young, which incorporated the notorious Parthenon Group in 2014, currently under investigation by the federal government for committing fraud at Corinthian College in California.
These typical Parthenon Group associates will decide the future of Detroit’s school district, where students are at least 95 percent Black.
Parthenon specializes in converting public education systems into private investment opportunities, by increasing class sizes, cutting teachers’ pay, and laying off staff like counselors and librarians, according to an article on New York education professor Diane Ravitch’s blog.
Parthenon’s motto is “All students are not equal; SOME ARE MORE PROFITABLE THAN OTHERS,” Knox County Special Education teacher Rob Taylor, who researched Parthenon, says in the article.
“The long-term goal presented here is not to keep the public school system –it’s to grow for-profit schools to be much larger than the public system, then reduce public schools enrollment to those ‘less profitable’ students,” another teacher says.
DPS EM Steven Rhodes, in honorary grad outfit, thinks he has expertise to run school district.
In an email provided to the loan board, Rhodes’ advisor Al Koch of Alix Partners strongly advised against splitting the District, saying it would be a “frustrating and enormously costly exercise.” He added that it would be better to exclude Parthenon from the plan.
But in a subsequent email, he said of the plan, “It’s certainly not perfect but in the restructuring business you leam to work with what you have and this is probably as good as you’re going to get. Unfortunately, there is always the possibility of an unpleasant surprise of some magnitude.”
Ernst & Young, whose Gustav Mulhatra is handling much of the restructuring, got such an unpleasant surprise in 2008, when the global stock market collapsed largely due to unbridled predatory mortgage lending. Ernst & Young kept the books for Lehman Brothers, whose dissolution set off the crisis. They have been sued by the states of New York and New Jersey for falsely advising them on the stability of Lehman Brothers.
“Your message is loud and clear that the children of Detroit are second class citizens,” school board President Lamar Lemmons told the loan board.
“The State Constitution requires the hiring of certified teachers for Michigan’s 548 public school districts, as well as its charter schools,” Lemmons went on. “More than half of Detroit’s children now attend charter schools. But the new school district will be the only one free to hire unqualified, uncertified teachers.”
Lemmons added, “It will take 25-30 years to pay the district debt off. You are taking money from our school kids to eliminate a debt the state has created. The Headlee Amendment says that if the state creates the debt, it must provide the funds to pay it off.”
DPS’ certified teachers march May 2, 2016, to “save Detroit’s kids.”
Lemmons and the board have demanded a forensic audit of DPS finances to find out how billions of dollars was siphoned off from the DPS budget under state control, since 1999 when the district had a surplus.
They filed a whistleblower complaint with the Securities Exchange Commission (SEC) July 14, alleging that fraud has been committed by the District’s Emergency Managers. The complaint objects to usurious securities loan rates of up to 18%.
The complaint says the board estimates the excessive fees have cost the district over $400 million in recent years alone. Of the loans just approved, $235 million are allegedly set at that rate.
A class action lawsuit was filed July 7 by Helen Moore, founder of Keep the Vote No Takeover, and other plaintiffs alleging that the state’s actions against DPS violate both the Michigan and U.S. Constitutions. Despite the fact that the lawsuit asks for an emergency Temporary Restraining Order, Court of Claims Chief Judge Michael Talbot has not scheduled a review of the case until October 10, 2016, long after the school year starts, according to the case’s register of actions.
The lawsuit says that Public Acts 192-197 are “local acts,” meaning a two-thirds vote from the State House and from the Senate, along with the approval of Detroit electors, were required to pass them. It also says they violate the 14th Amendment by depriving Detroit children of equal protection and due process under the law.
Dr. Thomas Pedroni speaks at special City Council meeting in 2012, attended by Peter Cunningham of U.S. Department of Education, with former Councilwoman JoAnn Watson at his side.
Dr. Thomas Pedroni, an Associate Professor of Curriculum Studies and Critical Education Policy Sociology at Wayne State University, debunked allegations by Rhodes and others that they have to hire uncertified teachers because they cannot find enough certified teachers for Detroit.
“Dr. Maria Ferreira, of the national Woodrow Wilson Fellowship Foundation, has provided a pipeline for some of the teachers best trained for urban districts to come into DPS,” Pedroni said. “But none of the applications from the candidates she put forward have even been considered. Many applications submitted under Emergency Managers Jack Martin and Darnell Earley were left untouched. EM Rhodes has acknowledged that he knows this.”
A DPS teacher told the board that she has many certified teacher friends who have applied over and over to DPS, only to be turned away. She said non-certified teachers from “Teach for America,” who had been teaching in the Educational Achievement Authority schools, often “went out for lunch in the middle of the school year and never came back.”
Tahira Ahmad, president of the Community Task Force for Education, said, “This is nothing but genocide. Crime is soaring, people have become hopeless. One person miseducated means a whole society miseducated.”
Board member Wanda Akilah Redmond agreed.
“When we miseducate our children, you will see our children with guns in hand, robbing people,” she said. “Next time you see a child with a gun, know that you helped make that decision.”
Elder Helen Moore said, “I don’t do second-class citizenship. The U.S. is in deep trouble today because of discriminatory practices everywhere and now they are being perpetuated here in Detroit.”
Board member Elena Herrada told the loan board, “I don’t support this racist and unequal plan for DPS. Just as the children of Flint were lead poisoned because of Public Act 436, the children of Detroit are being forced into an inferior education.”
Muqarrabah Miyzaan, who worked at DPS for over 30 years, said conditions are already so bad that children frequently don’t have teachers in their classes.
Emergency Financial Loan Board Members (l to r) John Roberts, Nick Khouri, Shelley Edgerton
“Our children were ahead in school before the 1999 state takeover,” she said. “Now they are suffering. The district’s debt is up, and our assets are being absorbed, putting us in the negative.”
The Loan Board, whose members are State Treasurer Nick Khouri, Budget Director John Roberts, and Licensing and Regulatory Affairs Director Shelley Edgerton, conducted hardly any discussion before voting unanimously for the loans and for the transfer of DPS assets to the “community district.”
Khouri alleged that the interest rate on the debt could fluctuate with the market and might end up as “low” as 4 to 5 percent.
Detroit school board and community members who packed Emergency Loan Board meeting July 18, 2016 to oppose death of DPS.
Board of Education document opposing Rhodes’ proposals
“Truth” has been told, now investigate and charge those responsible for the wrongful incarceration of a 14-year-old child
Prosecutor Kym Worthy and Judge Brian Sullivan created false doubt about Sanford’s innocence in press conference, court order
Two cop veterans of “The First 48,” Michael Russell and Dale Collins, were involved in Runyon Street investigation. Russell conducted most of it.
Gary Webb also paid the ultimate price, dying in an alleged suicide involving shooting himself TWICE in the head.
VOD advisory: information about alleged drug dealers in this story should be taken in context with the fact that the CIA, the DEA, and U.S. banks have been thoroughly exposed as responsible for bringing drugs across the borders for decades to decimate Black and poor cities.
Read “Dark Alliance” by Gary Webb, an extremely detailed history of the introduction of crack cocaine into the U.S. His dedication in the book: “It is undeniable that a wildly successful conspiracy existed to import cocaine existed for many years, and that innumerable American citizens, most of them poor and black, paid an enormous price as a result. This book was written for them, so that they may know on what altars their communities were sacrificed.”
By Diane Bukowski
July 20, 2016
Judge Brian Sullivan
DETROIT – Wayne County Circuit Court Judge Brian Sullivan finally signed a formal order dismissing quadruple homicide charges against Davontae Sanford July 19. The young man’s record is now cleared so he can “move on with his life,” his fondest wish on coming home June 8, after nine years in prison for crimes he did not commit.
A Detroit Free Press headline trumpeted that Sullivan’s order urges a “probe for truth” in the 2007 “Runyon Street killings,” implying that Davontae may not have been justifiably exonerated. The order comes on the heels of Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy’s refusal to charge former Detroit Police Commander James Tolbert with perjury in a capital case, and a press conference she focused primarily on evidence AGAINST Davontae.
In a 114-page report, the Michigan State Police had recommended warrants against Tolbert for lying about a sketch drawn of the murder scene, Vincent Smothers, who repeatedly confessed to the killings, and his named accomplice Ernest Davis. Worthy has issued none of these warrants.
Like Worthy’s press conference, Sullivan’s order is mean-spirited. It ignores and even contradicts facts revealed in the MSP report, as well as evidence compiled by two innocence clinics from Northwestern University and the University of Michigan, which leave no room for doubt about Sanford’s innocence.
