ZOMBIE DEMS VS ZOMBIE REPUBS: ZOMBIE CONSENSUS WINS AGAIN

The zombies come out to play again.

The zombies come out to play again.

Midterm Madness! Zombie Dems VS Zombie Repubs, Zombie Consensus Wins Again!

Bruce Dixon

Bruce Dixon

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by BAR managing editor Bruce A. Dixon

Nov. 5, 2014

“Democratic zombie theatrics are quite a lot like Republican zombie theatrics.”

The day after the 2014 midterm elections it’s pretty clear that political control of the United States, its economy, its mass media and its politics are firmly in the hands of its wealthy, deeply entrenched elite of wealthy individuals and corporations. America’s elite are transpartisan, influenced very little or not at all by the needs, the wants, the desires of what Occupy used to call the 99% of the American people.

Even where Democrats won, it wasn’t good news for ordinary people. Pension-cutter Democrats, school privatization Democrats, mass incarceration Democrats, tax-the-poor and coddle-the-rich Democrats retained governorships in places like New York, Illinois, California and Colorado, not that the wise, just and efficient US electoral system offered much of a choice either way.

Hundreds of Detroit fast food workers blocked streets Sept. 4, 2014 to demand a raise to $15/hr.

Hundreds of Detroit fast food workers blocked streets Sept. 4, 2014 to demand a raise to $15/hr.

Democratic zombie theatrics are quite a lot like Republican zombie theatrics. Republican House leaders brought up and passed anti-Obamacare bills more than 40 times in the last 2 congresses, knowing full well these went no further than their own doors and press releases. Similarly while Barack Obama campaigned in 2007-2008 promising to raise the minimum wage, and swept into office with majorities in both houses of Congress, Democratic leaders in the US Senate waited till this summer, almost 4 years after they’d lost the majority, to pretend to bring it to the floor, where it predictably lost. So Republican zombies can pretend to campaign against Obamacare, and Democratic zombies can pretend to campaign for the minimum wage.

Black voters turned out in large numbers, but not as many as last election.

Black voters turned out in large numbers, but not as many as last election.

That’s an example of the system working. Under the good-cop-bad-cop rules of US partisan conduct, Democrats must pretend to be a party of minorities and the working people every couple years during election season. But the act is getting old, fooling fewer and fewer people.

Black voters turned out in substantial numbers yesterday, despite the fact that they’d been promised nothing and received a bit less than that. But their numbers were not as high as in presidential years. Latino voters did the same, despite the fact that they’d been explicitly promised a road to citizenship and received a massive wave of family and community-shattering deportations instead.

U.S. President Barack Obama

U.S. President Barack Obama

By not championing any breakthrough legislation or popular mobilizing initiative, the First Black President gave white Democratic candidates nothing in the way of coattails to ride on. So white Democratic candidates avoided him. By doing so, they not only didn’t help themselves any, they helped render the black political class’s shallow appeals to vote Democratic out of racial solidarity much less effective than they might have been.

“The last time Democrats gained control of the House of Representatives was when the American people imagined a Democrat congress would stop the Bush-Cheney wars in Iraq and perhaps impeach the president and vice president.”

There are polls saying that 60% of Americans believe that mitigating man-made climate change is a hugely pressing issue. But neither of the two parties is willing or able to take the public up on it. Republican zombies take the money and claim climate change is a myth, while Democrat zombies delay and do nothing with the executive and legislative power they do have. The Obama Administration is clearly running out the clock on deciding the Keystone Oil issue, maybe in hopes of not seeing all the oil money go to Republicans in 2016. Similarly the administration is running out the clock on rewriting enforcement language for the Clean Air Act, something it’s been doing almost six years now, at the same time that it hands out hundreds of licenses for deep water fracking in the Gulf of Mexico [1]. What could go wrong?

Obama has sent 15,000 more U.S. troops to Iraq.

Obama has sent 15,000 more U.S. troops to Iraq.

Republicans didn’t make him do this. It’s a clear example of the zombie consensus in action. The zombie consensus is independent of the political will of the living, breathing 99%.

The last time Democrats gained control of the House of Representatives was when the American people imagined a Democrat congress would stop the Bush-Cheney wars in Iraq and perhaps impeach the president and vice president. But instead of beheading the Republican zombies, the Democrats joined them, enabling Bush and Cheney to complete their terms, but not their wars, which Democrat national security zombies like the Republican ones, now assure us will last a generation.

You will hear Democrats discussing this election complain about the ingenious array of schemes to make registering and casting a ballot more difficult for students, the elderly, the black, the brown, naturalized citizens and the poor. Such schemes probably cost their party several million votes. But those legal schemes to restrict the vote, to make it harder to register took the best part of 20 years to develop and deploy in dozens of states and many hundreds of counties and cities across the land.

Michigan Slavemaster Gov. Rick Snyder won again. Neither Obama nor AG Eric Holder ever responded to requests for an investigation of Public Acts 4 and 436, which stripped 51 percent of Michigan's Blacks of their voting rights,

Michigan Slavemaster Gov. Rick Snyder won again. Neither Obama nor AG Eric Holder ever responded to requests for an investigation of Public Acts 4 and 436, which essentially stripped 51 percent of Michigan’s Blacks of their voting rights. Corporate and banking vultures are now stripping Detroit, the largest Black-majority city in the U.S., of its major assets and revenue, under a proto-fascist bankruptcy takeover.

On the issue of voting rights, Democrats, especially our black misleadership class, held the political and moral high ground from the seventies through the 90s and beyond. They’ve got plenty of lawyers and legal scholars and they’ve known perfectly well for decades that if the right to vote is NOT in the US Constitution any mayor, any county commissioner or state level elected official can pass laws or invent rules to block it. But no matter.

The black political class became careerist zombies themselves, deeply concerned with turning out a big black vote every election, but not interested at all in building the necessary mass movement it would take to amend the Constitution, protecting that vote in perpetuity. It wasn’t like the present black political class ever really believed that the vote was an instrument for deep social change anyway. If they had believed that, they would have tried to lock it down with a constitutional amendment. Instead they viewed the black vote as the means to an end — their own careers, and nothing more. So that’s all they got, and that’s all we have. Thus in their own way, the black political class too has joined the zombie consensus.

“under the rules of this capitalist system, the people are pretty much locked out, silenced, made irrelevant…”

The New Jim Crow bookFor the last two years of Obama’s term in office, the zombie consensus will discourage him even further from addressing or rolling back mass incarceration, black unemployment, or the decline in black family wealth, the last two of which have not recovered from their drastic plunges in the last year of the Bush-Cheney regime and the first two years of his own. Obama may even try to “grand bargain” away social security again as he did in his first two years, and claim he is “resolving” gridlock. The minimum wage might be raised, but not by much and over several years, especially for restaurant workers, who still get less than $3 per hour. Obama won’t use his executive power to end mass deportations that will likely continue, or illegal surveillance or drone wars, or the vicious prosecution of reporters and leakers. Obama will not use his power over the Federal Elections Commission and the Internal Revenue Service to end or inhibit the open hijacking of electoral processes by large, often anonymous donors. A president is a powerful actor, and could have major impacts on any or all of these matters and more with a few speeches, firings, hirings and the strokes of some pens. But somebody or something has eaten his brain too.

The American people don’t particularly endorse any of this, and have never endorsed the closing and privatization of public education, a project upon which elected Republicans and Democrats pretty much agree. It’s the zombie consensus once again.

Ordinary people clearly don’t like it. The zombie president may be unpopular, but the zombie Congress is even less so. But under the rules of this capitalist system, the people are pretty much locked out, silenced, made irrelevant.

It’s time for some new rules.

Dr. Martin Luther King Day, Jr. march in Detroit, 2011.

Dr. Martin Luther King Day, Jr. march in Detroit, 2011.

Bruce A. Dixon is managing editor at Black Agenda Report. He lives and works in Marietta GA and can be reached via this site’s contact page or at bruce.dixon@blackagendareport.com .


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PALESTINIAN HEROINE, TORTURE VICTIM RASMEA ODEH CONVICTED, JAILED IN DETROIT; APPEAL PLANNED

UPDATE NOV. 10, 2014:

Rasmea Odeh taken to jail in handcuffs; defense to appeal

Judge Gershwin Drain’s repeated refusal to allow Odeh to testify re: torture that elicited false confession key to conviction

By Joe Iosbaker

November 10, 2014

Ra.smea Odeh stands strong after conviction

Ra.smea Odeh stands strong after conviction

Detroit, MI -  The jury in the case of Rasmea Odeh returned a guilty verdict after less than two hours of deliberation this morning, Nov. 10. They accepted the charge against her for “unlawful procurement of citizenship.” In her application for citizenship a decade ago, she failed to disclose that she was a political prisoner in Israel 45 years ago, convicted after soldiers raped and tortured her into a confession.

