Attacks on character, despite evidence of multiple physical injuries prior to her death in autopsy report, which declared it suicide by hanging.

 By Earl Ofari Hutchinson

July 30, 2015

Texas State Trooper Brian Encinia stopped Sandra Bland for not signaling a lane change.

Texas State Trooper Brian Encinia stopped Sandra Bland for not signaling a lane change, became hostile and assaultive after she stood up to him.

It started within moments after Sandra Bland was found hanging in a Waller County jail cell. And it hasn’t let up for one moment since her dubious death. The “it” is the non-stop litany of veiled and not so veiled hints, innuendoes, digs, and crass, snide, accusing comments, remarks, slander and outright lies about Bland’s activities before, during and after her death.

Here’s a brief checklist of the defamatory, self-serving litany of slanders against her. She was uncooperative with Texas Highway Patrolman, Brian Encinia. Her cigarette could have posed a potentially dangerous weapon. She smoked marijuana before and after her arrest. She had serious mental issues that made her suicidal. She had a block sized chip on her shoulder against law enforcement given her involvement with Black Lives Matter and her alleged diatribe against law enforcement on her Facebook page.

She was alive and in good spirits when she entered her jail cell. This comes courtesy of a video that Texas officials released to counter allegations that she was dead before she was booked. The video has been challenged both on the timing of its release and authenticity. Then to bolster their case that there was no foul play in her death, a co-inmate magically appeared to corroborate her supposed suicidal state.

For one brief moment Waller County prosecutors said that they’d investigate her death as a murder. It was just that, brief. It got tossed in the midst of their pile on of allegations about her alleged bad conduct and state of mind and a forensic finding that concluded that she died at her own hands.

Above: Sandra Bland’s family announces federal lawsuit in her death. Her autopsy report DOES show possible violence committed on her prior to her death, including a contusion on her upper right shoulder, multiple scabbed abrasions on right upper back, contusion and multiple small scabbed healing abrasions on right elbow, contusion on left forearm, scabbed healing abrasions on both wrists, all with “underlying red-brown subcutaneous hemorrhage.” It is open to question when these injuries occurred. See autopsy report at Sandra-Bland-Autopsy-Report.compressed.

The predictable assault on Bland has three aims. The first is to stop in its tracks the widespread call for a full bodied Justice Department probe into Bland’s death. This can only be accomplished through the second aim. That is to deconstruct her as a bad behaving, chip-on-her shoulder, unstable black woman, and not the sympathetic victim that supporters and some in the press depict her as.

The other aim is to exonerate in this order: Encinia, Texas Highway Patrol officials, Waller County jail officials, and the Waller County District Attorney’s office. All have been fingered as being complicit in her death either directly or through their gross negligence and desperate effort to avoid a fair and impartial probe into the cause of her death.

At least 5 Black women died in their jail cells nationally in July: Top row: Raynette Turner; Joyce Curnell; Sandra Bland. Bottom row: Ralkina Jones; Kindra Chapman.

At least 5 Black women died in their jail cells nationally in July: Top row: Raynette Turner; Joyce Curnell; Sandra Bland. Bottom row: Ralkina Jones; Kindra Chapman.

If enough mud can be tossed on Bland to cast doubt and suspicion about her character and motives, the hope is that the issue will quietly go away.

None of this should surprise. The assault on Bland follows the same script used in the dubious and controversial killings of Trayvon Martin, Eric Garner, Michael Brown, and countless other young African-Americans who have died or been killed under questionable circumstance after encounters with police.

The pantheon of stereotypes and negative typecasting the script relies on has been time tested. It’s the shortest of short steps to think that if an innocent such as Bland fits the car`icature of the terrifying image that much of the public still harbors about young black males and increasingly females as witnessed by the edge up in assaults on them and a rash of their mysterious deaths in jail cells, then that image seems real, even more terrifying, and the consequences are just as deadly.

Eric Garner and wife cropped

Eric Garner and wife

Michael Brown

Michael Brown

Trayvon Martin

Trayvon Martin

The flip side of this is that police, prosecutors and jail officials in Bland’s death hold the major cards. They can leak, publish, and put on display for the press and the public supposedly incontrovertible evidence to make their case that the circumstances surrounding her death are exactly as officials say it is. They are secure in the knowledge that any evidence real or circumstantial that contradicts the official version can be dismissed out of hand as pure speculation, hearsay or is driven by an anti-police agenda.

There’s one other trump card that officials can play to boost their Simon pure innocence in a death such as Bland’s. That is the bulging numbers of blacks in America’s jails and prisons seem to reinforce the wrong-headed perception that crime and violence in America invariably comes with a young, black face such as Bland’s. Martin, Brown, and Garner were roundly vilified for having run-ins with the law, or being a border line school delinquent.

In Bland’s case, she had no criminal record to wave in the press and public’s face. So they settled on her alleged emotional instability to prove her deviant behavior. It is crucial to plant this in the public’s mind since she did not die from a provable and observable police bullet or chokehold as in the case of Brown and Garner.

Earl Ofari Hutchison

Earl Ofari Hutchison

The clamor for the truth about whom or what killed Bland won’t go away. This insures that Texas officials will spin out more new “revelations” to the press and public about Bland’s character. The second deadly assault on Bland will continue unabated.

Earl Ofari Hutchinson is an author and political analyst. He is a frequent MSNBC contributor. He is an associate editor of New America Media. He is a weekly co-host of the Al Sharpton Show on American Urban Radio Network. He is the host of the weekly Hutchinson Report on KTYM 1460 AM Radio Los Angeles and KPFK-Radio and the Pacifica Network.


©2015 Mitchell Jon MacKay

July 30, 2015

Samuel Dubose, killed by Greenhills university cop James Tensing July 19, 2015.

Samuel Dubose, killed by Greenhills university cop James Tensing July 19, 2015.

CLEARLY THERE’S SOME BUZZWORD going around that it’s alright for cops to shoot anybody they might want to.

The latest is a University of Cincinnati patrolman shooting of an unarmed civilian.  We can read all about it on Google and You tube replete with video by the officer’s own camera.  Chaotic, yes, but we get the gist of it, dead motorist, cop now indicted for murder in the first degree, which is pretty obvious from the video.  Cops have been inculcated with the drudge that they can do anything they want to do now and get away with it.

Statistics say that only one in one thousand killer cops is indicted.  But apparently this is changing before our very eyes, thanks to video cameras, or so it might appear.

The details are commonplace, a traffic stop gone awry.  Paranoid cop feels threatened, starts shooting randomly, same old same old story.  But now the cop is charged with Murder One, different slant on the same old story.  Times might be changing at least a little.  Poor baby cop; how does it feel?  How does it feel to be on the other end of the gun barrel?  Send him up the river for life, whatever.  He deserves it for so many others that shoot before thinking.

That grapevine that seems to have broadcast the clear signal for cops to start shooting before asking questions might have some shield lately if the backlash continues via media coverage and the almighty video camera. But we have to pause and consider the question:  how did this happen?  Theories have been purported but no real answers are forthcoming.  Cops kill and maim with impunity so often now that it’s a plague upon the populace and cops are laughing all the way to retirement, except for those few hapless ones that don’t have enough sense to cover their tracks.

Former U of Cincinnati cop Ray Tensing, charged with murder in death of Samuel Dubose.

Former U of Cincinnati cop Ray Tensing, charged with murder in death of Samuel Dubose.

This phenomenon has been discussed, dismissed, dissed, dissected, directed, disseminated, misdirected, divided, decided and circumscribed so often that it’s a misnomer and a conundrum already.  It’s like any advantage gained illicitly, it only gets worse with wear and tear.

Cops watch as other cops are indicted, tried and acquitted and figure it’s alright to just go ahead and do what they really want to do, which is get the bad guys, and if some not so bad guys get in the way get them too.  These cops are not psychologists, psychiatrists, social workers, doctors or lawyers; they’re simple people who watch football on Sunday, golf on Monday, Hockey on Tuesday, go bowling on Wednesday, bingo on Thursday, play pool on Friday night, go to the racetrack on Saturday if the wife hasn’t some activity planned for them.

Simple emulation seems to be the answer.  That means that which they have gotten away with they now accept as status quo.  Doubtless many are now reconsidering their stance since a few officers of the law have been indicted lately.  That must have sent a shudder of recognition into the ranks.

They could actually go to trial and actually thereafter go to prison.  Most places there’s no bail for murder so they’d have to sit in jail for months awaiting trial &c, not a pleasant thought when other jail inmates know they’re cops.  So they’d be stuck in confinement segregation for those months if deemed necessary for crowd control.  It scares them a little but apparently not enough yet to deter their hauteur in uniform.

The University of Cincinnati ex-cop is out on $1 million bail bond now but he’s going to trial for murder one.  Where he got $100,000 to make 10% is not known.  The two New Mexico cops who killed the homeless man are under investigation by the FBI and the NM Attorney General.  Again video cameras present the evidence.  Police are in a Catch-22 circumstance now:  they need evidence against people but it might prove to be evidence against police.

James Boyd, homeless man killed by New Mexico police.

James Boyd, homeless man killed by New Mexico police.

A curious development transpired over the course of the latter twentieth century.  Police felt pressured to gain convictions for high-profile crimes.  This was accomplished by upgraded third-degree type interrogations of suspects.  Upgrading was due to legislation limiting police procedures.  Suspects could no longer be legally questioned under bare lightbulbs for hours or days but had to be accorded Miranda Rights and supposedly humane treatment.

What usually transpired was a pre-drawn confession ready to sign and after days of interrogation many did, most often with promises of leniency even if they were in fact innocent.  It looked like the easy out to many under arrest for questioning.  We are seeing the results of this with the mounting number of exonerations from wrongful conviction, restitutions now counted at $1 billion.

New Mexico cops Keith Sandy, Dominique Perez, charged with murder of James Boyd.

New Mexico cops Keith Sandy, Dominique Perez, charged with murder of James Boyd.

As to the effect on police work, this remains inchoate at present.  Surely the officers nationwide are watching these developments closely.  But then four New York officers were acquitted of gunning down an unarmed man even though the venue of trial was moved.  That leaves cops in an odd position:  public ire juxtaposed with jury nullification. Public opinion is always mixed and intractable on each side with little rationale of worth.  Expert testifiers will substantiate anything they’re willing to be paid to say.  Cops of course note this every day and react accordingly.

