The Coalition to Abolish Death by Incarceration met with Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf. Penn. State Senator Sharif Street has sponsored legislation that would abolish life without parole.

Re-printed from “The Michigan Lifers Report, Dec. 2018

This ground-breaking book by Marc Mauer and Ashley Nellis of the Sentencing Project (TSP) was released in December, 2018. They argue that there is no practical or moral justification for a sentence longer than 20 years. Shorter sentences are why most Western democracies have fewer or no people serving life sentences. Yet, in the U.S., over 200,000 people have received such sentences that are much longer than 20 years.

Also, these long sentences have little effect on crime rates, since people “age out” of crime. So a fortune is being spent on geriatric care for older prisoners who, if released, pose little threat to public safety. And by 2030, people over 50 will make up one-third of the U.S. prison population.

Furthermore, these life terms have an indirect effect, especially for the young. For example, incredibly, 13 states have no minimum age for prosecution in adult courts. (AK, DE, FL, HI, ID, ME, MD, MI, PA, RI, SC, TN, AND WV.)

Finally, this important book features six portraits of lifers by Kerry Myers. One of these is Willis X. Harris, who was found innocent after serving over 23 years in the Michigan prison system. Tragically, these wrongful convictions have stolen at least 20,000 years from innocent defendants like Harris. (Willis X. Harris is the publisher of the Michigan Lifers Report, a print newsletter that has been circulated in the prisons for decades, and President of the Michigan Lifers Association, Inc.)

The book is available for $25.99 from The NewPress, 120 Wall Street, 31st Floor, New York, N.Y. 10005. (212) 629-8802. Email:

Willis X. Harris

It is also available through,  Barnes&,  Books-A-Million, and IndieBound.

This book is very timely because there were many new governors and legislators elected to begin in early 2019.

Nicole Porter, Director of Advocacy for The Sentencing Project, is available now to assist with book events around the country. This will mobilize advocates, including families of those with life sentences, to bring the needed changes. Email 

Recently, the lifers’ organization in Pennsylvania hosted the first ever legislative policy hearing about lifers. State legislators heard testimony from lifers and their loved ones, like Elizabeth Geyer. Email her at [Pennsylvania State Senator Sharif Street introduced legislation last year to ban life without parole sentences, or “death by incarceration” as his broad group of supporters calls it.]

Participate in C.U.R.E.’s GET OUT LIFERS FREE CONFERENCE CALL AT 1-515-739-1033, then give the access code 663535# on the first Sunday of the month at 5 pm to 6 pm (EST) which is 4 pm (CST), 3 pm (MST), and 2pm (PST).

Source; NATIONAL CURE NEWSLETTER, Charlie Sullivan, President. (202) 789-2126.

Contact The Michigan Lifers Association, Inc. c/o Willis X. Harris, The Michigan Lifers Association, Inc. 675 W. Willis St. Suite B-1, Detroit, MI  48201-1641. Phone: 313-442-3629.



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Baltimore residents succeeded in banning water privatization in city charter.

77% of city voters approve charter amendment

Baltimore City paves the way for how cities across the country can protect their water systems from the risks and costs of corporate control.

By Rianna Eckel



November 8, 2018

Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh signs charter amendment banning water privatization.

On Tuesday, Baltimore became the first big city in the country to ban water privatization. With a huge margin of victory — 77 percent of voters approved the charter amendment — Baltimore residents declared their water system to be a permanent, inalienable asset of the city. No corporation can take the water and sewer system away from the city. This is a historic victory for local control of water.

Baltimore offers a model for the nation on how to protect local control of essential public services. This measure provides a framework for cities to prevent the sale and lease of their water and sewer systems to outside interests.

When corporations run water systems, they have one primary goal — profit. They don’t have altruistic aspirations of ensuring that everyone has equitable access to safe and affordable water. Many communities that have privatized their water have experienced skyrocketing rates, job losses, or worse service. And this burden falls hardest on working families, poor people, and communities of color.

Seventy-seven percent of Baltimore residents voted for this charter amendment.

Baltimore’s charter amendment had full support from the entire city council (it was shepherded by Council President Jack Young to get it on the ballot in time) and it was first proposed and later signed by Mayor Catherine Pugh. Baltimore’s elected officials recognized the importance of preserving public control of this critical resource, but the grassroots-powered movement is what inspired and educated voters about this measure.

Food & Water Watch worked with the campaign committee Keep Baltimore’s Water Public along with labor unions and community groups, including the City Union of Baltimore, AFT-Maryland, AFSCME Local 67, Jews United for Justice, Maryland Working Families, and many other partners. We knocked on doors, called voters, and talked with people at the polls to explain the importance of the ballot question.

For at least 25 years, corporations have sought control of Baltimore’s water system. But now the city has responded with a resounding “No.”

Water companies have approached almost every new mayor and public works director. Most recently, French multinational company Suez and Wall Street firm KKR have aggressively pitched Baltimore officials on a long-term lease of the utility. The companies offered up-front cash for long-term control of Baltimore’s public water system. That upfront money was nothing short of an expensive loan that residents would repay through hikes in their water bills. By passing Question E, Baltimore has outsmarted predatory private companies, stopped these schemes, and protected its water system from extreme privatization deals.

Video below describes struggle leading up to historic vote in Baltimore

Baltimore is the first U.S. city to amend its charter — the city’s constitution — to prohibit water privatization. And it is part of a global water justice movement to realize the human right to water. In 2004, Uruguay voters amended their constitution to become the first country to ban water privatization. Around the globe, cities have committed to keep water services in public control, most recently Berlin and three other German cities.

Baltimore voters too have chosen to resist pressure to sell and outsource one of the most vital and precious resources they have. They have protected public control, accountability, and transparency of their water.

Now that privatization is out of the picture, Baltimore can work to improve the accountability and affordability of the water system and ensure every person in the city has access to safe and affordable water service. Food & Water Watch looks forward to working with other cities to protect their water systems from corporate control and lifting up Baltimore as a model for water justice for the nation.

Editor’s Note: Voice of Detroit has published numerous articles about the fight for public ownership of water and other utilities here in Detroit.

In 2015, a coalition led by the Detroit Active and Retired Employees Association (DAREA) drafted a proposal under state law that would have stopped the sale of Detroit’s Water & Sewerage Department to corporate interests associated with the regional Great Lakes Water Authority.

At the time, the city was under the control of Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr, barring access to the city charter, which already banned the sale of DWSD and D-DOT or any portion thereof, but was ignored. Only Detroiters would have been eligible to vote on the state initiative.  Only 90,000 signatures were needed within a six month period.

Some Related Stories:

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Above is interview with Thelonious “Skinnyman” Searcy Dec. 7, 2018, about Judge Timothy Kenny’s ruling on his wrongful conviction in 2005 for the death of Jamal Segars. Searcy is at bottom right, listening as his attorney Michael Dezsi plays recording for Vincent Smothers of his confession to the killing, which he graphically acknowledged during earlier hearing.

Ruling rendered after 6-month evidentiary hearing during which Vincent Smothers testified in detail that HE killed Jamal Segars

Hearing exposed that court LIED to trial jury about type of bullets found in victim, as well as those surrounding his car, NOT from claimed murder gun

Judge Kenny stated during hearing that he believed Detroit crime lab should not have been shut down; he presided over Jarrhod Williams’ 2nd conviction

“My mother and grandmother raised me to fight against anything that oppresses me unlawfully. This Judge will soon bear witness that God is the greatest… Nothing that’s evil will possess everlasting power.” –Searcy

Thelonious “Shawn” Searcy, in prison 14 years, says he is not guilty.

DETROIT – Wayne County presiding criminal court judge Timothy Kenny denied Thelonious (“Shawn”) Searcy’s motion for a new trial in the 2004 murder of Jamal Segars Dec. 3. The nine-page order addressed an evidentiary hearing that lasted six months through June 29, which exposed in stunning fashion the depth of corruption present in all branches of the County’s Third Circuit Court judicial system.

Judge Kenny is expected to become the Chief Judge of both the criminal and civil divisions of that court on Jan. 1, 2019, according to an announcement from the Michigan Supreme Court, which says current Chief Judge Robert Colombo is phasing into retirement.

Judge Kenny claims the defense case was based on newly discovered evidence only, when in fact Searcy’s pro se motion and brief filed in July, 2016 and left to moulder in his file for over a year, is titled “Motion for New Trial Pursuant to MCL 770.1 and MCR 6.502 (G)(2).”