Sullivan’s order questions the validity of admitted hit man Vincent Smothers’ confession to Detroit police that he committed the Runyon Street killings, two weeks after Sullivan sentenced Sanford to 37-90 years in prison. It ignores that fact that Sullivan received sworn affidavits, videos and transcripts of Smothers’ confession during post-conviction proceedings, but still denied Sanford’s motion to withdraw his guilty plea.
Vincent Smothers at sentencing for eight murders-for-hire, which he confessed to. He had confessed to the Runyon Street killings as well as, but Worthy did not charge him in that case.
Sullivan’s order questions why Smothers did not testify in court and face cross-examination. It fails to note that Worthy refused to give Smothers “use immunity” to testify during post-conviction hearings, although he was already serving 50-100 years for the murders of eight other people. Judge Sullivan also refused to allow Smothers’ attorneys to testify to what he told them. He ruled against the allowing the testimony of an expert on false confessions by children.
In his order, Sullivan cites numerous factors that he still believes have not been resolved, casting doubt on Davontae’s innocence and subjecting him and his family to all manner of possible repercussions.
Sanford’s mother Taminko Sanford-Tilmon told VOD that the family is distressed by reports that have surfaced about Sullivan’s order.
Neither Sullivan’s full order nor the full MSP report have ever been included in articles in Detroit’s mainstream media. They are linked below this story, along with other pertinent documents.
“This case is thick with speculation, conjecture, confusion and unanswered questions; far thinner on evidence,” Judge Sullivan wrote in his seven-page order. “The MSP investigation does not appear to answer or resolve the outstanding questions in this case . . . The facts need to be discovered through professional unbiased investigation to substantive conclusions, legal and factual, to wherever they lead, and to whoever may be implicated.”
Kym Worthy with staff who prosecuted Sanford, including Timothy Chambers, Jason Williams, . Should prosecutors be charged?
Many, even the editorial board of the Detroit News, have agreed that an investigation does indeed need to happen—into the roles of Worthy, the Detroit police, and other players in this gross miscarriage of justice. The News asked for investigations by Michigan State Attorney General Bill Schuette and by the U.S. Department of Justice.
“[T]he Sanford case lends credence to other allegations of bungled justice against the prosecutor’s office,” its editorial said in part. “The University of Michigan’s Innocence Clinic has a fat file of cases in which it believes Wayne County and Detroit cops either ignored evidence of innocence or distorted evidence to prove guilt. Schuette should review all those cases as well.
“Finally, if Sanford’s wrongful conviction is an indicator of wider problems in the Detroit Police Department and Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office, this is fertile ground for a civil rights investigation by the federal Justice Department.”
Sullivan vacated Sanford’s conviction and sentence June 7, but had not yet finalized the dismissal requested in a joint stipulation by Worthy and Sanford’s attorneys June 8. Sanford was convicted of the four Runyon Street killings in 2008, after a confession evidently coerced by numerous police officers and by his trial lawyer when he was 14.
Worthy cited contradictory testimony by then Detroit Police Commander James Tolbert about a sketch of the house on Runyon Street as the chief reason she agreed to stipulate to dismissal of charges in the case, but refused to issue a perjury warrant against Tolbert.
One reason: she said Sgt. Michael Russell, who was also present when the sketch was drawn, backed Tolbert’s original testimony that Davontae himself sketched the house in both his original testimony and his interview with the MSP. Russell signed the sketch, and apparently played THE major role in the investigation of the case.
In a blistering critique, the Michigan Court of Appeals overturned Sullivan’s decision on post-conviction proceedings. Although the Michigan Supreme Court overturned the appeals court ruling, it did so “without prejudice” to Sanford’s bringing his contentions of innocence back in a motion for relief from judgment.
Michael Robinson house on Runyon street where four people were murdered Sept. 7, 2007.
SULLIVAN ALLEGATION 1: “Glover, the surviving eyewitness, testified one of the perpetrators entered and remained in the bedroom during the search of the house. He was dressed in black pants, was a “younger person” whose voice was ‘not deep.’”
FACT: Glover gave a written statement to Detroit police Sept. 18, 2007, according to the MSP report. “Glover described the subject as a black male, no more than thirty to thirty-thirty five years old with a soft voice. Glover further described the subject as approximately 6’ to 6’1” tall with a slim build,” says the report.
FACT: According to the MSP, neighbor Jesse King gave a written statement to the DPS Sept. 18, 2007 in which he “described the first subject as being 5’11”-6,’ brown-skinned, slim medium build, dark clothes . . . He advised the initial subject was carrying a long gun. King described the second subject as slightly shorter than the first with the same build and complexion. He advised that the subject was carrying a handgun.”
The MSP investigator noted, “Both subjects are substantially shorter in comparison to the description of the suspects provided by Jesse King and Valerie Glover. The MSP later interviewed King themselves. He told them categorically that the killer was NOT Sanford, because he knew him from the neighborhood.
Murdered at 19741 Runyon Street Sept. 17, 2007: (l to r), Michael Robinson, Brian Dixon, Nicole Chapman, Angelo McNoriell.
SULLIVAN ALLEGATION 2: “Sanford’s black dickies (pants) were seized. These pants tested positive for gunshot residue on both thighs.”
FACT: The MSP report says, “According to the relevant Detroit Police Department “Gunshot Residue Test Information Sheet”, a gunshot residue test was conducted on Davontae Sanford on September 18, 2007, at 03: 13 by William Niarhos at 19741 Runyon. The subsequent laboratory analysis . . . states the following: GSR Kit #5038 was submitted, consisting of three aluminum SEM sampling stubs labeled Right Web, Left Webb, and Forehead/face. Significant amounts of Lead, Barium, and Antimony were not detected on any of the sampling stubs from Davontae Sanford.”
Later, it says:
“A Detroit Police Department Laboratory Analysis report (No. B0?-0631) shows that “A black T-shirt (Basic Wears brand, size 6XL)” “Taken from the B/R Closet at [address blanked out]. “Shirt was sampled for the presence of Gunshot Residue on the chest and abdomen. Significant amounts of Lead, Barium, and Antimony were not detected in either area.” The report also indicates that “A pair of black twill pants (Dickies brand, size 32 x 34) was submitted. Rustred stains on the left leg were tested for the presence of blood. Preliminary Testing: BLOOD Negative” Further, the “Pants were sampled for the presence of Gunshot Residue on the right thigh and left thigh. Gunshot Residue was detected on both thighs.”
The Detroit police did not say in this report who the pants belonged to. Additionally, the first GSR test on Sanford was performed at 19741 Runyon, where the killings occurred, on Sept. 18, 2007, the day after the event. Any GSR on Sanford’s clothes clearly could have been picked up at this time.
SULLIVAN ALLEGATION 3: “Sanford told the police he washed his gym shoes . . .the reason he washed them was he wanted to wear clean shoes to school, although he told the police he was not attending school at the time.”
FACT: Although Rice pled guilty to perjury charges about his testimony in Davontae’s post-conviction hearings, the MSP report says that in separate testimony, Rice “explained that he wanted to make sure Davontae was in school the next day so at 11 :30pm he told Davontae to get dressed because he was going to personally take him to school the next day.”
Additionally, the MSP interviewed witness Jesse King in 2015, and reported, “King indicated he did not believe that either subject [running from the Runyon Street house] was Davontae Sanford. He explained that he knew Sanford because he (King) used to volunteer at the local school where Sanford was a student. He advised Sanford was also well known in the neighborhood.”
A 40 caliber Glock. Smothers said he carried this type of gun and another gun into Glover bedroom.
SULLIVAN ALLEGATION 4: “The account of the only surviving witness of the multiple murders conflicts substantially with the multiple statements offered by Smothers. . . .Smothers’ account of the encounter with Glover doesn’t match that given by Glover. The words spoken to her were markedly different. Glover heard rummaging in the a bedroom next to the one in which she hid and in the basement at the same time the person was in the room with her with a “big gun” and stayed in the room the whole time, as others ransacked the house. There is evidence of several persons in the house.”
(VOD note: a “big gun” is not the same as a “long gun.” Glover was clearly terrified and her memories may not have coincided completely with what happened. Smothers was an experienced killer who carefully planned out every detail and was more likely to remember actual facts.)
FACT:SMOTHERS AFFIDAVIT 8/16/2012: “After we stopped firing in the living room, I told Nemo [Ernest Davis] that I had seen someone go to another room and wanted to clear the house. I gave him my AK-47 so that I could move more easily and quickly through the house and around corners . . . As I passed by Robinson on my way out of the living room, I took the .40 caliber pistol that was sitting on the cocktail table next to Robinson and put it in my waistband. I had my own .40 caliber Glock in my hands . . .”
The bed under which Valerie Glover hid. (Photos from Worthy press conference.)
