“A LEGAL LYNCHING”—GEORGE RIDER TO MACOMB CO. JUDGE JOSEPH TOIA, DURING SENTENCING TO LWOP

George Rider, Marcie Griffith, Eric Griffin sentenced to LWOP July 31 in 2017 murder of Oak Park woman Julii Johnson in Warren

In sentencing statement not published by mainstream media, Rider says the three did not even know each other, calls case a “legal lynching”

Rider allies say feds directed Warren Police to Rider as part of ongoing campaign vs. business owner in way of downtown gentrification plans

Rider appealing conviction, represented by State Appellate Defender’s Office

August 11, 2019

MT. CLEMENS, MI —  Defendant George Rider’s sentencing statement to Macomb County Circuit Court Judge Joseph Toia Aug. 1 received no play from the mainstream media, but he forwarded a copy to VOD to tell his side of what he and others say was a “legal lynching.” He reiterated that the three defendants did not even know each other. Mainstream headlines have characterized the murder of Julii Johnson in 2017 the result of a “love triangle,” finding the defendants guilty two years before delayed trial, although the first suspect was Johnson’s boyfriend Michael Lattner. He owned one gun thought to be the murder weapon and was recently convicted in federal court of possession of that gun. Rider, represented by the State Appellate Defender’s Office, filed a claim of appeal August 7, 2019.

Judge Joseph Toia–did he facilitate  a legal lynching?

Following is Rider’s statement to Judge July 31, 2019:

America is a great country and this great country is governed by laws and rules. But most of all this great country has the Constitution of the United States. And everyone must abide by these laws and rules of this great country.

Judge Toia, you took an Oath, and you swore in that Oath to be fair and impartial in this courtroom. You deliberately and intentionally broke your Oath, violating the rules of this courtr00m. You violated MRE 901 and MRE 801. By doing this, you committed Malfeasance.

You hide behind your robe and the color of law to legally lynch me in this courtroom. You trample on my rights under the 4th Amendment, the 5th Amendment, the 6th Amendment, the 8th Amendment, and the 14th Amendment of the United States Constitution.

You were acting under the color of law when you symbolically and systematically used your position to legally lynch me.

Black business owners were frequently lynched by white competitors in history of U.S.

You forced me to go to trial with two individuals who I had no prior relationship with. You systematically placed me in the middle, and made me appear to be the glue that held this crime together, so you could justify this lynching.

I would have had more respect for you and this court, if you had taken me across the street in the park, and lynched me from a tree. But instead you choose to lynch me in this courtroom, under the color of law.

You violated my 6th Amendment rights when you let A.U.S.A. Karen Reynolds interfere with my attorney Suzanna Kostovski in this state case. This is one of the many reasons my attorney was ineffective as my attorney, because the federal government is not supposed to interfere with the attorney-client relationship.

Karen Reynolds offered me through my attorney Suzanna Kostovski to plead guilty to 20 years and cooperate in this state case. And of course I declined.

The plot started with the meeting on February 23, 2017 with the conspirators being A.U.S.A. Karen Reynolds, Macomb County Prosecutor Jurji Fedorak and his wife [Vera Fedorak], who is an ATF agent, along with the FBI and the Warren Police Department.

Macomb Co. AP Jurji Fedorak

ATF agent Vera Fedorak, wife of Jurji Fedorck

These same conspirators on March 25, 2017 raided my home with no search warrant, only producing an application for a warrant. They threatened my girlfriend and my son that if they did not open the door they would knock the door down. To this day, no search warrant has ever been produced, and no federal charges brought.

[Macomb County District Court] Judge Suzanna Faunce started the lynching on January 27, 2017, when she signed a search warrant without probable cause [related to earlier incident].

Judge Michael Chupa abused his discretion when he bound over this case without probable cause.

[Macomb County Circuit Court] Judge Jennifer Faunce tried to complete the lynching herself, but was recused from this case because of a conflict of interest. Then she pretended she had no knowledge of her sister Suzanna Faunce signing the search warrant in this case.

MCCC Judge Jennifer Faunce. sister 37th DC Judge Suzanne Faunce

Then they assigned this case to Good Ole Judge Joseph Toia to do the lynching and their dirty work. A Judge who is supposed to be fair. But you’re not fair. Because you’re worried about your own political interest, and getting re-elected, and opposed to upholding the law according to an Oath you took.

You’re just like all the other corrupt officials in Macomb County. A Cheater! And you will always be known as a Cheater.

Mr. Rider’s statement to VOD: I will prevail. I do believe my attorney did not fight for me. And I honestly believe she was working with them. Because it’s no way I was supposed to be charged for text messages let alone found guilty. It was a legal lynching. – George

GEORGE RIDER IN ANOTHER STORM

VOD staff writer Ricardo Ferrell

By Ricardo Ferrell

June, 2019

The feds are secretly celebrating the First Degree Murder conviction of George G. Rider, in the death of Julii Johnson, the Oak Park woman who was shot and killed outside a Warren condominium owned by her boyfriend J. Terrell Lattner. Lattner was originally suspected by investigators as being responsible for the murder.

According to sources a secret meeting held on the day of Rider’s arrest yielded undue influence and interference by federal authorities, especially that of Assistant United States Attorney Karen Reynolds. Reynolds, who has been on a vindictive pursuit of George Rider for many years, pushed for the Warren Police Department and the Macomb County Prosecutor’s Office to bring what amounted to bogus murder charges.

There was no direct evidence connecting Rider to the crime. In the history of Michigan’s court system, never has anyone been convicted of First Degree Murder for two text messages, which haven’t been substantiated or authenticated to determine whom actually sent them. The Michigan Rules of Evidence (MRE) clearly states: text messages that cannot be authenticated from who sent them, must be determined as hearsay under MRE 901.

MRE Rule 901 – Requirement of Authentication or Identification  (a) General provision. The requirement of authentication or identification as a condition precedent to admissibility is satisfied by evidence sufficient to support a finding that the matter in question is what its proponent claims

George Rider with renowned artist Tyree Guyton at fundraiser for the Heidelberg Project. Rider is a respectable Black business and landowner allegedly targeted by white corporate gentrifiers in Detroit. 

Aside from the hearsay text messages, there was no physical evidence linking Mr. Rider, no eyewitnesses, no DNA, or testimony connecting him. So, the question becomes, how in the hell can a citizen be convicted without any evidence against him or her?

It’s blatantly obvious that the reason Rider was charged in the first place was simply because his name happens to be George G. Rider, someone the federal government has vindictively pursued for decades relentlessly trying to connect him to unsolved crimes, including murders, mortgage fraud, insurance fraud, and a host of other crimes they have failed to get him on.

On July 31st, 2019, Rider will receive a mandatory life sentence without the possibility of parole for a crime he stands innocent of, one that isn’t supported by a shred of evidence. Thus, George G. Rider is riding through yet another man-made storm by federal authorities and a corrupt county Prosecutor’s office in Macomb County, Michigan.

That office is led by the county’s alleged number one crook who is under investigation himself for mishandling over a million dollars in the forfeiture fund. [Ironically, A.U.S.A. Karen Reynolds has been active in investigations into mishandling of federal funds used in Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan’s Demolition Project, handed out to no-bid contractors.]

 

We have to call into question the seemingly stacked jury make-up. How can a County have municipalities made up of nearly 50% African Americans, but insist that there weren’t enough Blacks to pull from the jury pool? That’s the absurdity in how Assistant Macomb County Prosecutor Jurij Fedorak was allowed to get away with justifying the lack of potential Black jurors, when in actuality there were many that could’ve been chosen had fairness been applied in the jury selection process.

Here again, is where we must ask the tough questions: Why didn’t the presiding Judge in the case step in and assure fairness to the defendant(s)? It’s his judicial duty to sit as a fair and impartial referee and make certain both sides, the defense and the prosecution, are playing above board by the rules. Not sit blindly and silently allowing a lopsided form of justice to take place before his bench.

Well, so much for his judicial obligations and the oath he swore to uphold. Judge Joseph Toia, in his duty as a jurist has failed to perform in accordance to what’s expected of a fair and impartial minded referee (judge). This is a vicious storm that George G. Rider has had to endure due to:

  • the vindictive prosecution,
  • the level of corruption by law authorities and judicial figures,
  • the blatant disregard for the administration of justice,
  • the numerous delays and postponements,
  • the tainted DNA evidence from technicians of the Michigan State Police crime lab,
  • the Fourth Amendment violation by a warrantless stop, search & seizure,
  • the obvious conflicts of interest by at least three Macomb District/County Judges,
  • the lack of physical evidence,
  • no eyewitness testimony linking Mr. Rider to the crime,and the two text messages, which amount to hearsay – all have contributed to the wrongful conviction of G. Rider.

For any Court in the State of Michigan to allow a faulty and unsupported conviction like this to stand would be a Travesty of Justice, and a black eye to the entire Judicial System. No citizen in Michigan, or anywhere in the United States, should be deprived of his or her liberties under the Constitutions of this land. The conviction of George G. Rider for the crime of First Degree Murder should and must be reversed based on the many factors that led to him being wrongfully convicted of a crime not supported by the evidence.

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. would have organized mass rallies in support of human rights for prisoners across U.S.

This writer believes there’s never been anyone in Michigan, in the history of all first degree murder cases to be convicted by two unauthenticated text messages, where the Warren Police, the Macomb County Prosecutor’s Office, or the interfering Federal Authorities were able to prove the identity of the actual sender of the messages. In fact, what do the two texts prove anyway? “1) Good Morning sunshine. Today is a beautiful day, Friday the 13th. 2) I hope you understand.” How can anyone be found guilty of a capital offense based on the above?

Notwithstanding, nobody testified to proof that George Rider sent the two texts. Apparently the prosecution, in his effort to get a conviction, could care less how he got it, as evidenced by his and overzealous federal authorities’ vindictive pursuit of George G. Rider. I wonder how the Michigan Court of Appeals will rule on this case of first impression. Let justice rein in and correct this wrongful conviction.

An injustice anywhere, is a threat to justice everywhere.” — MLK Jr.

Related stories;

RACIST RAILROAD OF GEORGE RIDER, OTHERS IN 2017 MURDER OF JULII JOHNSON–MACOMB COUNTY ‘JUSTICE’

https://gangsterreport.com/they-finally-got-their man-detroit-drug-don-turned-real-estate-mogul-g-g-rider-others-convicted-of-murder/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/wp-content/uploads/Murder-Trial-Ends-With-Conviction-Ferrell.pdf

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2019/05/26/who-killed-julii-johnson-in-2017-george-rider-harassed-by-feds-or-boyfriend-drug-associates/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2018/11/26/george-rider-evidentiary-hearing-finally-held-wnew-judge-but-ruling-delayed-until-dec-19/ 

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2018/11/10/george-rider-case-shows-corruption-runs-deep-within-macomb-county-mi-courts-police/

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AIRLINE, AUTO, GROCERY, HOTEL WORKERS ARE DEMANDING THEIR CUT OF RECORD CORPORATE PROFITS

 Pilots demonstrating for better working conditions people who fly planes for Amazon.com and Atlas Air Worldwide picket outside Amazon.com’s annual shareholders meeting, May 22, 2019, in Seattle, Washington. Photo: CNBC

By Leslie Josephs

In the decade since the U.S. emerged from the recession, many industries, including airlines and automakers, have enjoyed a near uninterrupted streak of profits.