If a spate of arrests of police personnel should ensue they’ll curtail their actions to whatever extent the chiefs advise.  If cops continue to shoot with impunity the country will continue to be the Wild West it purports to be.  Cop killers, as opposed to killer cops, will proliferate.  It is amusing in a macabre sense to witness the sentimentality of police when one of their own dies in battle but ne’er a tear at wrongful deaths or false conviction of the public.  That would be a definition of “double-standard”.

Police state NewsweekThus life is cheap again.  Despite constitutional rights and guarantees, the US has descended into the maelstrom of lawlessness again.  You not only have the broad spectrum of crooks and killers but the badges and ties of the supposed good guys to dodge.  That’s the way of life under any tyrannical government, and that’s what the US has become.

No doubt there’s an apt Thomas Jefferson quote covering this, just as doubtless as his hundreds of slaves and descended black relatives.  As sociologist George Gilder has writ:  “Hypocrisy is indeed the tribute paid by vice to virtue.  Hypocrisy makes us better than we are”.  Cops will continue to kill people because it’s deeply engrained in their “culture”.  They’re already researching ways to cover up misdeeds, tweak videos, seek other means of negating what is obvious & c.

Where this leads cannot be surmised yet.  We can anticipate the worst and thereby be not disappointed.  If video is utilized in all police surveillance, arrests, and interrogations there might be seen some adherence to propriety but just as certainly there will be superseding of these rules.  A scenario might present itself of that interrogation sequence thence reenacted for the camera with guarantees of leniency should the defendant decide to cooperate, the former video destroyed, the latter preserved, the defendant’s bruises healed or covered & c.  Sure, that would occur, always had, just the continuum of getting around the law.

It’s still the Wild West out here in America.  This is the way we seem to like it collectively else the law would not be so arrogant as to shoot first, ask later, and get away with it.  Those wild and wooly old-school outlaws and gangsters are now modern law and order representatives, or flaw and disorder as the case may be.  Those bastions of redoubt known as police stations and courthouses are hideouts now conjuring criminal activities.

Of course it’s all euphemized as bureaucratic social order but many know otherwise.  It’s deadly out there now.  It’s legal murder.  It’s never admitted, always Orwellian linguistically, but it’s as bad as lynching days and street gangs.  The US hasn’t gotten better or freer.  This is who we are:  liars and murderers.

#SandraBland, #Sandyspeaks, #RaynetteTurner, #JoyceCurnell, #RalkinaJones, #KindraChapman, #SamuelDubose, #JamesBoyd, #TrayvonMartin, #MichaelBrown, #EricGarner, #BlackLivesMatter, #BlackLivesMatterDetroit, #PoliceState, #PrisonNation, #StopPoliceBrutality, #StopPoliceKillings, #StopWaronBlackAmerica

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Video above shows Gayle Robinson talking with her oldest child, Kathleen Law, on the phone regarding her objections to being in probate court. Law filed the petition. Video below shows Mrs. Robinson at home actively taking care of her property, exercising on park swings, and walking her beloved dog.

Keith issues order for son Randy Robinson’s arrest if he doesn’t make his mother return

Orders Mrs. Robinson’s brother, who resides in California, to do the same 

Keith has had Rowan illegally evict Randy and his 15-year-old daughter from Mrs. Robinson’s home, despite her wish that they remain

Rowan, 68, has 416 open probate court cases, including conservatorships worth millions of dollars

Says husband John Cavataio, 37, “not involved with organized crime”

Keith may be in line for Chief Judge in wake of Milton Mack’s appointment to State Court Administrator’s Office July 27

By Diane Bukowski

July 30, 2015

Gayle Robinson, 84, at neighborhood park where she takes her dog and  exercises on the swings.

Gayle Robinson, 84, at neighborhood park where she takes her dog and exercises on the swings.

DETROIT – “It’s horrendous, unbelievable, like a nightmare,” Debbie Fox, daughter of Gayle Robinson, said about her mother ’s dealings with Wayne County Probate Court Judge Terrance Keith and his appointed guardian/conservator Mary Rowan.

Mrs. Robinson is 84, and a member of the Montford Point chapter of Marine Corps Veterans, among other activities.

All medical doctors and psychiatrists who have examined Mrs. Robinson have concluded she does not need a guardian and is capable of handling her own affairs.

Fox said actions by Keith and Rowan have “cost Gayle her freedom, her 2003 Escape, her finances of over $27,000 and they are working on marshaling her home of almost 60 years where all her memories of her late husband and son who both died in the home she would like to continue living in are.”

Judge Terrance Keith (center) with his wife at left, and Judge Ruth Carter at right, during 2012 gala event at Detroit Marriott.

On June 17, Mrs. Robinson fled the charmingly appointed home in Westland, where she resided with her son Randy Robinson and granddaughter Lynette, after raising 10 children there with her late husband Russell Robinson, also a veteran. They bought the home in 1956.

She flew to stay with her brother James Brown in California, to avoid being placed by Rowan in a nursing home or other institution.

Rowan attempted to do so without a court order three times earlier. The third time, on September 30, 2014, Rowan’s aide Katie McDonald succeeded essentially in kidnapping her with the aid of Westland police, violating Keith’s July 28 court order that she could not be removed without his written order.

She was held against her will for a total of 10 days, 9 of them in a “geropsychiatric unit” at Botsford Hospital in Royal Oak.

In only available photo of her, Mary Rowan

In only available photo of her, Mary Rowan, seated in blue dress, admonishes this reporter for attending court hearing on Mailauni Williams (r), whose arm she is clutching. Rowan later kidnapped Williams and held her for six months at a location unknown to her mother. Photo: Cornell Squires

“Gayle Robinson has been severely traumatized by this kidnapping and heavily stressed by these probate court proceedings,” Randy wrote in a court pleading asking for Rowan to be removed as guardian, and for Rowan and McDonald to be held in contempt of court. Keith ignored the pleading and instead later held Randy in contempt.

“My brother was arrested and [now] is being held as hostage for the return of Gayle,” Fox said.

“I want Gayle, I want Gayle returned first!” Keith said according to courtroom observers.

Keith’s order (see link below story), implied that Randy Robinson would be indefinitely detained if he and his uncle did not force Mrs. Robinson to return. He gave specific orders to Brown, although Brown resides in another state, and is not in Keith’s jurisdiction.

An earlier charge of “contempt of court” for not showing up when his car broke down, landed Randy in jail for three days.

Gayle Robinson kidnapped from her Westland home of 60 years on Sept. 30, 2014, by Westland police and Rowan aide Katie McDonald, an accountant. The removal violated an earlier order by Judge Keith that Mrs. Robinson not be taken without his court order.

Gayle Robinson kidnapped from her Westland home of 60 years on Sept. 30, 2014, by Westland police and Rowan aide Katie McDonald, an accountant. The removal violated an earlier order by Judge Keith that Mrs. Robinson not be taken without his court order. Mrs. Robinson was held for 10 days, 9 of them in a psychiatric ward at Botsford Hospital, without her consent.

Keith gave Rowan “authority” to evict Randy and Lynette from the home and ordered the locks changed. Such eviction actions are legally handled by district courts. Without any such district court action, Mrs. Robinson’s other children now have access to the house and are throwing out many possessions, according to observers.

Keith barred Randy and Lynnette, and Debbie Fox and members of her marital family from any contact with their mother. Keith also ordered that Randy no longer be allowed to drive his mother’s car, with her permission, to earn a living delivering pizza.

Randy with daughter Lynette, 15, at Amvets event/Facebook. Gayle Robinson has repeatedly told Judge Keith and others involved in her case that she wants them to keep living with her.

Keith earlier gave Mary Rowan the “right” to shut down all Internet websites authored by Randy Robinson about his mother, likely a violation of the First Amendment. VOD obtained the videos on this site from other agency websites which posted them separately.

Rowan has meanwhile seized control of Mrs. Robinson’s home and car, all of her Social Security and pension income, bank accounts, and other financial affairs. She doles out spending money to Mrs. Robinson in small bits at a time, and has not timely paid her bills, according to Randy. This M.O. has been noted in other cases handled by Rowan (see links to stories below.)

It is rumored that Keith may be in line for appointment as Probate Court Chief Judge following former Chief Judge Milton Mack’s appointment to the State Court Administrator Office (SCAO), on July 27. The announcement included special kudoes from Michigan Supreme Court Chief Justice Robert P. Young, Jr., known for his right-wing views.

Gayle Robinson at Montford Point Marine Vets Black History Month celebration.

“It looks like when you get old, you don’t have the right to take your own money out of the bank anymore,” Mrs. Robinson told VOD outside Keith’s court during a hearing Dec. 9. “I don’t need a guardian, but I want my brother to be my conservator and I want my son Randy and his daughter Lynette to stay with me.”

At the hearing, she clearly stated to Judge Keith that she does not want the daughter, Kathleen Law, who initiated the probate court proceedings, or other children, including Ricky and Mary Robinson, who admittedly raided her home equity line of credit without her permission, to visit her. She said that before they visit, they must pay her back.

Fox remarked, “My mother says this is like Nazi Germany in World War II. She has no freedom. We can’t get a lawyer to even think about taking this case. They tell us, ‘Forget about it, she’s gone, she’s been declared incompetent.’”

No medical doctor or psychiatrist has ever declared Mrs. Robinson incompetent, incapacitated, or in need of a guardian.

Her family physician, Dr. Mark Richter of Canton, who has seen her for over 20 years, and neuropsychiatrists at Henry Ford Hospital and the Veterans Administrations have provided written reports indicating she is fully capable of performing the activities of daily living on her own. The last report from Dr. Richter was submitted to the court July 6.

Videos below show Gayle Robinson at home after her traumatic ordeal at the psychiatric unit of Botsford Hospital.

But Keith appointed Marlana Geha, who has only a PhD in gerontology, as his “Independent Medical Examiner.” Geha has 171 open cases in Probate Court and acts as a guardian in many.

She concluded that “Ms. Robinson is a person who meets the statutory requirement for the appointment of both a Guardian and a Conservator. Ms. Robinson is diagnosed with Depression and Depressive Disorder. These conditions impede Mrs. Robinson’s ability to adequately collect, protect and marshal her assets . . .[and] to make informed and appropriate medical placement and day to day decisions.”

Marlana Geha, PhD, with Krisanne George at Big Rock Chophouse in Birmingham, 2012.