Smothers said he went down the hallway to a bedroom where there was a child on a bed. His statement continues, “There was also a woman hiding under the bed. I assumed this was the woman I had seen run from the living room. She was also lying with her head towards Teppert and her feet towards Runyon, but she had turned her face away from the south wall. When I walked into the room, she said something like, ‘Don’t kill me.’ I told her that I was not going to kill her and told her just to stay in the room until we left. The entire interaction lasted only a few seconds before I left the room and went back into the hallway.”
The MSP questioned why DPD had not further investigated Smothers’ confession.
An MSP investigator says in the report, “I reviewed all of the above referenced reports relating to the investigation of Vincent Smothers and the investigation of the homicides that occurred at 19741 Runyon. During that review I could not locate any documented interviews or attempts of an interview of Ernest Davis AKA “Nemo”, Leroy Payne or the resident of [blocked out] Tamika Davis. Further, there does not appear to be any follow up or additional investigation conducted by the Detroit Police Department in relation to the statements made by Vincent Smothers concerning the homicides that occurred at 19741 Runyon.”
Leroy Payne allegedly hired Smothers.
Smothers told police Ernest “Nemo” Davis was his accomplice in the Runyon Street killing, and that Leroy Payne, employed by drug kingpin Delano Thomas, hired him for the job.
The MSP report says it requested warrants for Tolbert, Smothers and Davis. But Worthy said at her press conference that she wanted further investigation by the MSP before issuing the warrants. She later refused to issue a perjury warrant for Tolbert, although Worthy said Tolbert’s differing testimony about a sketch drawn of the house on Runyon Street was key to her agreeing to dismiss charges against Sanford. Her office did not respond to a VOD inquiry about whether she plans to issue murder warrants for Smothers and Davis. There is no statute of limitations involved there.
SULLIVAN ALLEGATION #3: “Other conflicts exist. These include a gun matching the one Smothers later had; statement of other witnesses (Payne and Davis) that are not explained or accounted for; residue of gunpower on a pants of a participant named by Sanford.”
Rose Cobb; Smothers gave up contract hits after he killed her, remorseful over that act.
FACTS: 1) It is unclear what gun Sullivan refers to. The gun Smothers said he picked up in Robinson’s living room was later identified as the one he used to kill Rose Cobb, wife of Detroit cop David Cobb. This if one of the eight homicides for which he is serving 50-100 years (although he confessed at the same time to the Runyon Street homicides, but was not charged.) He has since said he will cancel his plea agreement for second-degree murder to testify on behalf of Sanders in open court.
2) Residue of gunpowder on another participant named by Sanford: who? Sanford named two sets of accomplices in his statements typed by the DPS, according to DPD reports in the MSP report. Worthy never charged any of those witnesses; the second set was never identified or located. Guns are frequently handled in Black and poor communities.
The MSP report says “On September 20, 2007, the Detroit Police Department submitted a warrant request for Davontae Sanford, Antonio Langston, Deangelo Gardner, and Santo Green. Only Davontae Sanford was charged by the Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office, charges were denied for the other three suspects. Sanford was charged with four counts of first degree premeditated murder, one count of assault with intent to murder, one count of robbery armed and one count of felony firearm arising out of the robbery and murders that occurred at [Runyon] street. Angelo Gardner, Antonio Langston, Cary Dailey and Santo Green were not charged by the Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office.”
Delano Thomas, now deceased.
WHY? That is the question Sullivan does not ask.
3) Statements of Payne and Davis? What statements? None are included in the MSP report or in DPD reports. Worthy has never charged either in relation to the Runyon Street killings, despite Smothers’ statements that Leroy Payne, working for now deceased drug kingpin Delano Thomas, hired him and Ernest Davis was his accomplice.
SULLIVAN ALLEGATION #4: “Then there is the uninvestigated perjury of William Rice. The defendant presented Rice—the former head of Detroit Police Homicide—as a witness for defendant. Rice subsequently pled guilty of perjury for presenting this false testimony on behalf of Sanford and is serving a prison sentence for that (and other) offenses. . . .No investigation into that deliberate presentation of false testimony appears to have been made as it relates to this case and no explanation of it has been presented to the court.”
William Rice after sentencing to 2 to 20 years in prison, after he testified on behalf of Davontae Sanford.
FACT: According to the MSP report, they began investigating Rice and his girlfriend Cheryl Sanford (Taminko Sanford’s aunt) earlier on HUD fraud allegations. Worthy then asked them to investigate Rice’s testimony at Sanford’s trial as well (the only time she initiated an MSP investigation of the case.) After Worthy charged Rice, he did plead guilty to two counts of perjury in the Sanford case and is serving 2-20 years in state prison. It IS unclear why he did so, considering that other witnesses corroborated his testimony.
The MSP report says Sanford’s mother and uncle Taminko and Nathaniel Sanford told police Rice had driven them, Sanford, and Sanford’s two sisters to Cheryl Sanford’s house for dinner around 9:30 p.m. and did not return until early the next morning. Sanford also told officers who encountered him outside his house late that night that his “uncle” Bill Rice had just dropped him off. Sanford’s grandmother Pamela Sanford later told the MSP the same version of events.
SULLIVAN ALLEGATION #5: “Moreover, on the night of the initial investigation while Sanford was in contact with the police, eight phone calls were made by Detroit police Homicide Investigator Dale Collins to Rice [ranging until 8:30 the next morning). . . Rice denied on the record that he received those calls. The big question still looms as to why the calls were made and whether information about the case was conveyed all during the night. The MSP never interviewed Collins.”
Map of dog track in which Sgt. Russell and others were involved.
FACT: The MSP report devotes many paragraphs to testimony given by Collins, from a transcript taken by DPD on July 13, 2010 with regard to the Sanford case, and an Oct. 30, 2012 interview with regard to People v. William Rice 3rd Circuit Court Case 13003607-01-FH.
It summarizes, “Investigator Collins advised that he was working on September 17, 2007 and responded to the scene on Runyon Street. He followed the K-9 track along with Sergeant Russell and while conducting a canvass of the area on Beland, he observed Sergeant Russell speaking with Davontae Sanford. Collins stated that he then made contact with Sanford who informed him that he had been dropped off earlier that day by his Uncle Bill. Collins advised that he asked “Bill who?” and Sanford responded that it was Bill Rice. Collins informed Sanford that he knew Bill Rice and that he (Sanford) needed to help the police.
Dale Collins, photo from “First 48” website. Russell was also a star on that show.
“Collins stated that Sanford told him that William Rice had picked him up from school and dropped him off. Collins assumed at his (Sanford’s) house. Upon questioning, Collins indicated that at the time of the incident he had worked with and known William Rice for over twenty years. William Rice had previously been the Inspector for the Detroit Police Department Homicide Section. Collins indicated that after discovering that Sanford was referring to William Rice he called Rice via his cellular telephone. Collins stated that he spoke with Rice and informed him that he was with a subject that claimed that he was his nephew and that he (William Rice) had dropped him off.
“Rice informed Collins that Sanford was not his nephew “but he’s a young guy that know (sic) a lot of things that happens (sic) in that neighborhood”. Upon questioning, Collins indicated that the number of the cellular telephone that he called William Rice on that evening was ‘(blanked out).
“Investigator Collins was also interviewed reference People v William Rice on October 30, 2012. Upon questioning he clarified his telephone call to William Rice. He stated “I called Bill Rice, and I asked him–or I told him that we were working on a triple homicide and that we were talking to a young fellow. And this guy said that he had been dropped off by Bill. And I asked Bill, I said well–Bill asked me well, what’s his name? And I told Bill his name is Davontae. He said, well, yes, that’s Cheryl’s nephew; that he had dropped him off over there. He also said that he was a young–he’s about 14 or 15 years old, and he’s a street guy. Anything out in the street he knew about. So if he tells you something, you can believe it.” Collins was questioned if Rice said anything else concerning Sanford. Collins stated “No. Basically whatever he told me, I could like believe what he said because he knew the streets. He also said that it was Cheryl’s nephew, not his nephew.
“Bill mentioned to me that he was trying to get him in school because he was in the street, and he had supposedly dropped him off from the west side, took him to the east side where he lived at. He lived on (blank). “Only thing happened next was I told Bill we’re going to be talking to him. Well, he knew that. So the conversation basically ended.”
WHO ENGINEERED SANFORD’S FRAME-UP, AND SMOTHERS COVER-UP?
Detroit police Sgt. Michael Russell; photo is taken from “First 48” reality show website, the same site which boasted Aiyana Jones’ killer Joseph Weekley as a star, as well as Dale Collins. The show’s main purpose was to show that homicides needed to be wrapped up in 48 hours.