The jury was unanimous in their decision, and then declined an offer for a final meeting with the defense attorneys for Odeh, choosing to only meet with the prosecution. During the jury selection process, the members of the jury all revealed that they didn’t know any immigrants.

Following the reading of the verdict, Judge Gershwin Drain complimented the jury. “I don’t usually comment on a verdict, but this was a just verdict.” Multiple rulings by Judge Drain placed severe limitations on Odeh’s defense a made the semblance of a fair trial impossible.

Odeh’s attorneys have vowed to appeal the conviction, following her March 10, 2015 sentencing.

Prosecutor launches final attack

Prosecutor Jonathan Tukel then motioned to revoke Rasmea’s bond and for her to be taken directly into custody. Judge Drain continued his pretense of pondering his decisions, and came back two hours later and gave the government this travesty as well. He said she was a flight risk, because she had no real ties to keep her in Chicago or the U.S.

Protest against Israeli torture of Palestinian women.

Protest against Israeli torture of Palestinian women.

This statement was made by the same man who ordered an overflow room to hold the scores of Rasmea’s supporters who packed the courtroom each day of the trial. He disregarded the love and dedication displayed by the Arab Women’s Committee members who spent a week away from their families to be in the audience throughout the trial.

Two U.S. Marshals then came in and led Rasmea away in handcuffs. After the judge left, Rasmea shouted to her supporters, “Don’t worry! I’m strong!” With this she showed the legendary spirit for which she was known back in Palestine, as well as among the community in Chicago.

The Rasmea Defense Committee is preparing a call for next steps in the continuing effort to free her. When Hatem Abudayyeh spoke to the crowd after the verdict was announced, he urged everyone to learn from her strength and continue to fight for justice for her, and to free Palestine.

Rasmea Defense Committee statement

Contact: Hatem Abudayyeh, 773.301.4108, hatem85@yahoo.com

 Without a full and fair trial, Rasmea found guilty. Detention hearing at 2 PM.

In a travesty of justice, Rasmea Odeh today was found guilty of one count of Unlawful Procurement of Naturalization.  For over a year, Rasmea, her supporters, and her legal team have been battling this unjust government prosecution, saying from the start that the immigration charge was nothing but a pretext to attack this icon of the Palestine liberation movement.  And although there is real anger and disappointment in the jury’s verdict, it was known as early as October 27th that she would not get a full and fair trial.

RASMEA ODEH ON FEDERAL TRIAL IN DETROIT; SUPPORTERS PACK COURT

November 7, 2014

By Deborah Dupre

Human Rights Examiner

Rasmea Odea

Rasmea Odea

DETROIT – Rasmea Odeh, Israeli torture survivor and beloved human rights leader of Chicago’s Palestinian community, saw her supporters pack a Detroit courtroom Thursday for continuing testimonies and cross examinations of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).

U.S. District Court Judge Gershwin Drain has continued to strike any reference to Israelis brutally torturing her to force a confession about her role in a terror plot.

Under cross by defense attorney Jim Fennerty, USCIS agent Douglas Scott Pierce revealed a previous case in which he’d testified, saying that naturalization form questions can be “confusing,” especially for those not fluent in English. He acknowledged that older forms asked specifically about crimes, arrests, imprisonment, etc., “inside or outside the United States.” Today’s forms are less clear.

That set the stage for 66 year-old Rasmea Odeh’s argument that she’d always believed questions she’s been accused of answering falsely were asking about her time in the U.S., not Palestine. Jennifer Williams, the immigration officer who interviewed Rasmea back in 2004, testified, along with a fingerprint expert. The prosecution then rested its case.

Nadine Naber

Nadine Naber

Lead defense attorney Michael Deutsch called as his first witness University of Illinois-Chicago (UIC) professor Nadine Naber, a leading scholar on Arab women and other women of color, who first met Rasmea back in 2006. Naber testified to their work together, describing Rasmea’s organizing resulting in changing the lives of hundreds of Arab immigrant women by creating a space for them to face their collective challenges they experience. She testified about Rasmea’s character, a truthful person and community mentor.

Judge Drain then excused the jury to advise Rasmsea and Deutsch on his previous rulings, reinforcing his restrictions on her upcoming testimony. He asserted she would not be allowed to speak about her Israeli torture experience, stating he did not want to “retry the case” of 1969.

“It’s my life. I have a right to talk about the things that happened to me!” Rasmea responded.

U.S. District Court Judge Gershwin Drain

U.S. District Court Judge Gershwin Drain

Judge Drain refused to accede, restating that testimony referring to torture or her forced confession was inadmissible, and that if she violated his orders, there would be consequences.

Rasmea nevertheless delivered a heartfelt testimony, leaving the entire courtroom and the overflow courtroom where dozens more were seated, in tears, according to the United States Palestinian Community News.

She recounted her life story filled with tragedy and resilience, beginning with the Nakba, the ‘Catastrophe,’ what Palestinians call the founding of the state of Israel in 1948 when 750,000 Palestinians were driven out of their homes. She and her family were among those who lost their land and home, forced to live as refugees in a tent before making their way to Ramallah, where they lived during the 1967 Israeli war and occupation of the West Bank, Jerusalem, and Gaza.

Numerous reports have documented Israeli torture of women and children.

Numerous reports have documented Israeli torture of women and children.

Rasmea told the jury about the Israeli raid on her home in 1969, when she, along with her father and sisters, were arrested. That was when Israel swept up and arrested over 500 Palestinians. She broke down in tears recalling how that night traumatized her sister to the point of early death.

Although barred from testifying about Israelis torturing her, Rasmea told the court that she spent 45 days in an “interrogation” center. Prosecutor Jonathan Tukel objected. Judge Drain sustained the objection and reprimanded her.

Deutsch then asked her if she was convicted.

“They convicted me falsely,” she responded.

Again, the government objected and the judge sustained the objection.

“Did you try to escape?” Deutsch later asked her, in reference to one of Israel’s charges that the government has highlighted in this case. Rasmea answered boldly,

“Of course, any political prisoner [would] try to escape!” Rasmea reponded.

Supporters in the overflow courtroom applauded her answer. The main courtroom, however, heard another objection from Tukel and the he judge once again siding with the government. The political prisoner reference was struck from the record.

Palestinian women protest Israeli occupation of their land and murders of their people.

Palestinian women protest Israeli occupation of their land and murders of their people.

Rasmea described immigrating to the United States to care for her ailing father. When asked about the 1994 application for permanent residency filed in Jordan, she explained all answers on that form came from her brother. From the U.S., he had sent her a sample form, and she was to copy what he had written on the sample.

“I couldn’t read [English], and I trust my brother. I didn’t read anything, I just copied [what] my brother said,” she testified.

When Deutsch asked about her 2004 application for naturalization, and why she responded “No” to questions about whether she’d been arrested, convicted or imprisoned, she explained that those questions followed directly three previous ones explicitly about the U.S.

Defense Attorney Michael Deutsch with Rasmea Odeh

Defense Attorney Michael Deutsch with Rasmea Odeh

“When I continued, my understanding was [that these questions were also] about the U.S., so I continued to say no.”

Deutsch later asked what she’d have done had she understood the questions were intended to address imprisonment outside the U.S. as well.

“If I knew it was about Israel, I would have said…” she responded. “It’s not a secret that I’ve been in jail. Even the embassy knows.”

The U.S. embassy in Israel became involved in the initial arrests because her father was a U.S. citizen.

Rasmea was to continue testifying today. After cross-examination by the government, both sides will make their closing arguments.

Supporters of Rasmea Odeh

Supporters of Rasmea Odeh

The jury is not expected to begin deliberation until Monday, the earliest a verdict is expected.

Some 70 supporters were in the courtrooms Thursday. Inspired by Rasmea’s incredible testimony, rearranged their plans to stay through Monday. In Detroit, organizers were scrambling to ensure housing and transportation for people extending their stay and to prepare for more people arriving daily to join the fight for human rights and justice for Rasmea.

Sources: The Guardian, US Palestinian Community News

Image: USPC News

Statement from the Arab American Action Network

Protesters outside U.S. Courthouse in Detroit.

Protesters outside U.S. Courthouse in Detroit.

The Arab American Action Network (AAAN) condemns the politically-motivated arrest and indictment of Rasmea Yousef Odeh, our beloved Associate Director. The sixty-five year old was arrested at her home yesterday by agents from the Department of Homeland Security, alleging an immigration violation on a 20-year-old application. Rasmea, who has made it her life’s work to serve and help empower Palestinian and Arab families, is the victim of another witch-hunt by our federal law enforcement agencies, which continue to violate the civil rights of Arabs and Muslims with impunity, particularly those who are critical of U.S. support for Israel’s crimes against the Palestinian people.