In it, he repeatedly raises his claims of actual innocence and stresses the predominance of MCL 770.1, which allows a judge to rule in any case where he/she feels “justice has not been done.”

The Michigan Supreme Court is currently considering an amendment to MCR 6.502 which would add an “actual innocence” waiver provision regarding time limits on court filings, in line with that used in other states.

Presiding criminal court Judge Timothy Kenny.

In his ruling,  Judge Kenny says, “The defense claim for relief is based upon the newly discovered evidence of a) the confession of Vincent Smothers and supporting testimony by Marzell Black b) newly obtained forensic testimony regarding the contents of an evidence envelope allegedly containing evidence taken during the autopsy of the homicide victim Jamal Segars and c) a memorandum from the Detroit Law Department.”

He concludes, “The admission made by Vincent Smothers, as it applies to the Segars murder, is not credible. The forensic evidence, evidence offered by Marzell Black and the City of Detroit memo are equally unconvincing. For these reasons, the defendant fails to meet his burden under MCR 6.502 and People v Johnson and the defendant’s motion for relief from judgment is DENIED.”

Kenny’s ruling completely ignored evidence affirmed by Kenny himself during the hearing that HE LIED to the trial jury when they asked during deliberations what type of bullets killed Segars. Kenny told them that prosecution and defense attorneys told him the bullets were “not identifiable.”

A disputed forensics envelope was opened and independently examined during the evidentiary hearing. It contained one of the .40 caliber bullets the medical examiner found in Segars’ body, in keeping with Vincent Smothers’ testimony that he used a .40 caliber gun to kill Segars. It had been labeled as a .9 mm shell casing. The ME identified several other .40 caliber bullets as well.

Trial AP Patrick Muscat claimed a .45 caliber gun he presented at trial was the murder weapon.

Jarrhod WIlliams’ sister Dominique Manuel and mother Valerie Watts marched with Crime Lab Task Force in 2011.

During testimony by Detroit Police evidence technician Patricia Little on ballistics evidence from the Segars killing, Kenny made the startling admission that he was involved in the case of Jarrhod Williams, which led to the shut shown of the Detroit Crime Lab in 2008. The MSP found 10 percent of forensic results had been falsified and 42 percent did not comply with scientific forensic standards.

“I never thought the crime lab should have been shut down,” Kenny said during Little’s testimony, opening the possibility of a blatant conflict of interest in his participation in Searcy’s case.

Kenny presided over Williams’ second trial after his first conviction was thrown out when testimony surfaced that 42 spent shell casings at the scene of the crime came not from one gun, allegedly belonging to Williams, but from two guns. Williams was convicted a second time in front of an all-white jury using the same evidence.

Regarding that trial, Williams’ mother Valerie Watts told VOD during a protest in 2011, “The prosecutor brought in the same gun they used in the first place, except this time they showed it to the jury and said it was the wrong weapon. But all the jury saw was the gun. There were no eyewitnesses. How can you convict someone on a statement a police officer wrote down, and didn’t even read to him? The police said they found a scoop of shell casings all in the same spot. My son’s gun was never fired and its clip couldn’t hold that number of bullets anyway.”

Kenny also falsely stated that numerous .45 caliber bullets were found around Segars’ car, when in fact Attorney Dezsi presented a police report (above) saying that numerous .40 caliber bullets were found around Segars Corvette, but several .45 caliber bullet casings were found ACROSS THE STREET in a store parking lot.

That was consistent with Smothers’ testimony that he approached Segars’ car from behind, repeatedly firing his .40 caliber gun, and then shot Segars in the head at the driver’s side window. It was also consistent with the testimony of witnesses who said they saw Detroit police firing at the driver of a burgundy Marauder after the police crashed into his car in the parking lot, where the .45 caliber casings were found.

In a fight for his life: Thelonious Searcy consults with Atty. Michael Dezsi

“The bullets don’t lie,” defense attorney Michael Deszi said during the hearing. “When the [trial] jury wanted to know what kind of bullet was in this guy, jurors were lied to and told ‘we couldn’t tell.’ Now we know they COULD tell. It was a .40 caliber bullet, and there were .40 caliber casings all around the car the victim was in.”

Judge Kenny claimed that the detailed account Smothers gave from the stand had nothing new in it and could easily have been obtained from Searcy himself, since the two were incarcerated together for a brief period in the Macomb Correctional Facility.

However, in an affidavit, Searcy denied having any direct contact with Smothers, and said he informed his unit officer that he had heard Smothers was at MCF. He said Smothers was a Level 4 prisoner, while he was in a separate division at Level 2, and that the two levels are not allowed to mix.  Read Searcy’s affidavit at

The interview of Vincent Smothers above about his killing of Jamal Segars was conducted by private investigator Scott Lewis.

Searcy said he was transferred out of Macomb to Chippewa Correctional Facility shortly after disclosing the information to his unit officer.

MSP’s Christopher Corriveau

Judge Kenny says in his ruling that “In his interview with the Michigan State Police, and with his defense counsel present, Smothers recanted an affidavit admitting the murder of Jamal Segars. Smothers indicated to the State Police that he was incarcerated in the same prison with defendant Searcy and that Searcy had made comments to Smothers that Searcy had friends on the outside who had been watching Smothers’ wife and children.”

He neglects to mention that this information did not come from Smothers’ own testimony, but from the vague, rambling testimony of State Trooper Christopher Corriveau, who had no documents or notes to back up his allegations.

Smothers testified he recanted his first confession after being told that it would hold up the exoneration of Davontae Sanford for murders Smothers confessed to.

Smothers unexpectedly refused to have his attorney, Gabi Silver, represent him at the Searcy evidentiary hearing. She had advised him to plead the Fifth Amendment. Her similar advice in the case of Davontae Sanford prevented Smothers from taking the stand himself there, to admit to the four 2007 Runyon St. murders with which 14-year-old Sanford was charged. That further delayed Sanford’s release. Silver claimed during hearings on the murder of Rose Cobb that Smothers was “coerced” into confessing.

“I am sorely disappointed by the trial court’s decision to keep Mr. Searcy behind bars,” Dezsi said, in response to Judge Kenny’s ruling. “ It is my client’s intent to appeal the court’s decision and point out all of the evidence that proves Searcy’s innocence.  We are hopeful that the Michigan Court of Appeals or Supreme Court will see this matter differently on appeal and grant Mr. Searcy the relief to which we believe he is entitled.”

Searcy told VOD by JPay email, “As a sworn officer of the court [Judge Kenny] has openly violated his oath of preserving the integrity of the court, by misleading the public and the court with a perjured opinion. Inside of my Homicide investigative file you will find a hand written report of the crime scene which outlines exactly where the shell casings were located. Kenny openly lied stating .45 calliber shell casings were found around the victim’s Corvette. He further avoided the question that the jury asked about the weapon used to kill the deceased. He told the jurors that they didn’t know. He committed perjury along with the prosecutor and my former attorney.

“This invalid jury instruction led to me getting found guilty. Wayne County is the most lawless county in the United States:  look at all of these wrongful convictions. Federal Authorities need to investigate all cases from Detroit. The lawyers are crooked, the prosecutors and the judges are crooked. My mother and grandmother raised me to fight against anything that oppresses me unlawfully. This Judge will soon bear witness that God is the greatest… Nothing that’s evil will possess everlasting power.”

During each hearing, the courtroom was packed with Searcy’s supporters.

They’ve included some of my high school and middle school teachers, preachers from the neighborhood, my landlord and her husband, along with my family and friends from my community,” Searcy told VOD. “During this last hearing, there wasn’t enough room for everyone, so many people had to wait out in the hall.”

Related documents:

Judge Timothy Kenny’s ruling Dec. 3, 2018

Searcy’s pro se motion for new trial, filed July 22, 2016:

Part one of Searcy brief with Motion:

Part two of  Searcy brief with Motion:

Related stories:


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George Rider has been in the Macomb County Jail for 22 months due to judicial postponements of hearings on his constitutional challenges to his arrest, seizure of car, other property, issuance of improper warrants, and bindover.

Ricardo Ferrell, VOD staff writer

By Ricardo Ferrell

November 26, 2018

In the case of George G. Rider, I reported in an exclusive article in Voice of Detroit on November 7, 2018, titled, ‘George Rider Case Shows Corruption Runs Deep Within Macomb County, MI Courts, Police’ how both the Warren and Roseville Police Departments violated Rider’s rights in an unlawful stop outside a Roseville car wash.