It is clear from the MSP report that Sgt. Russell played THE major role in the frame-up of 14-year-old Davontae Sanford. Both Russell and Collins are shown as star on the website for A&E’s “The First 48.” That show stresses the importance of the police finding the guilty party within the “First 48” hours.
Was Russell, aided by Collins, seeking to get the case resolved by tricking a 14-year-old child into a false confession? What did Russell, Collins, and others know about Smothers, hired by DPD officer David Cobb to kill his wife Rose Cobb later? Did Smothers perform other hits for the police?
The MSP report says, “Email sent to Wayne Co PA investigator Cory Williams on 12/15/15 requesting either IS or Grand Jury for Ira Todd, Mike Russell, and James Tolbert. I was contacted via phone by Williams on 12-16-15 at approximately 1315 hrs regarding this issue. He advised that he would speak with APA Moran and get back with me. At approximately 1415 hrs Williams called back to advise that APA Moran wanted to have a meeting after the first of the year to discuss what specific questions we wanted to ask each of these individuals.”
No such meeting was ever held. The MSP reported later “Investigative team met with WCPA on 1/11/16 at 1500 hrs to discuss Investigative Subpoenas in regards to Tolbert, Russell, and Todd.PA reluctant to issue IS’s. Inspector Menna and D/F/Lt. Powell in attendance w/ D/Sgt Corriveau.”
The MSP reported that they interviewed Detroit Police Detective Barbara Simon, who was assigned to be the Officer in Charge in the case. But she informed them that Sgt. Russell handled most of the case, and that he and other cops kept her out of the loop.
“Simon stated she was assigned the Runyon St case the day after the actual incident and was subsequently listed as the officer in charge (OIC),” says the MSP report. “She explained she did not respond to the initial crime scene. Simon acknowledged that even though she was the OIC, Sgt Mike Russell handled a majority of the information in this case. Simon said she remembers conducting a search warrant at Sanford’s residence where they recovered a pair of gym shoes. She also remembers a drawing, however she was not present when the drawing was made. Simon further explained she was the one who completed the investigators report for this case. We asked if she ever became aware of Vincent Smothers to which she stated she only heard of him after the Rose Cobb homicide. It was then asked if she recalled anyone ever bringing information to her regarding Vincent Smothers admitting or confessing to the Runyon St homicides.
Who was in charge of Runyon Street investigation–the DPD or the First 48?
“Simon stated she does not remember anyone coming to her with information about Vincent Smothers. Simon explained shewould have taken further steps/ actions if she would have been made aware of Vincent Smothers being involved in the Runyon St homicides. She also stated that she would have remembered if someone informed her of such information.”
According to the MSP report, officers present when the sketch of the house was drawn included not only Tolbert, who Worthy recently refused to charge with perjury, but Russell and others who drove Davontae around the neighborhood for several hours after Russell found him outside his house, around the corner from Runyon, in his pajamas. Russell signed the sketch. Russell also conducted the interrogations which led to Davontae’s confession, and signed those related documents.
The MSP reported regarding Russell, “Sgt. Michael Russell testified on four occasions in reference to his involvement in the investigation of the homicides that occurred at 19741 Runyon on September 17, 2007. Sgt Russell testified at 36th District Court on October 01, 2007, for a preliminary hearing in People v Sanford. He again testified at trial in 3rd Circuit Court on People v Sanford on March 18, 2008. Finally, Sgt Russell testified in evidentiary hearings on People v Sanford in 3rd Circuit Court on July 21, 2009, and July 13, 2010. Note, there is no report authored by Sgt Russell reflecting his actions or involvement in the investigation.”
WHO FRAMED DAVONTAE SANFORD AND WHY DID THEY COVER UP FOR VINCENT SMOTHERS IN THE RUNYON STREET MURDERS? WHO SHOULD BE CHARGED FOR FORCING A 14-YEAR-OLD CHILD TO ENDURE ALMOST NINE HORRENDOUS YEARS IN AN ADULT PRISON SYSTEM?
Cell phone video shows Charles Kinsey put his hands up, informed police he was helping autistic patient playing with toy truck
July 20, 2016
Therapist Charles Kinsey
NORTH MIAMI, FLA. (WSVN) – A therapist who works with people with disabilities is telling his story after he said police shot him while he was trying to help his patient with autism.
Cellphone video was released Wednesday afternoon showing Charles Kinsey lying on the ground with his hands in the air, telling officers that weapons are not necessary.
“When I went to the ground, I’m going to the ground just like this here with my hands up,” Kinsey said, “and I am laying down here just like this, and I’m telling them again, ‘Sir, there is no need for firearms. I’m unarmed, he’s an autistic guy. He got a toy truck in his hand.”
In his hospital bed, Kinsey said, he was attempting to calm an autistic patient who ran away from a group home. Kinsey could be heard in the video saying, “All he has is a toy truck. A toy truck. I am a behavior therapist at a group home.”
He is also heard asking his patient to calm down. “Rinaldo, please be still, Rinaldo. Sit down, Rinaldo. Lay on your stomach.”
North Miami police chief Marc Elias, Jr.
The ordeal went on for a few minutes before Kinsey said one of the officers shot him. “I’m like this right here, and when he shot me, it was so surprising,” Kinsey said. “It was like a mosquito bite, and when it hit me, I’m like, ‘I still got my hands in the air, and I said, ‘No I just got shot! And I’m saying, ‘Sir, why did you shoot me?’ and his words to me, he said, ‘I don’t know.’”
North Miami Police said the incident began, Monday, when someone called 911 and said there was a man walking around with a gun threatening suicide. Kinsey said the man was his patient and the alleged gun was a toy truck, which he said was clearly visible to police. “I was really more worried about him than myself. I was thinking as long as I have my hands up … they’re not going to shoot me. This is what I’m thinking, they’re not going to shoot me. Wow, was I wrong.”
Kinsey was then shot in the leg. The shooting was not captured on camera but Kinsey said he had his hands up the entire time.
The therapist said police then rushed him, patted him down and put him in handcuffs. Kinsey said what police did after the shooting is what upsets him the most. “They flipped me over, and I’m faced down in the ground, with cuffs on, waiting on the rescue squad to come. I’d say about 20, about 20 minutes it took the rescue squad to get there. And I was like, bleeding — I mean bleeding and I was like, ‘Wow.’”
Attorney Hilton Napoleon II
Despite everything that’s happened, Kinsey is happy to be alive. Standing by his bedside, his wife said, “Right now, I am just grateful that he is alive, and he is able to tell his story.”
Kinsey only wants to help people and is perplexed as to why officers fired. “My life flashed in front of me,” he said. “When he hit me, my first thing I’m thinking, I’m thinking about my family.”
Around 6 p.m. Wednesday, a group called the Circle of Brotherhood stood outside the North Miami Police Department, requesting that police answer questions about what happened and if the officer responsible for shooting will face charges.
The organization, which Kinsey is a part, of works to solve problems in the community.
Kinsey’s lawyer, Hilton Napoleon, is outraged. “There’s no justification for shooting an unarmed person who’s talking to you and telling you that they don’t have a gun, and that they’re a mental health counselor,” Napoleon said.
North Miami Police have not released the officer’s name or an update on their investigation. However, they did say that the State Attorney is now involved with the investigation.
BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — Three officers are confirmed dead and three others wounded after a shooting in Baton Rouge, a sheriff’s office spokeswoman said Sunday. One suspect is dead and law enforcement officials believe two others are still at large, the spokeswoman said.
Casey Rayborn Hicks, a spokeswoman for the East Baton Rouge Sheriff’s Office, said in a statement that the public should call 911 immediately if they see anything suspicious.
The shooting — which happened just before 9 a.m., less than 1 mile from police headquarters — comes amid spiraling tensions across the city — and the country — between the black community and police. The races of the suspect or suspects and the officers were not immediately known.
Baton Rouge officer blocks emergency entrance to Our Lady of the Lake Regional Medical Center
Baton Rouge Police Sgt. Don Coppola told The Associated Press earlier that the officers were rushed to a local hospital. Coppola said authorities are asking people to stay away from the area.
Multiple police units were stationed at Our Lady of the Lake Regional Medical Center, where stricken officers were believed to be undergoing treatment at a trauma center. A police officer with a long gun was blocking the parking lot at the emergency room.
Spokeswoman Ashley Mendoza said the hospital received five patients from the police shooting, all “law enforcement professionals.” Of the two who survived the shooting, one is in critical condition and the other is in fair condition.
Officers and deputies from the Baton Rouge Police Department and East Baton Rouge Sheriff’s Office were involved, according to Hicks.
Louisiana Gov, John Bel Edwards
Gov. John Bel Edwards asked the public to pray for the officers involved and their families.