U.S. Airlines, better known for their boom and bust cycles, are headed for their 10th straight year of profitability. The top four biggest airlines and three biggest automakers in the country brought in more than $25 billion in profit last year.

Now, across the U.S., workers who assemble cars, fly planes, prepare airplane food, clean hotel rooms and stock grocery store shelves, just to name a few — many of them unionized employees in the middle of contract talks — are determined to get a bigger cut of the spoils.

Avoiding strikes

The contracts currently under negotiation between the United Auto Workers and Big Three Detroit automakers expire in September and will set the wages and benefits for about 158,000 employees for the next few years. The more than 37,000 pilots at the three largest U.S. airlines — Delta, United and American — are seeking higher pay and better retirement benefits after cuts in past downturns. “Our goal is to reach an agreement that continues to recognize the contributions of our pilots toward our company’s success while also positioning Delta to continue its momentum,” Delta said in a statement.

After 35 years of shrinking union participation rates across the U.S., non-unionized employees at JetBlue, Amazon, Uber and Lyft are increasingly making demands for higher pay or trying to organize — emboldened by the tight labor market, low corporate taxes, healthy company profits, and rising living costs.

Uber and other ride-share drivers protest outside Wall Street bull in NYC.

Grocers owned by Kroger and Albertsons in Southern California, including Albertsons, Vons, Pavilions and Ralph’s, are deep in negotiations with local members of the United Food and Commercial Workers in hopes of staving off their own strike. The region’s last grocery strike, fifteen years ago, reportedly cost the grocers $1.5 billion in sales.

“You can’t reverse 40 years of inequality in one to two years,” said Dean Baker, senior economist at the Center for Economic and Policy Research.

Wage growth lags

The root of the tension, economists say, is that wage growth has not kept pace with an increase in productivity and the cost of living, despite a recent uptick. That comes as U.S. unemployment is near a 50-year low and companies need those workers.

Economist Joseph Stiglitz/Business Insider photo

“That means someone is getting more of the money,” said Nobel Prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz. “It is totally understandable why workers say ‘we ought to do something.’ I think the fear is: as bad as things are now they could get worse and that if we don’t do something preemptively we’re in for even more difficulties.”

Weekly wages in the U.S. increased an average of 2.6% each year from 2008 to 2018, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Workers are now seeking not only higher pay but better working conditions, health benefits and better retirement packages, just as some companies are bracing for lower economic growth forecasts and the impact of tariffs.

Making ends meet

“The American worker … has been stretched further and further and further to make ends meet,” said labor leader and United flight attendant Sara Nelson, president of the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA, which represents some 50,000 flight attendants at 20 airlines. “That’s an impossible hamster wheel to stay on.”

AFA President Sara Nelson testifies at U. S. Congressional hearing on safety of Boeing 307 MAX safety.

Labor unions are now arguing that their members deserve higher pay as their employers are flush with profits. Their ranks had been hit by layoffs, furloughs, pay, pension and benefit cuts as their employers struggled in recessions and bankruptcy.

United Auto Workers President Gary Jones made it clear last month that union members expect to be rewarded for past work during contract negotiations this year with the Big Three in Detroit, even though U.S. auto sales this year are expected to fall below 17 million vehicles for the first time since 2014. The drop would mark the second decline in U.S. industry sales since the record of 17.55 million vehicles sold in 2016.

Amazon protest

The unionized workers aren’t the only company employees demanding better pay and working conditions.

Non-unionized workers at JetBlue and Delta have recently organized or are considering organizing, despite company messages against it.

In May, Uber and Lyft drivers in cities from London to Los Angeles demonstrated for higher wages, some of them shutting off the ride-hailing apps during the strike. Drivers at Lyft and Uber recently won pay increases in New York.

Amazon workers in Minnesota on strike.

At Amazon, warehouse workers have used the online retailer’s two-day Prime Day sale to demand higher wages. In Minnesota in July, Amazon workers held signs that read: “We’re human; not robots” during their strike. Amazon workers in Europe also held strikes.

The demonstrations took place after Amazon workers raised the minimum hourly wage it pays U.S. workers to $15 last year. The company last month said it is spending $700 million to retrain 100,000 U.S. workers as current job functions become more automated.

Other companies have increased pay recently. Bank of America, for example, raised its workers‘ minimum pay to $20 an hour in March.

Investors aren’t always receptive. When American Airlines announced pay increases in April 2017 for its pilots and flight attendants, not tied to contract negotiations, shares fell more than 5% that day.

Record profits

“We’re seeing record profit for our American companies, it’s sad to say those gains aren’t really translating to our members,” United Auto Workers’ president Jones said during an event last month to officially start collective bargaining at Ford’s headquarters in Dearborn, Mich. “In this time of corporate prosperity, labor is still being asked to take concessions … This must stop now.”

Aviation workers are also clamoring for more pay and benefits. They argue they still haven’t fully recovered from cuts since the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks that roiled air travel demand and sparked a wave of airline bankruptcies.

“You don’t go through bankruptcy and win things,” said Dennis Tajer, a Boeing 737 captain at American and spokesman for the Allied Pilots Association, which represents American’s pilots. “It’s like a massage with a cheese grater: it hurts.”

Tensions between company management and some of their employees have grown so severe that disputes are ending up in courtrooms as companies allege workers are disrupting operations to gain leverage in contract talks.

Pleasing Wall Street

Donald Trump bolstered profits with corporate tax cuts in 2017.

Unions have argued their companies are aiming to please Wall Street instead of their own employees. Companies in the S&P 500 are reporting what is set to be their ninth-straight quarter of profit growth — bolstered by President Donald Trump’s 2017 corporate tax cuts.

Companies have spent a lot of that windfall to buy back their own shares, to the chagrin of workers seeking higher wages. In the decade ended in March, companies in the S&P 500 have spent around In the first quarter, S&P 500 companies spent $205.8 billion on buybacks, the second-biggest sum on record after the previous quarter and 9% more than a year earlier, according to an analysis from S&P Dow Jones Indices.

United, Southwest, American and Delta’s buybacks are among the top 150 largest in the S&P over the past decade, through the first quarter of this year, according to S&P Dow Jones Indices. United spent close to $3.9 billion buying back its own shares over the last two years, the data show. The Chicago-based airline’s net income in the last two full calendar years was $4.2 billion, according to FactSet.

Profit sharing

UAW members, meanwhile, get a slice of the automakers’ profits through profit-sharing bonuses. However the union is still trying to make up for concessions it gave up during the last economic downturn, including a decade of stagnated wages prior to 2015.

The union agreed to cut benefits and receive more substantial profit sharing in lieu of annual wage increases as a result of the Great Recession and the government-backed bankruptcies of General Motors and then-Chrysler in 2009.

Under the current four-year deals, the automakers have paid more than $4 billion in profit-sharing bonuses to UAW members. The record payments, which are based on each company’s annual earnings in North America, have averaged roughly $20,500 per worker at Fiat Chrysler, $33,400 at Ford and $45,500 for GM since 2015.

First raises in years

FCA CEO Mark Stewart

UAW members also received their first raises in a decade four years ago. Starting pay for hourly production workers is roughly $17 to $30 an hour based on seniority — well above other unionized workforces.

The profit-sharing bonuses and stagnant wages have helped the automakers control fixed costs and put labor expenses more in line with non-unionized competitors — something executives hope to continue with these negotiations.

“We cannot, we will not, repeat those actions that put us in those dangerous financial positions,” Mark Stewart, chief operating officer of FCA – North America, said last month at the company’s headquarters in Auburn Hills, Mich. “We cannot return to our old ways of doing business or we’re risking the same result.”

Decades of bankruptcies

Airline unions, whose members weathered decades of bankruptcies and their aftermath, are now seeking more for their workers in cockpits, cabins and maintenance hangars. The strong U.S. economy is propelling travel demand and putting the country’s carriers on track this year for their 10th-straight year in the black. That’s a sharp turnaround for a capital-intensive industry known for its boom-and-bust cycles that inspired recently born-again airline evangelist Warren Buffett to tell shareholders in 2008: “Indeed, if a farsighted capitalist had been present at Kitty Hawk, he would have done his successors a huge favor by shooting Orville down.”

Airline profits not spent on workers, passengers.

Between the peak in 2001 and 2011, at the depths of airline industry turmoil, the sector had shed about 28% of its workforce or 145,000 jobs, according to the Department of Transportation. Full-time equivalent airline employees are back up to more than 440,000 jobs but off the pre-9/11 peak of more than 530,000 positions.

A decade of consolidation that left four big airlines in control of most of the U.S. market and strong economic growth helped domestic carriers rake in nearly $90 billion in profits since 2010, according to Airlines for America, an industry group.

“There’s money to get,” said Orley Ashenfelter, a Princeton University economics professor who specializes in labor relations and wages. “When the company’s losing money it’s hard to say you’re important.”

Nasty fights

Some labor tensions have grown so sour they’re ending up in courtrooms.

American Airlines, for example, said in a lawsuit this spring that it had to cancel hundreds of flights because the unions that represent its more than 12,000 mechanics were engaged in an illegal work slowdown. The unions are demanding better pay and stronger limits on how much maintenance work the airline can outsource to workers overseas and have denied the allegations. A federal court in Texas in June ordered the unions to notify workers not to engage in activities that could hurt the airline.

Atlas Worldwide Airllines Holdings enjoined pilots from an “illegal worker slowdown.”

Pilots for Atlas Air Worldwide Holdings, one of the cargo carriers that operates Amazon’s package-delivery airline Amazon Air, in July lost their appeal to overturn an injunction against what Atlas called excessive sick calls and an illegal worker slowdown. The company said the labor dispute contributed to its disappointing quarterly earnings, which pushed down its stock 25% after it reported on Aug. 1. Pilots there have complained about grueling work hours and low pay compared with their counterparts at rivals.

Earlier this year, Southwest had a similar dispute with its mechanics, but later reached a contract with the group, their first in more than six years, and a higher pay raise than Southwest offered in previous rounds of negotiations.

Even workers that have relatively good relations with their employers are demanding better conditions. United Airlines flight attendants last winter picketed at United’s hubs around the country after the company reduced staffing on board to FAA minimums (American and Delta were already staffed at that level), saying it compromised their safety, particularly as airlines fit more seats on board.

Protest in D.C.

Last month, the unions representing more than 20,000 airline catering workers around the country staged a protest at Washington D.C.’s Ronald Reagan National Airport demanding higher pay for the people who prepare airplane meals. Some 11,000 catering workers voted in June to strike.

Airline food workers on srike.

The workers voted to strike in June. But they, like other airline employees, are under the Railway Labor Act, which prohibits work stoppages and walkouts unless they are released by the president-appointed National Mediation Board. The last commercial U.S. airline pilot strike, for example, was in 2010, when Spirit’s pilots walked off the job.

Presidential hopefuls are keenly eyeing the labor dynamic. Democratic candidates like Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders attended the catering workers’ picket in Washington on July 23 as presidential hopefuls eye the growing gap between haves and have-nots as a key priority for millions of voters.

“Trump has really heightened the issue because he did win…[and] the working class was key to his victory” said Dean Baker, Senior Economist at the Center for Economic and Policy Research. “He did create more emphasis on working class issues, and then he ends up making a lot of promises. Democrats will be claiming he didn’t keep that.”

CNBC’s Lauren Hirsch contributed to this article.