Rasmea is a leading member of Chicago’s Arab and Muslim communities, and her decade of service here has changed the lives of thousands of people, particularly disenfranchised Arab women and their families. She has been with the AAAN since 2004, and as Associate Director, is responsible for the management of day-to-day operations and the coordination of our Arab Women’s Committee, which has a membership of close to 600 and leads our work in the areas of defending civil liberties and immigrant rights. She is a mentor to hundreds of immigrant women, as well as many members of our staff and board, and is a well-known and respected organizer throughout Chicagoland, the U.S., and the world.

Earlier this year, Rasmea received the “Outstanding Community Leader Award” from the Chicago Cultural Alliance, which described her as a woman who has “dedicated over 40 years of her life to the empowerment of Arab women, first in her homes of Palestine, Jordan, and Lebanon, where she was an activist and practicing attorney, and then the past 10 years in Chicago.”

Rasmea is a community icon who recently completed a Master’s degree in Criminal Justice from Governors State University. She overcame vicious torture by Israeli authorities while imprisoned in Palestine in the 70s, and is a proud reminder of the millions of Palestinians who have not given up organizing for their rights of liberation, equality, and return.

It is appalling that our government is now attempting to imprison her once again. We condemn this attack on our friend and colleague Rasmea, as well as the broader pattern of persecuting Arabs and Muslims who are outstanding and outspoken leaders in their communities in the U.S.

We ask all of our supporters to call Barbara McQuade, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Michigan in Detroit, at 313.226.9501 or 313.226.9100, on Friday, October 25th, from 8 AM to 4 PM CST, to demand that she Drop the Charges Now!

And for more information, email the Coalition to Protect People’s Rights at cppr@aaan.org
Read more News and Views from the Peoples Struggle at http://www.fightbacknews.org. You can write to us at info@fightbacknews.org

Rasmea_0002


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ALL WHITE JURY CONVICTS REV. PINKNEY OF 5 FELONY COUNTS–PROSECUTOR WANTS LIFE SENTENCE

Above: Rev. Edward Pinkney of the Black Autonomy Network of Community Organizations speaks in Detroit at Moratorium NOW! meeting Oct. 20, 2014.

Nationally-known Benton Harbor freedom fighter vows to fight on for all the people

Challenges, appeal planned

Election petition violations are misdemeanors, not felonies under state law

Recent COA decision may impact case

By Diane Bukowski

October 4, 2014

Rev. Edward Pinkney at May 26, 2012 rally against the Emergency Manager and Whirlpool takeover of Benton Harbor, MI.

Rev. Edward Pinkney at May 26, 2012 rally against the Emergency Manager and Whirlpool takeover of Benton Harbor, MI.

ST. JOSEPH, MI – An all-white jury found renowned Benton Harbor activist Rev. Edward Pinkney guilty Oct. 3 of five counts of “forgery under the Michigan election law,” related to a recall petition against Benton Harbor Mayor James Hightower. The charges were brought April 24. The day after, a SWAT team surrounded and invaded his home as if he were a violent criminal. He was not there and turned himself in later.

The jury acquitted him of six misdemeanor charges relating to the presence of duplicate signatures on the petitions.

The petitions cited Hightower’s opposition to a city income tax that would have brought substantial revenues to the poverty-stricken city from Whirlpool, which is headquartered in Benton Harbor.

Berrien County Circuit Court Judge Sterling Schrock.

Berrien County Circuit Court Judge Sterling Schrock.

Berrien County Circuit Court Judge Sterling Schrock set sentencing for Dec. 15.

The verdict followed five days of testimony beginning Oct. 27, during which a Michigan State Police forensics technician said there was no way to tell who allegedly changed petition dates, to bring them within the required time frame for the recall. Other prosecution witnesses testified only that Rev. Pinkney appeared to have originated the petition. But they, defense witnesses, and Pinkney himself testified that the petitions had gone through many hands.

Three defense witnesses also testified that they saw another woman changing dates on the petitions without Pinkney’s knowledge.

“I could not believe they could find me guilty without one piece of evidence,” Rev. Pinkney said. “It didn’t mean a lot to me that it was an all-white jury. I thought the jurists would have enough heart, enough courage and righteousness to do the right thing. They didn’t just fail me. They failed everybody that lives in the city of Benton Harbor. Now everybody in Benton Harbor is in jeopardy. They are saying they don’t need evidence to send someone to prison.”

Benton Harbor youth protest Whirlpool during 2012 PGA.

Benton Harbor youth protest Whirlpool during 2012 PGA.

He added, “Here, Whirlpool controls not only Benton Harbor and the residents, but also the court system itself. They will do anything to crush you if you stand up to them. That’s why it’s so important to fight this. I’m going to fight them until the end. This is not just an attack on Rev. Pinkney. It’s an attack on every single person that lives in Benton Harbor, in the state and around the country.”

Whirlpool is headquartered in Benton Harbor but decades ago moved all its manufacturing facilities out of state, leaving the 98 percent Black city with virtually no economic base. Since then, it has gobbled up public and private land across the city to build an $86 million headquarters on the St. Joseph River, along with a luxury condominium complex and a “world-class” golf course adjoining Benton Harbor’s public Jean Klock Park on a beautiful stretch of Lake Michigan beach.

City Commissioner Marcus Muhammad talks with James Cornelius, Pinkney's co-defendant, who was the actual initiator of the recall petitions. Cornelius pled guilty to a lesser charge.

City Commissioner Marcus Muhammad talks with James Cornelius, Pinkney’s co-defendant, who was the actual initiator of the recall petitions. Cornelius pled guilty to a lesser charge. PHOTO: Final Call

City Commissioner Marcus Muhammad, a member of the Nation of Islam, was set to run against Hightower after a civil court found there were sufficient valid petition signatures for the recall, despite Sepic’s charges against Pinkney. However, an appeals court overturned their ruling and the recall election was cancelled.

Rev. Pinkney’s attorney Tat Parish said they will file an appeal after the sentencing. He added they may also file motions prior to the sentencing to set aside the verdict due to insufficient evidence and to the prosecution’s use of a “penalty statute” to charge Pinkney. That statute is MCL 168.937, relating in general to forgery. (Click on mcl-168-937 for full text.)

Michigan election law also contains MCL 168.544c, which relates specifically to election petitions, and says violations of its provisions are misdemeanors. (Click on MICHIGAN ELECTION LAW 168.544c for full text.)

Attorney Tat Parish with Rev. Pinkney during trial.

Attorney Tat Parish with Rev. Pinkney during trial.

On Oct. 23, a Michigan Court of Appeals issued an unpublished opinion in People v. Michael Brandon Hall, which upheld District and Circuit Court findings that Hall had been appropriately charged under the misdemeanor statute, despite the prosecution’s contention to the contrary.

(Click on COA Brandon Michael Hall 10 23 14 No 321045 to read full decision.)

Hall actually admitted to forging ten electors’ signatures on petitions that he turned in. In contrast, Rev. Pinkney denied tampering with the Hightower recall petitions at all. The prosecution was unable to produce direct evidence that he changed dates, a much less serious act then forging names.

But Pinkney was charged under the more severe forgery statute and has contended since his arrest that he was innocent, and that the statute was not appropriate.

Attorney Donald Hann

Attorney Donald Hann

Attorney Donald Hann, who represented Hall, told VOD that even though the petitions in his case involved nominating petitions, state law requires that the same format be used for recall petitions. He said the Hall case is on point as far as he understands the facts in Pinkney’s case.

“He’s probably got a legitimate shot at an appeal [on this issue]” Hann said. He noted that the forgery statute has a caveat indicating, “unless herein otherwise provided,” which caused him to find the misdemeanor statute.

The Hall appeals court said that the misdemeanor statute was more recent and specific, and therefore took precedence. It noted also that Hall’s due process rights would have been violated if charged under the felony statute. They noted that election petitions are required to state that violations are misdemeanors.

“As he did in the lower courts, defendant argues that it would be fundamentally unfair to allow a felony forgery prosecution when the nominating petition itself provides that the conduct at issue in this case is a misdemeanor,” said the Court.

Berrien County Prosecutor Michael Sepic

Berrien County Prosecutor Michael Sepic

The prosecution in Hall argued that their office had broad discretion in choosing between the two statutes, but the Appeals Court cited rulings favoring “lenity,” i.e. choosing the more lenient of the statutes.

But there is no “lenity” in Berrien County for peoples’ activists like Rev. Pinkney.

Berrien County Prosecutor Michael Sepic told a local TV station after his conviction, “Each of those felony counts carries a five years maximum but he has at least three prior felony convictions, which turns him into an habitual offender, subject to a life sentence. The sentencing guidelines restrain the judge from sentencing him to life, but I believe there will be either a lengthy jail sentence or a prison sentence.”

Sepic, however, did not cite a “habitual offender” charge in this case. The remainder of his statement speaks for itself regarding his enmity and that of the Berrien County court system towards Rev. Pinkney.

Three of Pinkney’s felony convictions, for which he actually served time in the state prison system, were also election-related. On appeal, his sentences were reduced to probation.

Rebellion in Benton Harbor after police caused death of Terrance Shurn in 2004.

Rebellion in Benton Harbor after police caused death of Terrance Shurn in 2003..

Those charges became a cause celebre as a political attack. Pinkney’s supporters note that he has fought not only Whirlpool and state emergency manager laws, but also disproportionate arrest and sentencing practices in the Berrien County Circuit Court for Black Benton Harbor residents, as well as rampant police brutality there. In 2003, Benton Harbor youth staged a days-long rebellion after police caused the death of Terrance Shurn by chasing his motorcycle into a wall.

Memorial for Terrance Shurn at his funeral

Memorial for Terrance Shurn at his funeral

“Any time you live in a society that doesn’t take care of its people you have a problem,” Pinkney said. “And that’s what we have here in Berrien County. I am standing up for the people. We want them to understand this fight is going to continue with or without me. In that sense, I’m happy today because people can take a good look at this system. It’s a class war. It’s us against them. Rich against poor. That’s what it adds up to. The point is we have to take a stand. It’s about you, your children, and your grandchildren. I never thought for a minute that the system could be this broken and would go to this extreme. They could care less about you, me or anybody else. They only have one thing in mind. That is to make sure they protect the rich.”

He added, “We’ve got to fix this jury system. There was not one person from Benton Harbor, not one person from Benton Township on the jury. Anytime a Black man is sitting inside that courtroom and the jury is all white, that is a major problem. I think the jury is dishonest, and I think something should be done about it. Matter-a-fact, they should be facing time behind bars. . .

The New Jim Crow book“There’s a lot of things that we can do now. We are working on an appeal. We are going to continue to fight this battle. We’re going to stand firm. This is all about the people.”

The U.S. Census shows that Berrien County is in fact 15.3 percent African American, and four percent Latino. The entire jury venire in Pinkney’s case included only two Blacks, who were promptly excluded by the prosecution. Pinkney’s supporters say this is nothing but “The New Jim Crow,” as author Michelle Alexander dubbed it in her book of the same name.

Rev. Pinkney told VOD that juries in Berrien County Circuit Court have been all-white for at least the last 10 years.

To sign petition in support of Rev. Pinkney, click on http://www.bhbanco.org/2014/09/b-n-c-o-petition-we-demand-justice-in.html?spref=tw

To donate to the campaign to free Rev. Pinkney, send funds to
Rev. Edward Pinkney
1940 Union St.
Benton Harbor, MI 49022  Phone: 269-925-0001

Listen to Rev. Pinkney every Sunday 5:00 p.m. on http://www.blogtalkradio.com/rev-pinkney/2014/10/19/pinkney-to-pinkney

Related Stories:

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2014/10/29/free-rev-pinkney-frame-up-benton-harbor-trial-targets-nationally-known-freedom-fighter/

http://www.heraldpalladium.com/news/local/petitions-changed-but-by-whom/article_a1311aa0-a30c-5d3c-8208-ae3fc791fbc8.html

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2014/07/13/drop-the-charges-against-rev-edward-pinkney-of-benton-harbor-trial-set-for-july-21/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2014/06/07/benton-harbor-rev-pinkney-to-face-trial-on-felony-charges-july-21-despite-no-evidence/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2014/06/03/rev-pinkney-in-the-mouth-of-the-beast-in-benton-harbor/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2014/05/27/dismiss-all-charges-against-rev-pinkney-court-fri-may-30-save-benton-harbor-boycott-whirlpool/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2014/04/26/free-rev-edward-pinkney-recall-whirlpool-stooge-benton-harbor-mayor-james-hightower/ 

Rev. Pinkney Convicted, Threatened with Life in Prison

BAR logo 2

Submitted by Glen Ford on Wed, 11/05/2014 – 13:02

 

“Prosecutor Mike Sepic is calling for a life prison.”

Glen FordRev. Edward Pinkney, the 66-year-old community activist who has battled for decades on behalf of the mostly Black population of Benton Harbor, Michigan, was this week convicted on five counts of forging the dates of some signatures on a petition to recall the town’s mayor. The Berrien County jury was all-white. So was the judge and the prosecutor. Each of the felony counts carries a maximum five year sentence, but prosecutor Mike Sepic is calling for a life prison term on the grounds that Rev. Pinkney “has at least three prior felony convictions” – all of them stemming from his nonviolent resistance to white supremacy and the rule of the rich.

Rev. Pinkney’s nemesis – the rich entity that rules in Berrien County – is Whirlpool, the giant corporation that once employed lots of Black people in low-wage positions at its Benton Harbor headquarters, but now wants them gone, so that the land on which the town sits on the shores of Lake Michigan can be put to more luxurious and profitable uses. In better times, a park was set aside for community use. But, what Whirlpool giveth, Whirlpool taketh away. The park was privatized and then turned into a golf course where Whirlpool can entertain its executives and visiting operatives of the ruling class.

Whirlpool's $86 million headquarters in Benton Harbor.

Whirlpool’s $86 million headquarters in Benton Harbor.

Whirlpool’s money buys local politicians, like the city commissioners that Rev. Pinkney and others sought to recall, back in 2007, a campaign that led to Pinkney’s conviction on charges of “buying votes” – as if a poor Black preacher would try to compete with a multi-billion-dollar corporation in the game of vote-buying. As the legal battle wore on, Rev. Pinkney was sentenced to a year in state prison for the “crime” of quoting the Bible. A white judge claimed that, in Rev. Pinkney’s mouth, the holy scripture becomes a lethal threat. This is how a Black man-of-the-cloth earns a felony record in southeast Michigan.

Back in May, Rev. Pinkney was trying to recall the current mayor, James Hightower – who he calls a flunky of Whirlpool – when a county SWAT team surrounded his house, to arrest the Reverend on new charges.

Benton Harbor Mayor James Hightower at event in Whirlpool HQ>

Benton Harbor Mayor James Hightower at event in Whirlpool HQ>

“Whirlpool’s money buys local politicians, like the city commissioners that Rev. Pinkney and others sought to recall.”

The white corporate fathers’ vendetta against voting rights advocates like Pinkney seems like overkill, since the people of Benton Harbor and more than half the Black population of Michigan have been effectively disenfranchised by an Emergency Manager law that covers every majority Black city in the state.

Rev. Pinkney with supporter Danny Glover, actor/activist in Oct. 2012.

Rev. Pinkney with supporter Danny Glover, actor/activist in Oct. 2012.

The people can vote for a mayor and city council, but a state appointee holds all the power, and his job is to turn over public assets to private corporations. But, even when the rich effectively hold total power, they still feel it necessary to crush those who question their right to rule – especially if the questioners are Black. Rev. Pinkney calls it a “class war.” In the United States, that has always also meant a race war, in which the full weight of the racist capitalist state is brought to bear. The state piles on multiple unjust felony convictions so that a Bible-quoting community leader is made to appear to be a criminal, deserving of life in prison.

But felony counts are like boxing rounds. Rev. Pinkney is still on his feet, fist in the air. Right on, Reverend.

For Black Agenda Radio, I’m Glen Ford. On the web, go to www.BlackAgendaReport.com, and sign up for free email notification of our new issues, each Wednesday.

BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at Glen.Ford@BlackAgendaReport.com.

Below: Rachel Maddox reports on Benton Harbor.


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PLANTATION DETROIT: PUBLIC ASSETS ON AUCTION BLOCK THIS WEEK

Detroit "public auction" advertised on freeway side of now abandoned Herman Kiefer Health Complex.

Detroit “public auction” advertised on freeway side of now abandoned Herman Kiefer Health Complex.

Vehicles, equipment from privatized DPW, PLD on the auction block 

Slavemaster Rick Snyder has devastated Black cities across Michigan with similar asset sales.

Slavemaster Rick Snyder has devastated Black cities across Michigan with similar asset sales through Emergency Managers. No one from the federal level on down has taken massive action to stop the racist divestment.

Detroit workers losing hundreds of jobs, residents lose services

 “Assets” stored in Herman Kiefer parking lots—after Health Dept. privatized, services eliminated/ outsourced, 400 workers laid-off

 Sale used to “pay off debt,” banks profit

 Muncipal Market Advisors warned  Oct. 27 that divesting city assets could lead to a second Chapter 9 bankruptcy in very near future

 November 3, 2014

 By Diane Bukowski 

DETROIT – The City of Detroit, a/k/a Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr and his appointed COO Gary Brown, will auction “more than 450 surplus vehicles it no longer needs.  Despite no longer being needed by the city, many of these pieces of equipment can serve private contractors or other municipalities well for years to come,” according to a release on the city’s website.

DPW trucks lined up outside HKHC Building 1, which used to house substance abuse treatment services.

DPW trucks lined up outside HKHC Building 1, which used to house substance abuse treatment services.

A large banner strung across the John Lodge Freeway side of the now abandoned Herman Kiefer Health Complex advertises the online auction, set for Nov. 5 and 13. Parking lots there currently house assets from the Public Lighting and Public Works departments.

“Many of these vehicles are in very good working order and have a lot of life left in them,” said Gary Brown, City of Detroit Chief Operating Officer.

DPW vehicles block former entrance to Herman Kiefer Family Health Center, an adult medical clinic which provided doctors, nurses, prescriptions and other services to low-income Detroiters.

DPW vehicles block former entrance to Herman Kiefer Family Health Center, an adult medical clinic which provided doctors, nurses, prescriptions and other services to low-income Detroiters.

So did the jobs of over 165 DPW workers, replaced by the for-profit Rizzo Environmental Services, based in suburban Sterling Heights, and Advanced Disposal Services, with corporate offices in Ponte Vedra, Florida. The companies may as well have been holding slave auctions. The City Council gave them these jobs and a contract for a rock bottom price of $122 million.

DPW worker LaDonna Nash/Photo credit: WSWS

DPW worker LaDonna Nash/Photo credit: WSWS

Long-time DPW worker LaDonna Nash told the WSWS newspaper (see link below), “If the new managers don’t like you, then you’re in trouble. All of the buildings here are going to be sold. The work for container repair, forestry, parks and recreation; all of it is going to private companies.

“They say some of us can transfer to other departments but that will be bumping other city workers out of their jobs. The new companies don’t even have women hauling trash. There are some 20 female workers and we are going to lose our jobs. I’m in my 40s—what am I going to do? Then there are the guys who are on disability. These guys were hurt on the job here—the foremen told them to do dangerous tasks they shouldn’t have been doing. They’re going to be out of a job too.”

PLD vehicle parked in lot in front of Building 7, where Community Health Field Services including home visits by nurses, was originally located.

PLD vehicle parked in lot in front of Building 7, where Community Health Field Services including home visits by nurses, was originally located.

EM Orr told DTE the entire Public Lighting Department, including its revenue-generating provision of lighting to public buildings, will be phased out over the next five years to DTE, which has already taken over PLD’s electricity grid. The newly-founded regional Public Lighting Authority plans to dismantle 46,000 of the city’s 88,000 streetlights, in areas targeted for “blight (i.e. Black) removal,” according to Orr’s May 12, 2013 Financial and Operating Plan.

PLD was founded in the 1920’s and was originally meant to provide electricity to the entire city, including its residences. The city’s former Auditor General reported several years ago that those service lines could have been revamped to provide revenue-generating, public cable TV service to city residents at lower costs.

DPW and PLD vehicles pack parking lot which used to provide space for patients of the Herman Kiefer Family Health Center.

DPW and PLD vehicles pack parking lot which used to provide space for patients of the Herman Kiefer Family Health Center.

PLD has been one of few opportunities for Black and women skilled trades workers such as electricians to get long-term employment.

Profit from the auctions is to be used to “pay down debt,” with some allegedly restored to the departments, according to an Oct. 30 article in the Monitor. Considering there will be no DPW or PLD, it is clear only the banks will profit from these auctions.

Front of the vacated Herman Kiefer Health Complex. Peeling sign at lower left says "Detroit Health and Wellness Promotion Department."

Front of the vacated Herman Kiefer Health Complex. Peeling sign at lower left says “Detroit Health and Wellness Promotion Department.”

Herman Kiefer formerly housed the Detroit Health and Wellness Department. The Health Department served the people of Detroit beginning in 1825, running three hospitals and five clinics, as well as coordinating a home physician visit program.

Freeway entrance to HKHC still displays sign showing some of services no longer provided there.

Freeway entrance to HKHC still displays sign showing some of services no longer provided there.

One of its hospitals, Detroit General, founded in 1918, was privatized in 1980 when it was transferred to the Detroit Medical Center and became Detroit Receiving Hospital. Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan, then DMC CEO, sold the DMC to Vanguard Health, 70 percent owned by the Blackstone Hedge Fund. Vanguard then sold it to Tenet. Receiving is now laying off most of its custodial staff.

Over four hundred workers there were laid off when the Health Department was handed over to the private Institute for Population Health (IPH) in May, 2012, during the fall-out from the “Consent Agreement” that led to the appointment of Detroit Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr.

AFSCME Health Department Local 457 President Laurie Walker testifies at City Council May 6, 2012.

AFSCME Health Department Local 457 President Laurie Walker testifies at City Council May 6, 2012.

The IPH has now itself gone bust. Nearly all the services at the Health Department were paid for by federal grants, which the City of Detroit lost as a result.

“We provide services to 300,000 clients annually,” Laurie Walker, President of AFSCME Health Department Local 457 told the City Council before it voted to privatize the Department . “We enjoy our positions and care about the people. We live in the city, own homes here, and pay taxes. Last year, two city workers on my block were laid off and now their homes are vacant. I will have to consider moving as well even though I love this city.”

In recent decades, the Department provided Maternal and Infant Health Programs, in a city where the 2009 infant mortality rate was 14.8 per 1,000, more than double the national average of 6.3 per 1,000. It provided WIC (a federal food program for women, infants and children), immunizations, lead screening, vision and hearing testing, family planning, nurse home visits, and substance abuse treatment among other services. Its vital records division and adult and pediatric dental clinics were self-sustaining through fees.

Auction boxThe Council, at the request of former Mayor Dave Bing, also got rid of the federally-funded Detroit Human Services and Workforce Development Departments and their employees, along with the grants.

The city release also says that 79 transit buses and “historic” trolley cars will be auctioned off. Although the Detroit Department of Transportation still exists, largely because of federal regulations preventing replacement of unionized employees, the eventual plan is to fold it into the Detroit Regional Transit Authority.

The contract for the auction has been awarded to Hilco Industrial, a global corporation headquartered in Birmingham, Alabama, and Miedema Auctioneering and Appraisals, headquartered in Byron Center, Michigan. Both companies are white-owned and show only white executives on their staff.

MMA logoOn Oct. 27, Municipal Market Advisors said such asset sell-offs, among other factors, are likely to lead to a second Chapter 9 bankruptcy filing almost as soon as Detroit exits the first.

They said that after privatizing and selling off assets,

“Detroit has – in our opinion – set itself up to leave bankruptcy not only with a reduced debt load but with little financial and operational flexibility for the future,” the firm wrote. “We think that it is more than ‘feasible’ that the city finds itself facing fiscal difficulties over the next five years. In effect, Detroit may wind up, on its first day of out of bankruptcy, as one of the most likely candidates forChapter 9 in the state of Michigan.”

 

Public Lighting Department workers fixing street lights on Belle Isle July 29, 2012.

Public Lighting Department workers fixing street lights on Belle Isle July 29, 2012. Under pretense of a 30-yr. renewable $0 “lease,” the State of Michigan has also stolen Belle Isle from Detroiters. Gov. Rick Snyder’s aide told Councilwoman JoAnn Watson he wanted Belle Isle directly after he took office.  This writer went out for a bike ride on Belle Isle after finishing this article. There were hardly any streetlights working on the entire island. The bridge lights were on, and lights around the casino, but only a few others blinked on as the island got dark. D-DOT no longer operates bus routes on the island. My bike ride began while it was still light, but there were hardly any people out to enjoy the beautiful day, in cars, on foot, or on bicycles. NIGHTMARE!

City announcement: City of Detroit to Hold Two Auctions of Vehicles Machinery and Shop Equipment in November

Hilco brochure: Hilco brochure

Related articles:

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2014/09/06/racist-bankruptcy-plan-hearing-sanctions-theft-of-detroit/ 

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2013/05/16/detroit-em-orrs-report-envisions-a-nightmare-future/  

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2012/05/21/detroit-founded-health-dept-in-1825-it-previously-ran-3-hospitals-including-detroit-general-5-clinics-physician-home-visit-services/  

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2012/05/21/city-wants-to-replace-health-dept-with-private-institute-for-population-health/  

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2014/10/28/bankruptcy-did-little-to-stabilize-detroit-municipal-market-advisors/ 

http://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2014/02/20/sani-f20.html

https://www.hilcoind.com/sale-details?view=detailview&pid=abba049c-da78-f31c-d724-51ed53fcc364

Hilco

 


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CHRIS ROCK ON HOLIDAY COMMERCIALISM, 9/11

SOMETHING FOR A LAUGH ON VOD, FOR A CHANGE.


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AS ELECTION APPROACHES, ANTI-FORECLOSURE ACTIVISTS RAMP UP FIGHT VS. TROTT

Trott’s former law firm, Trott & Trott, is accused of using unethical and deceptive practices to foreclose on homes.

By Sarah Cwiek

Michigan Radio

David Trott

David Trott’s “former” firm foreclosed on 80,000 homes in 2009 alone,

Republican candidate for Congress David Trott was the subject of some street theater this week.

Trott is running for the U.S. House seat in Metro Detroit’s 11th district.

He’s also a former co-owner of the Trott & Trott law firm, which specializes in home foreclosure work on behalf of banks. It prospered during the recent housing crisis, foreclosing on up to 80,000 homes in 2009 alone.

Many homeowners who have dealt with Trott & Trott accuse the firm of deceptive, unethical business practices. A group calling themselves “Trott survivors” shared their stories during a mock trial in front of a Birmingham bank.

Their “testimony” was a series of accusations outlining Trott & Trott’s “dishonest and destructive” tactics, like stonewalling on loan modifications, dual tracking (pursuing foreclosure while also negotiating modifications), improper notice, and document fraud.

Ray Mandry

Ray Mandry

Ray Mandry said he sought a mortgage modification after he had several major surgeries and lost his job in 2011. He qualified, and a representative from the Wayne County Department of Foreclosure Prevention reached out to Trott & Trott.

“[Trott and Trott] promised to set up a meeting, since we could in fact pay what we needed to pay with a modification,” Mandry said. “He was promised those meetings, and they never came. Calls to Trott & Trott and the bank went unanswered. We never received any further communication, in spite of our efforts, until the sheriff’s notice was posted on our door.”

Mandry was able to keep his home, but only after a two-year court battle.

Jerry Cullors told a similar story. He was trying negotiate a modification with his bank, but “Trott & Trott went behind our back, trying to get a sheriff’s sale going.”

“We didn’t find out about the sheriff’s sale until after the bank called us back and said, ‘Well, we have to put this on hold because we need to talk to our lawyers,’” Cullors said. “Not knowing that their lawyers were from Trott & Trott.”

Jerry Cullors and daughter.

Jerry Cullors and daughter.

And Cull0rs said when he went to court, Trott’s lawyers urged him to sign a “consent form” they said would delay a sheriff’s sale. But the judge later told Cullers he had effectively signed away his house.

“Trott & Trott’s lawyers will sit back and tell you anything to get your home away from you,” Cullers said.  “If you think I would sign a piece of paper giving up my home…no, there’s no way on God’s earth I would do this.”

Trott’s campaign dismissed the accusations as part of a pattern of “negative attacks by losing campaigns.”

“No one wants to foreclose,” Trott’s campaign said in an emailed statement. “The law firm represents clients and handles paperwork for clients.  The firm has and continues to help thousands of Michigan families keep their homes through loan modifications and short sales.”

Krystal Price, leader of RICOBUSTERS, who is also fighting Trott & Trott. For more info on RICO BUSTERS, see link to their You Tube site below.

Krystal Price, leader of RICO BUSTERS, who is also fighting Trott & Trott in her own case. For more info on RICO BUSTERS, see link to their You Tube site below.

Trott has denied engaging in any illegal or unethical practices, and points out that the firm has “never been subject to a significant judgment, and no court has ever sanctioned the firm for unethical conduct.”

However, five major US banks have paid out billions in settlements after the US Justice Department found they engaged in illegal practices during the foreclosure crisis—including many of the same practices Trott & Trott has been accused of.

Trott has also acknowledged making more money off foreclosures than loan modifications, but said actions he took were always on behalf of the banks he worked for.

Trott is expected to win in the heavily-Republican 11th district, though he is in a 3-way race.

He faces Democrat Bobby McKenzie, and current Republican 11th district Congressman Kerry Bentivolio, who’s waging a write-in campaign after Trott defeated him in the primary.

Trott foreclosure fraud as put together by RICO BUSTERS.

Trott foreclosure fraud as put together by RICO BUSTERS.

Related:

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2014/10/21/keep-foreclosure-king-david-trott-out-of-congress/

http://mfi-miami.com/2014/06/did-financial-terrorist-david-trott-knowingly-violate-campaign-finance-laws/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2014/08/02/ricobusters-fight-criminal-injustice-system-domestic-terrorism-by-corporate-oligarchy/

You tube website for RICO BUSTERS:

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCd3xqk6Kc778ASLAsRpV5ag

Below are videos from RICO BUSTERS on Trott & Trott and Krystal Price’s fight against them, the banks, and the courts.


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ACLU TESTIFIES AT INTER-AMERICAN COMMISSION ON POLICE EXECUTION OF MILTON HALL IN SAGINAW, MI

ACLU TESTIFIES AT INTER-AMERICAN HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION ON KILLING OF MILTON HALL IN SAGINAW, MI

From the Michigan ACLU

October 27, 2014 WASHINGTON, D.C. – The American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan testified today before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) about the failure of the U.S. Justice Department to prosecute officers involved in the unjustified police shooting death of Milton Hall in Saginaw, Michigan.

Jewell Hall

Jewell Hall

From Jewell Hall, Milton Hall’s mother

For much of his life, my son Milton stood up for those who did not have the strength to stand up for themselves.

But now he’s gone, gunned down by Saginaw police officers who fired more than 45 shots at him, striking him 14 times. Now, Milton Hall needs someone to stand up for him.

Although Milton’s death was captured on camera, caught by police dashcams and bystanders’ cellphones, justice still has not been served.

Despite the abundance of evidence, the Saginaw County prosecutor refused to charge the officers who killed Milton with any crime. Earlier this year, the U.S. Department of Justice failed to charge those officers as well.

Milton Hall

Milton Hall

Milton’s death has been devastating to me, to our family and to our community. But his senseless killing also has given me a renewed commitment to work, in the little time that I have left, with parents whose kids have been similarly killed.

Together, we must address conditions that allow police to use excessive and deadly force with impunity. We need to change how police deal with situations like the one that ended my son’s life.

www.aclumich.org

► View videos & legal documents on this case Because freedom can’t defend itself: become a membersubscribe to our email action alertsfollow us on Twitter, and like us on Facebook.

Related stories:

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2012/08/29/the-execution-of-milton-hall-justice-for-milton-hall-killed-by-saginaw-mi-police/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2012/08/19/police-gun-down-saginaw-mi-man-with-46-shots-in-5-seconds/

 

Prayer vigil at site of Milton Hall's execution.

Prayer vigil at site of Milton Hall’s execution.


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CODE BLACK ALERT: VONDERRIT MYERS “SHOT IN BACK” — SLAVE PATROL OFFICIALS CONTINUE DISINFORMATION CAMPAIGN

Vonderrit Myers, Jr. with mother Syreeta.

Vonderrit Myers, Jr. with mother Syreeta.

“There’s no evidence that there was a gun battle going on.”

BAR logoBy BAR editor and columnist Dr. Marsha Coleman-Adebayo

Dr. Marsha Coleman-Adebayo

Dr. Marsha Coleman-Adebayo

October 29, 2014

In “Code Black Alert: Slave Patrols Alive and Well Across America, Part I – the Killing of Vonderrit Myers,” we stated: “…we will never know what happened in the ten minutes after Vonderrit Myers Jr., 18, carried his turkey sandwich out of frame and into the last ten minutes of his life.” An AP news story, however, this week has provided more clues into the violent last ten minutes of Vonderrit Myers’ short life.

Vonderrit Myers was murdered on October 9th by a moonlighting unidentified St. Louis police officer working as a private security guard. The slave patroller/police officer stated that he pursued Vonderrit because he saw him running down the street accompanied by friends. For this slave patroller, African boys running down a street automatically indicate suspicious and criminal behavior.

Protesters block streets in St. Louis after murder of Vonderrit Myers, Jr. by off-duty uniformed cop on private security patrol

Protesters block streets in St. Louis after murder of Vonderrit Myers, Jr. by off-duty uniformed cop on private security patrol

Michael Brown died on August 9th at the hands of Ferguson police officer Darryl Wilson – just 12 miles from the scene of Vonderrit’s execution. Brown was walking down the street with a friend that, from the perspective of his executioner, constituted “suspicious” behavior and led to his death.