“Rest assured, every resource available to the State of Louisiana will be used to ensure the perpetrators are swiftly brought to justice,” Edwards said in a statement.’
An Associated Press reporter on the scene saw police vehicles with lights flashing massed about a half mile from the police headquarters on Airline Highway. Police armed with long guns on the road stopped at least two vehicles driving away from the scene and checked their trunks and vehicles before allowing them to drive away.
Police-community relations in Baton Rouge have been especially tense since the killing of 37-year-old Alton Sterling, a black man killed by white officers earlier this month after a scuffle at a convenience store. The killing was captured on cellphone video and circulated widely on the internet.
It was followed a day later by the shooting death of another Black man in Minnesota, whose girlfriend livestreamed the aftermath of his death on Facebook. Then on Thursday, a black gunman in Dallas opened fire on police at a protest about the police shootings, killing five officers and heightening tensions even further.
Alton Sterling, Philando Castile shot to death by Baton Rouge, Minneapolis police.
Over the weekend, thousands of people took to the streets in Baton Rouge to condemn Sterling’s death, including hundreds of demonstrators who congregated outside the police station. Authorities arrested about 200 people over the three-day weekend.
Michelle Rogers, 56, said the pastor at her church had led prayers Sunday for Sterling’s family and police officers, asking members of the congregation to stand up if they knew an officer.
Rogers said an officer in the congregation hastily left the church near the end of the service, and a pastor announced that “something had happened.”
“But he didn’t say what. Then we started getting texts about officers down,” she said.
Rogers and her husband drove near the scene, but were blocked at an intersection closed down by police.
“I can’t explain what brought us here,” she said. “We just said a prayer in the car for the families.”
Three officers dead; 1 suspect dead and 2 others at large in Baton Rouge shooting, Sheriff’s Office says
By Kyle Whitfield
July 17, 2017
Baton Rouge highway blocked off/Photo Mark Wallheiser/Getty Images
What we know:
–Three law enforcement officers confirmed dead
–1 suspect dead; law enforcement believes 2 others at large
–Shooting happened near Airline and Old Hammond highways around 8:30 a.m.
July 17, 2016 Update, 11:21 a.m.
Baton Rouge police Public Information Director Casey Rayborn Hicks
At least three law enforcement officers were killed Sunday morning in a shooting on Airline Highway near Old Hammond Highway, and others were wounded, authorities confirmed.
One shooter is dead in the Sunday morning attack on police, said Casey Rayborn Hicks, a spokeswoman for the East Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff’s Office. She said law enforcement believes there are at least two other shooters who may be at large.
Hicks asked the public to call 911 immediately if they see anything suspicious.
Two of the dead are Baton Rouge police officers, and one is an East Baton Rouge Parish sheriff’s deputy, Baton Rouge Chief Administrative Officer William Daniel confirmed.
A call came in to police dispatch before 9 a.m. of a man walking near Airline Highway with an assault weapon.
About 11 a.m., Rayborn Hicks said that the area is still an active scene but is contained.
Both lanes of Airline Highway are shut down from Goodwood Boulevard to Old Hammond Highway and from Old Hammond to Drusilla Drive, Hicks said.
Police officers wearing bulletproof vests were near the scene and helicopters were flying overhead.
Armed police officers were stationed at Our Lady of the Lake Regional Medical Center, where a coroner’s vehicle had pulled up.
Hundreds rally in support of Lovelle Mixon, who killed 4 police officers in Oakland in 2009 before being shot to death himself, in wake of police killing of Oscar Grant.
“When murderous attack by agents of the State is a reasonable expectation, then it is totally reasonable to resist the repressive powers of that State by any means necessary.”
A week that began with the Black American psyche shocked and strained to its very limits by the outrageous police murders of Black men in Louisiana and Minnesota, ended with a white mayor claiming absolution for his city and, by extension, white U.S. society in general. “We did nothing wrong. Dallas is very, very good,” Mayor Mike Rawlings told an event honoring the five cops killed by 25 year-old Black Army veteran Micah Xavier Johnson. “I am in awe of our police officers.”
Micah Xavier Johnson
The New York Times was eager to issue an obituary for the movement that has been percolating since a Florida vigilante gunned down Trayvon Martin in 2012. “Black Lives Matter Was Gaining Ground,” read the headline on Sunday, July 10, but “…Then a Sniper Opened Fire.” According to the twisted logic of the ruling class “paper of record,” “Mr. Johnson’s actions could jeopardize the movement’s appeal to a broader group of Americans who have gradually become more sympathetic to its cause after years of highly publicized police shootings.” Translation: The purpose of Black people’s movements is to garner white support. Therefore, protesters must stand down in deference to white sensibilities, lest they be suspected of collectively empathizing with Mr. Johnson.
But Black people and their allies refused to stand down. In Atlanta, New York, Baltimore, Philadelphia, Detroit, New Orleans, Nashville, Phoenix, San Francisco – and, of course, in greater Minneapolis and Baton Rouge, the scenes of the crimes – thousands took to the streets to express their righteous, disciplined rage. Many of these protests have continued, day after day and night after night, inspired by the remarkable example of Lavish “Diamond” Reynolds, the girlfriend of Philando Castile.
Diamond “Lavish” Reynolds and daughter were in car when cop killed boyfriend Philando Castile. Facebook photo
The world witnessed the young mother’s miraculous presence of mind as she streamed online to call for help for her dying boyfriend, strapped in his seat at her side; alerted the community to the unprovoked nature of the attack by Officer Jeronimo Yanez, verbally confronting the killer cop and correcting his version of the shooting; and, managed to somehow preserve her own life and that of her four-year-old daughter, sitting in the back seat. The crazed and cursing cop kept his weapon trained on Castile, Reynolds and little Dae’Anna, the whole time.
The Minnesota cop’s lawyer maintains that “the shooting had nothing to do with race and everything to do with the presence of that gun” – the registered gun Mr. Castile told the officer he legally possessed, and which he never reached for or touched, as Ms. Reynolds explained in her emergency call to the world.
“Black Man + Gun = DEATH”
The cop is preparing a defense based on the police formula: Black Man + Gun = Death. It is the operative equation in every jurisdiction in America. A homeless man who had been begging Alton Sterling for money reportedly told police that Sterling had a gun on his person, thereby authorizing his execution under the formula – although Sterling never brandished a weapon at the two Baton Rouge police and was immobilized when repeatedly shot point blank, after which the weapon was removed from his pocket.
Cover of book about internationally acclaimed activist Robert Williams, shown with wife Mabel Williams, “Negroes with Guns.”
They are also cynical liars and hypocrites. North Carolina Congressman G.K. Butterfield, the current chairman of the Black Caucus, called a diversionary press conference the day after the armed assault on the Dallas police, attempting to link the gun control debate to both the police killings of Castile and Sterling and Micah Johnson’s retaliatory killing of cops: “Republicans, what on earth — why are you recoiling and not giving us a debate on gun violence?” The legislation the CBC and Obama support is irrelevant to the question of police violence against Blacks, or the Black response to that violence.“
“In Baton Rouge, where hundreds have been arrested in protests over Alton Sterling’s murder, it is as if Ferguson never happened.”
In Baton Rouge, where hundreds have been arrested in protests over Alton Sterling’s murder, it is as if Ferguson never happened. According to a report by Prof. Bob Quigley in this issue of BAR, riot clad police are pointing lethal weapons at protesters, bystanders and journalists, deploying military-type vehicles, and conducting blanket area sweeps with no visible regard for law or civil liberties. Corporate media excuse the Baton Rouge police behavior as an understandable reaction to the Dallas police deaths. The New York Times has not asked the cops to stand down.
Gil Scott-Heron, the late musician-poet, dedicated his spoken word poem “Siege of New Orleans” to Mark Essex’s day of retaliation. On his song “Inner City Blues,” Scott-Heron mixes the “Siege” with his version of Marvin Gaye’s “Make Me Wanna Holler.”
Here are the words included in “Siege of New Orleans”
Mark Essex shot and killed multiple New Orleans police officers in 1972.
Did you ever hear about Mark Essex and the things that made him choose to fight the inner city blues
Yeah, Essex took to the rooftops guerilla style and watched while all the crackers went wild
Brought in 600 troops, brand new I hear, to see them crushed with fear
Essex fought back with a thousand rounds and New Orleans was a changing town
Rat a tat tat tat was the only sound, yeah
Bring on the stone rifles to knock down walls
Bring on the elephant guns
Bring on the helicopters to block out the sun
Yeah, made the devil wanna holler cause 8 was dead and a dozen was down
Cries for freedom were a brand new sound
New York, Chicago, Frisco, LA
Justice was served and the unjust were afraid
Because in spite of all the years and all the fears
Brothers were alive to courage found and spreading them goddamn rules around
Yeah, make you wanna holler black people and hold up both your hands and say
If Gil Scott-Heron were alive, today, Obama might put him on his Tuesday night Kill List. Two generations removed from both mass movement politics and any real discussion of oppressed people’s moral and legal right to resist, most Black folks today don’t know quite what to say about Micah Johnson’s act of self-sacrifice and revenge. But many do feel a sense of grim exhilaration.