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ACLU TO GOV. WHITMER: DON’T CLOSE BENTON HARBOR HS, NO STATE TAKEOVER, NO CORPORATE LAND GRAB

 

Benton Harbor High School

ACLU/MI brings pressure to bear on Gov. Whitmer’s administration in letter Aug. 2: stresses disastrous history of state intervention, corporate land grab

BH School Board Vice-President Joseph Taylor: Developers want choice BHHS land (hear interview with WVPE reporter Jennifer Weingart below)


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11TH DETROIT BLACK MUSIC AWARDS EXTRAVAGANZA SUN. AUG. 4, 2019 AT CHARLES H. WRIGHT MUSEUM

Detroit Black Music Awards: “We’ve acknowledged Entertainers from the least to the greatest, from Motown stars to Local stars”–Misty Love, Pres.

11th Annual DBMA to be held in Detroit, the “Music Capital of the World”

VOD staff writer Ricardo Ferrell

By Ricardo Ferrell

DETROIT — The DBMA to be held on Sunday, August 4th, 2019, at the Charles H. Wright Museum marks the 11th year this prestigious event has been in Detroit.

Misty Love, President of the Detroit Black Music Awards, is proud to announce this year’s event, which is primed to be the best she and partner Billy Wilson, the President of the Motown Alumni Association, will be presenting, holding it in what could easily be termed the Music Capital of the World.

Misty Love has had quite a singing career. She’s a vocalist with one Gold record; six Platinum records and 10 Diamond records to her credit for singing with artists like Kid Rock and Cheryl Crow. Misty’s also quite the songwriter. She has written songs for Kid Rock that went on to sell over five million copies. Misty has been singing all her life and have been on every show from David Letterman, the Tonight Show, VHI Awards, MTV Awards, and the Soul Train Awards.

Aside from living and singing in Las Vegas, Nevada, she’s been to Spain and other places around the globe showcasing her angelic God-given voice. The idea to create a Detroit version of the Black Music Awards came about when Misty won Blues Singer of the year two years in a row at the Las Vegas Black Music Awards. It inspired her to explore bringing the event to Detroit in 2009.

Every year since its inception, the DBMA has had at least 10 categories, including best R&B male; best R&B female; Entertainer of the Year; best Gospel, etc. The DBMA also gives at least five Special Tribute Awards and five(5) Lifetime Achievement Awards. Misty Love continues to bring this illustrious event to Detroit year after year with No Sponsors! Primarily the only financial support she receives is when someone purchases an ad in her souvenir book.

This year’s event will likely feature a tribute to the late Aretha Louise Franklin, known around the world as the Queen of Soul. In the Motor City she will always be remembered as the Queen of Detroit for all she contributed to the city she loved so dearly.

Aretha Franklin’s homegoing was held at Charles H. Wright Museum.

Misty Love told me in a handwritten correspondence, “So many Detroit artists never get any recognition. They sing in these clubs and concerts and never get any recognition. It doesn’t matter if they perform in a poolroom, they should be recognized for their musical talents. We’ve acknowledged Entertainers from the least to the greatest, from Motown stars to Local stars. It doesn’t matter to us because we give each of them the same recognition.”

The Detroit Black Music Awards is a very classy event and its also a formal affair. Misty calls it “The BET in The DET” which is quite fitting. Black Entertainment at its best in Detroit, you simply can’t get it any better than that, especially since some of the best-of-the-best singers were born and raised in Detroit. The Motown history itself and what that musical dynasty was able to accomplish from scratch inspired the grind and creativity of a determined Black woman to provide a platform for all to be rightfully recognized regardless of their status in the music industry.

Misty Love is the truth when it comes to putting in real work for the mission, and not thinking about any reward. She is a beautiful soul and has a heart of gold. This annual epic event is made possible by the help of Misty’s partner Billy Wilson, who is one of the most prolific Motown historians of today. Billy’s expertise and wealth of knowledge in the music industry, specifically that of the Motown Sound from the 60’s, 70’s, 80’s, 90’s, and beyond adds credence to the DBMA and its mission.

Billy Wilson and Misty Love during previous DBMA at Charles H. Wright Museum of African-American History.

Billy Wilson’s knowledge of Motown’s stature and humble beginnings is priceless. These two brilliant minds, Misty Love & Billy Wilson and their tireless efforts, are what makes the Detroit Black Music Awards such a great and epic event.

“People love this event and they tend to enjoy the voting process, where they can vote for their favorite artist,” says Misty.

Misty shared with me how she will remain committed to the Detroit Black Music Awards, and continue to recognize every talent she can, as her way of giving back. She also said, “I do this to give people their Roses now while they can still see and smell them.”

Some of the notable supporters of the DBMA are: Judge Deborah Thomas, Gloria Ray, Charles H. Wright Museum, Fox 2 News, Voice of Detroit, and a host of others.

Writer’s note: The Detroit Black Music Awards is an event that all Black folks and business owners in the City of Detroit, and its surrounding areas should sponsor and promote without any reservations. This annual event solidifies the true essence of why its imperative that we as a people show a willingness to be supportive of one another regardless of our demographics, or socio-economic status. Detroit is headed for another comeback, and the Detroit Black Music Awards is gearing up to reinvigorate the Motown sound, and giving local talents the stage needed to showcase their talents, is what the DBMA’s are all about. If you have heard about this annual event, then certainly you wouldn’t want to miss this year’s epic extravaganza.

https://www.facebook.com/Detroitblackmusicawardsofficialpage/

 BELOW: MAP OF CHARLES H. WRIGHT MUSEUM

 


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AIYANA JONES’ DAD RE-SENTENCED TO 10-20 YRS; MEDIA FOCUSES ON VICTIMS, NOT MILITARIZATION OF POLICE

Charles Jones gets 10-20 yrs.  for manslaughter in  Je’Rean Blake death, concurrent with  perjury sentence, after ‘nolo contendere’ plea deal

Eligible for parole in 2021; Atty. Leon Weiss says he will urge officials to release Jones at earliest date

 “Didn’t Jones give Chauncey Owens the gun?”— first question asked at press conference on police slaughter of 7-year-old Aiyana in 2010

“WHAT DOES THAT HAVE TO DO WITH THIS?”—shocked response from family attorney Geoffrey Fieger 

After victim impact statements, Judge Wanda Evans implores family to move forward 

Mertilla Jones’ favorite photo of her granddaughter Aiyana Stanley Jones.

By Diane Bukowski

 July 30, 2019/updated 8/1/19

 DETROIT—Two days after Detroit police shot Aiyana Stanley-Jones, 7, to death as she slept May 16, 2010, the family’s attorney Geoffrey Fieger held a press conference about the horrific midnight SWAT-style raid on her grandmother Mertilla Jones’ flat in a poor east-side Detroit neighborhood.

Raid leader Detroit cop Joseph Weekley, a resident of well-to-do Detroit suburb Grosse Pointe, had blasted the child in the head with a submachine gun, only seconds after entry into the home. A neighbor commented later, “They came to kill.”

Weekley was a featured star on A&E’s “The First 48,” which filmed detailed, secret police preparations for the raid during two days after the killing of Je’Rean Blake, 17, on May 16. The A&E cameras were there as police met in a field just prior to the raid, filming their discussion of tactical plans. Then they followed along as the DPD armored vehicle approached the Jones home in a poor Detroit east-side neighborhood, and filmed the raid itself. 

Fieger press conference May 18, 2010; (l to r) Aiyana’s cousin Mark Robinson, mother Dominika Stanley, father Charles Jones, Atty. Geoffrey Fieger, grandmother Mertilla Jones, aunt Krystal Sanders. Along with Aiyana’s two toddler brothers, great-aunt Robinson, and cousin Vincent Ellis, all were present during police raid conducted for the benefit of A&E’s “The First 48.”

Aiyana’s father Charles Jones and mother Dominika Stanley joined Mertilla Jones and other family members, all  still numb with grief and shock, to describe the raid.

“As soon as they hit the window, I hit the floor and reached for my grandbaby,” Mertilla Jones sobbed. “I saw the light go out of her eyes and blood coming out of her mouth. I had never seen anything like that before. My beautiful, gorgeous granddaughter. I can’t trust them; I can’t trust the Detroit police.”

The mainstream media was out in force at that press conference. Despite the family’s heart-wrenching accounts, the first question out of a reporter’s mouth was, “Didn’t Charles Jones give Chauncey Owens the gun?” Clearly prompted by a leak from DPD insiders, he referred to Blake’s killing.

An appalled Fieger responded, “WHAT DOES THAT HAVE TO DO WITH THIS?”

NINE YEARS LATER, MEDIA STILL LIES, SLANTS STORIES ON DEATHS OF AIYANA, JE’REAN

On July 26, Wayne Co. Circuit Court Judge Wanda Evans re-sentenced Charles Jones to 10-20 years on a reduced charge of manslaughter, to run concurrently with a 10-20 year sentence for perjury, in the killing of Je’Rean Blake May 14, 2010. The perjury charge related to his secret and untranscribed testimony in front of now Chief Judge Timothy Kenny, who acted as a one-man grand jury in charging Jones and Owens.

Joseph Weekley shown as star on previous series, Detroit SWAT. 

Jones  will get credit for the 2,841 days he has served so far, Judge Evans said, and he could be released with the next two years with good conduct. In contrast, his daughter’s killer, DPD A&E star Joseph Weekley, walked after several mis-trials on charges of involuntary manslaughter and reckless use of a firearm.

Jones was re-sentenced after a Court of Appeals remanded his case to the trial court, saying that the late Judge Richard Skutt’s failure to answer some of the jurors’ questions caused them confusion, resulting in contradictory verdicts of “guilty” of second-degree murder and “not-guilty” of firearms charges. The prosecution’s case was based on a never-proven theory that Jones had supplied the gun that killed Blake. See COA opinion at http://voiceofdetroit.net/wp-content/uploads/Charles-Jones-COA-charge-1.pdf

Judge Skutt, however, had bravely tried to exclude testimony from two “jail-house snitches,” but was overturned on appeal by Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy. He suffered a fatal heart attack last year, on his way from another judge’s court.

Atty. Leon Weiss (center) speaks during Charles Jones (l) resentencing. AP Mark Hindelang at right.

During Jones’ resentencing,  his attorney Leon Weiss acknowledged, “This is a tragedy for two families. We went through a six week trial, but you don’t get over losses like this. I spoke to Charles for many hours about the loss of his daughter. I believe the sentencing agreement is fair and just.”

He said later that he will urge the parole board to release Jones at the earliest possible date.

Jones said simply, “I would like to offer my condolences to the family. I pray that they get to mourn, grieve and rejoice from my conviction. I’m sorry for their loss.”

Jones’ family members, including his three oldest sons, were present for the re-sentencing, hoping to hear that he would be released with time served. (See photo below. His mother Mertilla Jones is at center.)

Je’Rean Blake’s family members including his mother Lyvonne Cargill, 10-year-old daughter Zyonna Cray, and godmother Lakese Anderson read victim impact statements. 

Charles Jones’ family at his resentencing July 26, 2019.

Anderson said, “Je’Rean was a kind, giving, thoughtful young man. I pray that [Jones] receives the maximum sentence and that it runs consecutively with the other charge.” She said Blake was about to graduate from high school and planned to join the U.S. Marines.

Anderson read Cray’s statement which said in part, “How could you do this to my daddy? Now I get no calls or help from my daddy. I don’t get birthday or Xmas presents. He’s not here to help me with my homework. How could you sleep after helping someone take his life. You tried to hide him in your family home and your daughter lost her life.”

Cray was one-and-a-half years old when Blake died.