Marlana Geha, PhD,  (l) with Krisanne George at Big Rock Chophouse in Birmingham, 2012.

But her summary of other reports, most by medical doctors, who supersede “PhD’s” in qualifications, completely contradict her conclusion.

She said Mrs. Robinson took a Mini State Mental Exam at Botsford Hospital.

“Ms. Robinson scored twenty-nine our of a possible thirty points both times placing her in the normal range of cognitive function,” Geha reported.

She said an exam at the VA hospital in 2009 resulted in the conclusion that “Ms. Robinson is capable of independently making her own treatment, financial and personal decisions.”

In June, 2014, Geha reported, the “Instrumental Activities of Daily Living (IADL) Scale (Lawton) was administered [by VA]. Mrs. Robinson, as a result of the answers she provided, scored eight out of a possible eight points, indicting (sic) a high level of independence.”

Mark Richter, M.D. is part of Henry Ford Health System. He has been Mrs. Robinson's doctor for 20 years, according to son Randy.

Mark Richter, M.D. is part of Henry Ford Health System. He has been Mrs. Robinson’s doctor for 20 years, according to son Randy.

Further, Geha reported, “Ms. Robinson was also examined by Dr. Mark Richter, her civilian primary care physician, with respect to her cognitive functioning. In a letter signed by Dr. Richter, reflecting a date of visit of July 29, 2014, he reports that she does not have Dementia and that she has the capacity to make informed decisions regarding personal, medical, legal and financial matters.”

Geha says Dr. Richter also conducted the Mini Mental State Exam, resulting in a score of 28 out of 30 points “denoting normal cognitive functioning.” In a hand-written note attached to his report, Dr. Richter said, “End this nonsense—she doesn’t have dementia.”

Rowan has now forbidden Mrs. Robinson from seeing Dr. Richter without her permission.

Neuropsychological testing at Henry Ford Hospital June 25, 2014, reports Geha, resulted in the conclusion that Mrs. Robinson has “the capacity to make medical, legal and financial decisions.” The doctors there said that depression and psychological stressors may impact this capacity at times.

“Ms. Robinson repeatedly stated during both interviews that she wanted to return to her home of many years to live with her son Randy, and her granddaughter, Lynette,” Geha said of her interviews with Mrs. Robinson at Botsford. “Ms. Robinson stated she missed her dog who she stated was her constant companion.”

She added, “Ms. Robinson repeatedly stated she felt as if she had been kidnapped and further stated she is quite embarrassed by the public scene at her house when she was extracted from her house.”

Headline photo for Debbie Fox's Facebook page.

Headline photo for Debbie Fox’s Facebook page.

Additionally, she reported, “Ms. Robinson stated that she thought her daughter, Kathy, filed to become her Guardian in order to make money.”

Mrs. Robinson’s oldest daughter Kathleen Law originally requested VA’s 2009 exam of her mother, as a “court-related matter.” She claimed her mother was suffering from dementia, after the death of her father the same year.

Law initiated probate court proceedings May 13, 2014, petitioning to become her mother’s guardian and conservator, claiming her mother was “incapacitated.” She is heard in the video at the top of the story discussing the matter with her mother by phone.

Gayle Robinson’s home in Westland is still under her name and that of her deceased husband, according to Wayne County Register of Deeds records. They bought the home in 1956.

Rowan said in her response to an attorney grievance filed by Debbie Fox that the reason for the petition was that Law had not been able to see her mother for one month.

Law’s petition was filed two years after Mrs. Robinson and her son Raymond Robinson, now deceased, initiated an elder abuse complaint with the Westland Police.

The report said that Mrs. Robinson’s children, other than Randy and Debbie, had convinced their parents, to set up a “home equity line of credit,” then took substantial loans from it after their father’s death, without their mother’s consent.

Gayle and Russell Robinson; she met her husband at the age of 17 and joined the Marine Corps to be with

Gayle and Russell Robinson; she met her husband at the age of 17 and joined the Marine Corps to be with him. They were married when they were 20.

This was acknowledged later in Keith’s court. He ordered that visits from those children, including Mary and Ricky Robinson, would not be allowed unless it was shown that they were paying the loans back to their mother on a regular basis.

Instead of Law, Keith appointed Rowan as Mrs. Robinson’s temporary guardian and conservator June 11, 2014. Rowan is an attorney who court records now show has 421 open probate cases of various kinds, including millions of dollars in conservatorships, Rowan and Chief Judge Mack earlier denied that number of open cases.

“As Chief Judge of the Court my authority is limited to administrative matters,” Mack told VOD in a January email regarding the Robinson case. “I have no authority to interfere with the decision-making in cases handled by other judges serving in the Wayne County Probate Court. I do not believe that Ms. Rowan is handling one hundred cases in our Court, much less hundreds.”

Rowan responded to VOD’s question about her abnormally heavy caseload by email last week.

Then Chief Judge Milton Mack (l) celebrating holidays with commonly used Trustee Walter Sakowski at Attorney Geoffrey Fieger's party.

Then Chief Judge Milton Mack (l) celebrating holidays with commonly used Trustee Walter Sakowski at Attorney Geoffrey Fieger’s party. Trustees and other officials are paid out of the ward’s estate, depleting it.

“I have been appointed by the Court, nominated by individuals, families, other attorneys and retained as counsel through the years.  As to the procedure on Court appointments, I am notified by the Court after each appointment is made.  I do have a substantial active case load and have a great staff who assist me.”

She added, “My primary role as guardian is to make decisions and take steps on behalf of Mrs. Robinson that are in her best interest based upon all of the information that I have been provided.

Complaints from some of Rowan’s other wards about her practices to the contrary are detailed in links to stories at the conclusion of this one.

Peter Cavataio, who was affiliated with Detroit organized crime, was killed in a notorious hit in 1985. It is not known if Rowan’s husband John Cavataio is related to that family.

Rowan operates her practice out of her small home at 1303 Nottingham in Grosse Pointe, where she resides with her 37-year-old husband John Cavataio. He operates John Cavataio, Inc. a specialty construction business, according to state records.

Cavataio is related to a Peter Cavataio, about 65. Another Peter Cavataio, known as “The Baker,” was the subject of a well-publicized mob hit in 1985.

VOD asked Ms. Rowan whether her husband plays any role in handling the substantial funds she controls as a conservator, and whether he is associated with organized crime.

She replied, “With respect to your questions regarding my husband and your questions about whether he has any ties to organized crime, no he does not have any.”

She did not address whether her husband is related to the Cavataio family of organized crime repute, and whether he has any role in handling her conservatorship funds.

Rowan said in her response to an attorney grievance filed by Debbie Fox that she and Anna Duba, listed as an LPN and director of Admissions and Case Management at Maple Manor Nursing and Rehab Center in Wayne, Michigan, first visited Mrs. Robinson’s home on June 20, 2014, nine days after Rowan’s appointment as guardian. Their intent was to initiate Mrs. Robinson’s placement in the Center.

Residents over 100 in Maple Manor Center in Wayne, MI celebrate birthdays.

Residents over 100 in Maple Manor Center in Wayne, MI celebrate birthdays.

Mrs. Robinson was not there because Randy had taken her to visit her father’s grave in remembrance of his birthday that day. Rowan alleged she and Duba conducted a high-speed chase at 85 mph as Randy drove his mother from the home, which Randy denies. In any event, neither Rowan nor Duba had any authority to chase the car, especially at 85 mph.

No LPN license for Anna Duba exists on the state Dept. of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs web site. Medicare has cited Maple Manor for some cases of “not honoring a resident’s rights as a resident of the nursing home, free of coercion and reprisal, and as citizens or residents of the United States,” and many cases of fire code violations.

On June 27, Rowan again attempted to see Mrs. Robinson. Randy Robinson says she told him she was there to take his mother, but would not tell him where. He refused her entry.

Randy filed a report with the court stating this was an “illegal attempt to kidnap” his mother. “Rowan tried to force her way into the house illegally, pushing on the door with her hand,” he said.

After more court hearings, during which Keith said July 28th that Mrs. Robinson could not be removed without a court order signed by him, Rowan’s aide Katie McDonald, an accountant, showed up at the house with Westland Police, to take Mrs. Robinson again, during the Sept. 30, 2014 event.

A two hour stand-off occurred, during which Mrs. Robinson repeatedly asked why McDonald and Westland Sgt. Randall Thivierge had no court documents giving them permission to take her. (See video below, filmed by Randy Robinson with some adjustments for effect, such as repetitions of Thivierge’s statement that he did not know where the court papers were.)

Finally worn down, Mrs. Robinson left the house after being told she would be gone only a couple of hours. She was taken to Botsford Hospital in Royal Oak. They would not admit her without a valid court order. Rowan admits that McDonald then took Mrs. Robinson to a hotel to spend the night. On Oct. 1, Randy said, Mrs. Robinson called home to tell him she was “back at Botsford is afraid please come get her.”

When Randy and Debbie went to see their mother there, hospital staff first told them she had never been there, then refused access to them to visit her. Randy filed a petition with the court asking that Rowan be removed as guardian, which was ignored.

After a total of 10 days of Mrs. Robinson’s captivity, Botsford’s Dr. Theodore Ruza reported in her discharge summary that she was “admitted to the geropsychiatric unit on an involuntary basis with the patient and Guardian’s permission.”

Dr. Theodore Ruza of Botsford said Gayle Robinson does not need a guardian.

He had earlier reported that Mrs. Robinson lived alone, had been “paranoid and delusional with her thought content,” and needed assistance with activities of daily living, based on Rowan’s false and/or unfounded statements.

“It should be noted that I feel at this time that the patient does not need a guardian,” he concluded however. “She can assist in making her own decisions. I do feel the patient may benefit from a conservator to monitor her finances.” (Author’s emphasis.) 

Rowan claims reports from Mrs. Robinson’s own doctor and Henry Ford Hospital psychiatrists are “not credible . . .because either Randy and/or Ms. Fox attended these appointments or garnered the reports and were present for all other medical exams of Gayle, making the results highly suspect,” in a response to an attorney grievance filed by Debbie Fox.

Russell and Gayle Robinson family in happier days.

Russell and Gayle Robinson family in happier days. Family photo added by Debbie Fox to her father’s obituary site.

She said Dr. Marlana Geha, subsequently appointed by the court to evaluate Mrs. Robinson, “is a PhD in Gerontology, a degree even higher than a medical doctor,” a blatantly inaccurate statement.