The Myers family enlisted noted pathologist Dr. Cyril Wecht to perform an independent autopsy. Dr. Wecht is known for his exploration of the deaths of John F. Kennedy, Elvis Presley and Benet Ramsey. The autopsy revealed that the 18 year old was shot eight times. Six of the gunshots were from behind. In other words, the autopsy suggests that Vonderrit was running away from the slave patroller/police officer, in contradiction to the version offered by St. Louis police.

“For this slave patroller, African boys running down a street automatically indicate suspicious and criminal behavior.”

Dr. Cyril Wecht explains independent autopsy results.

Dr. Cyril Wecht explains independent autopsy results.

Dr. Wecht surmised that “Myers was initially shot six times in the back of both legs…another shot hit the side of the left leg, shattering his femur…the fatal wound was to the side of Myers’ face…” entering the right cheek.”

Myer’s attorney, Jerryl Christmas, offered, “The evidence show that the story we’ve been given by the Police Department does not match up…There’s no evidence that there was a gun battle going on.”

Predictably, St. Louis police have stated that Vonderrit was the aggressor and precipitated the confrontation by firing at the officer. Missouri State Highway Patrol issued a statement that gunshot residue was found on “Myer’s hand, waistband and shirt.” Both the Police Department cum Slave Patrol and Brian Millikan, the officer’s attorney, seem to indicate that the result of the ballistics report favors the police account.

The official report, that has changed numerous times, is that Vonderrit fired three shots before his gun jammed. The unidentified officer has stated that he did not discharge his weapon until Myer’s gun malfunctioned.

Hundreds attended funeral for Vonderrit Myers, Jr.

Hundreds attended funeral for Vonderrit Myers, Jr.

The police version of the last ten minutes of Vonderrit’s life has changed numerous times. Initially, Vonderrit was said to be wearing a hoody that the slave patroller pulled off during a scuffle. However, earlier security video from the convenience store does not show Vonderrit wearing a hoody. In addition, the police have stated that Vonderrit jumped out of bushes to attack the unidentified police officer but the bushes are missing from the crime scene photos. Finally, Vonderrit, according to police reports, is said to have fired a Ruger 9mm at the stalking police officer that later turns into a Smith and Wesson .038 in the next official version of the department’s report.

”The autopsy suggests that Vonderrit was running away from the slave patroller/police officer, in contradiction to the version offered by St. Louis police.”

It’s clear that the St. Louis police department is engaged in a massive cover-up, falsifying documents, perhaps tampering with materials and iniquitous lying to protect one of its own.

Syreeta and Vonderrit Myers, Sr. during announcement of private autopsy results.

Syreeta and Vonderrit Myers, Sr. during announcement of private autopsy results.

Vonderitt’s story has not received the national attention it deserves, primarily because the police department moved quickly to demonize him with reports of previous interactions with law enforcement. However, despite the orchestrated attempt by the St. Louis police and the silence of the national media, his father, Vonderrit Myers, Sr., with his wife Syreeta by his side, spoke to supporters and activists who had marched to their home stating, “My son was loved and he still is loved.”

Vonderrit, a young man, looking forward to graduating from high school was buried yesterday. St. Louis police authorities have refused to release the name of the slave patroller who executed him.

Dr. Marsha Coleman-Adebayo is the author of No FEAR: A Whistleblowers Triumph over Corruption and Retaliation at the EPA is available through amazon.com. Dr. Coleman-Adebayo worked at the EPA for 18 years and blew the whistle on a US multinational corporation that endangered vanadium mine workers. Marsha’s successful lawsuit led to the introduction and passage of the first civil rights and whistleblower law of the 21st Century: The Notification of Federal Employees Anti-discrimination and Retaliation Act of 2002 (NoFEAR Act.) She is Director of Transparency and Accountability for the Green Shadow Cabinet, serves on the Advisory Board of ExposeFacts.com and Coordinator of the DC-based, Hands-Up Coalition and No FEAR Coalition. www.marshacoleman-adebayo.com.

Related:

http://news.stlpublicradio.org/post/myers-family-attorney-private-autopsy-disputes-police-account-shaw-shooting

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2014/10/09/white-off-duty-st-louis-cop-kills-vonderrit-myers-jr-18-with-17-shots/


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FREE REV. PINKNEY! BENTON HARBOR FRAME-UP TRIAL TARGETS NATIONALLY-KNOWN FREEDOM FIGHTER!

Some of Rev. Edward Pinkney's supporters outside courthouse during his preliminary exam May 31, 2014.
Some of Rev. Edward Pinkney’s supporters outside courthouse during his preliminary exam May 31, 2014. Those who attended the opening day of his trial Oct. 27, 2014 said the courtroom was packed, with an overflow room so attendees could watch the proceedings on TV. However, Marcina Cole (third from left in photo) reported that the TV transmission started late and was of poor quality,

 Video below: supporters in court this week celebrate Rev. Pinkney’s birthday, which ironically is October 27, the same day his trial began.

Long-time Black activist minister faces 25 years in prison on trumped up election fraud charges

Busloads journey from across region to support Pinkney Oct. 27, first day of trial

Trial witness: “No way to know who was responsible for altered dates”

Pinkney expected to take the stand today

By Diane Bukowski

October 28, 2014

(Events in Benton Harbor are from attributed sources, as author was too sick to travel there for trial opening.)

Rev. Edward Pinkney speaking in Detroit Oct. 10, 2014 at Moratorium NOW! HQ.

Rev. Edward Pinkney speaking in Detroit Oct. 10, 2014 at Moratorium NOW! HQ.

ST. JOSEPH, MI – According to published reports, supporters of Rev. Edward Pinkney descended on Benton Harbor from all over in droves as his trial on five felony counts of election fraud, each carrying up to five years in prison, and six misdemeanors, began Oct. 27. The trial is taking place in the Berrien County Courthouse, located in St. Joseph, across the river from Benton Harbor.

Ironically, Oct. 27 is Rev. Pinkney’s birthday.

A busload of metro Detroiters, organized by Pinkney supporter Marcina Cole, Michigan Welfare Rights, Moratorium NOW! and others left from Northland Mall that morning at 5:30 a.m., after raising $600 for half the cost of the bus.

One supporter tweeted: “Court packed for @revpinkney! Supporters drove in from across the region. Judge Sterling R. Schrock presiding with jury hearing, People vs Pinkney, Edward. Case # 2014-001528. Court is setting up televised overflow room for people unable to fit in courtroom.”

Danny Glover with Rev. Edward Pinkney during Benton Harbor awards ceremony last year.

Danny Glover with Rev. Edward Pinkney during Benton Harbor awards ceremony last year.

Nationally, Pinkney has had strong support from actor/activist Danny Glover and from former six-term U.S. Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney, who remarked Oct. 17, “Why is the Congressional Black Caucus silent on the persecution of Benton Harbor leader, Rev Edward Pinkney, who is being maliciously prosecuted AGAIN?  What has happened up there in DC to eliminate all heart, backbone, and guts? What’s left without that???”

Pinkney, a leader of the Black Autonomy Network of Community Organizations (BANCO), led a recall campaign against current Benton Harbor Mayor James Hightower, who has the support of the Whirlpool Corporation. Charges are based on those recall petitions.

Cynthia McKinney with Rev. Edward Pinkney in Benton Harbor, 2011

Cynthia McKinney with Rev. Edward Pinkney in Benton Harbor, 2011

Whirlpool is headquartered in Benton Harbor but earlier stripped the 96 percent Black city of its economic base by moving its plants out of state, leading to a   poverty rate. It is also taking over acres of desirable lakefront Benton Harbor property. Pinkney has fought this corporate attack for many years, as well as fighting rampant murders by local police forces of Black Benton Harbor residents, and massively disproportionate incarceraton rates of Blacks.

Regarding jury selection the previous week, Gordon reported on the Black Autonomy Network of Community Organizations (BANCO) website:

“The Berrien County trial beginning this Monday at 8:30am now has a jury and it’s all white. Rev. Pinkney is from Benton Harbor, 96% African-American, but the jurors are from the surrounding white towns.”

Pinkney cartoonHe said that during questioning of prospective jurors, Berrien County Prosecutor Michael Sepic asked several jurors if they would be willing to convict without evidence. The prosecution has conceded that their case has no direct evidence, only circumstantial evidence.

But by Tuesday, Oct 28, even the conservative Herald-Palladium began its lead story with the following:

Mark Goff says there is no way to tell who may have altered petitions, during preliminary exam.

Mark Goff says there is no way to tell who may have altered petitions, during preliminary exam.