Jerean Blake’s mother is shown sitting with Je’Rean’s friend Jacquavis (J-Roc) Richards during Jones-Owens trial in this Detroit News photo.

Cargill said in part, “I miss my son. I can’t go to work. Police told me I had to go through the trial all over again. I felt like I was going to have a nervous breakdown. . . .I’m tired, ready to snap. Some people say I’m just in it for the money. They are wrong. You stole my son’s life.”

During the years after the police raid, Cargill appeared repeatedly in news interviews and on talk shows characterizing the Jones family as criminals who caused the raid on their home, aiding the official police version of events.  She also ran Facebook pages with similar comments.

Before sentencing Jones, Judge Wanda Evans spoke to Blake’s family.

“What I hope for you is that  no matter what has happened in the past, you look to the future and not let this control you anymore,” Evans said. “To the daughter: remember how your dad would want you to feel—he would want you to feel joy and love in spite of all. He wants you to live the best life you can live. He wants you to take this situation and not hold on to the anger. He would want you to be the voice that he no longer can be. To be able to help someone that might have been in the same situation that you’re in, to help them to get past all the hurt and the pain that your grandmother said that you’re feeling.”

Judge Wanda Evans

She continued, “What your grandmother said—I’m tired and I need some help. It’s not easy going through the grief process alone. There are professionals out there that can help you go through the different stages, of what’s going on in your head and your heart, to help your family be strong and move on.”

Evans officially barred further social media posts by the families related to this case, and informed Jones that he must have no contact with Blake’s family upon release.

Mainstream media accounts of Jones’ re-sentencing, nine years later, are still following the pattern initiated at the May 18, 2010 Fieger press conference. This is despite the City of Detroit’s apparent change of heart in settling a lawsuit filed by Aiyana’s parents for $8.25 million. It was the Office of the General Counsel for the Third Judicial Circuit Court which announced the sentencing agreement for Charles Jones in the death of Je’Rean Blake, not Prosecutor Kym Worthy, in another forward step. 

But the media continue to allege that Blake’s  “slaying triggered the police manhunt that ended with Aiyana shot to death in her family’s home during a raid.”

Charles Jones (l) and Chauncey Owens (r) during trial; Jones’ attorney Leon Weiss with back to camera.

They also claim, falsely, that  police were looking for Charles Jones, not Chauncey Owens, who resided in the upstairs flat at a separate address. Police had a warrant to search that address specifically to arrest Owens only.

Owens is serving a life-without-parole sentence after refusing to testify that Jones gave him the gun that killed Blake. In a police video of his interrogation after Owens learned that Aiyana had died, shown to his jury but not to Charles’ jury, he named another man as the one who supplied the gun, and originally identified his brother as the killer.

No other media except VOD was present at the trial session where this video was shown. See VOD’s original story on the session at http://voiceofdetroit.net/2014/02/10/who-killed-detroits-jerean-blake-17-and-aiyana-jones-7/.

At the beginning of the interrogation, Owens told police repeatedly that he had killed no one. He named his brother Sh’ronn Hurt, who lived across the street from the Jones family flat, as responsible for Blake’s death. DPD Sgt. Kenneth Gardner and others manipulated the interrogation by belatedly allowing Owens to call his fiancée, Aiyana’s aunt LaKrystal Sanders. Police had not told Owens that Aiyana was dead, but Sanders did so.

DPD Sgt. Kenneth Gardner; photo from A&E’s “First 48” website.

Like Joseph Weekley, Sgt. Gardner was also a featured  star on A&E’s “The First 48.” His efforts to get Owens to confess facilitated the show’s story-line that necessitated solving the Blake murder in 48 hours. 

Despite Sgt. Gardner’s repeated efforts to get him to name Charles Jones as the man who gave him the gun, he adamantly stated Jones never did so, or at the very most, was only present at the scene, which is NOT a crime. 

Owens filed an appeal of his life sentence which was rejected by the Court of Appeals  Sept. 15, 2015, except for an objection to an assessment of court costs, which was remanded to the trial court.  (See COA ruling at http://voiceofdetroit.net/wp-content/uploads/COA-Chauncey-Owens-9-15-2015.pdf ).  Court records do not show whether the case was so remanded, and there is no record of an appeal to the Michigan Supreme Court.

Je’Rean Blake

The Appeals Court rejected Owens’ argument that his original plea to second-degree murder based on providing a “truthful statement” of events in the Je’rean Blake killing had been unlawfully voided. The COA cited the prosecutor’s version of the plea agreement as follows:

“The Defendant must testify truthfully about the individual who supplied him with the gun he used to shoot the victim.  If the Defendant cooperates and testifies truthfully any time we ask him, then we will allow – we will be asking the sentencing judge – if we’re satisfied with his testimony, to reduce his sentence by two years.  The Defendant must testify at all hearings requested and must submit to a polygraph if requested.”

The COA said Owens’ refusal to testify specifically against his co-defendant Charles Jones violated this agreement.  However, there is nothing in the agreement, as VOD reported earlier, that required Owens to name Charles Jones as the person who allegedly supplied a gun to him. The COA also rejected arguments regarding the failure to call witnesses who allegedly heard Sh’rrod Hurt admit to the Blake killing, claiming they were “hearsay within hearsay.” It rejected other arguments as well.

‘The Militarization of the Police’ and its role in the death of Aiyana Stanley Jones

The media, including even local talk show hosts like Mildred Gaddis and the late Angelo Henderson, put the tragic death of Blake, 17, during a personal confrontation outside a party store, on the same level as the horrific military raid launched on a poor family’s home, taking the life of their beloved Aiyana.

The militarization of the police across the U.S. has been recognized in numerous TV specials, reports, and books as a highly dangerous development. See PBS News Hour’s report “Police Militarization Fails to Protect Officers and Targets Black Communities” at https://www.pbs.org/newshour/science/police-militarization-fails-to-protect-officers-and-targets-black-communities-study-finds.

Aiyana Jones’ mother, aunt and grandfather  March 8, 2013.

PBS reported, “Police militarization neither reduces rates of violent crime nor changes the number of officers assaulted or killed, according to a study of 9,000 law enforcement agencies in the U.S. The study is arguably the nation’s first systematic analysis on the use and consequences of militarized force. 

“In at least one state — Maryland — police are more likely to deploy militarized units in black neighborhoods, confirming a suspicion long held by critics, the study found.”

But media locally have largely diminished this nationally-recognized factor when it comes to the cases of Aiyana Stanley-Jones and Je’Rean Blake. 

The blame lies not only with the media but also with various community leaders who similarly equated Aiyana Stanley-Jones’ death with an “epidemic of violence” among the youth of Detroit and cities like it. The real epidemic of violence has been perpetrated by the U.S. military, police agencies, and the U.S. government across the world. So-called “Black-on-Black” violence is directly connected to factors of extreme poverty, unemployment, the destruction of public school systems and public recreation opportunities for youth nationally, and the repeatedly exposed role of U.S. secret agencies like the CIA in flooding poor communities of color with drugs.

Related  story (the story below contains links to all other stories published by VOD on the police murder of Aiyana Stanley-Jones.)

CHARLES JONES, DAD OF AIYANA, 7, KILLED BY DPD, PLEADS TO LESSER CHARGE, MAY BE HOME SOON


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LARGEST MARCH IN PUERTO RICO HISTORY CALLS FOR RESIGNATION OF GOV. ROSSELLO, ALLY OF TRUMP, BANKS

Puerto Ricans shut down major highways, flooded roads to governor RIcky Roselli’s mansion July 22, 2019 to demand his immediate resignation, after years of massive cutbacks ordered by global banks which want phony Detroit-style bankruptcy.

July 22, 2019

PUERTO RICO

Puerto Rican Gov. Ricardo Rossello and U.S. Pres. Donald Trump enjoy light moment during Hurricane Rita on island.

Thousands of protesters calling for the resignation of Governor Ricardo Rosselló have brought Puerto Rico almost to a standstill. Public outrage was prompted by his texts mocking victims of the devastating 2017 hurricane, Maria.

Protesters were joined by a number of high-profile Puerto Rican celebrities, including Latin pop singer Ricky Martin and rapper René Pérez Joglar, also known by his stage name ‘Residente.’ Many businesses, including the Plaza Las Américas mall in San Juan, closed throughout the day in anticipation of the demonstration.

A major expressway –Highway 18– was completely blocked by protesters.

Some held signs and banners directly calling on Rosselló to resign.

Protesters block one of many major highways in San Juan, Puerto RIco’s capital.

Massive protest flooded streets of San Juan.

The leader of the US territory has been embroiled in controversy following a leak of hundreds of communications in which he made a series of offensive remarks. The leaks amount to almost 900 pages of messages sent to current and former aides and officials. They contain sexist, homophobic and often profanity-laced comments as well as crude and flippant remarks about subjects like death following Hurricane Maria.

In addition to causing great offense, a member of the Puerto Rican legislature has identified 18 cases of potential crimes and introduced a resolution to begin impeachment proceedings against Rosselló. Both island and federal authorities have also launched investigations into possible corruption or conflicts of interest stemming from information contained in the texts.

Women joined the protest en masse.

On Sunday, Rossello said that he would not resign, but will step down as leader of the New Progressive party, the major pro-Puerto Rican statehood party, and would not seek re-election in the upcoming 2020 gubernatorial vote. However, many figures from across the political spectrum – and both on the island and from the US mainland – are calling for nothing short of his resignation, arguing that his position is untenable in light of the leaks.

The Caribbean island nation is still reeling from the devastation wrought by Hurricane Maria in 2017. The natural disaster caused billions of dollars in damage, destroyed about 80% of the country’s crop value and left several thousand residents dead. In the months following the storm, over 100,000 Puerto Ricans fled the island for the US mainland. Earlier that year, Puerto Rico became the first US territory to become bankrupt in what has been described as the “biggest government financial collapse in United States history.”

Trump tossing paper towels to Puerto Ricans at hurricane relief center.

The US government’s response to the crisis was controversial. The Senate initially voted 90-10 to approve a multi-billion dollar aid relief program, but Democrats expressed concern that the spending didn’t go far enough.

Congress eventually allocated just over $40 billion to the relief effort, which came from various sources including the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Trump made a number of controversial remarks about both this amount and the response of local politicians. He falsely claimed that $92 billion had been spent on the recovery effort, describing the amount as “squandered and wasted and stolen.” He also made a number of disparaging remarks about elected officials in Puerto Rico, describing the governor as “terrible” and the mayor of San Juan as a “horror show.” He also frequently boasted about his own purported role in the recovery effort, describing himself as “the best thing that ever happened to Puerto Rico.” 

Below: Carmen Yulin Cruz, Mayor of San Juan, Puerto Rico responds to Trump’s failure to provide sufficient aid, and racist comments on disaster.

This latest controversy might lead to a further need to prop up the troubled island. If Rosselló goes, a new administration will have to take its place. If he stays, his government will turn into a lame duck until the next gubernatorial elections, which are over a year away. Either way, as a US territory for which Washington has ultimate responsibility, the burden will fall on the federal government to help ensure good governance.

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PUERTO RICO’S DEMAND FOR INDEPENDENCE MORE ALIVE THAN EVER

Interview with Puerto Rican patriot Oscar López Rivera

Author: Nuria Barbosa León | internet@granma.cu

March 13, 2019 16:03:36

Puerto RIcan hero Oscar Lopez Rivera.

At the 4th International Conference for the Balance of the World, Oscar López Rivera called for Latin American unity to build support for Puerto Rico’s independence struggle. Photo: Ariel Cecilio Lemus Alvarez

PUERTO RICO —Puerto Rico’s demand for independence was reaffirmed by the patriot Oscar López Rivera recently, insisting that this is the inalterable demand of the island’s people.

In statements to Granma International, he noted that the only path forward for his homeland is independence, and an end to the U.S. protectorate.

He cited, as another other important issue in the struggle, the elimination of Puerto Rico’s exorbitant foreign debt, which according to Wall Street has reached 73 billion dollars, and for which the island’s people bear no responsibility, he said.

López Rivera recalled that the Caribbean nation does not have its own public treasury to pay this debt, since all income generated goes straight to the United States, given its status as the reigning colonial power.

Puerto Rico cannot appeal to any international financial institution or declare bankruptcy as any state of the union could, because it is not part of U.S. continental territory and is prohibited from applying for financial bail-out programs, given its condition as a Free Associated State.

He explained that to resolve the issue, in 2016 the White House named a Financial Oversight Board, with powers greater than those of the governor, charged with the task of developing social cutback plans to guarantee payment to creditors.

López Rivera explained that economic measures taken since then have cut the budget for programs benefitting the population, and accentuate dependence on the United States.

Protest demanding cancellation of Puerto RIco’s debt.

This situation, he said, is leading many Puerto Ricans to fight for the island’s definitive independence, or emigrate to the mainland, a pattern that continues to increase. Moreover, the nation has been unable to recover from the disaster created in the wake of Hurricanes Irma and Maria in 2017, he added.

“Today we are confronting this criminal, vengeful debt imposed by credit agencies backed by the United States. Related to this issue, the government imposed on us the Financial Oversight Board, which is determining how to implement an austerity plan, one that threatens the present and future of Puerto Rico, in ways we can’t even imagine,” he stated.

The issue will be addressed in the United Nations General Assembly, he said, and the demand for the homeland’s independence and the right to self-determination will be raised, on the basis of the fact that, in 1952, when the United States imposed the Free Associated State, information was manipulated and distorted to serve its neocolonial goals.

“We advocate unity among left political forces, to put our differences aside and work to achieve our definitive independence, which has become a necessity,” López Rivera stressed.

New York march to free Oscar Lopez Rivera.

As a young man he was recruited by the U.S. Army and obliged to participate in the Vietnam War.

Returning to the U.S. city of Chicago, where his family had settled in the 1970s, he joined the struggle in defense of the rights of Puerto Ricans, becoming an outstanding community organizer, demanding better living conditions for the population.

In 1976, he joined the underground movement in favor of Puerto Rican independence as a member of the National Liberation Armed Forces (FALN), and was imprisoned in 1981, following his arrest by the FBI and conviction for alleged seditious conspiracy.

At the time of his capture, he sought classification as a prisoner of war, in accordance with Protocol I of the 1949 Geneva Convention that recognizes this condition in cases of persons detained during armed conflicts and struggles against colonial oppression.

This demand was ignored by the U.S. government, which sentenced him to 55 years in prison. Subsequently, they fabricated an escape attempt and the sentence was extended to 70 years, 12 of which he spent in solitary confinement.

4th International Conference for the Balance of the World, Havana, Cuba

Oscar López served a total of 36 years of hard prison. On January 17, 2017, President Barack Obama granted him a pardon and his release occurred on May 17 of the same year.

He recently traveled to Cuba to attend the 4th International Conference for the Balance of the World in Havana, which was held at the end of January.

For this Puerto Rican patriot, returning to Cuba was a great honor. “I feel super excited to be here. This forum can illuminate us regarding the necessary unity and put divisions aside. I am one of those who have confidence that a better and more just world is possible. We fight to achieve the goal of prosperity for all human beings, because not only does Puerto Rico suffer, but the entire planet. We suffer the punishment imposed by the imperialist U.S. ogre.”

He said that maintaining the continuity and legacy of Comandante en Jefe Fidel Castro is important. “We need youth to continue that legacy, because it represents the future of society. To continue the example of Fidel Castro, who assumed it from José Martí,” he concluded.


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THOUSANDS OF POOR DETROIT MOMS’ CARS STUCK IN IMPOUNDS DUE TO SKY-HIGH CAR INSURANCE RATES

Video above shows example of Detroit woman forced to walk home in 2 degree weather Detroit police impound car; officer Gary Steele later demoted for racist post

Detroiters pay highest car insurance rates, have highest unemployment and child poverty rates in U.S.

U.S. Rep. Rashida Tlaib co-sponsors PAID bill that would lower rates

Dennis Boatwright II

By Dennis S. Boatwright II

July 22, 2019

Thousands of low-income metro-Detroit area moms cannot drive to work because law enforcement officials tow away their cars after they are unable to show proof of insurance, according to Wayne County Clerk records.

Consequently, these near minimum wage earners lose their only means of transportation and must scramble to find other ways to take their children to daycare and doctor appointments.

Essentially, thousands of cars bulge through the gates of police impounds because the mothers don’t earn enough money to pay Detroit’s unaffordable car insurance rates.

For instance, non-Michigan residents are astonished that Michigan drivers pay on average $2,693 annually, and are taken aback that Wayne County residents (including Detroit) pay nearly double that rate at $5,646 per year. This means Detroiters, in particular, have to pay the highest car insurance premiums in the nation, even though Motor City has the lowest per-capita income among large U.S. cities. Detroit’s unbelievable car insurance rates are double that of Chicago, Los Angeles, and New York City, big cities that also have high concentrations of people of color, as well as poverty and crime.

Car being impounded. Most drivers can’t afford costs to get cars back, they are sold at auction.

More directly, the average U.S. citizen pays only $115.00 per month while the average Detroiter pays an astonishing $470.00 each month per vehicle. In real terms, that means most Detroiters are paying two car notes every month, essentially.

It is no wonder that sixty percent of Detroit motorists take the chance of driving uninsured.

Since most Detroiters are unable to pay $470.00 per month, many don’t have coverage. This explains why police impounds are crammed with confiscated vehicles that otherwise can be driven.

According to 36th District Court records, when a single mom is pulled over for no insurance coverage, her car is impounded and she is written a two-hundred dollar misdemeanor citation. To get the car back, these distressed mothers are required to show proof of insurance and pay up to $900 in towing and storage fees in order to get the vehicle released from police custody. The fine and impoundment easily surpasses $1,000.

Detroit mother and children.

Since most struggling mothers cannot afford adequate insurance coverage nor the dispiriting towing and storage scams, their cars are auctioned away—oftentimes to a fellow police officer–after thirty days if they are unable to hustle up the cash.

Since the majority of single-parent moms don’t have required insurance, a nefarious cottage industry has popped up to feed off Detroiters who cannot pay such crippling premiums (sometimes 40-percent of their monthly incomes). Strip mall insurance brokerage companies like L.A. Insurance and Advasure sell desperate car owners thirteen-day car insurance policies for $400 ($800/mo). Then the relieved insured catch a ride to the police impound waving an insurance certificate to rescue the vehicle out of car jail, as they call it. Since the insurance policy just lasts two weeks, this sad cycle repeats itself over and over again.

To be sure, many are led to believe that car insurance in Detroit is the highest solely because of lower credit scores or high crime rates. (Credit scores are not the biggest spoiler, though in many cases they are privately factored in.)

Frankly, one reason Detroiters pay high insurance rates is that their political representation is indifferent and relatively weaker than the rest of the nation.

But there is room for hope.

Cars in impound lot.

Enough state legislators can vote to place a cap on how much an insurance company can charge motorists. If Detroiters want to get their insurance premiums lowered to the national average they must elect and support lawmakers who rank lowering car insurance premiums high on their legislation agendas.

So far, only freshman U.S. Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-MI, 13th District) considers this an urgent issue and has already made changes to Michigan’s insurance costs that will provide a 10-percent relief to monthly payments.

However, much more needs to be done and many more lawmakers must be willing to attack this exploitation of poor people. Sympathetic legislators need serious pastors, grassroots educators, and everyday folks to unite and mobilize around this important issue. Otherwise, thousands of more teary-eyed moms will be ordered to “step outside the car.”

U.S. Rep. Rashida Tlaib Bill Could Bar Michigan Auto Insurers From Using Non-Driving Factors

By Bethan Moorecraft

July 15, 2019 Ju

U.S. Rep Rashida Tlaib (D-Michigan)

st weeks after Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer signed a landmark no-fault auto insurance reform bill, legislators are demanding for more to be done to reduce the state’s extortionate auto insurance rates.

US Rep. Rashida Tlaib has introduced a bill called the Prohibit Auto Insurance Discrimination Act (PAID), which would prevent auto insurance companies from using non-driving factors like zip code, census tract, gender, education, occupation, employment, homeownership, credit score, and marital status, to determine rates.

According to a report in the Detroit Metro Times, Tlaib brought PAID to the table alongside Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman, D-N.J., because she believes the bill recently signed into law by Governor Gretchen Whitmer “does not go far enough to stop these harmful practices” of using non-driving factors.

“Auto insurance rates should be determined by your driving record, not your credit score, gender, marital status, education, residence, or any other non-driving factor that has nothing to do with your safety on the roads,” Tlaib commented. “Drivers in Michigan’s 13th congressional district face some of the highest car insurance rates in the nation, and non-driving factors that serve as proxies for race and income and allow modern-day redlining are a main culprit. The use of non-driving factors puts marginalized communities at a disadvantage and creates obstacles to economic opportunity for families.”

U. S. Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-NJ)

According to the insurance search engine, The Zebra, Michigan has the highest auto insurance rates in the country, with an average premium of $2,693. Some drivers in the state are paying in the realm of $5,000 every year to get on the roads, which takes a significant chunk out of the average annual income of Detroiters.  

Watson Coleman told the Detroit Metro Times: “Car insurance is absolutely necessary for most American families, so when companies raise rates for unfair, undisclosed, and unproven reasons, families are going to be hurt. Income proxies like where you work or whether you have a college degree don’t weed out bad drivers — they just create a two-tier system where those who make less get charged higher rates. Working families deserve better than a system that is fundamentally unfair.”


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MSC GRANTS HAROLD WALKER NEW TRIAL, CITES JUDGE LILLARD’S JURY ‘COERCION,” ‘CLOWN’ NAME-CALLING

(Video above is from Michigan Supreme Court website: arguments on Harold Walker application for leave to appeal Jan. 24, 2019)

High court voids conviction and sentence, orders that Walker be re-tried in front of another judge

Cites jury “coercion” and intimidation, Lillard calling Walker a “clown” six times during sentencing to  3 to 75 years 

In three other cases, Courts of Appeal reversed sentences, cited Lillard’s practice of sentencing defendants to highest  level if they exercised Sixth Amendment right to jury trial instead of taking a plea deal

New discovery: Lillard ignored advice from Office of General Counsel to grant Charles Lewis “due process,” hold open court hearing on allegations that Lewis forged order from Judge Drain dismissing conviction; hearing on Lewis case Fri. July 19

By Diane Bukowski

July 17, 2019

Judge Lillard during DUI sentencing.

DETROIT, MI – A news video in which Third Judicial Circuit Court Judge Qiana Lillard called white family members of a DUI defendant “clowns” for allegedly laughing in court went viral last year, making her a hero.  Lillard sent the mother of the defendant to jail for one day.  