And, how judges at both the District and Macomb County Circuit Courts have all trampled over George Rider and his Constitutional Rights to a fair legal process: the lack of probable cause, an unlawful search and seizure, and violations of his due process rights.  He is the subject of a seemingly purposely orchestrated corrupt plot to overlook two major conflicts of interest by judges at both the district and circuit court levels.

Judge Michael Chupa, Judges Suzanna Faunce, and her sister Judge Jennifer Faunce all knew or should have known that such practices in their courtrooms amounted to either a miscarriage of justice, or a manifest injustice by partaking in a matter before their court, that if nothing else, had quite the appearance of an unfair practice and the lack of administering the law.  No one is above the law, especially jurists, who have taken an oath to uphold the law, even when they may feel it’s unpopular to their bench or constituents.

MCCC Judge Jennifer Faunce (l) was finally removed from Rider’s case due to conflicts of interest including the involvement of her sister 37th DC Judge Suzanne Faunce (r) in Rider’s bindover.

All Magistrates, Judges, and Referees in a Court of Law must adhere to Michigan Criminal Law and Procedure and make sure both sides (prosecution and defense) are fairly representing their cases, and that means to intervene as a fair and impartial referee to make sure justice is being served on both sides.

After nearly two years, Macomb County Chief Judge Joseph Biernat was forced to recuse Judge Jennifer Faunce from the Rider case. She has been replaced with Judge Joseph Toia, appointed to the bench by Governor Rick Snyder.

This past Wednesday, November 21st, before Judge Toia, defense attorney Suzanna Kostovski  relentlessly argued the lack of probable cause by police to stop and detain her client George Rider and place him in handcuffs, which basically placed him under arrest, while they performed a search and seizure of his SUV and cellphones. Initially, they indicated it was a traffic stop, but there is no record of a traffic citation issued to Mr. Rider.

Judge Joseph Toia

Judge Toia has delayed issuing his opinion on the evidentiary hearing until Dec. 19 at 8:30 a.m., which is when a pre-trial conference will also be held.

Also, in reference to the Rider prosecution, the office of Eric Smith, Macomb County’s Chief Prosecutor, seems to have on a velvet glove and a welder’s glove on either hand. On one side of the glove, he vigorously seeks to obtain a conviction by roughing off the legal process by any means necessary, even if it means allowing his office to violate the Constitutional Rights of an accused person. Then on the other side of the glove, he smoothly rubs away any evidence of corruption at his  own office.

There is currently a state investigation into whether Eric Smith is involved in an embezzlement of money using secret  accounts.


Neither Prosecutor Eric Smith nor his underlings are above upholding the letter of each law under both the Michigan and U.S. Constitutions. Prosecutors are supposed to see that justice is done and prevails in every single case out of their office, and not knowingly participate in a matter which violates a defendant’s rights. And, certainly they are to assure that an innocent person isn’t to face prosecution, or stand trial for a crime of which they are not guilty.

Prosecuting attorneys have a duty to effectively prosecute cases vigorously but they must also equally make certain that doing so isn’t simply out of the prestige of their office, or to merely seek a conviction out of convenience. The question now becomes how long will it take for a fair minded jurist to see the many injustices in the Rider case, before they finally rule that enough is enough?  

The countless delays and postponements, the ridiculous circus of allowing violation after violation of Rider’s rights to take place without any realistic accountability on the part of judges, prosecutors and police officers involved, have resulted in Rider’s lengthy and illegal confinement.

All these officials have in some form or fashion contributed to Mr. Rider’s being held in the Macomb County Jail for nearly two years without being afforded the justice and due process he’s entitled to under the United States Constitution. A check with the Michigan Judicial Tenure Commission should reveal that there’s a complaint filed by George Rider, asking for an investigation of the judges who partook in a conflict of interest in his case: Judge Michael Chupa; Judge Suzanna Faunce and Judge Jennifer Faunce were named in the complaint which is now pending.



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Pueblo Sin Fronteras advocates for migrants

U.S. attacks men, women, children, babies with tear gas

Mexico says it never agreed to keep migrants in Mexico to process claims

November 25, 2018

Migrant families mount U.S. blockade wall. Reuters photo

TIJUANA, Mexico (AP) — Several hundred Central American migrants on Sunday pushed past a blockade of Mexican police standing guard near the international border crossing between Tijuana and California to pressure the U.S to hear their asylum claims.

The migrants carried hand-painted American and Honduran flags and chanted: “We are not criminals! We are international workers!”

More than 5,000 migrants have been camped in and around a sports complex in Tijuana after making their way through Mexico in recent weeks via caravan. Many hope to apply for asylum in the U.S., but agents at the San Ysidro entry point are processing fewer than 100 asylum petitions a day.

Some of the migrants who went forward Sunday called on each other to remain peaceful.

They appeared to easily pass through the Mexican police blockade without using violence.

A second line of Mexican police carrying plastic riot shields stood guard outside a Mexican customs and immigration plaza, where the migrants were headed.

Migrant child cries under attack. Reuters photo

That line of police installed tall steel panels behind them outside the Chaparral crossing on the Mexican side of the border, which completely blocked incoming traffic lanes to Mexico.

Irineo Mujica, who has accompanied the migrants for weeks as part of the aid group Pueblo Sin Fronteras, said the aim of Sunday’s march toward the U.S. border was to make the migrants’ plight more visible to the governments of Mexico and the U.S.

“We can’t have all these people here,” Mujica told The Associated Press.

Tijuana Mayor Juan Manuel Gastlum on Friday declared a humanitarian crisis in his border city of 1.6 million, which he says is struggling to accommodate the crush of migrants.


TIJUANA, Mexico (AP) — Migrants approaching the U.S. border from Mexico were enveloped with tear gas Sunday after a few tried to breach the fence separating the two countries.

U.S. military attacks migrants with tear gas. Reuters photo

U.S. agents shot the gas, according to an Associated Press reporter on the scene. Children were screaming and coughing in the mayhem.

Honduran migrant Ana Zuniga, 23, said she saw migrants open a small hole in concertina wire at a gap on the Mexican side of a levee, at which point U.S. agents fired tear gas at them.
“We ran, but when you run the gas asphyxiates you more,” she told the AP while cradling her 3-year-old daughter Valery in her arms. Mexico’s Milenio TV also showed images of several migrants at the border trying to jump over the fence. Yards away on the U.S. side, shoppers streamed in and out of an outlet mall.

Migrants running from tear gas. Reuters

U.S. Border Patrol helicopters flew overhead, while U.S. agents held vigil on foot beyond the wire fence in California. The Border Patrol office in San Diego said via Twitter that pedestrian crossings have been suspended at the San Ysidro port of entry at both the East and West facilities. All northbound and southbound traffic was halted.

Tijuana Mayor Juan Manuel Gastelum on Friday declared a humanitarian crisis in his border city of 1.6 million, which he says is struggling to accommodate the crush of migrants.
U.S. President Donald Trump took to Twitter Sunday to express his displeasure with the caravans in Mexico.“Would be very SMART if Mexico would stop the Caravans long before they get to our Southern Border, or if originating countries would not let them form (it is a way they get certain people out of their country and dump in U.S. No longer),” he wrote.

Migrants pray during vigil prior to attempted crossing of border. Reuters

Mexico’s Interior Ministry said Sunday the country has sent 11,000 Central Americans back to their countries of origin since Oct. 19. It said that 1,906 of them were members of the recent caravans.

Mexico is on track to send a total of around 100,000 Central Americans back home by the end of this year.

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Troop deployment to cost  +$72M

US President Donald Trump has authorized troops on the Southwest border with Mexico to use lethal force in order to protect Customs and Border Protection personnel from incoming migrants, according to the Pentagon.

Central American migrants gather in El Chapparal, Tijuana, Mexico near border. AFP photo

Department of Defense spokesperson Lt. Col. Michelle Baldanza confirmed to CNN that earlier reports about the White House memo were correct and the Pentagon was now allowed to carry out operations such as “crowd control, temporary detention and cursory search.”

A leaked copy of the document showed that the troops were free to resort to “a show or use of force (including lethal force, where necessary)” in order to fulfill those tasks.

Some of thousands of migrants waiting for entry to the U.S.

Department of Defense spokesperson Lt. Col. Michelle Baldanza confirmed to CNN that earlier reports about the White House memo were correct and the Pentagon was now allowed to carry out operations such as “crowd control, temporary detention and cursory search.”