Nate Weekley, brother of Joseph, who killed Aiyana Jones, 7, in Detroit posts racist rant, gets demoted, not jailed
(National stories follow this VOD commentary)
July 11, 2016
DETROIT – Detroit cop Nate Weekley, the brother of cop Joseph Weekley, who shot and killed Aiyana Jones, 7, on May 16, 2010, this week posted racist comments on Facebook about the Black Lives Matter protesters who continue to pour into the nation’s streets this week.
Detroit Police Chief James Craig reported that he has been demoted, but he has not been taken into custody as have four Detroiters who allegedly posted threats against police officers, according to the Channel 2 video above.
This story goes to the heart of the controversy over the brutal police killings of Alton Sterling in Baton Rouge, and Philando Castile in Minnesota this past week, the huge protests that have erupted across the U.S. in response, and adverse reactions to the killing of five police officers in Dallas, Texas, allegedly by Micah Xavier Johnson, a veteran of the war in Afghanistan who evidently came back home enlightened.
Judge Cynthia Gray Hathaway (l) let killer cop Joseph Weekley (r) go free after he shot Aiyana Jones, 7, in the head with an MP-5, killing her as family members watched.
Nate Weekley, though demoted, remains armed every day and still on the streets. He can kill another Black child anytime he wants. After all, his brother Joseph Weekley, who likely shares his racist sentiments, got away with the murder of Aiyana.
Wayne County Circuit Court Judge Cynthia Gray Hathaway conspired with Assistant Prosecutor Robert Moran and defense attorney Steve Fishman to bring about two hung juries, and then finally dismissed “involuntary manslaughter” and firearms charges against Weekley. Even some in the prosecutor’s office were reportedly upset about this outrage.
The death of Aiyana is appropriately called a “murder” here. This reporter has been the ONLY one in Detroit who, after covering every single hearing in the trials of Weekley and also of Aiyana’s father Charles Jones and uncle Chauncey Owens, has concluded that beautiful innocent little Aiyana was MURDERED without a doubt.
Mertilla Jones confronts Weekley (far r) and his attorney Steve Fishman as she leaves court crying out, “WHY DID YOU DO THIS?”
Her grandmother Mertilla Jones was fiercely scolded by Hathaway and denounced by other reporters for saying Weekley and his fellow SWAT team members “came to kill.” She had watched as Weekley blew Aiyana’s head off when he entered their home in the dead of night May 16, 2010. Aiyana’s entire family was there, including her parents, two baby brothers, her great-aunt, and several cousins.
Worthy brought charges against Aiyana’s father Charles Jones and uncle Chauncey Owens in the killing of Je’rean Blake two days previously. The conviction of Charles Jones, who is serving a sentence of 40-60 years, was based largely on the testimony of two “jailhouse snitches.”
Jones’ assessment was validated by the following FACTS, gleaned from trial testimony:
The raid was a set-up to gain publicity for the Detroit Police on A & E’s “48 Hours.” Weekley and other members of the raid team were stars on that show.
Police surveilled the area all day prior to the raid and saw their target Chauncey Owens in the street at least twice, during which he could have easily been arrested. He was NOT hiding out—he lived upstairs at the home with Aiyana’s aunt Krystal.
Protesters marched with a banner remembering Aiyana on April 28, 2015, after police killed Terrance Kellom, 19, in his father’s home, which is behind them.
Photos of toys outside the home were shown at Weekley’s trial, taken by surveillance officers during the day. Aiyana’s cousin cried out to the raid team that there were children in the house.
Weekley entered the home first after a “flash-bang” grenade was thrown onto the couch where little Aiyana lay sleeping with her grandmother.
Weekley fired his MP-5 semi-automatic directly into Aiyana’s head seconds after he entered. A firearms expert testified at his trial that there was no way his gun could have been fired “accidentally,” as the mainstream media continues to claim. Other officers testified that they are trained until it becomes automatic reflex to keep their fingers on the slide of their guns, and off the trigger, until they decide to shoot.
Weekley informed an acquaintance of his that the safety was OFF his gun when he entered the home.
The mainstream media completely ignored the comments of the assistant Wayne County Medical Examiner at Weekley’s trial that the lack of gunshot residue on Aiyana’s head could have come from a “contact wound,” in which the residue enters the wound. The defense claimed the lack of GSR meant his gun was fired from a distance, supporting its claim that this was an “accidental” shooting.
Micah Xavier Johnson, who allegedly killed five Dallas cops after returning home from Afghanistan.
The fact that Nate Weekley felt free to post this racist comment, knowing the media would discover who his brother is, exposes the true nature of police forces in the U.S. They are here to “serve and protect” the interests of the wealthy elite in this country, not Black, Latin, Asian and poor people.
NOT ONE COP HAS GONE TO PRISON FOR THE KILLINGS OF THOUSANDS OF BLACK, LATIN AND POOR PEOPLE SINCE MICHAEL BROWN, 18, DIED IN FERGUSON MISSOURI IN 2014. NOT ONE COP HAS GONE TO PRISON FOR THE DEATH OF AIYANA JONES AND DOZENS OF OTHERS KILLED IN DETROIT OVER THE LAST 20 YEARS.
Liberal protest leaders continue to call out, NO JUSTICE, NO PEACE as they try to calm the rising tide of fury in the U.S., shown not only in the massive protests and arrests of demonstrators, but also in direct action taken in retaliation against police officers.
WHERE IS THE JUSTICE? WHY SHOULD THERE BE PEACE?
March against Dearborn police murder of Kevin Matthews: Dearborn cop tells march leader Rev. Chas. WIlliams of NAN what the route will be. There still has been no justice in his case.
The Dearborn cop who murdered Kevin Matthews last Dec. 23 has not been charged, although the Michigan State Police report on the case is on the desk of Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy.
The Dearborn cops who murdered Janet Wilson outside Fairlane Mall in January of this year have not been charged. Worthy earlier refused to charge Detroit and federal police who gunned down Terrance Kellom in his father’s home, despite her admission that the hammer cops claimed Kellom used to pound a hole in the floor and then brandish at them has none of his fingerprints on it.
Why should there be peace in a country that has five percent of the world’s population and 25 percent of its incarcerated population? Why should there be peace in a country founded on the genocide of its indigenous population of American Indians, the genocide and enslavement of kidnapped Africans, and genocidal wars across the world?
WHY SHOULD MICAH ZAVIER JOHNSON HAVE HELD HIS PEACE?
VIDEO BY IVAN KING OF DETROIT BLACK FRIDAY PROTEST AGAINST POLICE KILLINGS JULY 8, 2016
AT LEAST FOUR ARRESTED IN DETROIT FOR FACEBOOK POSTS PRAISING DALLAS SHOOTER
One praised Dallas gunman Micah Johnson as his ‘hero’
‘All lives can’t matter until black lives matter,’ wrote a third suspect
Two were released, while two have been detained on unrelated warrants.
Dorian Ruff claims he was arrested on Saturday for his post on Facebook. He had posted a picture of Johnson captioned: ‘Definitely a black hero.’ Police woud not confirm if Ruff, of Detroit, was one of the four suspects.
One of the suspects [allegedly] wrote: ‘All lives can’t matter until black lives matter. Kill all white cops.’
Another [allegedly] said: ‘It’s time to wage war and shoot the police first’, while a third [allegedly] said Johnson was his ‘hero’ and had ‘inspired me to do the exact same thing.’
One of the men arrested had posted pictures and videos of officers being shot on his Facebook wall and wrote: ‘This needs to happen more often,’ according to police.
Detroit Chief James Craig said in the wake of the Dallas mass shooting, he is taking the threats to his officers very seriously as he said his department is ‘in a higher state of alertness.’
Two of the four African-American men arrested have been released. The rest are in jail on unrelated, outstanding warrants, according to police.
VOD: PROTESTS CONTINUED TODAY, JULY 13, IN MINNEAPOLIS:
DOZENS ARRESTED AS PROTESTS AGAINST POLICE BRUTALITY CONTINUED LAST WEEK
Phil Helsel and Elisha Fieldstadt and Matthew Grimson and The Associated Press
July 10, 2016
Dozens of protesters were arrested and several police were injured Saturday night as tense protests over police force against African-Americans continued across the nation.
Police used smoke bombs to clear demonstrators blocking Interstate 94 in Saint Paul, Minnesota, late Saturday, while more than 30 people were arrested in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Both cities continue reel after the deaths of two black men at the hands of white officers last week.
Police said on Twitter that people on an overpass were “throwing objects at officers, dumping liquid on officers” and others were throwing rocks and a construction material called rebar. Police also said a molotov cocktail was thrown at officers.
Police were heard telling the crowd, “leave the interstate now or you’ll be subject to a use of force” shortly after 10:30 p.m. Police blamed “aggressors” for throwing rocks and other objects at officers, and said police were using “marking rounds.”
Police said at least five officers in all were injured by thrown objects, but none of the injuries were serious. Authorities used smoke bombs when 200 protesters refused to leave the roadway just after midnight. By 12:45 a.m. Sunday, police said they were clearing debris from the road in order to reopen the highway.
Authorities said arrests had been made, but it was not clear how many.
In Baton Rouge, Louisiana, hundreds of protesters gathered for another day of demonstrations over the fatal shooting of Alton Sterling. Some wore T-shirts that read, “I can’t keep calm I have a black son” or “Black Lives Matter.”
Arthur “Silky Slim” Reed, with the group Stop the Killing Inc., demands the resignation of Baton Rouge Mayor Kip Holden during a news conference.
Baton Rouge resident Marie Flowers came to the protest with her three children.
Pointing to the crowds along a fence surrounding the police department she said: “To me, this is just a snapshot of north Baton Rouge and how frustrated they are. They are so frustrated with this bull c**p.”
At one point, she gestured to her 12-year-old son and said they were there to protect men like him. “Black boys are being killed and this is just the culmination of what has been going on for decades,” Flowers said.
A reporter for public radio station WNWO was also arrested, the radio station said.
Hundreds of protesters blocked a major highway in Oakland, California on Thursday evening, protesting the fatal police shootings of two African-American men, Alton Sterling and Philando Castile and what they consider racist policing.
Several hundred protesters took to the streets of San Francisco, blocking several roads and ramps to get on and off the Bay Bridge.
The California Highway Patrol closed access to the bridge at least two times Saturday afternoon when protesters took over freeway ramps, causing traffic to back up.
The group began marching from the city’s Hall of Justice to the downtown shopping area, causing a temporary shutdown of a popular mall as the crowd gathered there to chant slogans and make speeches.
In central California, several hundred protesters blocked several intersections as they marched against police brutality in central Fresno. Officers in riot gear blocked an on-ramp to keep the protesters from entering State Route 41.
In Chicago, hundreds of protesters held demonstrations downtown Saturday, and a group attempted to disrupt the a city-sponsored food and music festival.
“No Justice, NO REVENUE,” said a Facebook invitation to the demonstration, set to be held at “Taste of Chicago.”
The festival was not closed, NBC Chicago reported. Protesters continued on a march and staged sit-ins and blocked intersections, the station reported.
Protest in Denver, Colorado
The deaths of Sterling and Castile renewed scrutiny of the use of deadly police force on African-Americans. As a protest was underway in Dallas Thursday, a gunman who said he was upset at white people opened fire on police officers, killing five officers and wounding seven others in what officials described as a targeted attack. The gunman was killed by police.
Hundreds of people also marched in West Palm Beach and Fort Lauderdale Saturday as part of the Black Lives Matter movement in demonstrations that ended peacefully.
Protesters in Fort Lauderdale chanted “No justice, no peace” and “Hands up, don’t shoot.” At one point the protest stopped outside a Broward County jail and prisoners banged on windows in support, but the protest was largely calm.
“It’s love out here. Everybody is happy and peaceful. It’s not something that we are coming to tear another race down,” a rally organizer told NBC Miami.
A protest march was also held in Philadelphia. “Clearly this is REVOLUTION time. We know this,” an organizer wrote on Facebook.
Elsewhere in Pennsylvania, several hundred people broke off from Pittsburgh’s 200th anniversary parade and marched to a courthouse to denounce the shootings of black men.
More than 150 people also gathered in downtown Newport, Rhode Island, in support of the Black Lives Matter movement.
Seneca Pender of Middletown organized the rally. He told the crowd that the senseless killings of black people “have to stop.”
Pender also thanked law enforcement officers who provided security at the rally in Newport and decried the deadly attack Thursday on police officers in Dallas.
FIRST BLACK MISS ALABAMA CALLS DALLAS POLICE SHOOTER A ‘MARTYR’
Baton Rouge police attack marchers protesting deaths of Alton Sterling and
“I can’t help but feeling like the shooter was a martyr,” she said. “And I know it’s not the right way to feel because nobody deserves to lose their lives, and I know those police officers had families.”
James, an Alabama native who lives in Miami, said she believes that many people feel the same way.
“I am so torn up in my heart about seeing these men, these black men being gunned down in our community,” she said. “I wasn’t surprised by what the shooter did to those cops, and I think a lot of us feel the same way.”
James told AL.com in a statement, that she does not condone violence or killing, but that she stands by the comments she made in the Sunday Facebook Live post.
‘The fact that my opinion was considered newsworthy makes me feel like speaking up was exactly what I should do, because I can voice what so many people are feeling and dealing with and they should know they are not alone,” James said in a statement to AL.com.
Follow @MaryBowerman on Twitter.
BLM SUPPORTER SHOT DEAD BY OFF-DUTY COP FOLLOWING FACEBOOK ARGUMENT; COP CLAIMS TYLER GEBHARD TRIED TO BREAK IN HOME
A Black Lives Matter supporter was shot dead by an off-duty police officer after allegedly breaking into the cop’s home following a row on Facebook.
Police said Tyler Gebhard, 20, smashed a window at the officer’s home before he was shot in the chest in St Louis, Missouri.
Gebhard, who suffered from bi-polar disorder, was said to have become embroiled in a row with the officer on Facebook over the Black Lives Matter campaign and allegedly made threats towards him and his family.
The incident comes in the wake of the shooting of five police officers at a Black Lives Matter protest in Dallas on Thursday. The demonstration had been organised following the deaths of two black men – Philando Castile and Alton Sterling – shot dead by police last week.
The unnamed officer has been placed on leave following the incident.
PROF. GRIFF OF PUBLIC ENEMY TARGETED BY DALLAS POLICE
Griff: ‘I do not advocate killing cops,” did not know Micah Johnson
LAS VEGAS, NV – JUNE 06: Rapper Professor Griff of Public Enemy performs at The Joint inside the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino on June 6, 2015 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
The Dallas Police Department, in its ongoing investigation into the police ambush that left five officers dead on Thursday, has been sharing information on its findings via its blog, The DPD Beat.
In an update posted Friday afternoon, the blog announced information that it says investigators found about the lone shooter, Micah Xavier Johnson, a US Army reservist who died during a standoff with police.
Pointing to a Facebook account that apparently belonged to Johnson, DPD Beat noted that the Facebook page included information about “Richard GRIFFIN aka Professor Griff.” Griffin is a rapper best-known for his work with the Grammy-nominated music group, Public Enemy.
Prof. Griff said on his Twitter site that he did not know Micah Johnson. This photo clearly appears to have been altered. Johnson’s head is out of proportion to the body of the man in the photo, and appears pasted on.
“GRIFFIN embraces a radical form of Afrocentrism,” The DPD post read, “and GRIFFIN wrote a book A Warriors Tapestry.”
DPD’s characterization of Griffin appears to have been directly lifted from his Wikipedia page, though the entry does not make clear what is meant by the phrase “a radical form of Afrocentrism.” Griffin’s Wikipedia page was last edited on July 4.
Apparently taking issue with the department’s framing of him, Griffin tweeted, “I do not advocate killing cops.”
Griffin also tweeted a picture that originated from the Daily Mail, in which he is pictured locking hands with Johnson. The Daily Mail’s posting was later deleted. In response, Griffin tweeted, “The police and FBI have been watching me and tapping my phone they know who I talk to. I DO NOT KNOW THE SHOOTER.”
Snyder signs Acts 192-197 to abolish DPS, replace it with state-controlled “community district” that will eventually carry heavy debt load
Acts also attack DPS workers’ collective bargaining and seniority rights
Lawsuit filed to stop dissolution of DPS; says it violates state and federal constitutions by singling out Detroit alone
Steve Conn and Nicole Conaway, two leaders of massive teacher sick-outs of January, on trial at Cadillac Place July 8; protest called for 9 a.m.