One website said Lillard, who is Black, was standing up to “white supremacists.”  Others expressed admiration for her alleged “no-nonsense” control of her courtroom. See https://www.clickondetroit.com/news/video-judge-throws-woman-out-of-court-during-deadly-dui-sentencing.

But on July 11, the Michigan Supreme Court thoroughly castigated Judge Lillard regarding a 2014 case where she repeatedly called defendant Harold Lamont Walker, who is Black, a “clown” and a “coward” before sentencing him to three to 75 years for firearms offenses.  They also cited what they called coercive jury instructions and intimidation of jury members, including forcing one member who was late to sit in the “prisoner’s box” for the duration of the one-day trial.

The high court threw out Walker’s conviction and sentence and ordered him re-tried before another judge. Walker was represented by Attorney Adrienne Young of the State Appellate Defender’s Office, who declined comment on the victory but referred VOD to the court ruling itself. See full ruling at: http://voiceofdetroit.net/wp-ontent/uploads/People-V-Walker-MSC-7-11-19.pdf.

Michigan Supreme Court Justice Megan Cavanagh

“We hold that the [jury] instruction crossed the line from appropriately encouraging deliberation and candid consideration to impermissibly coercing jurors to surrender their honestly held beliefs for the sake of reaching a verdict,” Justice Megan Cavanagh wrote for the 5-2 majority.

“The error was plain, affected defendant’s substantial rights, and affected the fairness, integrity, and public reputation of the judicial proceeding . . . . Additionally, in light of the trial court’s conduct during defendant’s sentencing, we direct that defendant be retried before a different judge.”

The court said further, “After defendant indicated at least eight times during his allocution that he had nothing further to say, the trial judge continued to bait him, engaging in name-calling (calling him a “clown” six times and a “coward”), with the exchange escalating to defendant stating, “F— you,” to which the trial court replied, “Oh, you wish you could.” The trial court also admonished defendant, suggesting that he liked being in prison (“Cause that’s what your life shows me, that you like to go to prison.”) and stated that it would have sentenced him more leniently but for his disrespect toward the court (“I was inclined to give you the middle of the road, . . . but because you’re so disrespectful and you just seem to want to go back to prison . . . .”).

Harold Lamont Walker (Photo: MDOC)

Walker was charged with carrying a concealed weapon, felon in possession of a firearm, and felony firearms. He had been standing with friends, drinking beers, near a house when police cruised by. They claimed they saw Walker move away to a bush near the porch of the house and drop a heavy object from his pocket into the bush. Police said they found a revolver in the bush.

A friend who was with him testified at trial that he had put the gun in the bush earlier in the day. He said Walker had thrown a can of beer into the bush because he was on parole and was not supposed to be drinking.

The court said the judge humiliated a juror who came in 15 minutes late by forcing the juror to sit in the box where in-custody prisoners are usually placed when awaiting their hearings. After the trial ended and the case went to the jury, they sent a note asking to see the weapon and shortly afterwards said they were deadlocked. The court said the judge gave improper and coercive jury instructions as follows:

“Now, if there’s someone among you who’s failing to follow the instructions or there’s someone who’s refusing to participate in the process, you can send us a note and let us know that and we can address that, but at this point I’m not inclined to end your deliberations at this point because you had a full day of testimony and you’ve only been at this, discussing it, for one hour.

“So I’m going to send you to lunch, maybe sometime [sic] apart will help you all to think about things, and then you’ll come back in one hour and resume your deliberations. If you have any questions, if there is anything that you don’t understand or need clarification on send a note. And again, if there’s one among you or two among you, three among you who are refusing to follow the instructions or participate in the process you can let us know that, too.”

Appeals Court Judge Elizabeth Gleicher

The court noted, “The jury returned a verdict of guilty on all counts at 3:07 p.m., approximately 1½ hours after returning from lunch. The trial court sentenced defendant as a fourth-offense habitual offender, MCL 769.12, to concurrent prison terms of 46 months to 75 years for felon-in-possession and CCW, both of which were to be served consecutively to the mandatory 10-year sentence for third-offense felony-firearm.

It said it appeared clear that the jury returned a “guilty” verdict in Walker’s case because it was intimidated by Judge Lillard. 

The court also cited Judge Lillard’s depiction of the testimony of Walker’s witness, noting that there was no evidentiary basis for Judge Lillard’s opinion.

“I think he conspired with Mr. Williams, while Mr. Williams was in custody in the Wayne County Jail awaiting trial, and they trumped up that phony, bogus testimony. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that low-and-behold after that young man spent some time in the Wayne County Jail, all of a sudden he decided he wanted to come to court and tell a ridiculous version of events. And I think that that was nothing more than a conspiracy between Mr. Walker and — using his influence over a young man from the neighborhood, who looked up to him, to try to get him to take the rap for him.”

It included an earlier dissenting Appeals Court opinion from Judge Elizabeth Gleicher, in which she included a shocking section of the actual sentencing transcript. See http://voiceofdetroit.net/wp-content/uploads/COA-H-L-WALKER-dissenting-1.pdf.

SADO Attorney Adrienne Young (Facebook)

In three earlier cases, state Courts of Appeals sent defendants to another judge for re-sentencing. They were the cases of Christobal DeLeon, Derek James Smith, and Floyd Pennington. The Courts of Appeals cited Lillard’s admitted practice of handing out sentences at the top of the guidelines if defendants had exercised their Sixth Amendment right to jury trials, rather than taking plea deals.

During oral arguments on the Walker case,  Attorney Adrienne Young called the practice “the Pennington practice.” She had included an amendment to her Supreme Court brief regarding that case in particular.

The Courts of Appeals struck down the sentences handed out to those defendants, and ordered that they be re-sentenced in front of other judges.

Trump with “Great Wall of Mexico.”

In the case of Christobal DeLeon, Appeals Court Judge Amy Krause also cited the “severity of the trial court’s misconduct in discussing the race, ethnicity, sexuality or religious beliefs of a defendant while passing sentence.”  Judge Lillard had told the Latino defendant, “You, sir, are a discredit to every immigrant who comes to this country seeking a better life . . . .fodder for the people who believe that a wall should be built to keep Mexicans out.” 

Krause explained, “The trial court’s comments about defendant’s Hispanic heritage are horrific, as confirmed in part by the prosecutor in their brief, who acknowledges that the trial court’s comments were ‘inflammatory’ and  ‘unnecessary.’  Moreover, these statements are meant to echo deeply disturbing rhetoric that paints Hispanic immigrants as rapists, murderers, and thieves.  There can be no doubt that the trial court had exactly such characterizations in mind by stating, “[i]t’s people like you and your friends who did what they did to this woman is the reason right now we have a president and a whole bunch of people following him believing a wall should be built to keep Latinos out of this country.”    The inclusion of such statements on the record leaves me with no choice but to assume that they were influential in the trial court’s decision.”

One long-time defense attorney told VOD recently that Lillard is known for the abnormally high sentences she hands out.

COURT COUNSEL: LILLARD DENIED CHARLES LEWIS DUE PROCESS IN HANDLING GERSHWIN DRAIN ORDER DISMISSING HIS CONVICTION

During three and one-half years of juvenile life re-sentencing hearings, which VOD has covered,  Charles Lewis brought to Judge Lillard’s attention an Order dismissing his case dated April 3, 2000, signed by Judge Gershwin Drain. The Order (below) was belatedly discovered by an employee in the Court Clerk’s office, misfiled in another case. It was then sent to various other personnel including Lewis’ Residential Unit Manager at Lakeland Correctional Facility, who gave it to Lewis.


 

The Order is listed currently at the beginning of Lewis Register of Actions (below at top). An earlier version of the Register of Actions listed it as a dismissal (below at bottom).

Lillard accepted the copy of the order into the record, but later obtained a letter from U.S. District Court Judge Gershwin Drain dated in 2012 claiming the order was forged and that Lewis had never been on his docket. The letter was not signed by Drain, but instead rubber-stamped.

AP Thomas Dawson and AP Jason Williams share a laugh during one of Lewis’ hearings.

Assistant Prosecutor Thomas Dawson has cited the alleged forgery as evidence of Lewis’ continuing criminal conduct in prison, in his effort to have Lewis re-sentenced to LWOP.

Lewis earlier explained at length, in his Motion to Remand the Correct the Record, how he obtained the document. See full motion under Related Documents below.

But Judge Lillard apparently consulted the Office of the General Counsel about how to handle the order. Atty Valerie Albright responded in 2014 (see full letter at http://voiceofdetroit.net/wp-content/uploads/CLewis-OGC-advice-on-Drain-order.pdf 

Beginning of Atty. Valerie Albright’s advice to Judge Lillard on Drain order.

U.S. District Court Judge Gershwin Drain

Instead of holding an evidentiary hearing on this most serious matter, Judge Lillard addressed it verbally, stating she had called now-U.S. District Court Judge Gershwin Drain regarding the order, and he denied authoring it or ever having Lewis on his docket. The phone call constituted an ex parte action in violation of proper court procedure.

Additionally, Lillard previously worked in the Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office with Judge Drain’s daughter Shelley Drain, constituting a conflict of interest.Lillard has said in a published article that she considers Wayne Co. Prosecutor Kym Worthy her “mentor.” Chief Judge Timothy Kenny recused Lillard from the case involving the murder of Renisha McBride by Theodore Wafer at the request of defense attorneys, who cited her close relationship with members of the Prosecutor’s Office, including one AP working the case.

Defense Attorney Michael Deutsch with Rasmea Odeh

Drain and everyone associated with the discovery of the order should have been called to testify on the record as Albright advised, but that never happened.

Drain is the judge who ordered Palestinian community activist Rasmea Odeh deported to Israel because she stated on her application for citizenship that she had never been arrested. She was detained, tortured and raped by Israeli soldiers many years ago.

WHAT ACTIONS SHOULD BE TAKEN AGAINST JUDGE QIANA LILLARD FOR HER CONDUCT IN ALL THE MATTERS LISTED ABOVE, AS SHE CONTEMPLATES WHETHER TO RE-SENTENCE LEWIS TO LWOP?

Related documents:

Charles Lewis Motion to Remand the Correct the Record at http://voiceofdetroit.net/wp-content/uploads/CLewis-motion-ro-remand-to-correct-the-record-1.pdf

Court of Appeals dissenting opinion in Harold Lamont Walker case, pending Michigan Supreme Court decision http://voiceofdetroit.net/wp-content/uploads/COA-H-L-WALKER-dissenting.pdf

Court of Appeals opinion castigating Judge Lillard for racial anti-immigrant comments in Christobal DeLeon case: http://voiceofdetroit.net/wp-content/uploads/Lillard-People-v-DeLeon-2.pdf

Court of Appeals opinion in Floyd Pennington case: http://voiceofdetroit.net/wp-content/uploads/People-of-Michigan-COA-Floyd-Ray-Pennington.pdf

Court of Appeals opinion in Derek James Smith case: http://voiceofdetroit.net/wp-content/uploads/Lillard-People-v-Smith.pdf

Related stories:

CHARLES. K.K. LEWIS: JUDGE ORDERS FINAL JLWOP HEARING(S) DESPITE LOST COURT FILE, INNOCENCE CLAIM

 

WHY IS JUVENILE LIFER CHARLES LEWIS STILL IN PRISON, 16 YRS. AFTER HIS CASE WAS DISMISSED?


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MISSION MUSIC – GET UP (feat. De’Asha Spencer-Kyle, 2Tru, Cam G & QueenBarzz)

TO OUR BELOVED READERS AND SUPPORTERS:

Above is a video done by Benton Harbor High School students to save their school district. The state wants the valuable waterfront land BHHS is on. The Benton Harbor School Board has now voted NO! twice on proposals from the Whitmer administration. A VOD story on the second vote is upcoming.

Mother Rosie and Charles Lewis, 1977.

VOD is also working on a story about the Michigan Supreme Court’s July 11 ruling in the case of People v. Walker, which thoroughly exposes the appalling courtroom practices of Wayne County Circuit Court Judge Qiana Lillard, who  is also presiding over the juvenile lifer re-sentencing of Charles Lewis, a case VOD has been following for nearly 4 years.

A mitigation hearing on Lewis in front of Lillard, Rm. 502, Frank Murphy Hall, is scheduled for Fri. July 19 at 9am.

Please donate what you can to keep VOD going, at https://www.gofundme.com/VOD-readers-up.  We just paid our quarterly web-hosting fee of $359 and have numerous other expenses, including gas costs for our reporters to travel to Benton Harbor, where the state is trying to demolish Benton Harbor High School to take over prime waterfront land.

Flint resident Ariana Hawk and daughter Aliana, 4.

Criminal charges including genocide in Flint still need to be brought against former Gov. Snyder and his EM’s, who have taken over most of the assets of majority-Black cities in Michigan. One VOD story on the poisoning of an entire city exposed the real causes of the Flint water crisis:  http://voiceofdetroit.net/2016/02/15/bi-partisan-deal-led-to-flint-water-poisoning-for-profit-the-karegnondi-water-authority-kwa/.

Thelonious ‘Shawn” Searcy

Aiyana Jones, 7, and her dad Charles Jones.

It costs VOD $2.25 a PAGE to get copies of court records related to cases such as those of Charles Lewis, Charles Jones, and Thelonious “Shawn” Searcy, covered for years by this paper.

VOD continues to fight this POLICE STATE and PRISON NATION in its coverage of juvenile lifer re-sentencing and mass incarceration. Dozens of juvenile lifers are still rotting in Michigan prisons despite the U.S. Supreme Court’s rulings in Miller v. Alabama (2012) and Montgomery v. Louisiana (2016), because county prosecutors recommended so many for renewed life sentences for them, They refuse to fund required experts in their cases as they have for JLWOPer’s recommended for terms of years. 

Recent stories with a variety of other topics as well include:

CHARLES JONES, DAD OF AIYANA, 7, KILLED BY DPD, PLEADS TO LESSER CHARGE, MAY BE HOME SOON

LEROY WASHINGTON, DAUGHTER CO-FOUND NATL. ANTI-BULLYING PROJECT TO CHANGE, SAVE LIVES

FEELING FRUSTRATED AND BETRAYED IN FLINT — FROM THE FINAL CALL

ACADEMICS ENDORSE SANDERS STUDENT DEBT CANCELLATION AND TUITION-FREE COLLEGE PLAN

PAY IT FORWARD: BILLIONAIRES PROPOSE A ‘WEALTH TAX’ IN LINE WITH OCASIO-CORTEZ, SANDERS, WARREN

GOV. WHITMER WANTS TO CLOSE BLACK BENTON HARBOR SCHOOLS; STUDENTS SAY: FORGIVE DEBT, TAX THE RICH!

RACIST RAILROAD OF GEORGE RIDER, OTHERS IN 2017 MURDER OF JULII JOHNSON–MACOMB COUNTY ‘JUSTICE’

LAWSUIT ALLEGES MICH. NURSING HOME IMPRISONED OAK PARK SENIOR, HELD HER FOR RANSOM

TWO MORE MIGRANTS DIE IN U.S. CUSTODY AFTER CROSSING MEXICO BORDER

PEOPLE BEFORE THE PENTAGON: SIGN PETITION TO CUT $200B FROM U.S. DEFENSE

RUSSIA UNLIKELY TO STAY NEUTRAL IF U.S. AND IRAN GO TO WAR

JUDGE TO REVIEW CASE OF CARL HUBBARD, IN PRISON SINCE 1992; INNOCENCE BACKED BY DOZENS

WHO KILLED JULII JOHNSON IN 2017–GEORGE RIDER, HARASSED BY FEDS, OR BOYFRIEND/ DRUG ASSOCIATES?

N.Y. JUDGE EXONERATES KEITH BUSH, WRONGLY CONVICTED OF MURDER AT 17; 33 YRS. IN PRISON

CHARLES. K.K. LEWIS: JUDGE ORDERS FINAL JLWOP HEARING(S) DESPITE LOST COURT FILE, INNOCENCE CLAIM

LEAVING NO JUVENILE BEHIND–RAISE THE AGE!

U.S. REP. TLAIB ANNOUNCES 10M SIGNATURES TO IMPEACH TRUMP; INTRODUCES CALL FOR CONGRESSIONAL INQUIRY

THELONIOUS SEARCY TARGETS WAYNE CO. PROS. PATRICK MUSCAT IN ATTY. GRIEVANCE COMMISSION COMPLAINT

KELLOM FAMILY PACKS COURT AFTER COP’S ADMISSION THAT DETROIT DAD WAS UNARMED WHEN ‘EXECUTED’

I AM NOT MY CIRCUMSTANCES, I AM MY DETERMINATION

2ND ANNUAL MARYANNE GODBOLDO FORUM FOR PARENTAL RIGHTS SAT. APRIL 27

FREE CHARLES K.K. LEWIS NOW! CRUELTY: 43 JWLOP RE-SENTENCING HEARINGS IN 3 YRS; HEARING TUES. APR. 16

JUSTICE FOR TERRANCE KELLOM, AIYANA JONES! JAIL KILLER, LYING COPS, REMOVE KYM WORTHY, JAMES CRAIG

RUSSIAGATE FEAR-MONGERING IN U.S. PRODUCES BILLIONS IN PROFITS FOR ARMS INDUSTRY, GROWTH OF FAR RIGHT

JUDGE LILLARD TRAPPING CHARLES K.K. LEWIS TO STOP ACCESS TO HIGHER COURTS? HEARING FRI. MARCH 29 


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CHARLES JONES, DAD OF AIYANA, 7, KILLED BY DPD, PLEADS TO LESSER CHARGE, MAY BE HOME SOON

Charles Jones, father of Aiyana Stanley-Jones, 7, killed by Detroit police May 16, 2010, hears terms of plea agreement reducing his sentences in the related killing of Je’Rean Blake. His atty. Leon Weiss is at center, with AP Mark Hindelang at right. Third Judicial Circuit Court Judge Wanda Evans set re-sentencing for July 26, 2019 at 9 a.m. Jones, Aiyana’s mother Dominika Stanley and two toddler brothers were in his mother Mertilla Jones’ home when a Detroit Police “Special Response Team”  shot Aiyana in the head several seconds after entry. They had a warrant only for the upstairs flat where Chauncey Owens, the target of the raid, lived. A&E’s “The First 48” filmed two days of preparations for the raid and the raid itself.  Aiyana’s killer, DPD Officer Joseph Weekley, a featured A&E star, walked free after two mistrials in front of Judge Cynthia Gray Hathaway.

Jones’ 40-60 yr. sentence for 2nd degree murder reduced to manslaughter, 10-20 yrs. concurrent with 10-20 years perjury sentence, with credit for time served since 2011

Hopefully they’ll let him go with time served, the best possible outcome; his earliest release is in 2021. He’s held on this long, a model prisoner, and hasn’t seen his 5 sons since 2011.”–mother Mertilla Jones

COA granted Jones a new trial Aug. 30, 2012 based on contradictory jury instructions resulting in contradictory verdicts; MSC refused leave to appeal

“We fought real hard to win this appeal”–Defense atty. Leon Weiss of Fieger law firm

Charles Jones with his first-born chIld and only daughter Aiyana Jones in happier times.

DETROIT— Police forced Charles Damon Jones, father of Aiyana Stanley-Jones, 7, to crawl through broken glass and bits of his only daughter’s brains and blood after DPD cop Joseph Weekley shot the child to death with an MP-5 submachine gun May 16, 2010 during a horrific midnight raid on her grandmother Mertilla Jones’ home.

They were looking for Chauncey Owens, who lived in the flat upstairs, for the murder of 17-year-old Je’Rean Blake two days earlier. They had no warrant for the Jones home or Jones.

As the community reacted to Aiyana’s death with outrage, the police and prosecutor put Jones in their cross-hairs instead of Weekley, a star on A&E’s “First 48,” which had cameras rolling during the raid.

Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy charged Jones with second-degree murder and perjury in Blake’s death, largely based on the testimony of two “jail-house snitches,” which the late Judge Richard Skutt tried unsuccessfully to bar on a motion from Weiss. Jones, now 34, who also has five young sons, was sentenced to 40 to 60 years on the murder charge and 10 to 20 for perjury.

Joseph Weekley, Jr. in SWAT-style uniform, photo from the website of A&E’s “The First 48.”

“All you’re doing is trying to cover up my daughter’s death because of a reckless officer, but like Aiyana I refuse to be a victim,” Jones told prosecutors during his sentencing in 2014.  “I hope you go after him like you did after me. Here you are judging me like I’m not human.”

A “one-man grand jury” composed of then-Chief Criminal Judge Timothy Kenny charged Weekley only with involuntary manslaughter and reckless use of a firearm.   He walked free after two mistrials declared by Judge Cynthia Gray Hathaway, despite testimony from a firearms expert and others that his gun could not have discharged “accidentally.”

During the years after the death of Aiyana Jones, the mainstream media has continued to claim that the child was killed “accidentally.”

However, during one hearing in the Weekley trial, a Wayne Co. medical examiner testified that the reason for the lack of gunpowder “stippling” around Aiyana’s gunshot wound  “could have been” the result of a direct contact shot.  She was shot within seconds of the time a “flash-bang” explosive was tossed into the front window onto the couch where she was sleeping with her grandmother.

Detroit cop Joseph Weekley shot Aiyana Jones, 7 to death May 16, 2010 (depiction from atty. Geoffrey Fieger’s office.)

The defense had sought to claim that Weekley shot her from a distance, first contending that Mertilla Jones caused the shot by forcing Weekley’s gun back in defense of her granddaughter. Jones had been sleeping on the right end of the front room couch. That is what Weekley testified to during his trial.

That claim was discounted by independent autopsy results showing that the bullet entered the top of the child’s head as shown in the depiction at right. The Wayne County Medical Examiner’s Office later officially accepted that result.

The City of Detroit settled a civil claim against it and Weekley for $8.2 million last month, which indicated a drastic change in the city’s official stance on the case. 

The Jones family had endured years of vilification in the mainstream media and on talk shows as the city and police sought to blame the victims for Aiyana’s tragic death. The DPD kept up a constant campaign of harassment, frequently arresting Aiyana’s relatives on bogus charges.

Jay Schlenkerman testifies falsely at Charles Jones’ preliminary exam.

VOD was the only media outlet that researched and reported the background of the chief “snitch” who testified against Jones at his preliminary exam,  Jay Schlenkerman. He lied during exam, stating that he had one felony conviction when in fact he had seven according to court records.

His offenses included drunk driving and violence against women. He was in prison with Chauncey Owens on an original charge of kidnapping and torturing his then girl-friend. But the Wayne County Prosecutor’s office reduced that charge to misdemeanor domestic violence after Schlenkerman agreed to testify that Owens told him Jones gave him the gun to kill Blake.