A leaked copy of the document showed that the troops were free to resort to “a show or use of force (including lethal force, where necessary)” in order to fulfill those tasks. 

Referring to “credible evidence and intelligence,” the document warns that migrant caravans originating from Central America “may prompt incidents of violence and disorder that could threaten US Customs and Border personnel” as the reason for the decision.

Trump has sent thousands of active duty troops to the border with Mexico in order to repel a massive immigrant caravan that is making its way through Mexico and is weeks away from reaching the US border.

Some argue that active duty troops are barred from detaining and searching people on US soil, something prohibited under the Posse Comitatus Act because such activities are tantamount to law enforcement.

However, the memo, signed by White House Chief of Staff John Kelly, states that the troops “shall not, without further direction from the President, conduct traditional civilian law enforcement activities, such as arrest, search, and seizure.”

US Secretary of Defense James Mattis toned down concerns about violence at the border, claiming that the military would only act in defense of border patrol.

“On detention we do not have arrest authority, detention — I would put it in terms of minutes, in other words if someone’s beating on a border patrolman and if we were in a position to have to do something about it we could stop them from beating on them and take them over and deliver them to a border patrolman who would then arrest them for it,” Mattis told reporters at the Pentagon Wednesday.

“There’s no violation of Posse Comitatus, there’s no violation here at all we’re not going to arrest or anything else,” he added.

The memo is addressed to Mattis, Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker and Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen. 

US Border Patrol officer asks for visas behind barriers set by US at San Ysidro Port of Entry 11 19 18 AFP Photo

PressTV-US federal judge blocks Trump’s anti-asylum order

US federal judge blocks the Trump administration’s asylum ban for migrants who enter the US illegally.

Nielsen warned at a speech along the border earlier this week that more than 9,000 migrants from two different caravans were going to attempt to enter the US.

“The crisis is real, and it is just on the other side of this wall,” she said pointing to protective fences and barbed wires installed to deny the migrants illegal entrance.

Mattis noted that “there has been no call for any lethal force from DHS,” and the military troops would not be carrying firearms but could be equipped with shields and batons.

The Pentagon says the Pentagon border mission will cost taxpayers approximately $72 million. Mattis said the cost was likely to increase as the mission was likely to be extended.

Trump has said he will deploy as many as 15,000 troops.


Toluse Olorunnipa, Bloomberg

Published 11:28 a.m. ET Nov. 22, 2018 | Updated 1:08 p.m. ET Nov. 22, 2018

President Donald Trump said Thursday that he’s signed an order to close the U.S. border with Mexico, adding that he’s authorized troops to use lethal force against migrants who attempt to enter the U.S.

“If they have to,” Trump told reporters at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach, Florida, claiming without evidence that at least 500 criminals are among migrants trying to enter the U.S. “So I’m not going to let the military be taken advantage of. I have no choice. Do I want that to happen? Absolutely not. But you’re dealing with rough people.”

He also said that he would welcome a partial shutdown of the government o Trump said he had signed the order two days ago and that “I’ve already shutdown parts of the border.” He warned that the entire border may be closed if conflict with migrants escalates.

Trump’s luxurious family estate at Mar-a-Lago contrasts sharply with homes and current living conditions of migrants.

“If we find that its uncontrollable,” he said, “if we find that it gets to a level where we are going to lose control or people are going to start getting hurt, we will close entry into the country for a period of time until we can get it under control.”

“The whole border,” he continued. “I mean the whole border. And Mexico will not be able to sell their cars into the United States where they make so many cars at great benefit to them, not at great benefit to us.”

The White House hasn’t released the order and Trump wasn’t clear about his directive. The White House didn’t immediately respond to questions about Trump’s comments.

Before the midterm elections in which Republicans lost control of the House, Trump ordered the military to reinforce the southern border, repeatedly warning voters about a so-called “caravan” of migrants making its way from Central America to the U.S. His critics called the deployment a political stunt.

Trump with “Great Wall of Mexico.”

Next week, Congress returns for its post-election “lame duck” session in which a top priority will be to authorize full fiscal 2019 spending plans for several agencies, including the Department of Homeland Security, the Internal Revenue Service and the National Park Service. Temporary funding for the agencies expires Dec. 7. Congress already approved full-year spending for most of the U.S. government, meaning any shutdown would be limited.

Trump has repeatedly threatened to veto spending bills if Congress continues to refuse to fund the wall, and with Democrats poised to take over the House in January, the president could force the issue in the lame-duck session.




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Millender berates Mingo, long-time respected Brush Park activist, for not ‘hiring attorney sooner’

Refuses to recognize COA had proper jurisdiction on case

Favors $8.7 BILLION Madison Capital Funding

“I know you’ll need some money to help you move”

By Diane Bukowski 

November 20, 2018


DETROIT – In an arrogant display either of lack of legal expertise or of malfeasance, 36th District Court Judge B. Pennie Millender today declared SHE has jurisdiction over the eviction case against long-time Brush Park activist Gwen Mingo, not the Michigan Court of Appeals, which has the case OPEN at their level.

“Why did you wait so long to get an attorney?” Millender railed at Mingo. “This case has been in litigation for eight months. Until the Court of Appeals decides something, I have jurisdiction. The Circuit Court has already said my ruling is proper.”

Snapshot from Michigan Courts website; first case listed is the one Millender heard Nov. 20; it is listed as OPEN at the Court of Appeals as of Nov. 13, 2018Earlier cases were those led by Mingo on behalf of nearly 800 Black families and businesses evicted from Brush Park using the courts, arson, threats, even murder.  NOV. 22 UPDATE: THIS WEBSITE NOW LISTS THE CASE AS ‘CASE CONCLUDED, FILE OPEN.’ ORIGINAL DATE ON THIS AS OF 10:30 AM Nov. 22 was 11/20/2018. That date has since been changed to 11/13/18, when the case was originally listed as “open”” It includes an undated order from Appeals Court Chief Judge Christopher Murray which says “an appeal from an order of the circuit court on appeal from another court must come by application for leave to appeal under MCR 7.205. MCR 7.203(B)(2).” The corporation-controlled courts have been busy even on Thanksgiving Day. 

With the Thanksgiving holidays around the corner, Millender granted a motion by Madison Capital Funding, LLC, to evict Mingo from her historic home at 269 Watson after Nov. 26. She ignored documents Mingo presented to her in court April 14 showing that the mortgage on her home was paid off in 2006, invalidating a fraudulent Sheriff’s deed.JPMorgan Chase has since taken over Madison Capital Funding. Mingo was not allowed to present conversations she recorded between herself and Chase officials who said that no money is due on her mortgage. It is unclear how or whether Madison ever bought Mingo’s home at auction.

Mingo’s supporters at court included (l to r) Debra Taylor, Elena Herrada, Quintin Mingo, Jr., and Emily Gail, formerly head of Gail’s Office Supplies in downtown Detroit.

She denied motions filed by Mingo’s attorney Darwyn Fair  Nov. 19 to dismiss the case for lack of jurisdiction, to adjourn and reschedule the Nov. 20 hearing, or in the alternative adjourn the matter until the Michigan Court of Appeals has heard the case.

She split a $2500 escrow fund Mingo had accumulated in her case between Madison Capital and Mingo, saying ‘generously,’ “I know you’ll need some money to help you move.”

Millender unexpectedly reversed her original April 14 ruling on the case, which acknowledged Mingo’s proofs of ownership, and ignored Mingo’s paid request for a jury trial. Millender ordered her eviction first on May 5. Mingo then appealed in Wayne County Circuit Court, but Judge Patricia Fresard denied her appeal after also denying Mingo a jury trial. Since eviction orders expire after 56 days, Madison Capital Group refiled their motion.

According to their website, “Madison Capital Funding LLC manages $8.7 billion in assets as of 31 December 2017. Based in Chicago, Illinois, Madison Capital Funding is a wholly-owned subsidiary of New York Life Insurance Company.”

New York Life Insurance Company is  the largest mutual life insurance company in the United States and is ranked #69 on the 2018 Fortune 500 list of the largest United States corporations by total revenue.

Madison Capital’s headquarters in the Chicago Mercantile Exchange.

Mingo told the judge that the attorney for Madison Capital, Eric Wein, called her prior to this hearing and illegally told her she had to move within two days.

“He had no authority under the law to say that,” Mingo said. “It cost me thousands of dollars. I had to hire people and pay for two 26-foot U-Hauls to move my valuables out of the house.”

Wein is not listed as an employee of Madison Capital or of any law firm. He evidently “has gun, will travel.”