By Diane Bukowski
July 7, 2016
DETROIT – First they came for the City of Detroit, the largest Black-majority city in the U.S., stealing its major assets including the $6 billion Detroit Water and Sewerage Department under a contrived bankruptcy deal. Now the same actors have come for what is left of the Detroit Public Schools (DPS) district and the future of the city’s children, 59 percent of whom live under the poverty level.
On June 21, Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder signed Public Acts 192-197, which kill the publicly-run DPS district, founded in 1842, and replace it with a state and corporate-run “community district” including charter schools.
Snyder and DPS Emergency Manager Steven Rhodes, the judge who confirmed the City of Detroit bankruptcy plan, claim they will establish an a new allegedly “debt-free” community district, leaving DPS to pay-off nearly $3 billion in outstanding long-term debt, due through the year 2040.
They are being advised by many of those who engineered the phony Detroit bankruptcy, including Gustav Mulhatra of Ernst & Young and Alex Koch of AlixPartners.
Koch (no discernable relation to the Koch brothers) emailed Snyder on April 28, 2016 that the new debt-free district is a myth.
“We understand that DPS will not avoid any obligations that it currently has as part of the re-structuring,” he told Rhodes. “[However] At the end of 10 years ANY and ALL unamortized obligations left in OldCo [DPS] will be transferred to NewCo [community district] and be an obligation of NewCo.”
He proposed that the state should create a 10 year irrevocable trust to administer payment of the legacy debt.
“We proposed that the existing District be retained and that all obligations designated to be left in OldCO be transferred to an irrevocable 10-year trust to be overseen by an independent trustee. One of the Trust’s provisions would be an irrevocable direction to the Wayne County Treasurer that all real estate tax collections for the life of the trust be transmitted to the Trustee who will be responsible for paying OldCo obligations. At the termination of the trust any remaining obligations are to be returned to NewCo and will be an obligation of NewCo.’
Mass protest at beginning of Detroit bankruptcy eligibility trial Oct. 23, 2012.
His proposal is reminiscent of the Detroit bankruptcy disposition of the city’s multi-billion dollar art collection into a so-called “charitable trust,” taking possession of it away from the people of Detroit. The Detroit City Council voted to approve that action.
Rhodes has also ordered the DPS to borrow as much as $235 million initially in new “school financing stability bonds,” to restructure its outstanding debt, in addition to $150 million as “transition money” for the new district.
“Stability bonds” are not limited by state law to 15 percent of the assessed value of all taxable property in the district. They will eventually greatly increase the “community district” debt load after 10 years and lead to more taxes on Detroit residents, who will have no say in the administration of the new district. Detroiters are already losing their homes by the tens of thousands due to tax foreclosures.
Teachers Steve Conn and Nicole Conaway are calling for protest outside Cadillac place Friday, July 8, 9 a.m.
Similarly, the City of Detroit’s debt load skyrocketed 300 percent after the bankruptcy confirmation, in order to pay off corporate creditors in new bond issues. Part of its debt, the 2005-06 $1.5 billion Pension Obligation Certificates loan from UBS and partners, also recalls Snyder’s plans to borrow money not regulated by the state.
Other parts of the Acts allow the new “community district” to hire uncertified teachers, and eliminate seniority as a consideration in promotions and other matters. The bills define major penalties for school workers who strike and stage “sick-outs,” as they did en masse in January.
On Friday, July 8, a trial begins for two leaders of the days-long teacher “sick-outs” of last January, after all other defendants including the Detroit Federation of Teachers were dismissed from the case by Court of Claims Judge Cynthia Stephens. Some leaders of the DFT joined in supporting a Senate version of the DPS Acts that did not include the anti-union clauses, but still dissolved the Detroit Public Schools.
Judge Michael Talbot, Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder, and former Detroit Mayor Dave Bing at opening of DetroitDetention Center in old Mound Road prison in 2012.
Former DPS President Steven Conn, a long-time math teacher and respected militant, and Nicole Conaway, who taught at the Catherine Ferguson Academy and fought along with its students to keep it open, remain as defendants.
They are asking supporters of Detroit teachers and residents’ rights to retain the Detroit Public Schools to rally outside the building at 9 a.m. as they face trial.
“Coming at such a critical moment in the struggle around education in Detroit, this trial gives Detroit teachers the chance to begin to turn the tables on Snyder and Rhodes, despite the governor’s recent legislative success,” Conn said.
Long-time schools advocate Helen Moore speaks at earlier press conference when board filed a class action lawsuit on behalf of DPS children. Atty. Thomas Bleakley is at left; then Board Pres. Herman Davis at right.
Also in the Court of Claims are DPS parents and Detroit Board of Education members, who filed suit July 5 for an injunction to stop the death of DPS. Their case, Moore v. Snyder, is being heard by Chief Judge Michael Talbot.
“The essence of the complaint is that Public Acts 192-197 are unconstitutional local acts, because they affect only Detroit and the DPS,” said Attorney Thomas Bleakley, who represents the plaintiffs. “As such, they required a two-thirds majority approval from each house of the legislature and the approval of Detroit electors.”
He said no such two-thirds majority was achieved, and added that the Acts violate both state and federal constitutions.
Detroit uses non-certified “Teach for America” educators in its charter schools, which perform worse than DPS schools. Most of the TFA teachers shown in this awards photo are white, out of proportion to DPS’ racial composition.
“The rights of equal protection and due process of all children of the DPS district, irrespective of race and ethnicity, have been violated by the new laws that allow uncertified teachers to be hired in the district while the other 548 public school districts must still use certified teachers,” Bleakley declared.
The lawsuit says, “The school children of the entire state of Michigan constitute a specific and well-defined class. Until such time as this draconian provision may be put into place, this entire class of students is required to be taught by properly-trained certified teachers. DPS children, a group of children isolated and singled out by the new laws, are part of that class. By way of example, a child living on the Detroit side of Eight Mile road is treated by the provisions of P.A. 192 of 2016 differently than a child living on the Ferndale, Eastpointe or Grosse Pointe sides of the road. The law under attack is not facially neutral. The law, P.A. 192 of 2016, seeks to treat DPS children differently than the rest of the class by allowing uncertified persons into their classrooms ostensibly to ‘teach’ them, while no other school district in the state, in adjacent urban districts or remote northern Michigan districts, can legally permit such use of uncertified persons, a “very important discrimination in favor of . ..” non-DPS state-wide students.”
The current Board of Education also disapproved Snyder’s proposed loans at its June 23 meeting, although their decision is likely to be overturned by the Financial Review Commission. At the urging of board member Ida Short, the Board went on record to oppose “the dissolution of the Detroit Public Schools and the creation of the Detroit Community Schools.”
DPS EM former Judge Steven Rhodes.
The board demanded in addition that Rhodes provide a forensic audit to back up his claims that the district was in deficit and therefore needed severe solutions. According to the most recent Comprehensive Annual Financial Statements for DPS, for 2014-15, the board ended that year with a $216 million deficit.
Wallace Turbeville of DEMOS earlier reported that the City of Detroit’s only problem was a $167 million deficit which could easily have been resolved by various measures including state restoration of revenue-sharing funds to its cities, which have lost over $700 million in the last 10 years.
President Lamar Lemmons moved to have the Board ask the federal government for an investigation regarding the misappropriation of federal funds under Emergency Managers.
The bills leading to Acts 192 to 197 were hotly debated in the state legislature, particularly by Detroit Senators and Representatives who said they were not involved in drafting legislation for their own district.
Aurora Harris, parent of DPS special needs student, is also a well-known poet.
Aurora Harris, a parent of a DPS special needs student, reported, “There has been much news concerning the fate of Detroit Public Schools. From the House and Senate Bills to Detroit law makers not being allowed to speak in Lansing during the hearings or decision making session is a “slap in the face” as one Democrat from Detroit previously stated. As an advocate for parents with students with special needs, I’m here to say NOTHING has been discussed about the education and fate of students with special needs in the “old” or “new” planned DPS District, by those who wish to “rule” over or emergency manage Detroit Public Schools.”
State Sen. Morris Hood was furious as he spoke during the Senate debate.
“You coward. You coward—to even take and put this legislation before us and before my community and not even have one Detroiter in the room to help negotiate this piece,” he said.
Michigan State Sen. Morris Hood III.
“We would have said, “Hell no.” Guess what? You go into your caucus, and they go into their caucus and do whatever they want to do to my community—the kids I have to look at everyday walking up and down the street. I have to look in their eyes; you don’t. But you want to make the decisions on their lives, and tell them what kind of life they’re going to have, what kind of education that they have because they don’t have the same education that you get in your district. Why? Because this bill does not do it. This is not the answer. This is the crap that you shoved down our throats, and you shoved down their throats. These kids don’t have a voice here. We are their voice. This is going to impact them for years.”