Owens never said that himself. At Owens’ trial, during which a separate jury was seated, the prosecution showed a video of his first interrogation by the DPD after the May 16, 2010 raid and murder of Aiyana. Owens named someone else as the individual who gave him a gun. Police interrogators also headed off expected statements from Owens regarding the role of his brother Sherrod Heard played in the death of Blake. Heard, who lived across the street from the Jones family, was present when Blake was killed and was known to have a conflict with Blake over a girl.

Schlenkerman has been back in prison at the Chippewa Correctional Facility since 2014, serving a term of six to 10 years for a third offense of operating while intoxicated, and fleeing and eluding police.

LIGHT FINALLY BREAKS, FAMILY HOPES FOR JONES’ RELEASE SOON

Charles Jones’ family including (2nd from left) his mother Mertilla Jones, sister Krystal Jones, son Semaj Jones, mother of three of his sons Dominique Simpson, and cousin Kiarra Hardy (far r), listen as plea agreement is described in court July 9, 2019.

On July 9, Jones, his attorney Leon Weiss of the Fieger law firm, and AP Mark Hindelang agreed to a plea deal for Jones in lieu of a new trial ordered by the Michigan Court of Appeals in April, 2012. See COA ruling at http://voiceofdetroit.net/wp-content/uploads/Charles-Jones-COA-charge.pdf. 

Judge Wanda Evans

Wayne County Circuit Court Judge Wanda Evans accepted the statement of the agreement, and set sentencing for Friday, July 26 at 9 a.m.

Jones and his family welcomed the deal, in which he pled “nolo contendere” to manslaughter for a sentence of 10-20 years, to be served concurrently with the perjury sentence. After sentencing July 26, Jones should have time served since 2011 applied to that sentence. His earliest release date would now be in 2021, but his family hopes for time served according to his mother. 

Jones did not allocute to the offense. AP Hindelang read the terms of the agreement into the record, that “on May 14, 2010 Jones (provided) a handgun to Chauncey Owens knowingly creating a high risk of death or great bodily harm. … within minutes of receiving (the) handgun Mr. Owens shot 17-year-old Je’rean Blake … and Mr. Blake died from those gunshot wounds.”

Weiss told VOD, “We fought HARD for that appeals verdict.” The COA ruled that the jury’s verdict of guilty on the murder charge and not guilty on a firearms charge was inconsistent due to faulty jury instructions.  

The Michigan Supreme Court refused to hear Worthy’s appeal.

Aiyana Jones’ father Charles Jones and Dominique Simpson grieve in front of shattered window as child’s aunt watches. Photo by Diane Bukowski

The chief element in the prosecution’s murder charge was a claim that Jones had given Owens the gun with which he killed Blake. But during Owens’ trial in front of a separate jury, the prosecution played a police video taken after Owens’ arrest May 17, 2010 in which Owens named a different man as the provider of the gun. Jones’ jury never saw that video.

Weiss also said the “nolo contendere” plea meant that Jones did not have to give up his innocence claim for legal purposes. He and Jones’ family said essentially that they felt another trial, in light of previous negative publicity against their family, was too chancy.

Lyvonne Cargill, the mother of Je’Rean Blake, was present during the hearing but did not comment.

Mertilla Jones expressed the Jones’ family’s hopeful sentiments in the video below. She has worked for years with the group Protect Our Stolen Treasures, which includes Kevin Kellom and the family of his son Terrance Kellom, 20.

A Detroit police sergeant recently reversed his initial report on the raid, saying that Kellom had no hammer or other weapon in his hand when a multi-agency task force opened fire. P.O.S.T., led by Yolanda McNair, plans an annual national event July 12-14 this weekend in Detroit. (See flier below story.)

“It’s always valuable to be proactive inside these walls,” Jones wrote to VOD after his Circuit Court victory in 2012. “I’ve been taking all this in stride, and trying not to fall victim again, as well as teaching my sons through the phone. It presents a challenge, but it’s a challenge I’ll welcome anytime when it comes to my children. 

Remember Aiyana Stanley Jones.

“I am so happy that I can finally have a fair shot at my freedom once again! I know it’s not just cut free, but everybody does not get a second chance as I’ve seen throughout the years I’ve been in here. So thank God, for this chance He’s been giving me.” 

Jones also campaigned with members of the National Lifers Association in support of last year’s “Good Time” bills in the state legislature. They would have restored credits to prisoners based on every month served without disciplinary action, a practice that existed until 1978. “Good time” increased the longer a person served. After two decades, “regular ‘good time’” could equal 15 days a month.

Jones’ excellent prison record was achieved in the face of his unbearable grief for his first-born child. His family celebrates her birthday every year.

Some members of Charles Jones’ family who came out to support him in court were (l to r), his cousin Kiarra Hardy, mother Mertilla Jones, son Semaj Jones, Dominique Simpson (mother of three sons), his oldest son Charles Jones, Jr. and his sister Krystal Jones. Another family member gives the victory sign at right.

Rafael Jones, 14, leads march for Justice for Aiyana and Charles Jones April 23 2012 at Frank Murphy Hall in downtown Detroit, grandmother Mertilla Jones at left, aunt LaKrystal Sanders at right.

************************************************************************************ 

POST members and supporters block Woodward Avenue during protest Sept. 24, 2016, as dozens of cars honked their horns in support. They included Arnetta Grable, mother of Lamar Grable, Mertilla Jones, grandmother of Aiyana Jones, Kevin Kellom, father of Terrance Kellom, and Yolanda McNair, mother of Adaisha Miller.

************************************************************************************

Donations for the Voice of Detroit are urgently needed to keep this paper, which is published pro bono, going. Among ongoing expenses are quarterly Lunar Pages web host charges of $350, costs for court documents, internet fees, office supplies, gas, etc. Please, if you can:

DONATE TO VOD at https://www.gofundme.com/VOD-readers-up

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http://voiceofdetroit.net/2016/07/20/detroit-youth-rise-up-on-aiyana-jones-14th-birthday/ 

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http://voiceofdetroit.net/2014/09/29/judge-denies-mistrial-in-killer-cop-weekleys-case-after-aiyana-jones-grandmothers-testimony/

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

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

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http://voiceofdetroit.net/2014/04/18/dad-of-aiyana-jones-7-killed-by-detroit-police-sentenced-to-40-60-years-in-blake-killing/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2014/02/22/attorneys-vow-appeals-in-convictions-of-aiyana-jones-dad-chauncey-owens/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2014/02/10/who-killed-detroits-jerean-blake-17-and-aiyana-jones-7/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2014/02/01/did-another-man-kill-jerean-blake-17-before-police-killed-aiyana-jones-7-in-2010/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2014/01/27/jury-finds-jailhouse-snitch-jay-schlenkerman-informant-vs-aiyana-jones-dad-guilty-of-3-more-felonies-sentencing-feb-6/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2013/07/26/aiyanas-killer-weekley-walks-again-judge-gives-first-48-producer-kid-glove-treatment/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2013/06/25/killer-cop-mistrial-no-justice-for-aiyana-jones-7-and-family/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2013/06/25/why-aiyana-jones-matters /

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2013/06/17/weekley-maintains-story-that-someone-hit-his-mp5-says-he-did-not-feel-it-go-off-when-he-killed-aiyana-stanley-jones-7/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2013/06/15/mertilla-jones-testifies-police-murdered-grand-baby-aiyana-stanley-jones-in-front-of-her-eyes/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2013/06/09/family-describes-military-raid-on-aiyana-jones-home-cop-says-presence-of-kids-didnt-matter-in-mission/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2013/06/04/aiyana-stanley-jones-police-horror-in-detroit/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2013/06/01/detroit-killer-cop-trial-begins-in-death-of-aiyana-jones-7/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2013/03/09/killer-cop-weekley-to-stand-trial-for-killing-aiyana-jones-7-but-family-says-justice-still-denied/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2013/03/02/pack-the-courtroom-to-convict-cop-who-killed-aiyana-jones-7-fri-march-8-9-am/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2012/12/02/family-of-aiyana-jones-7-says-closure-again-denied-at-killer-cop-hearing/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2012/10/31/aiyana-jones-family-fights-to-convict-cops-of-murder/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2012/10/27/justice-for-aiyana-jones-and-family-rally-mon-oct-29-8-am-frank-murphy-hall/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2012/09/29/judge-may-dismiss-case-against-cop-who-killed-aiyana-jones-7-after-childs-father-is-tried/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2012/06/16/riot-police-terrorize-aiyana-jones-family-the-night-of-killer-cop-court-hearing/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2012/06/16/court-attorneys-collude-in-killer-cop-joseph-weekley-hearing/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2012/05/15/judge-throws-out-jail-house-snitch-statement-against-aiyana-jones-dad-charles-jones/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2012/04/24/stop-the-war-on-our-youth-davontae-aiyana-and-dad-trayvon-kenny-snodgrass-production/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2012/04/28/free-davontae-and-charles-justice-for-aiyana-and-trayvon/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2012/02/01/aiyana%e2%80%99s-dad-faces-trial-for-murder-based-on-%e2%80%9cjail-house-snitch%e2%80%9d-jay-schlenkerman%e2%80%99s-testimony/

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

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2012/01/10/schlenkerman-brutally-abused-women-lied-served-mdoc-time-for-repeat-dui%e2%80%99s-but-is-%e2%80%98jail-house-snitch%e2%80%99-in-jones-case/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2011/12/24/prosecution-uses-%e2%80%98jail-house-snitch%e2%80%99-against-aiyana%e2%80%99s-dad-after-owens-again-refuses-to-testify-in-murder-case/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2011/12/06/owens-refuses-again-to-testify-against-aiyanas-dad-next-hearing-dec-22/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2011/11/18/witness-against-aiyana-stanley-jones%e2%80%99-father-refuses-to-testify/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2011/10/31/child-killer-cop-weekleys-trial-set-for-april-30-2012-in-death-of-aiyana-stanley-jones/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2011/10/21/worthy-goes-after-aiyana-jones%e2%80%99-dad-with-a-vengeance-killer-cops-weekly-and-taylor-get-kid-gloves/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2011/10/06/no-justice-7-year-old-aiyana-jones%e2%80%99-dad-charged-with-murder-cop-who-killed-her-faces-manslaughter-case/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2011/09/24/sign-petition-to-charge-cops-ae-for-killing-aiyana-stanley-jones-7/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2011/09/02/judge-shoots-down-killer-cop%e2%80%99s-request-to-seal-file/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2011/08/19/city-of-detroit-police-prosecutor-stonewall-aiyana-lawsuit-blame-family-for-child%e2%80%99s-killing/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2011/08/16/justice-for-aiyana-jones-committee-objects-to-city-of-detroit%e2%80%99s-request-for-gag-order-in-civil-lawsuit/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2011/06/13/justice-for-aiyana-jones-ctte-leads-psa-campaign-to-stop-police-brutality/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2011/05/23/owens-never-said-aiyana-jones%e2%80%99-dad-gave-him-gun-used-in-teen%e2%80%99s-killing/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2011/05/18/justice-for-aiyana-jones-now/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2011/03/06/warrant-requested-in-aiyana-jones-case/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2011/03/04/tardy-investigation-of-aiyana-jones-death-by-msp-unacceptable-2/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2010/12/19/aiyana-jones%e2%80%99-family-sues-ae-the-first-48/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2010/09/12/redeem-aiyanas-dream/

Aiyana Jones stories from VOD, Final Call, Michigan Citizen


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