“Dates on recall petitions circulated by Edward Pinkney were altered, though there is no way to know who was responsible, a state police forensic document examiner testified Tuesday. Detective Sgt. Mark Goff told a Berrien County Trial Court jury that some of the dates next to signatures on five petitions were written with more than one ink.

“That indicates the use of more than one pen or that numbers were written at different times, he said.” (See link below.)

The remainder of the story is basically a recap of officials’ testimony reported on by VOD during Pinkney’s preliminary exam. (See links below.)

The following day, according to the Herald Palladium, 24 witnesses who signed the recall petitions in question testified. On cross exam by Pinkney’s attorney Tat Parish, many appeared to be confused about which petition they had signed and when. The police and courts have essentially conducted a reign of terror to frighten the people of Benton Harbor, exemplified by the SWAT raid on Pinkney’s home.

The defense was expected to begin its presentation today, with Rev. Pinkney himself taking the stand.

Marcina Cole

Marcina Cole

The previous Monday, Oct. 20, Rev. Pinkney himself spoke to a packed crowd of supporters at the Moratorium NOW! headquarters in Detroit, following up on an earlier Detroit appearance at UAW Local 22.

Marcina Cole, a DTE retiree, introduced Pinkney, putting his struggle in context with the current battle for justice by Blacks across Michigan and the country.

Noting that a SWAT team of Benton Harbor police showed up to arrest Pinkney on the election fraud charges May 25, she said, “There is injustice across the U.S., including police terrorism like the murder of Michael Brown, shutting people’s water off, no housing, health care, and food for our people. We have to stop listening to the mass media. Even abroad, Palestinians are being gunned down from the skies, killing babies and children. Too many folks are getting off for killing our babies. Next it might be your baby. We must fight, fight, fight and don’t stop!”

To a standing ovation, Rev. Pinkney took the podium.

“The fight in Benton Harbor is a war over whether America will have prosperity and democracy, or will live in poverty under the heels of capitalist rule,” Pinkney said. “We must create discomfort in the houses of the powerful with or without violence. . . .We must take over the banks, show them who we are, especially here in Detroit.”

Audience at Detroit rally gives standing ovation to Rev. Pinkney Oct. 20, 2014.

Audience at Detroit rally gives standing ovation to Rev. Pinkney Oct. 20, 2014.

He said the Berrien County Courthouse has been “physically removing and destroying Black families in Benton Harbor.” He recounted the case of one man who became “cop of the year” after he planted drugs on over 300 Benton Harbor residents. He said the defense had numerous witnesses, but they were not allowed to testify.

“It’s not about me and you,” he said, “it’s about the future of our children, about Negro removal, about ethnic cleansing. IT’S ABOUT GENOCIDE! No one in history has ever gotten anything by appealing to the moral sense of the rulers. You only get what you can take! Democracy has been stolen.”

We Charge GenocidePinkney recounted the history of the SWAT assault on the home of himself and his wife Dorothy Pinkney (covered earlier in VOD—see link below.)

“At my arraignment, the judge took about 20 minutes to tell me how terrible I am, as if I had committed the worst crime in the history of mankind. They thought they had a smoking gun, but when it came to testimony about who changed signature dates, their expert said he could not say WHO. It is shameful and disgraceful. They are counting on having an all-white jury.”

He said he had been in court that morning asking for a change of venue due to the racial composition of the county surrounding Benton Harbor, and to constant negative publicity in the Herald-Palladium and other local news media. The judge said he would grant a change of venue only if we could not pick a jury.”

Apparently Judge Sterling Shrock felt an all-white jury was sufficient, even in the increasingly hostile and racist atmosphere that permeates not only Berrien County, but in Detroit, where the banks and corporations are taking over the city from its majority Black population through a phony bankrupty, and in the entire state and country.

Rev. Pinkney leads rally against Emergency Manager law in Michigan. Benton Harbor was the first city to be hit with PA 436.

Rev. Pinkney leads rally against Emergency Manager law in Michigan. Benton Harbor was the first city to be hit with PA 436.

Rev. Pinkney (top) with wife Dorothy in front, and Detroit supporters during 2011 trial regarding the Whirlpool-led move to remove him as President of the local NAACP.

Rev. Pinkney (center second from top) with wife Dorothy in front of him, and Detroit supporters including the late renowned General Baker (rear row right) during 2011 trial regarding the Whirlpool-led move to remove him as BH NAACP President.

To sign petition in support of Rev. Pinkney, click on http://www.bhbanco.org/2014/09/b-n-c-o-petition-we-demand-justice-in.html?spref=tw

To donate to the campaign to free Rev. Pinkney, send funds to
Rev. Edward Pinkney
1940 Union St.
Benton Harbor, MI 49022  Phone: 269-925-0001

Listen to Rev. Pinkney every Sunday 5:00 p.m. on http://www.blogtalkradio.com/rev-pinkney/2014/10/19/pinkney-to-pinkney

Related Stories:

Witness testifies Pinkney sought 2nd petition signature HP

http://www.heraldpalladium.com/news/local/petitions-changed-but-by-whom/article_a1311aa0-a30c-5d3c-8208-ae3fc791fbc8.html

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2014/07/13/drop-the-charges-against-rev-edward-pinkney-of-benton-harbor-trial-set-for-july-21/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2014/06/07/benton-harbor-rev-pinkney-to-face-trial-on-felony-charges-july-21-despite-no-evidence/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2014/06/03/rev-pinkney-in-the-mouth-of-the-beast-in-benton-harbor/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2014/05/27/dismiss-all-charges-against-rev-pinkney-court-fri-may-30-save-benton-harbor-boycott-whirlpool/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2014/04/26/free-rev-edward-pinkney-recall-whirlpool-stooge-benton-harbor-mayor-james-hightower/ 


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BANKRUPTCY DID LITTLE TO STABILIZE DETROIT: MUNICIPAL MARKET ADVISORS

Protest against bankruptcy, EM, foreclosures blocks Jefferson Ave. in downtown Detroit May 1, 2014.

Protest against bankruptcy, EM, foreclosures blocks Jefferson Ave. in downtown Detroit May 1, 2014.

Independent firm says Detroit may have “set itself up for another Chapter 9″

Expert says “feasibility walks a very thin line”

Bankruptcy Judge Rhodes to announce decision on Nov. 7 at 2 pm.

VOD to have analysis up shortly

The Bond Buyer logoBy Caitlin Devitt

OCT 27, 2014 3:36pm ET

CHICAGO – On the closing day of Detroit’s bankruptcy trial, municipal research firm Municipal Market Advisors warned that the city may have just set itself up for another Chapter 9.

MMA, an independent advisory firm, issued the warning as part of its weekly outlook report released on Monday. It came out the same day as attorneys presented closing arguments to U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Steven Rhodes in the trial on the city’s plan of confirmation.

Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan targets Detroit Water and Sewerage Dept. Sept. 9, 2014 in announcing plan under bankruptcy for Great Lakes Water Authority,

Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan targets Detroit Water and Sewerage Dept. Sept. 9, 2014 in announcing plan under bankruptcy for Great Lakes Water Authority,

After privatizing or selling several of its assets, “Detroit has – in our opinion – set itself up to leave bankruptcy not only with a reduced debt load but with little financial and operational flexibility for the future,” the firm wrote.

“We think that it is more than ‘feasible’ that the city finds itself facing fiscal difficulties over the next five years. In effect, Detroit may wind up, on its first day of out of bankruptcy, as one of the most likely candidates for Chapter 9 in the state of Michigan.”

On the plus side, the city will have shed $7 billion of debt if Rhodes approves the plan, MMA said.

But improving operations could prove to be a major challenge for the post-bankrupt city.

And a “dysfunctional” K-12 school system will continue to limit the city’s attractiveness to new residents.

Protesters outside Detroit Public School HQ demand that the city's only school built for special needs students, Oakman Orthopedic, remain open. It has since been closed, as have the majority of Detroit public schools.

Protesters outside Detroit Public School HQ demand that the city’s only school built for special needs students, Oakman Orthopedic, remain open. It has since been closed, as have the majority of Detroit public schools.

The firm noted that Martha Kopacz, a muni finance expert hired by Rhodes’ expert witness to review the feasibility of the city’s confirmation plan, affirmed the plan but warned the feasibility walks a very thin line.

“The feasibility described to the court by Ms. Kopacz is fragile at best,” MMA said. “And, it is important to remember that the target is to provide just adequate basic services: hardly an effective marketing spin.”

Related:

kopacz expert report to judge rhodes 071814

http://www.detroitnews.com/story/news/local/wayne-county/2014/10/22/detroit-bankruptcy-trial/17706507/


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