Emre Uralli, President of Luke Investments, a front for wealthy businessmen including Dan Gilbert seeking to snatch up properties, also threatened Mingo repeatedly in a recorded phone call posted in the article below this.  He called her “the devil,” and said she should be in a mental hospital. Uralli claimed HE is the owner of Mingo’s home but his name appears nowhere on the Wayne County Register of Deeds.

Uralli is listed as the highest bidder for 2013 on a Wayne County website, having mistakenly bid $550,000 on a property, which turned out to be a vacant four-acre lot near John R and Piquette.  Uralli is also party with convicted insurance felon Charles Aliahmed and others in an attempt to seize Bert’s Marketplace. Owner Bert Dearing has forestalled that takeover with a federal lawsuit.

Mingo is in discussions with her retained attorney Darwyn Fair of Detroit regarding motions to stay the eviction. They could include an emergency appeal for a stay to the court of proper jurisdiction, the Michigan Court of Appeals.

Meanwhile, Mingo is hoping for emergency donations to her GoFundMe page, set up by a supporter, at

Gwen Mingo was a featured speaker at the May 1, 2014 May Day march to stop the racist corporate takeover of Detroit and the subsequent bankruptcy filing. The attempted takeover of her home as well as the obliteration of Black-owned Brush Park and Cass Corridor homes and businesses are part of an all-out war on the nation’s largest majority-Black city.

Mingo’s hearing was notably marked by significant hostility on the part of court staff to any media coverage. This author, after having been admitted into the court building at the press entrance, was trailed upstairs later by Officer Harris, who took her out of the courtroom twice, disrupting proceedings. The second time, he ordered her to go to the administration office on the 5th floor to get permission to be in the court.

At that office, an Inspector Fowkles ordered her to wait outside until someone inside the office could help her. This reporter threatened a lawsuit citing violations of the First Amendment. She explained the only reason the media has to get permission ahead of time to enter a PUBLIC courtroom is if they plan to photograph, videotape, or otherwise record proceedings. Finally, an assistant to Chief Judge Nancy Blount came to the door and after being shown this reporter’s only tools of the trade, a notebook and pen, ordered the guards to let her in the courtroom. She was trailed down there by a total of four guards.

Another media personality, Elena Herrada of 910 AM, was told she could not bring a pen in the courtroom. Likely illegal rules posted on the 36th DC website forbid the possession of any writing instruments by anyone in the courtroom audience.

Related stories:



(The story above relates to the arrest and subsequent 21 month incarceration in the Macomb County Jail of George Rider, a Detroit businessman accused of murder in Warren, who once owned the Fine Arts Theater in Brush Park. Earlier owners Joe Foster, Jr., who owned large parcels of property in Brush Park and the Cass Corridor, and Bernice Johnson were found shot to death under mysterious circumstances as white developers and gentrifiers sought to steal their properties.)


Please note: this is a separate donation page from Gwen Mingo’s. If you want to donate directly to Gwen Mingo, hit the link at the top of the story.

Voice of Detroit is published pro bono. You don’t have to pay to access our stories. But there are substantial out of pocket costs associated with its publication. Currently we are in desperate straits because the editor has been forced to move due to the sale of her apt. building to greedy developers, so any donation amount is much appreciated.

 Donate by clicking 

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Heroic leader of battle to save Brush Park from wealthy white developers now faced with possible eviction from her own home at 269 Watson

Original mortgagor was Washington Mutual; Madison Capital, LLC, the plaintiff, now Chase subsidiary, claims Mingo delinquent

Developers including Emre Uralli, part of cartel which is trying to seize Bert’s Market Place fraudently, are harassing Mingo as well

Mingo’s credit insurance paid off mortgage in 2006

Pack 36th District Court hearing in front of Judge Pennie Millender Tues. Nov. 20 at 8:30 AM

Fundraiser Mon. Nov. 19 6pm at the Arc on Hancock and Woodward

By Diane Bukowski

 November 18, 2018

Gwen Mingo (4th from r) and some of those who attended Seot. 14 court hearing in front of Judge Patricia Fresard. Also attending were Father Norman Thomas of Sacred Heart Church, Chuck Lilly, Roni, Clinton Mingo and Mazin Mingo. Fresard denied her appeal of 36th DC Judge Pennie Millender’s order to seize her home, but Mingo appealed; case still open in the state Court of Appeals.

By Diane Bukowski

 November 18, 2018

Gwen Mingo and niece Courtney Seely after April 14 hearing in front of Judge Millender.

DETROIT – Gwendolyn Mingo, the fearless warrior who for years led a coalition of Black home and business owners in Brush Park against a massive takeover by banks and white developers, is asking supporters to pack her court hearing Tues. Nov. 20, 8:30 am in front of 36th District Court Judge Pennie Millender.

She is fighting Madison Capital, LLC’s attempt to evict her from the historic Brush Park home at 269 Watson which she has owned since 1996. They are using a fraudulent sheriff’s deed claiming she is behind on her mortgage payments. Madison Capital Funding, LLC is a national finance company with $9.1 billion in assets.

“The mortgage was paid in 2006 when my husband passed,” Mingo said at an April 14, 2018 hearing in front of Millender. “We had what you call credit life insurance which paid the whole mortgage to Washington Mutual. I have documents that have never been seen by any judge or ruled upon. The U.S. Constitution provides that no citizen shall be deprived of life, liberty or property without due process.”

(See filing by Mingo at .)

Judge Millender gets hug from Wayne Co. Sheriff Benny Napoleon, a supporter of Detroit Mayor/ gentrifier Mike Duggan; Napoleon’s office issued Sheriff’s Deed against Mingo’s home.

She is being represented by Attorney Darwyn Fair, who on Nov 19 filed his appearance and these motions: to dismiss the case for lack of jurisdiction;  to adjourn and reschedule the Nov. 20 hearing; or in the alternative adjourn the matter until the Michigan Court of Appeals has heard the case.

It is questionable why Judge Millender is even holding this hearing, since Mingo’s appeal of rulings on the case by Judge Millender and Wayne County Circuit Court Judge Patricia Fresard is still open in the state Court of Appeals according to their records.

This page from the Michigan Courts website shows clearly that Gwen Mingo’s case  (at top) was accepted and is OPEN in the State Court of Appeals. Thus Judge Pennie Millender should have no jurisdiction.

Among the vultures circling overhead is Emre Uralli, one of a gang of developers who are fraudulently trying to seize Bert’s Marketplace in Eastern Market from long-time Detroit businessman Bert Dearing.

Uralli, who mis-identified himself as Emre Heinz,  repeatedly threw racist, sexist insults at Mingo during a recorded phone conversation, in which he falsely claimed HE bought Mingo’s home and that Mingo was living in HIS house rent-free. Uralli may have been a front for Detroit czar Dan Gilbert when he bought the Detroit News and Free Press buildings before flipping them to Gilbert at a huge profit. He has done the same with other buildings in downtown Detroit including the David Stott Building.

“You lying devil woman, you’re going down real quick,” Uralli told her, dropping his usual sophisticated demeanor. “You need to apologize to me right now. You’re a low-life, low-.class individual taking advantage of the system. You’re a very bad person, Sunshine.  You have Alzheimer’s, dementia, possibly—you need to be hospitalized.”

Uralli claimed to BE the Madison Capital Group, LLC, but he is nowhere listed on that company’s Michigan filing, or under the name of any other company using the Madison name. He is not listed in the Wayne County Register of Deeds with respect to Mingo’s home. As he did in the attempted takeover of Bert’s Marketplace, as well as his purchases of building he later sold to Dan Gilbert, he appears to be acting as a front man who uses a variety of tactics to seize land and property, including phony threats. 

Millender first ruled in favor of Mingo during an April 14 hearing, reading Mingo’s documentary proofs into the record.

“It does seem there are documents that she paid the mortgage so I don’t think I have any jurisdiction over this matter,” Judge Millender said at the time.  “You guys have to do a quiet title action. I am looking at two documents, one reads ‘the mortgage is paid off, the mortgagee no longer has an interest in your home,’ issued Jan. 29, 2008. There’s something in here from Chase that reads $0 is due on all charges.”

Millender added later, “I’ve had a couple of cases where the Wayne County Treasurer sold properties they didn’t even own.”