Keith appointed Rowan and Brown as co-guardians and Rowan as full conservator Feb. 4, 2015, with the expectation that Brown would become sole guardian/conservator June 17, 2015. The “consent agreement” gives Mrs. Robinson permission to leave the state with her brother on vacations. It also allows visits by her other children in her home from noon to 9 p.m. without Randy or Debbie present.

During the court hearing Dec. 9, covered by VOD, Judge Keith told Mrs. Robinson it was up to her to decide the circumstances of her other children’s visitation.

He specified that Mary and Ricky Robinson, the children who took loans from their mother’s home equity account, can only visit if they are up-to-date on re-payments.

Below, Mary Robinson discusses financial situation with mother.

Keith denied Randy Robinson’s and Debbie Fox’s objections to the “agreement,” which they said changed what was ordered in court Dec. 9.

On June 15, 2015, Kathleen Law filed a statement in court through her attorneys that alleged, “Jim Brown denies access to Mrs. Robinson as does Randy Robinson and Debbie Fox.” Her mother’s own statements in the video at the top of the story indicate that SHE did not want to visit with any children who put her in probate court.

In written notes, Jim Brown said he asked his sister if she wanted to speak to children who called, and was not willing to force her to do so after she said “No.”

The statement alleges that Randy Robinson “forced” his mother to mow her own lawn. Randy told VOD his mother enjoys doing yard work and remaining active, as shown in his video. The statement also asked that Randy and Lynette be “ousted” from the home.

Chicago Attorney JoAnne Denison

Chicago Attorney JoAnne Denison

It claims that Randy and Debbie are denying Mary Rowan full access to their mother’s accounts as directed by the court.

On June 17, Keith awarded sole guardianship and conservatorship to Rowan, terminating Brown’s role as co-guardian. He also ordered attorney James Ayres to review the guardianship. His report is due Aug. 17, according to court records.

Chicago attorney JoAnne Denison, who authors a blog on probate court abuse, commented with regard to Gayle Robinson’s case, “She is . . . suffering from this trauma of the state and Ms. Mary Rowan, an attorney and professional guardian, trying to steal all her assets and then do the ‘target, isolate, medicate, drain the estate and quietly eliminate and cremate’ scenario we are all too familiar with in the probate division of courts across the nation.”Probate box



#MaryRowan, #TerranceKeith, #ProbateAbuse; #ElderAbuse, #GuardianAbuse, #GayleRobinson

Related site:

Randy R 2015 july court order

Robinson things rowan has done wrong

Robinson 2015bench warrent 2

Robinson case Mary Rowan is unfit to be anybody

Robinson eviction order

Mary Rowan open cases

Related stories involving Mary Rowan: 

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By Deborah DuPre

(Videos, photos added by Voice of Detroit)

Bland, Rexdale were political activists

Jail cell deaths took place in Texas, Mississippi, Alabama

#BlackLivesMatter, #SandraBland, #RexdaleHenry, #KindraChapman, #BlackLivesMatterDetroit, #PoliceBrutality

July 27, 2015

Sandra Bland, 19

Rexdale Henry

Rexdale Henry, 53

Kindra Darnell Chapman, 18

Kindra Chapman, 18

Were the three mysterious jail cell deaths of people of color within a matter of hours across southern states this month actually lynchings? That question is sparking national public outrage among human rights defenders and prompting independent investigations. In each case, family members and friends disbelieve official police reports.

Two of the deceased, African American Sandra Bland and Choctaw American Indian Rexdale W. Henry, were noted human rights activists, while the other was 18-year-old African American Kindra Darnell Chapman – each “found dead” within 48 hours in different southern states.

Sandra Bland friends and family grieve.

Sandra Bland friends and family grieve.

Within two days, Ms. Black and Ms. Chapman mysteriously committed suicide by hangings and Mr. Henry mysteriously died with broken bones soon after jailed. Families, loved ones and rights advocates across the country are demanding answers from officials and are galvanizing for what has been called a national “racism emergency” that is to impact 2016 presidential candidates throughout campaigns.

“At Netroots Nation, #BlackLivesMatter leaders called on all of us to use our power to respond to the current state of emergency,” stated Charles Chamberlain, Democracy for America’s executive director in a statement released by TIMES over the weekend. “Democracy for America is ready to heed that call to action and make sure it has real electoral consequences in 2016 and beyond.”

Cleveland cop pepper sprays attendees at Black Lives Matter convention.

Cleveland cop pepper sprays attendees at Black Lives Matter convention.

The emergency escalated again this weekend when Cleveland police assaulted #Black Lives Matter members for rallying for civil and human rights of people of color.

“At a time when the nation is focused on the terrible circumstances of the brutal death of Sandra Bland, it is critical to expose the many ways in which Black Americans, Native Americans and other minorities are being arrested for minor charges and end up dead in jail cells,” stated Syracuse University law professor Janis McDonald of the school’s Cold Case Justice Initiative McDonald.

Sandra Bland's alleged mugshot. Many have questioned whether she might already have been dead when this was taken. She was severely injured by arresting cop during traffic stop.

Sandra Bland’s alleged mugshot. Many have questioned whether she might already have been dead when this was taken. She was severely injured by arresting cop, who slammed her head into the ground. 

On July 13, Sandra Bland allegedly committed suicide 72 hours after police in Texas happened to be driving near her, saw she failed to use her turn signal, stopped, assaulted and jailed her, according to a now famous video. Ms. Bland was a well known activist. Her death is now investigated as a murder.

[Read: Police Cover-Up: Chilling Final Words Mysteriously Slain Targeted Woman Screamed to Brutal Texas Cop after Ripped from Car, Slammed to Ground]

Among the Bland death mystery questions is did police tamper with video evidence? The video that police released is missing minutes – three whole minutes. Soon after the dashboard camera video was released, the public began scrutinizing a moment in the video when a white car driving along suddenly disappeared. Later, a tow truck driver is seen walking off camera, only to reappear from inside his truck. Officials claimed that video segments were affected during the original upload. The following day, the Texas Department of Public Safety re-released the footage — three minutes shorter than the original.

The next day, on July 14, Rexdale W. Henry, a 53-year-old American Indian activist was found dead in Neshoba County Jail in Philadelphia, Miss. Detention officers say they found Henry’s body around 10 a.m. Reports and logs reveal that he was seen alive and fine only half an hour before that, according to WTOK. The state crime lab in Jackson conducted an autopsy and the Mississippi Bureau of Investigation is looking into the case. What is known thus far is that Mr. Henry suffered two broken ribs before his “mysterious” death.

Neshoba County Jail

Neshoba County Jail where Rexdale Henry died.

On July 14, the same day Mr. Henry was found dead — the day after Ms. Bland’s death and the day African American Kindra Chapman, 18, was reported as a suicide in her jail cell soon after arrested for an alleged minor offense. Booked just before 6:30 p.m. Ms. Chapman was “found unresponsive” in her cell at 7:50 p.m. Like Ms. Bland, authorities were quick to announce Chapman’s death by suicide hanging.

These three well-loved individuals join a long list of now-familiar names of black people’s deaths over the past year that have ignited a national movement for change: Eric Garner, Mike Brown, Tamir Rice, Akai Gurley, Walter Scott. Until recently, that list of much-repeated names included few women. Two weeks ago marked the one-year anniversary of Eric Garner’s death at the hands of police officers, while next month is the anniversary of Mike Brown’s.

Vigil for Kindra Chapman

Vigil for Kindra Chapman

Racism-related violence amid today’s martial law, codified in 2012 with the NDAA, has prompted the nation’s one-million-member, progressive, grassroots network Democracy for America to change its presidential candidate endorsement proposals. The nation’s largest network says it will now seek to support candidates according to how they address racism, the new central criteria for DFA’s endorsements, according to an advance copy of the announcement obtained by TIME.

American are eight times more likely to be killed by a police officer than a terrorist of any other kind.

VOD with redIt will take more than the presidential elections, or any elections, to stem the flood of racist killings by police and others across the U.S. To date, has recorded 663 deaths at the hands of law enforcement in 2015 alone, maintaining a steady ratio of over three killings a day.

Terrance Kellom with infant son. His daughter was born after his death.

Terrance Kellom, 19,  with infant son.

Anthony Clark-Reed

Anthony Clark-Reed, 24

Michaelangelo and Makiah Jackson, 6 and 3

Michaelangelo and Makiah Jackson, 6 and 3

This is nothing but outright war. For those who fear martial law, it is already here. In Detroit, Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy has yet to bring any charges against police in the deaths of Terrance Kellom, 19, Anthony Clark-Reed, 23, and police chase victims Michaelangelo and Makiah Jackson, 6 and 3 respectively. Not to mention the very long list of killings by Detroit police that have taken place during her terms of office.

Related stories:

Terrance Kellom:

Anthony Clark-Reed

Michaelangelo and Makiah Jackson

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Bill Davis, Pres. of DAREA, carries banner in protest against county tax foreclosures June 8, 2015,

Bill Davis, Pres. of DAREA, carries banner in protest against county tax foreclosures June 8, 2015,



August 05, 2015 @ 5:30PM



If you believed Detroit’s bankruptcy was necessary you need to hear Professor Peter J. Hammer’s presentation on Connecting the Dots- Detroit’s Bankruptcy at DAREA’s Town Hall Meeting.  This bankruptcy was not necessary! Using retirees to reduce Detroit’s debt was unnecessary and unconscionable, retirees were used as a scapegoat!

Wake Up Detroit, Wake Up Retirees!


Professor Peter J. Hammer

Professor Peter J. Hammer

Professor Peter J. Hammer

Professor of Law & Director, Damon J. Keith Center for Civil Rights, WSU Law School

“…any legitimate analysis of the Detroit Bankruptcy and the City’s Plan of Adjustment must be situated in the context of the Three R’s Race, Regionalism and Reconciliation. These are the root causes of Detroit’s current financial crisis and yet they are completely absent from the report.” 

Quote from Peter J. Hammer’s letter to Judge Stephen W. Rhodes on the Evaluation of the “Expert Report of Martha E.M. Kopacz Regarding the Feasibility of the City of Detroit Plan of Adjustment, September 1, 2014.”

Connecting the Dots in Detroit 2

Peter J. Hammer, Director of the Damon J.  Keith Center of Civil Rights is dedicated to promoting the educational, economic and political empowerment of under-represented communities in urban areas and to ensuring that the phrase equal justice under law applies to all members of society. Professor Hammer was instrumental in editing and compiling Judge Damon J. Keith’s new biography, Crusader for Justice: Federal Judge Damon J. Keith (2013). Professor Hammer has become a leading voice on the economic and social issues impacting the city of Detroit, and has added new courses to the law school curriculum on Race, Law and Social Change in Southeast Michigan and Re-Imagining Development in Detroit: Institutions, Law& Society.

 Additional Information @  313-649-7018


DAREA holds press conference against bankruptcy plan of adjustment July 3, 2014.

DAREA press conference against bankruptcy plan  July 3, 2014. DAREA VP Cecily McClellan speaking.

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Groups rally at Coleman A. Young Center July 15, 2015 to protest the “Great Black-Out” of Detroit businesses, residents, and services.

Bert’s at Eastern Market endangered in fraudulent deal by white entreprenuers, Duggan’s aide Tom Lewand leads effort to gentrify Market

Tangerine club closed by Atwater Brewery, owned by suburban whites

Black cab drivers being replaced by Uber, other unlicensed cab cos.

Retirees fight takeover of DWSD, largest asset of largest Black city in U.S.; referendum petitions continue to be circulated past original deadline

Stand UpNOW demands “Turn the lights on” in Black neighborhoods

#BlackBusinessMatters, #BoycottAtwaterBrewery, #SaveBert’s, #OurWaterOurVote, #Turnonthelights, #StandUpNOW

By Diane Bukowski

 July 23, 2015 

Protester: The Great BLACK-OUT.

DETROIT – Black Detroit business-owners, cab drivers, homeowners, city retirees opposing the takeover of the Detroit water department and water shut-offs, and residents campaigning for streetlights rallied July 21 against what they called “The Great Black-Out” of Detroit.

Chanting, “Black Business Matters,” they marched from Hart Plaza across Woodward to the Coleman A. Young Municipal Center. They say Detroit “Mayor “Mike Duggan, Wayne County Executive Warren Evans, Michigan Governor Rick Snyder, landlord-tenant judges, and other government officials are aiding a reverse “white flight” by corporate landlords, entrepreneurs, and hotel owners.

“We were here long before Dan Gilbert,” said Marcus Cummings, who chaired the rally at Hart Plaza. Its participants then marched around the Coleman A. Young Center, pledging to return every Tuesday.

Darnell Small, owner of Tangerine Supper Club, which has now been shutdown by Atwater Brewery owner Mark Reith.

Darnell Small, owner of Tangerine Supper Club, which has now been shutdown by Atwater Brewery owner Mark Reith.

Darnell Small, owner of Tangerine, a nightclub on Jos. Campau, along with his sister Nicole Small, and Bert Dearing, owner of Bert’s Warehouse and Theater in Eastern Market, spearheaded the protest. Small said he was illegally evicted May 15 from his elegant quarters by his landlord Mark Reith of Rivertown Holdings, who also owns Atwater Brewery next door. Protesters called for a boycott of Atwater Brewery.

Bert’s location at 2727 Russell was sold for $2.7 million on month, but he filed a court complaint July 21 alleging fraud to reverse the sale, with the assistance of RICOBusters. A major player in his eviction is Simon Group Holdings, whose CEO is Sam Simon of Birmingham, Michigan. The company has numerous affiliates including the Atlas Oil Company based in Taylor. Simon also owns Soaring Pine Capital Real Estate & Debt Funding, LLC, founded in 2014, which RICObusters says consolidated with another company to form 2727 Russell, LLC in order to buy Bert’s at tax auction.

(Full RICObusters report is at Fraud Surrounding the Auction of Berts Marketplace.)

Atwater Brewer owner Mark Reith, second from right, with his leadership team.

Atwater Brewer owner Mark Reith, second from right, with his leadership team.

“I’ve been doing business in Detroit for 25 years,” Small said. “I lured people down here to Rivertown. We litigated for over a year and a half, but Atwater Brewery, owned by a guy who lives in Grosse Pointe, had us put us out. The property was restored to us May 20, but we were not given keys. We’re out, our business is destroyed, Tangerine is no more. Our lease was a contract, and our nation is built on contracts. We are standing up against judges at 36th District Court who sign illegal eviction notices, and Duggan and Snyder.”

His sister Nicole said, “We’re the majority in the city. How dare you say we can be anywhere except downtown Detroit and ‘midtown’? We want prime real estate for $1 just like Gilbert and the rest. Gilbert just got a $1 million grant for Capitol Park through the City Council and the Mayor.”

Nicole Small speaks at rally.

Nicole Small speaks at rally.

Dearing recalled his jazz club’s illustrious history in Detroit.

“I’ve done business in Detroit for over 47 years,” Dearing said. “My club was at 150 W. Jefferson beginning in 1957, but I was displaced from there and forced to move to Eastern Market,” Dearing said. “What programs is our government putting together for people of color to survive in Detroit?”

Dearing’s Eastern Market location has been a popular venue for thousands around the world for years. Patrons hold mass meetings in his theater, attend jazz concerts and eat home-cooked soul food in his restaurant, along with barbecue dinners cooked outside during Eastern Market shopping days.

Bert Dearing addresses rally.

Bert Dearing addresses rally.

“Bert has been around Detroit for years and years,” a commenter in a local discussion forum said in 2013. “He used to be kiddie-corner from the Hotel Pontchartrain. . . .Bert has been holding outdoor BBQ’s, karaoke, and Jazz concerts since dinosaurs started playing stand-up bass. I’ve sent numerous out-of-towners to his Thursday open mic/Jazz thing . . . .In fact, Bert’s, @ Eastern Mark-Up was about the most peaceful, racially mixed crowd you could find anywhere in Detroit. When Eastern Mark-Up became privatized, things started changing. . . .Bert’s no longer “fit in” to Eastern Mark-Up’s grand scheme of things, and the fact that market goers wandered across the street to eat BBQ and sing karaoke, rubbed someone the wrong way. His licenses weren’t being renewed, citing ‘ violations.’”

Eastern Market was contracted out by the City of Detroit to the Eastern Market Corporation in 2006. The Corporation’s chairman is currently Tom Lewand, who is “Mayor” Duggan’s Group Executive for Jobs and Economic Growth. Since then prices have gone up, causing the commenter to call it “Eastern Mark-Up.” Lewand’s son F. Thomas Lewand is president of the Detroit Lions.

Bert's at Eastern Market.

Bert’s at Eastern Market.

Kenneth “Kabaka” Reynolds of the Metro Detroit Cab Drivers Association spoke as drivers unfurled their banner and honked cabs driving around the CAYMC.

His group of mainly Black cab drivers has been fighting Uber, Inc., and Transportation Network Companies, being popularized in local media as “ride-sharing.” Reynolds said they use non-licensed independent contractors who operate their personal vehicles with non-commercial license plates. Despite a state “cease and desist” order to Uber issued in Dec. 2013, Detroit city government entered into an interim operating agreement in May, 2014 with Uber.

Kenneth  leads march with cab drivers' banner.

KennethK abaka Reynolds leads march with cab drivers’ banner.

“When you get into a cab, you don’t know who is driving it,” he said. “The City and State have permitted these de facto taxi companies to flout the laws by deploying an invasion of unlicensed cars and drivers in Detroit and Michigan for over a year.”

He also said Detroit police are harassing legitimate cab drivers with stepped up traffic enforcement and fines.

“Over 37,000 homes in Detroit are in active foreclosure due to illegal taxation,” Errol Jennings of the Russell Woods-Sullivan Neighborhood Association said. “Over 10,000 people have had their water shut-off. Beginning in 1950, Detroit Mayor Albert Cobo oversaw the destruction of our community, including Black Bottom and Paradise Valley. Now we are seeing Black business after Black business being shut down again. Black street performers have been forced out of Greektown.”

G. Errol Jennings of Russell Woods-Sullivan Neighborhood Association speaking.

He led the crowd in a chant of “Treat us fair, we ain’t going nowhere!”

Cecily McClellan, Vice-President of the Detroit Active and Retired Employees Association (DAREA), called on marchers to sign and circulate a legal petition for a referendum to be placed on the ballot regarding the City of Detroit’s contract with the Great Lakes Water Authority.

DAREA is a member of the Coalition to Save the Detroit Water & Sewerage Department. It says the coalition will continue circulating the petitions despite a previously-announced deadline of July 27. Public Act 233 of 1955, which authorized the contract, giving up Detroit’s largest asset, says 15,000 signatures of registered voters in the city must be collected within 45 days after the publication of a notice informing residents of the contract, and their right to a referendum vote. To date, no such notice has been published. See information on petition campaign and how to obtain them below.

Save D CM cropped 7 21 15

Cecily McClellan speaks about petition campaign to save DWSD.

Cynthia Johnson of StandUp Now called on members of the crowd to join her group at Dexter and Waveney, near W. Davison, Thurs. night at 9 pm for their weekly protest against the lack of any operating street lights in that neighborhood. The protest was vividly covered that night by Channel 7, which turned off its camera lights to show darkened streets lit only by auto headlights.

Johnson said the situation there has led to many traffic accidents and even deaths. The Public Lighting Authority, which is taking over Detroit’s Public Lighting Department, has said it will shut down 40 percent of Detroit’s street lights permanently.


Cabdrivers (flier for Metro Detroit Cab Drivers)


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Fast food workers rally in New York City; they have just won their demand throughout the state.

Fast food workers rally in New York City; they have just won their demand throughout the state.

International Business Times

By Cole Stangler

July 23, 2015

#FIGHTFOR15, #D15, #StandupKC, #LuchaPor15

Fast food worker

Fast food worker David Ramirez/IBT US

ALBANY, NY  — New York made shockwaves on Wednesday when a specially-convened state wage board called for a hike in the minimum pay for fast food workers to $15 an hour. Assuming it’s approved by Gov. Andrew Cuomo –and no signs suggest otherwise– the new rate will be, at once, a jaw-dropping victory for labor activists, a rare political setback for name-brand restaurant chains, and the latest piece of fodder for a national debate about the value of fair pay. It also can’t come soon enough for David Ramirez.

“We need that raise, my man,” says Ramirez, 52, an employee at the same Subway restaurant in midtown Manhattan for the past 10 years, where he earns the state minimum, now $8.75. “We bust our a– up in here.”

On most days, Ramirez wakes well before dawn in downtown Brooklyn, where he splits monthly rent of $1300 with his mother who receives Social Security benefits. He usually starts work at 5 in the morning. When his shift ends at 3 in the afternoon, he heads to a different Subway in Woodmere, Queens –about an hour and a half away by train– and works another 4 hours. It makes for an exhausting 60 hour work week. Since he divides the time over two jobs, neither tallying more than 40 hours per week, Ramirez doesn’t earn any overtime. In New York City, he says, those annual earnings of about $21,000 are hard to get by on. A raise of $6 would go a long way.

“It would make a big difference, not just to me,” he says, “but other families too.”

Video below: Fast food workers of Minneapolis, MN rally June 6, 2015 before traveling to Detroit for national fast food workers convention. It was the same day New York Governor Andrew Cuomo held the first public hearing on wage hike in that state. Workers at this rally fully expected NY victory.

Uncharted Waters

That was also the thinking of the Fast Food Wage Board, which voted unanimously in support of the $15 rate. The pay hike would apply to fast food chains with 30 or more locations nationwide, and be phased in over time, becoming mandatory in New York City by 2019, and the rest of the state by July 2021. Backed with enthusiasm by Gov. Cuomo, the raise can proceed without legislative approval: a New Deal era law allows state regulators to boost wages for specific industries and occupations where they deem pay “insufficient to provide for the life and health” of workers. The raise comes after two and a half years of high-visibility protests from the so-called Fight For 15, a movement of low-wage workers and labor activists backed by the powerful Service Employees International Union that demands higher wages in fast food and other low-paying sectors.

Crowds cheer as New York board approves $15 hr. minimum wage for fast food workers.

Crowds cheer as New York board approves $15 hr. minimum wage for fast food workers.

Amid pressure from these activists, other major cities have already approved $15 minimum wages –Seattle, San Francisco and both the city and county of Los Angeles– but New York’s looming pay hike is unique for a couple of reasons. For one, it’s the only one to apply to a single industry. It also would take effect across the entire state, whereas the other ambitious wage hikes have all been limited to cities.

Minimum Wage by State | InsideGov

Jay Holland, government affairs coordinator for the New York State Restaurant Association, blasted the state’s decision to single out the fast food industry. “This is an economic policy that’s never been tried before,” he says of the sector-wide wage. “The idea that an EMT worker or a home care aide should make less than a fast food worker flies in the face of reason.”

Detroit fast food workers block east side intersection at McDonald's Sept. 4, 2014 during national day of civil disobedience.

Detroit fast food workers block east side intersection at McDonald’s Sept. 4, 2014 during national day of civil disobedience.

“Most restaurants operate under really thin margins,” he adds. “You’re gonna have to raise prices, lay people off or come up with some creative scheduling practices to save money.”

Anna agrees with Holland. She earns $9.75 an hour and works 32 hours a week, scrubbing tables and mopping floors at a McDonald’s in midtown Manhattan. Like many low-wage workers, she lacks job protections and did not provide her last name. “It sounds good,” she says of $15 an hour, “but you know they’re gonna cut hours. That’s what they’re already doing.”

James Sherk, labor policy expert at the conservative Heritage Foundation, says the pay mandates will accelerate the industry’s turn toward automation — self-service tablets, for example, that replace the need for cashiers. Such technologies are already being developed, but are not yet widely used.

“The main barrier to implementation is the up-front cost and then maintenance,” Sherk says. “But with the minimum wage going up it will make a lot more sense for McDonald’s to do this. It changes the financial calculus.”

Police start arrests at fast food protest in Detroit Sept. 4, 2014.

Police start arrests at fast food protest in Detroit Sept. 4, 2014.

Tsedeye Gebreselassie, staff attorney at the left-leaning National Employment Law Project, shrugs off the criticism. Businesses always tend to complain when the wage floor rises, she says, and this is no exception. Plus, the hike is staggered over time, giving the firms –which include some of the largest corporations in the nation– plenty of time to adjust.

The boost will also deliver broader benefits to the economy, as workers find themselves with more spending power than before. That bottom tier of the labor force is in despearate need of economic gains. “Part of why there has to be such a dramatic increase is that wages have fallen so dramatically,” Gebreselassie says. “This is about playing catch up.”

Detroit fast food workers took over W. Grand Blvd. in front of McDonald's in 2012.

Detroit fast food workers took over W. Grand Blvd. in front of McDonald’s during first fast food workers strike in 2013.

It’s also about setting high standards for an increasingly large part of the labor force, she says. More than 4 million people work in the fast food sector nationwide; 180,000 of them are in New York.

As the recovery continues to inch forward, lingering myths of fast food as a temporary gig for teens simply don’t reflect the new economic reality. A New York survey found 87.5 percent of the state’s fast food workers are aged 19 and older. “Because this is such a growing industry, more and more adults are going to be spending their careers in it,” she says. It makes sense that decent pay should follow.

Another benefit of the wage hike is that it remains largely immune to a common threat of employers confronted with mounting high labor costs: relocation. Unlike the sorts of manufacturing jobs that companies can easily ship to cheaper states or countries — say, General Electric’s ongoing relocation from a unionized capacitor plant in Fort Edward, New York to non-union Clearwater, Florida — fast food restaurants aren’t about to up and leave the state en masse. “You need to be where your customers are, where the demand is,” says Gebreselassie.

“Everything’s Rising Except For The Pay”

First fast food workers' strike in Detroit 2013.

First fast food workers’ strike in Detroit 2013.

For many workers, business concerns don’t change the fact that current pay practices verge on the nightmarish.

“Everything’s rising except for the pay — rents, food, transportation” says Filiberto Carrillo, who, like David Ramirez, has to work at two different New York City Subways to make ends meet. He’s worked at Subway for 6 years, he says, and earns $10 an hour. “Right now, when you ask for more pay, they just give you more hours.”

Jose Carillo. 81-year-old NYC McDonald's worker, is arrested during national fast food strike in 2013.

Jose Carillo. 81-year-old NYC McDonald’s worker, is arrested during national fast food strike in 2013.

Physically, he cannot tolerate much more. Carrillo says he usually works 15 to 16 hour days, or 75 hours a week. A $15 wage would be a relief, he says, before going to fix coffee for an anxious customer in line.

Meanwhile, for David Ramirez, a pay raise might resolve his MetroCard dilemma. Right now, he uses a weekly pass. He knows it’s cheaper to get the monthly one, but it’s especially prone to malfunction if it bends a lot — it’s happened before and takes far too long to get fixed. The monthly cost difference between the two passes is about 7 dollars. He would rather not make such calculations.

‘Fight For $15’ workers create recipe for change at  Detroit convention

About 1,300 low-wage workers gathered in Detroit to celebrate minimum-wage hikes

Fast food workers at national convention in Detroit June, 2015.

Fast food workers at national convention in Detroit June, 2015.


By E. Tammy Kim @etammykim

AlJazeera America

June 6, 2015

DETROIT — Some 1,300 low-wage fast-food workers came from around the country to Detroit’s Cobo Center on Saturday for the second “Fight for $15″ convention. There was a victorious buzz in the air, though most of the line cooks and cashiers are new to the labor movement.

In the main hall, a sea of workers and allies stomped in unison and yelled, “We work, we sweat, put $15 on our check!” The round ballroom was festooned with banners from Arizona, Little Rock, St. Louis, Memphis, Boston and Miami.

Arrests in Detroit Sept. 4, 2014.

Arrests in Detroit Sept. 4, 2014.

Those wearing the red “We Are Worth More” T-shirts were mostly Latino and African American, organized by community groups and the Service Employees International Union, and drawn from almost every imaginable franchise — McDonald’s, Dunkin’ Donuts, Wendy’s, Subway, Arby’s and regional chains like Hardee’s.

The workers still want what they demanded in the first fast-food strikes in 2012: $15 per hour and a union.

Fifteen dollars seemed unattainable then, but much has changed. On Friday, New York state convened its wage board to consider raising minimum hourly pay for fast-food workers, and St. Louis was set to introduce a proposal for phasing in $15 across the board. Last week, Los Angeles passed a $15 minimum wage to take effect by 2020, following the lead of San FranciscoSeattle and Sea-Tac, Washington.

“Two years ago, wage inequality was not even being mentioned. Now, there’s talk of how all workers need benefits and a raise, and the benefits of joining a union,” said Terrance Wise, an employee of McDonald’s and Burger King locations in Kansas City and an oft-profiled member of the Fight For $15’s national leadership committee. He has helped coordinate seven strikes in Kansas City and came by bus to downtown Detroit with 150 fellow workers.

Terrance Wise leading strike at Burger King in Kansas City/ photo NYT

Terrance Wise leading strike at Burger King in Kansas City/ photo NYT

Janell Rose and Gaylord Cade, both 31, support their three kids — ages 2,4 and 6 — with fast-food jobs.E. Tammy Kim

Janell Rose and her husband Gaylord Cade also came from Missouri. They are both employed in the industry — Rose at Hardee’s and Cade at Wendy’s — at $7.65 per hour, supporting themselves and their three young children. Cade has grease burns on his forearms.

“We’re here to fight for 15,” he said. “It’s needed. I barely have any family time and am stressing about paying the bills.”

Luis Ortiz' family in Texas has four fast food workers.

Luis Ortiz’ family in Texas has four fast food workers.

A full-time employee paid the federal minimum wage of $7.25 lives just above the federal poverty level, which is itself an outdated measure of wellness.

According to a 2013 study by the UC Berkeley Labor Center, more than half of the households supported by front-line fast-food workers rely on public benefits, including Medicaid and food stamps. This, many economists say, is a subsidy to corporations like McDonald’s, which reported nearly $5 billion in profits last year and has been condemned for pushing employees to apply for government assistance.

Walmart, too, is vulnerable to the same criticisms, and worker protests under the banner of OUR Walmart actually preceded those in fast food. Yet it is the calls for justice at McDonald’s, Kentucky Fried Chicken, Burger King and Taco Bell — those iconic, omnipresent U.S. eateries — that have catalyzed discontent over wages.

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For full copy of second 4-page flier, click on Stop Illegal Foreclosures.

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Witnesses told VOD July 16 that the police chase which ended with the deaths of Makiah and Michaelangelo Jackson proceeded at a high rate of speed along this route, not the route testified to by Officer Steven Feltz during Lorenzo Harris' exam.

Witnesses told VOD July 16 that the police chase which ended with the deaths of Makiah and Michaelangelo Jackson proceeded at a high rate of speed along this route, not the route testified to by Officer Steven Feltz during Lorenzo Harris’ exam.

Chase wound from E. Warren to Mack, then up Nottingham past E. Warren, neighborhood residents say

Police traveled at high rate of speed throughout chase, almost caused Camaro to hit other children at Nottingham and Brunswick

“When are we going to stop police chases in Detroit? They wouldn’t do it in the suburbs.” – Defense attorney Marvin Barnett

Harris bound over on all counts, arraignment on info July 20

#PoliceBrutality,  #StopPoliceChases#JusticeforMakiahMichaelangelo, #policeviolence#blacklivesmatter, #blacklivesmatterDetroit, #policechase,  #pursuit#saveourchildren, thisstopstoday , MMCare, #Beatbackthebullies

By Diane Bukowski

July 16, 2015

Michaelangelo and Makiah Jackson

Michaelangelo and Makiah Jackson. Family photos.

DETROIT — Eyewitnesses interviewed by VOD today about the June 24 high speed police chase which ended with the deaths of Makiah and Michaelangelo Jackson, 3 and 6 years old, strongly contradicted police testimony given July 13 during the preliminary exam of Lorenzo Harris, 29.

Detroit Special Ops officers Steven Feltz, Richard Billingslea, and Hakeem Patterson started chasing Harris near E. Warren and Haverhill, wound south almost to Mack Avenue, then back up Nottingham, the witnesses said. The Jackson children were killed on Nottingham near Frankfort, north of E. Warren.

“The police tried to ram the car at the corner of Nottingham and Brunswick [one block north of Mack] and nearly hit my kids, 14 and 11,” a resident living near that location told VOD. “He [Harris] almost jumped that curb over there where there were other little kids. You’d think the police would have backed off the chase at that point, but they were going 80 to 90 mph right on his bumper. If he would have tapped his brake, they would have hit him.”

Detroit officer Steven Feltz' version of the chase, given at prelimary exam of Lorenzo Harris July 13.

Detroit officer Steven Feltz’ version of the chase, given at prelimary exam of Lorenzo Harris July 13.

A Google map of the chase as described (at top) shows it took 37 minutes, not the 45 seconds alleged by Detroit Police Chief James Craig. Even the police version of the chase would have taken 13 minutes.

After Feltz’ testimony and that of Detective Sgt. Christopher Weitzel and two civilian witnesses, Thirty-sixth District Court Judge Shannon D. Holmes bound Harris over on two counts of second-degree murder, three counts of failure to stop at the scene of an accident, unlawful driving away of a motor vehicle, carrying a concealed weapon (CCW), two felony firearms charges,  three counts of  failure to stop at the scene of a serious personal injury accident, two counts of failure to stop at the scene when at fault, causing death, three counts of reckless driving causing serious bodily impairment, and two counts  of fleeing police officers, first degree.

She scheduled an arraignment on the information for July 20. To date, no charges have been brought against the officers.

Defense Atttorney Marvin Barnett

Defense Atttorney Marvin Barnett/Photo Beth Fisher WWJ

“You have two citizens driving down a residential street, one a person on parole, allegedly going 100 mph, while police were chasing them 90 mph,” Harris’ newly-retained defense attorney Marvin Barnett told VOD. “When are we going to stop police chases in Detroit? They wouldn’t do it in the suburbs. How in the world do Detroit citizens allow this to continue?”

The Nottingham resident said a friend who lives on Haverhill told him the cops chased Harris south down Haverhill from the direction of E. Warren to Bremen, where they turned right to Somerset, then right onto Brunswick to Nottingham, where they turned back north. Another witness living on Haverhill confirmed he saw the chase going south at a high rate of speed, with the officers closely behind.

The Nottingham resident also said cops in the Ninth Precinct, most of them white, constantly harass, illegally search, rob, and arrest Blacks in the community, particularly if they are driving expensive-looking cars like the red Camaro driven by Harris.

He said he himself was arrested while driving his restored car with expensive rims. He said both he and his wife work, but the cops accused him of being a drug dealer and took all the money he had just cashed from his paycheck. He still faces charges in the case.

Nottingham and Brunswick, one block north of Mack, where witness says police car nearly hit his and other children.

Nottingham and Brunswick, one block north of Mack, where witness says police car nearly hit his and other children.

It is VOD’s policy not to publicly identify witnesses who may face police retaliation.

Feltz, a four-year DPD veteran from the Fifth Precinct, who is white with a shaven head, testified that the officers were on routine patrol at the beginning of the chase at Devonshire and Cornwall. He said he was the right front passenger in a 2004 “fully marked” white Crown Victoria, with Billingslea driving. Craig earlier revealed that the car’s dashboard camera was not operable.

“I observed a red Chevy Camaro, late model, in front of me at the intersection,” Feltz said. “I observed a black handgun in the right hand of the driver, and we activated our lights and siren a few seconds afterwards.”

No handgun was entered into evidence. Chief Craig earlier said none was found.

Police Chief James Craig with Special Ops cops during "Operation Mistletoe," one of a series of 18 raids he has led through Detroit neighborhoods looking for individuals with outstanding warrants.

Police Chief James Craig with Special Ops cops during “Operation Mistletoe,” one of a series of 18 raids he has led through Detroit neighborhoods looking for individuals with outstanding warrants. The chase that led to the Jackson children’s death may have been part of one of those operations.

He said the Camaro “accelerated at a high rate of speed,” with the scout car in pursuit down Cornwall at approximately 50 mph. He said the Camaro crossed Warren at Nottingham at a speed of about 100 mph, while the scout car remained “a good block to a block and a half away.”

He continued, “I was getting ready to notify my partners to stop the chase when I observed a large cloud of dust,” down the street on Nottingham.

“While approaching Nottingham and Frankfort, directly in the middle of the street, I saw a small child lying motionless, then another small child to my left laying on the curb. [We] stopped the vehicle and contacted headquarters.”

He said he laid Makiah, who appeared to have her left arm and leg broken, on her back. She was not breathing, he said, so he administered CPR, while another scout car picked up Michaelangelo. He said he conveyed Makiah to St. John’s Hospital, where an emergency room doctor declared her dead from a broken neck.

On cross-exam by Barnett, Feltz said he was looking into the Camaro from its passenger side, and admitted that he said in his written report that he thought the gun was in the driver’s right hand. He said the driver was “moving it around.”

Miami Dade police Ford Crown Victoria Interceptor pictured in 2004.

Miami Dade police Ford Crown Victoria Interceptor pictured in 2004. No photo available of 2004 Detroit police Interceptor. Feltz testified it couldn’t drive more than 50 mph.

He said the police car’s lights and siren were on as it approached Warren. He said the procedure for calling off a chase is to notify dispatch and turn off the car’s lights and siren, but that they did not turn them off at any point.

An audiotape of the chase released by the Detroit News shows no contact was made with dispatch or supervisors.

Feltz said their car was “about 50 feet,” not a block and a half, behind the Camaro when it crossed Warren. He denied the car had gone up on the grass, saying mud found on the car was already there because it had not been washed before the chase.

During the exam, the Jackson children’s mother Alisha Jackson was present with two friends and an aunt, Bertha Matthews. Matthews told VOD after the exam that she had gone to the Jackson house about 11 p.m. and remained until 4 a.m.

Bertha Lesure Matthews

Bertha Lesure Matthews, relative of Jackson family, was at preliminary exam of Lorenzo Harris. Facebook photo.

“Where is the gun?” she asked. “The police were out there all that time looking and looking for it. That chase was not appropriate in a residential neighborhood.”

She said the police were listening to news reports, and every time a piece of evidence was reported, including a lpiec of the Camaro left in the middle of the street, they hurried to retrieve it. She added that people from the neighborhood of Mack and Nottingham came to the scene and told them the chase had gone through that area.

Eyewitnesses told VOD during a candlelight vigil at the Jackson home June 26 that the police were directly behind the Camaro after it crossed Warren on Nottingham. One witness standing with Makiah said she saw the police car bump the Camaro, sending it out of control into the children who were killed and injured. The alleged bump may have been a “Precision Immobilization Technique,” or PIT, used by police.

Children seriously injured at second house: Darius Andrews, Jr. 3, Isaiah Williams, 5, Zyaire Gardner, 7.

Children seriously injured at second house: Darius Andrews, Jr. 3, Isaiah Williams, 5, Zyaire Gardner, 7.

Other witnesses at the vigil told VOD that the officers continued the chase without stopping after the Jackson children were hit, into the next block where three other children Darius Andrews, Jr., 3, Isaiah Williams, 5, and Zyaire Gardner, 7, were severely injured. Gardner’s lungs collapsed and he was flown to a hospital in Ann Arbor.

On July 16, Gardner’s aunt Kiera Andrews told VOD that Gardner was improving, but still in the hospital. She was sitting on the porch next to where the children were hit, with her little son Isaiah Williams, 5, one of those hit, LaKendra Hill, who was also hit and injured, and two other small children related to the Gardner family, braiding their hair.

Lorenzo Harris at previous exam.

Lorenzo Harris at previous exam.

“My son doesn’t even want to come here now,” she said. “All our kids live right up here. I know he [Lorenzo Harris] is in there in jail now hurting. I don’t hate him. God be with him. I’ve heard from a friend that he is a nice man. The police did what they do, and it killed little bitty babies and hurt other kids.”

Sgt. Weitzel, Aubrey Gardner, father of Zyaire, and Joel Fowler, a neighbor, also testified at the exam. Another civilian witness did not show for the exam.

Weitzel said he arrived at the scene at 8:30 pm, after the crashes. He testified to various exhibits, although he said on cross exam he was not qualified as an expert witness, had not taken the photos entered as exhibits, and did not know who the evidence technicians were.

Exhibits included photos of tire tracks on the street, sidewalk and grass going down two blocks of Nottingham, and a large rock that was in the middle of the street and became lodged under the red Camaro driven by Harris, sending the car airborne before it was dislodged.

Cops search Harris car for gun after chase June 24, 2015.

Cops search Harris car for gun after chase June 24, 2015.

Also shown were photos of debris from the Camaro and a stop sign, and destruction of the area around the second home on Nottingham where the three other children and LaKendra Hill were hit.