Donn Fresard, Wayne Co. Prosecutor Kym Worthy’s chief of staff, with wife Judge Patricia Fresard, and former Wayne Co. Exec. Robert Ficano/Photo 2010

But Millender reversed herself at a supplemental hearing April 5. Mingo vigorously appealed that ruling pro se in front of Wayne County Circuit Court Judge Patricia Fresard, in front of a packed courtroom on Sept. 14. Fresard earlier had seized Mingo’s case from Judge Robert Ziolkowski, who Mingo says was about to rule in her favor. Fresard ruled against Mingo.

But Mingo appealed Fresard’s ruling to the Court of Appeals pro se, and that appeal is still open.

“For years I fought the illegal displacement of the residents of Brush Park,” Mingo said, referring to the time she was head of the Brush Park Citizens District Council, when she led a group of residents in filing suit against the takeover. Previously, Brush Park had been plagued  with fires likely set by developers with interest in the property, and court actions to remove the mostly Black residents.

It is estimated that over 800 mostly Black residents living in both homes and apartment buildings there were driven out during that period. City officials and developers used tactics ranging from de-funding of the Citizens District Councils, mass evictions, arson, asbestos contamination, arrests (Mingo herself faced ongoing harassment by the police), and likely even murders.

The concerted attack on Mingo is clearly connected to Mayor Mike Duggan and Dan Gilbert’s $70 million plan, announced in 2015, to re-develop 8.4 acres of Detroit’s 100-acre Brush Park neighborhood. Mingo’s home stands in the way of the ongoing gentrification and “white-out” of choice Detroit neighborhoods.

Developers said they would rehab four historic mansions and build 337 units of housing for sale and rent, as well as retail and green space.  They announced that home mortgages will be available through Gilbert’s Quicken Loans, currently being sued by the federal government for fraudulent lending practices.

Only 20 percent of the housing would be set aside for “low-income” residents, with a household income of $21,060, 80 percent of the city’s average median income. Detroit families have a 39 percent poverty rate, with children at 59 percent. Only families with 4 or more members could meet even that income rate.

Duggan earlier announced a $50 million redevelopment of the former Brewster Wheeler Recreation Center in Brush Park, with a restaurant, 150 residential units, and retail stores. That project has been awarded to restaurateur Curt Catallo of Clarkston, Michigan, and Keith Crain of Crain Communications, who has dozens of prestigious addresses ranging from Bloomfield Hills, MI to Vero Beach, FL.

The city also plans to redevelop the 18 acres of land where the former Brewster Douglass housing projects stood, for a total of 30 acres of land. The last of the Douglass high rises were demolished in 2014, completing the goals of President Bill Clinton’s “HOPE VI” plan which has razed low-income housing across the U.S.


Full statement by Gwen Mingo on her case at

Related stories:



Brush Park articles 1995 to 2004 Michigan Citizen Ron Seigel

On Emre Uralli:


Please note: this is a separate donation page from the GoFundMe page for Gwen Mingo, which is linked at the top of this story. Hit that link if you want to donate directly to Gwen.

Voice of Detroit is published pro bono. You don’t have to pay to access our stories. But there are substantial out of pocket costs associated with its publication. Currently we are in desperate straits because the editor has been forced to move due to the sale of her apt. building to greedy developers, so any donation amount is much appreciated. Donate by clicking 

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Image courtesy of BAR

Glen Ford, BAR executive editor

November 8, 2018


“The midterms were a test of whether Donald Trump could continue to hold majorities of white Americans in thrall to his non-stop, red-meat racist political theater.”

Tuesday’s midterm elections put Democrats back in control of the U.S. House while strengthening the Republican hold on the Senate. The big picture is that, two years after Donald Trump replaced the GOP’s old arsenal of racial code words and dog whistles with blaring white supremacist bullhorns, majorities of U.S. whites are firmly committed to an openly white nationalist political program under the leadership of a billionaire huckster who speaks their vile language.

Although the GOP remains a minority party — Democrats outpolled them in House races by 7 to 9 percent – white supremacists remain the largest bloc in the U.S. political spectrum. The 2018 midterms were a test, not of insurgent left-leaning Democrats — a disorganized and confused faction that was kept largely in check by the party’s corporate leadership — but of whether Donald Trump could continue to hold majorities of white Americans in thrall to his non-stop, red-meat racist political theater.

The overt white supremacist strategy has succeeded in proving both the intransigence and coherence of racist white majorities.”

He could, and did, confirming the potency of the overt white supremacist strategy, which has succeeded in proving both the intransigence and coherence of racist white majorities, even as most of the ruling class and its media mounted an unprecedented offensive to restore the previous corporate political consensus: austerity and war cloaked in a façade of “diversity.” Trump made “me feel like an American again,” said a white West Virginia hardware store worker quoted by the New York Times. The man felt restored in the belief that he still lives in a white man’s country.

The G7 and what they stand for

Republican gains in the Senate reflect both the solidity of the white supremacist bloc and the structural racism of the U.S. electoral system. The Democratic gain of up to 28 seats in the House is not unusual for presidential incumbent parties at midterm ; Democrats lost 54 seats in 1994, under Clinton, the GOP dropped 39 seats in 2006, under Bush, and Obama’s party lost a whopping 63 seats and both houses of Congress in 2010. The latest election has given the corporate Democrats leadership of one house of the national legislature, but did not break white supremacy’s hold on majorities of white voters. The White Man’s Party, as redefined and reinvigorated by Donald Trump, is still the nation’s most formidable bloc, by far.

“The corporate media bestowed a total of $5 billion in free media on Donald Trump.”

This was a rematch of the contest that corporate Democrats wished for and thought would allow them to win decisively back in 2016. Democratic leaders sought to set the terms of electoral battle as a conflict between “deplorables,” as Hillary Clinton described white supremacist voters, and the rest of the electorate, the great bulk of whom the corporate Democrats believed could be corralled into Hillary’s Big Tent, where big city and Deep South Black politicians, Rio Grand valley and East L.A. Hispanics, suburban white “moderates,” Silicon Valley and Wall Street oligarchs, scheming CIA operatives and warmongering generals would find common cause against the Orange Menace.

Clinton campaign chief John Podesta urged his troops and their friends in media to do everything possible to boost Donald Trump’s bid for the Republican nomination, in the certainty that Clinton would beat him in a landslide — as incontrovertibly documented in the emails that were pilfered and delivered (not hacked) to Wikileaks (not the Russians) and sent to the media.

By March of 2016, corporate media – most glaringly CNN, but including the whole herd — had already given Trump’s GOP takeover gambit $2 billion in free media, amounting to more exposure than all the other candidates from both corporate parties, combined, including Clinton. By end the of the general election campaign, corporate media had bestowed a total of $5 billion in free media on Donald Trump — their criminally cynical contribution to the solidification and consolidation of the white supremacist bloc in the United States.

Trump is not their Frankenstein, but the Democrats and their media supplied most of the electricity that energized the monster. White supremacy is endemic to the U.S., part of its founding settler DNA, but the corporate media and Democratic Party’s strategy to help install Trump as a “straw man” presidential candidate who could be swept aside in the general election wound up giving white supremacists a champion around which to unite.

“The white supremacist bloc flexes its muscles and fingers its triggers.”

When the strategy failed, they blamed it on the Russians and launched a neo-McCarthyite campaign of slander against domestic dissidents — like Black Agenda Report — blaming the “far left and far right” for “sowing discord” on behalf of a foreign power. It was their own failed electoral strategy that had destabilized the corporate duopoly, simultaneously threatening the “corporate consensus” on foreign and domestic policy and giving new life to the Old Confederacy.

Nancy Pelosi

This is the big picture — much of the rest of the midterm results is clutter. The white supremacist bloc flexes its muscles and fingers its triggers. The racist horde — a majority of whites – feels a renewed entitlement to primacy in the national life.

Corporate Democrats, whose bungled schemes led us to this juncture, forge ahead with the same strategy as in 2016. Nancy Pelosi, who ordered the Congressional Black Caucus to downplay the crimes of Katrina the last time she was Speaker of the House, served up pablum and called it a victory speech:

“We will strive for bipartisanship, with fairness on all sides. We have a responsibility to find our common ground where we can, stand our ground where we can’t, but we must try. We’ll have a bipartisan marketplace of ideas that makes our democracy strong. A Democratic congress will work for solutions that bring us together, because we have all had enough of division. The American people want peace. They want results. They want us to work for positive results for their lives.”

“Only Big, Alternative Projects — transformational programs, like single payer health care, that actually shift power and resources from the ruling oligarchy to the masses” 

What crap. By “peace,” she means less rancor between the two corporate parties. The actual corporate agenda is austerity and war, the only future the oligarchy envisions for the planet. Trump shares this imperial vision — when he is thinking about subjects other than himself — but is glad to ride and stoke the white revanchism that is now part of his brand.

Only Big, Alternative Projects — transformational programs, like single payer health care, that actually shift power and resources from the ruling oligarchy to the masses — can erode the coherence of the White Supremacist Bloc, forcing significant numbers of them to abandon the prioritization of race, and at the same time galvanize the numeric majority of the nation: minorities of whites and majorities of everybody else.

Nancy Pelosi’s job is to make sure that does not happen in her wing of the duopoly, despite the fact that 85 percent of Democrats — and 52 percent of Republicans — favor Medicare for All, with only 20 percent of Americans opposed. In other words, there is an overwhelming popular consensus in favor of single payer health care that is diametrically opposed to the corporate consensus. Corporate parties, in a duopoly system, cannot resolve that contradiction in favor of the people.

That’s why the struggle must be mainly in the streets, and to build non-corporate parties, including independent Black formations — which requires a split in the Democrats, the section of the duopoly that is not explicitly the White Man’s Party, but instead slavishly serves the oligarchy.

BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at

Gretchen Whitmer and allies celebrate her win as Michigan governor.

What is the future for Detroit and Michigan under Democratic Gov. Elect Gretchen Whitmer and team?

 Transition team includes former Mayor Dennis Archer, former U.S. Attorney Barbara Mcquade, BC/BS CEO D. Loepp, banker Gary Torgow

 Moody’s ratings agency says Detroit’s borrowing future is bleak without attention to its devastated neighborhoods: “However, this momentum only encompasses seven of Detroit’s 143 square miles and 6% of the city’s population.”

 The majority of Detroit Public Schools were closed under Gov. Jennifer Granholm, who also signed PA 10, the first EM law for school districts

Unlike several of her Democratic opponents, Whitmer did NOT support Medicare for all, wants “re-insurance” plan to give tax $$ to insurance cos.

 By Diane Bukowski

 November 14, 2018

DETROIT – The article by Glen Ford of the Black Agenda Report above is highly applicable to the future of both Detroit and the State of Michigan under its newly-elected Democratic governor Gretchen Whitmer and her appointees.

Detroiters and others are understandably enthusiastic about the end of Republican Governor Rick Snyder’s regime.

Under it, Snyder and his emergency managers poisoned the water and people of the entire city of Flint without going to prison, engineered the largest (and unnecessary) municipal bankruptcy in the history of the U.S. in Detroit, stealing the city’s public assets and leaving it 300 percent more in debt, and likewise decimated every other majority-Black city in Michigan.

Emergency managers also laid waste to public school systems across the state. Among them is the previously venerable Detroit Public Schools district, which was split into two entities, one left to pay off the massive debt thrust on DPS by the banks, and the other which operates what is left of the district, less than half of the schools that existed before 1999, without any access to financing. Most Detroit children now attend unregulated for-profit charter schools paid for out of state school funds.

Throughout this period, the Detroit Active and Retired Employees Association (DAREA), Moratorium NOW! and other groups demanded that the banks cancel the debt owed by the city and schools, as well as that of homeowners threatened with foreclosure, and campaigned vigorously against the Detroit bankruptcy filing. They  also led an ultimately unsuccessful campaign to put the sale of Detroit’s Water and Sewerage Department on Detroit’s ballot, pursuant to a state law allowing municipalities to do so.

City retirees, residents demand cancellation of Detroit’s debt outside bankruptcy court.

During the weeks leading up to the election, I worked in a Get Out the Vote door-to-door campaign to earn funds to move from the landmark Jeffersonian Apartments, which has been sold to greedy developers Joe Barbat and Arie Liebowicz.  Residents, many of them seniors who have lived here for more than 30 years, have been forced to move due to huge rent increases, the institution of  costly individual tenant bills for water, sewerage and heat,  under American Utilities Management, and large increases in parking and other fees.

This house shows what is happening under “Mayor” Mike Duggan.

What I saw as we canvassed neighborhoods on the east side of Detroit, however, stunned me and made me realize that I am fortunate in comparison to tens of thousands of other Detroiters.

Fifty-nine percent of this city’s children live in poverty. Homeless people, mostly Black, haunt the streets of Mike Duggan and Dan Gilbert’s “come-back” downtown, “Mid-Town” (formerly the Cass Corridor), the North End, and now my neighborhood.

The youth of the city are demonized and set upon constantly by the police. Current prisoners in the Michigan Department of Corrections report that a whole new generation is flooding into those concentration camps, where at least 70 percent of the occupants are Black.

I knew already that Detroit neighborhoods have been under assault for years by foreclosures carried out by the thieving banks, which caused the 2008 global economic meltdown through predatory lending, and tax foreclosures carried out by merciless city and county officials.

Houses with caved in roofs like this were lined up all the way down various blocks.

But I was not prepared for the sight of blocks upon blocks of homes with their rooves caved down to street level, the sight of a long stretch of Brush Street reduced to just that—brush, with only a few homes left standing, and the massive devastation of the portion of Hamtramck west of Davison, to cite only some examples. Even residents who have managed to maintain livable homes in relatively decent areas are forced to co-exist with boarded-up and burnt-up foreclosed homes.

Most residents did not open their doors when we knocked to find out if they planned to vote, understandably afraid of who might be outside.  So we just left literature and called out their poll locations to them.

But one young woman did answer. She said homeowners in a wide swath of land near her have already been forced out by developers. They include New Far East Development, which owns 530 vacant properties, and the massive I-94 Industrial Park development, where former structure have been razed to the ground. Despite getting millions in government funds for these projects, the developers have done nothing to enact their alleged plans to restore and revitalize the neighborhoods.

Part of the I-94 Industrial Corridor, razed to the ground.

“But I’m not going,” the young woman said. “I’ve lived in this home since I was five years old (she is now 41) and I intend to stay.”

Other people we ran into included homeless youths “squatting” in abandoned properties. One jobless youth told me he had just come from donating blood to get money.

A neighborhood resident told us, referring to my used black Ford Crown Victoria, “You’re driving the wrong car to get people out to vote.” Both me and my partner (who lives in Southgate) laughed and then had an animated discussion with him about offenses committed by the “po-po.”

When I reported my observations to organizers of the GOTV campaign back at the office, I also noted that people need to be wary of now-Gov. Elect Gretchen Whitmer. I recalled that the majority of schools shut down in Detroit were shut down during Democratic Governor Jennifer Granholm’s two terms.

The two main organizers agreed wholeheartedly. One noted the lack of any real discussion during state campaigns of children, poverty, Medicare for all, rebuilding schools, and other issues vital to the people.  The other recalled that Granholm was responsible for approving  the first Emergency Manager act covering school districts.

Map of Detroit shows all foreclosures since 2002, which have devastated neighborhoods. Note lack of foreclosures in tiny downtown-‘midtown’  area. By Loveland Technologies.

In fact, in the wake of Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan’s request to borrow $255 million in tax-exempt capital improvement bonds for the recreation and public safety departments, Moody’s Investor Service, normally a cheerleader for more debt, sounded an alarm Nov. 8.

“Detroit’s (Ba3 stable) downtown is transforming amid a hub of large-scale developments, population growth, and surging employment,” Moody’s Investors Service says in a new report, according to their research division. “However, this momentum only encompasses seven of Detroit’s 143 square miles and 6% of the city’s population. Strengthening the city’s property tax base beyond the city center would better position it to afford its already high debt and pension burdens.”

Moody’s added, “Since 2010, Detroit’s population has increased 28% or about 10,000 in the city center, but the overall city populace has lost 35,000 citizens. The divergence in population and demographic trends impact revenue mix and Detroit’s ability to afford its fixed costs including pension expenditures. Per-capita income is just above 52% of the nation.

Long-closed Frederick Douglass High School on east side typifies Detroit’s dozens of closed schools.

Moody’s also cited problems with Detroit schools.

“The Detroit Public School Community District (DPSCD) could also become a major drag on revitalization beyond downtown. Two years following a state rescue package, the district does not have the ability to address its significant capital needs.”

To add more cause for alarm, Bridge Magazine reported Oct. 24,   “Seven years after a disastrous series of public meetings about then-Mayor Dave Bing’s plan to downsize Detroit, city officials are amid a $57 million, five-year analysis of the water and sewer system.