Over Barnett’s objection, Judge Holmes admitted a statement from the owner of the Camaro, said to be Harris’ girlfriend, to back up the charge that the car was unlawfully driven away. She was interviewed at DPD headquarters, according to Weitzel, but was not in custody.

Holmes also admitted police reports stating the police car was travelling at a high rate of speed, and a CDR from the Camaro which police said showed it was travelling 100 mph.

Wayne County Assistant Prosecutor Danielle Hagaman-Clark  played a fuzzy videotape of part of the chase from an unknown camera near E. Warren and Nottingham. The Camaro is seen in the far upper right hand corner of the video, with not much else clear about the chase.

Skid marks on sidewalk just before the Jackson home (at upper left).

Skid marks on sidewalk just before the Jackson home (at upper left).

Weitzel claimed the tire tracks in the photos were from one car, the Camaro, not the police car. He said skid marks could have been the result of braking or of acceleration.

Fowler, who lives on Nottingham across from the Jackson home, said he saw the red Camaro traveling at a high rate of speed on two wheels, with a large rock lodged underneath. He said it hit the Jackson children after the rock was dislodged. He said the police car was in the street, with only its lights, not its siren on.

He admitted that the statement he gave police said he saw the Camaro hit three children, but that the police “wrote it down wrong.” He said on cross exam that the police car was about 50 yards away from the Camaro.

Piece of Camaro left on lawn after chase. Police belatedly retrieved it that night.

Piece of Camaro left on Jackson’s lawn after chase. Police belatedly retrieved it that night.

Aubrey Gardner, Zaire’s father, said he was barbecuing at the family home on Nottingham when he heard sirens and a car revving its engine. He said he came to the front of the house as he heard children screaming, and saw the Camaro hit the van in his driveway, pinning his son Zaire and nephew Darius Andrews, Jr. against the house.

He said he saw Harris open the door “to the best of his knowledge.” Later he said he didn’t know how Harris got out of the car. He said Harris jumped out of the car and ran past him through his backyard. He said he identified Harris at DPD headquarters from a photo line-up. He said he couldn’t tell how fast the two cars were going, but that it was the Camaro revving its engine “real loud.”

Barnett objected to the CCW count because of lack of evidence, and to the witness statement from Harris’ girl-friend as hearsay since she was not there to testify, but Judge Holmes refused to dismiss those counts.

Mother holds child tightly during candlelight vigil June 26 at Jackson family home.

Mother holds child tightly during candlelight vigil June 26 at Jackson family home.

Related stories:

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Citizens for Detroits Future logo 2


Commission Report Triggers Ordinance Enactment Procedure

July 15, 2015

Tom Barrow, Pres. Citizens for Detroit's Future

Tom Barrow, Pres. Citizens for Detroit’s Future

This note is intended to update YOU on the progress of the Citizens for Detroit’s Future (CFDF) election reform Initiative.  First, we thank you for sharing our information and will continue to endeavor to keep you informed.

As president of CFDF, on Monday  I attended the full Detroit City Council meeting where the Detroit Election Commission issued its “Report” that the CFDF petition had been successful in gathering sufficient signatures to trigger Section 12-107 of the Charter.  This section covers the procedure to enact Ordinances by residents which have grown from a citizen’s Initiative.

Following the charter’s procedure in Section 12-107, the Council voted unanimously to both receive the Report and refer it and the Petition to the Council’s “Internal Operations Committee” (IOC).  The IOC handles such matters and is a necessary proper step as part Section 12-107.  While we have not seen the Report, it would seem that it should be dated May 28th which is what we have.  Based on that date, Council would have 60 days to vote to enact the Ordinance.

Free and fair elections in Detroit!

Free and fair elections in Detroit!

Following the process, CFDF learned that the IOC committee is headed by Council Member Andre Spivey and includes Council Members George Cushingberry and Janeé Ayers.  Council President Brenda Jones is an Ex-Officio member.  The IOC  WILL meet this morning at 10am on the 13th Floor of the Coleman A Young Building.  It is open to the public.

The Committee is expected to discuss the CFDF Initiative but it remains unclear what to expect.  The IOC has at least two options: 1) it could immediately report back to the full council with a recommendation to enact; 2) or it could set a date for a formal public hearing.   As president of CFDF,  I will attend the meeting and make myself available to Committee Members to answer questions and meet with folks who also attend.

Yours for a Better Detroit,


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Jackson obituary_0001Cops are Richard Billingslea, Steven Fultz, Hakeem Patterson

Driver of car, Lorenzo Harris, faces exam on multiple felony charges

His parole was for possession of ecstasy, served 7 yrs.

Family members, neighbors say cops should be charged as well

#PoliceBrutality,  #StopPoliceChases   #JusticeforMakiahMichaelangelo, #policeviolence#blacklivesmatter, #blacklivesmatterDetroit, #policechase,  #pursuit#saveourchildren, #thisstopstoday , #MMCare, #Beatbackthebullies

By Diane Bukowski

July 12, 2015

Hakeem Patterson, one of three cops in car that allegedly hit Lorenzo Harris' car in high-speed chase, killing the Jackson children June 24, 2015. Facebook (photos of others were not available).

Hakeem Patterson, one of three cops in car that allegedly hit Lorenzo Harris’ car in high-speed chase, killing the Jackson children June 24, 2015. Facebook (photos of others were not available).

DETROIT – The three cops alleged to have bumped the car that hit and killed two young children, Makiah and Michaelangelo Jackson, 3 and 6 respectively, on June 24, are scheduled to testify against the driver of the Camaro, Lorenzo Harris, in court Mon. July 13, 2015, according to an article in the Detroit News.

The cops are Richard Billingslea, Steven Fultz, and Hakeem Patterson. They will appear in the courtroom of Judge Shannon Holmes in the Frank Murphy Hall of Justice at 1:30 p.m. to testify at the preliminary examination of the car’s driver, Lorenzo Harris.

“[The police] were right on their rear, the police car bumped their tail a little bit, and the car flew up in the air,” a direct eyewitness standing with Makiah at the time told VOD during a community vigil June 26. “There was no need for the police to be that close. I yelled ‘WATCH OUT’ but it was too late. When the car hit them, both of them just looked at me. They screamed. It just keeps re-playing in my head.”

Lorenzo Harris in court July 6, 2015.

Lorenzo Harris in court July 6, 2015.

The police appeared to have used an official maneuver called a “Precision Immobiliation Technique,” or PIT. Subsequently, Detroit Police Chief James Craig reported that the dashboard camera in the police car was mysteriously not operable, even though the cops were “Special Ops,” and that police were not able to find a gun they claimed they saw in the car being chased.

Several others at the vigil confirmed the original witness’s statement. They added that the car then hit the light pole at the corner of Nottingham and Frankfort and careened down the next block, hitting and seriously injuring Darius Andrews, Jr. 3, Isaiah Williams, 5, and Zyaire Gardner, 7.  Neighbors said the cops were still in close pursuit.

“I feel that if they had anything to do with it, they should be held just as responsible as the driver,” said Ronald Antczak, fiancé of the children’s grandmother Nicole Jackson.

Denice Hill, a cousin of Zyaire Gardner and relative to the other injured children, said after the Jackson children’s funeral, “The police should have got charged because they could have stopped the chase. There are nothing but a bunch of kids playing during the day all the way down Nottingham.”

Ronald Antczak, fiancé of Makiah’s grandmother Nicole, third from left, helps carry her little pink coffin out after funeral July 2, 2015.

She said that Zyaire remained hospitalized in Ann Arbor with collapsed lungs, on a ventilator, and was expected to remain there for at least three months.

“Somebody needs to ask the police why they lied about this and said they called off the chase,” another relative told VOD. “They want us to respect them, but they don’t respect us. They chase everybody.”

Maria Miller, Communications officer for Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy, told VOD July 1, “We have not received anything from DPD regarding the officers; we are not conducting an investigation at this time. We have no further comments because there is a pending case against the driver of the car.”

Harris faces two counts of second-degree murder, three counts of failure to stop at the scene of an accident, unlawful driving away of a motor vehicle, carrying a concealed weapon (CCW), two felony firearms charges,  three counts of  Failure to Stop At Scene of a Serious personal Injury Accident and two counts of failure to stop at the scene when at fault, causing death, three counts of reckless driving causing serious bodily impairment, and two counts  of fleeing police officers, first degree.

Carrying out Michaelangelos

Carrying out Michaelangelo’s little blue coffin.

According to court records, Harris previously served seven years in prison for possession of the drug ecstasy, out of a 6 mo.—10 year sentence imposed in 2006.  He was paroled on Aug. 22, 2013, to end March 20, 2016.

In 2011, a federal judge ruled that sentencing for ecstasy-related crimes is based on “selective and incomplete” evidence and “that it punishes Ecstasy-related crimes far more harshly than is scientifically justified,” according to the American Civil Liberties Union.

Police in the June 24 chase, however, are heard on the audiotape published in the Detroit News article referring to a charge of carrying a concealed weapon (CCW), not ecstasy possession. (Hear audio below. Note police sirens are not heard until midway through the audio. Were they on at the beginning of chase to warn residents away?)

Harris completed three probation sentences for a variety of crimes in 2005 and 2006, and was found not guilty by a jury of carrying a concealed weapons and two other firearms charges, in 2008.

Mourners leave Mt. Zion

Mourners leave Burns Seventh Day Adventist Church.

During a somber, sorrowful funeral for Michaelangelo and Makiah Jackson July 2, a young woman sang “The Rose,” a heart-rending song whose lyrics are in the video at the end of this story, along with copies of the obituary. Bertha Matthews read some of numerous cards sent to the family, including a personal letter from Wayne County Commissioner Jewel Ware, and a card from DTE workers who evidently worked with one of the family members.

Weeping, a young man said, “Our lives are turned upside down. I was there with the witnesses. I had just had Michael on my lap before it happened, and a part of me got left with him. My little brother cracked up when he saw our babies yesterday. I love these kids, I wish it had been me instead.”

Mourners leave church after children's funeral July 2, 2015.

Mourners leave church after children’s funeral July 2, 2015.

Flowerbearers for Jackson children outside church.

Flowerbearers for Jackson children outside church.




(Click on Jackson children obituary.compressed for full PDF copy.)

Jackson obituary_0002Jackson obituary_0003Jackson obituary_0004Jackson obituary_0005Jackson obituary_0006Jackson obituary_0007Jackson obituary_0008

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