“The study is intended to help prioritize repairs, but water officials acknowledge the findings may help determine whether the city should offer to pay to move residents out of abandoned neighborhoods and shut water lines.

“Areas that are so sparsely populated, perhaps the neighborhood should be shut down and just move people out? We think so,” said Gary Brown, director of the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department (DWSD).”

“Mayor” Duggan’s hand covers Detroit, where small pipelines are the only remaining property of the DWSD, which formerly covered six counties and 40 percent of the state’s population. 2014 Photo from bankruptcy proceedings press conference.

DTE and other utilities have also discussed plans to shut down the provision of services to sparsely-populated areas where the most of the city’s Black homeowners and renters have been forced out by the banks and politicians.

DWSD is a shadow of its former self. Once the city’s “crown jewel,” it owns only the smaller pipelines inside the City of Detroit, where once it provided water for 40 percent of the state’s population and owned wastewater and freshwater treatment plants throughout six counties. It was the third largest water and sewerage department in the U.S. Its downriver Detroit Wastewater Treatment Plant was the largest in the world.

During the bankruptcy debacle, Mayor Mike Duggan and area county executives agreed to the establishment of the regional “Great Lakes Water Authority” in 2014, after 41 percent of DWSD’s staff had been eliminated.  Since then, constant “boil-water” alerts, massive ruptures of pipelines and failures of sewage treatment plants have resulted in flooded freeways and basements across the six counties, and thousands of water shut-offs have become the norm.

What is on Gov. Elect Gretchen Whitmer’s agenda to deal with these problems? A look at her recently-announced transition team raises red flags immediately.


These were the players who engineered Detroit’s devastating bankruptcy.

“Dennis Archer was worse than having a white Mayor,” noted Bill Davis, President of DAREA and an elected City of Detroit Police Commissioner. “He was making his family richer, but making sure no other Black people got anything, for example, Don Barden and Michael Jackson’s casino request. I think it’s a bad sign that Dennis Archer’s associated with it.”

VOD reported earlier that Dennis Archer, a fervent advocate of Detroit’s bankruptcy filing under emergency manager Kevyn Orr, teamed up with megamogul Dan Gilbert of Quicken Loans and Matt Cullen of Gilbert-affiliated Rock Ventures in a meeting with former Pres. Barack Obama’s staff in 2013 to discuss the post-bankruptcy future of Detroit, before U.S. District Judge Stephen Rhodes had even approved the filing.

“Archer is [a] close ally of Gilbert, who owns the Cleveland Cavaliers (and is famous for his racist rant about star LeBron James leaving to go to the Miami Heat), Quicken Loans, and the Greektown Casino,” VOD said then. “Archer has been working with Gilbert and Cullen to get casino gambling in Ohio [despite Gilbert’s documented history of a gambling-related fraud conviction].”

Archer worked as a consultant for UBS AG, one of the two banks which foisted a $1.6 billion “Pension Obligation Certificate” loan on the city in 2oo4. EM Kevyn Orr cited that loan as a key factor in the city’s bankruptcy. He even filed suit to cancel the loan, covering his a–. but never followed through.

Archer was also a gung-ho advocate of privatization of Detroit city services during his sole term in office.


“Barbara McQuade, the way she went after Kilpatrick, she should have been saying and doing more about what Duggan has done including corrupt demolition bids,” said Davis. “Most of that favored white contractors outside the City of Detroit and still does.”

McQuade was responsible for the conviction of former Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick, which resulted in a term of 28 years in prison, a term many call disproportionate and racist. She also prosecuted former Michigan Supreme Court Justice Diane Hathaway on bank fraud charges, brought against Hathaway through two other justices who disagreed with the Court’s 2012 landmark opinion in People v. Moreno. That little-publicized opinion, written by Hathaway, upheld the common-law right to resist illegal police conduct and affects tens of thousands of cases across the state. Previously, an appeals court ruling held that there was no right to resist such illegal conduct.

Barbara McQuade stands at Detroit Police Chief James Craig’s side as he announces formation of multi-agency task force to raid poor neighborhoods.

McQuade was U.S. Attorney during the 2015 execution of 19-year old dad Terrance Kellom by a multi-agency task force including a federal I.C.E. agent. She was in office as the Department of Justice investigated and exonerated local FBI agents and Detroit and Dearborn police in the 2009 assassination of Imam Luqman Abdullah. Many other Detroiters have been killed by police without reaction from the U.S. attorney during her term.

McQuade worked closely with Detroit Police Chief James Craig, appointed by Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr, during other multi-agency raids on poor neighborhoods.

McQuade barred beloved long-time community activist and paralegal Cornell Squires from her office, after he approached her numerous times regarding killings by Detroit police and illegal foreclosures, among other issues.


At a time when polls show that the vast majority of people in the U.S. support single-payer health insurance unassociated with private insurance companies, also known as “Medicare for All,” Whitmer stood out significantly from her Democratic opponents in the primary who endorsed that option, medical doctor Abdul El-Sayed and businessman Shri Thanedar.

Her appointment of Blue Cross Blue Shield’s CEO Daniel Loepp to her transition team stands out like a sore thumb. Obamacare has been subject to attack from the right, but it has been unable to mount a counter-attack due to its association with private insurance companies.

“Medicare for All” means just that. The national government already has a database of all U.S. citizens in that program, now primarily limited only to those who are over the age of 65. This simplest approach to providing national public health care, common in other countries as well as several states in the U.S., is something Whitmer has already eschewed.

But Crain’s Detroit Business reported, “Whitmer is proposing Michigan start a reinsurance program to stabilize the individual private insurance market by adding a layer of coverage for individuals with higher medical claims. Wisconsin and at least four other states have created reinsurance programs where the state provides tax dollars to private insurers to cover the claims of individuals with a higher propensity to use medical services.”

Whitmer’s father, Richard Whitmer, was president and CEO of Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan between 1988 and 2006. And in March, lobbyists for the company held a fundraiser for the Whitmer campaign. “The vibrancy of Michigan’s economic climate is driven by public policy put forward by our state’s Governor; and we believe Gretchen Whitmer will be a great leader for Michigan,” the lobbyists said in the invitation announcing the fundraiser, which was on Whitmer letterhead.


Gary Torgow, bank chairman and Sterling Group CEO.

Chairman of Chemical Financial Corporation, the holding company of the largest bank headquartered in Michigan, Mr. Torgow is also the founder of the Sterling Group. He is a member of the Executive Board of Business Leaders for Michigan and the Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Detroit and is a member of the Board of the Detroit Downtown Partnership. 

The Sterling Group is currently buying up properties in the Cass Corridor (now called “Mid-town”), including the former Burton School. It already owns the Ford Building in downtown Detroit as well as the Guardian Building, which it purchased in a controversial, costly deal with former Wayne County Executive Warren Evans. The Sterling Group has been a major contributor to many political campaigns including that of Dennis Archer.

Others on the team are listed in a press release at



Detroit Public Schools: A Case Study in American Apartheid





Voice of Detroit is published pro bono. You don’t have to pay to access our stories. But there are substantial out of pocket costs associated with its publication. Currently we are in desperate straits because the editor has been forced to move due to the sale of her apt. building to greedy developers, so any donation amount is much appreciated. Donate by clicking 

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 March for Black Women Detroit

SATURDAY, NOV. 17, 2018   12 PM to 4 PM


2 Woodward Ave. at Jefferson

Sister march for March for Black Women in D.C. and NYC, organized by Black Women’s Blueprint. Black women are often left out of feminist and pro-Black spaces. This march is our space to speak. Our purpose is to educate the community on the many issues that Black women face (Trans violence, sexual assault, domestic violence, etc.) and also celebrate them.


Fatou- Seydi Sarr – ABISA, Michigan United

Jey’nce Poindexter- Equality Michigan

Heather Bruegl – Indigenous Activist

 Nicole Denson- WC Safe, Women’s March Michigan

Camille Sanks- Young activist, poet

Nadia Lawson- Poet

Cheryl Blanton Herrmann- Activist

Shelton Martin- Performer

Yana Lynn- BYP1

Camille Sanks- Young activist, poet

Nadia Lawson- Poet

MC- Tamera Middlebrooks (Girls Making Change Alum, Detroit Area Youth Uniting Michigan)


Voice of Detroit is published pro bono. You don’t have to pay to access our stories. But there are substantial out of pocket costs associated with its publication. Currently we are in desperate straits because the editor has been forced to move due to the sale of her apt. building to greedy developers, so any donation amount is much appreciated. Donate by clicking 

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment