REV. PINKNEY: LYNCH MOB MENTALITY IN ST. JOSEPH AS HE AWAITS SENTENCING DEC. 15

Rev. Edward Pinkney of BANCO speaks at Moratorium NOW! meeting in Detroit Nov. 17, 2014.

Rev. Edward Pinkney of BANCO speaks at Moratorium NOW! meeting in Detroit Nov. 17, 2014.

Pinkney-in-Detroit-11-17-14 cropped

Pinkney spoke in Detroit again Nov. 17

Attorneys filing pretrial motions: “We’re going to rock their world”

Detroit strategy meeting Sat. Dec. 6 @ 1 pm Central Methodist Church

By Diane Bukowski

November 30, 2014

Berrien County Sheriff L. Paul Bailey

Berrien County Sheriff L. Paul Bailey

Berrien County Clerk Sharon Tyler

Berrien County Clerk Sharon Tyler

DETROIT –An announcement of Rev. Edward Pinkney’s Oct. 3 conviction by an all-white jury on five felony charges elicited wild applause and a standing ovation at a monthly Republican meeting Nov. 15 in St. Joseph, Rev. Pinkney told VOD this week.

The life-long Benton Harbor activist said an individual who attended the meeting also told him that Berrien County Clerk Sharon Tyler and Sheriff L. Paul Bailey, both instrumental in concocting phony charges of “forgery under the Michigan election law” against him, were part of the merriment.

“There’s a lynch mob mentality there,” he said. “But we’re going to rock their world; I’m expecting fireworks there by the time of my sentencing Dec. 15.”

Marian Kramer of MWRO (center), flanked by Dave Sole of Moratorium NOW! and Rev. Pinkney. announces Dec. 6 strategy meeting in Detroit.

Marian Kramer of MWRO (center), flanked by Dave Sole of Moratorium NOW! and Rev. Pinkney. announces Dec. 6 strategy meeting in Detroit.

He said his appeals attorneys are moving forward with motions to overturn the verdict. There was no evidence brought forward at trial to convict him of altering dates on petitions to recall Benton Harbor Mayor James Hightower, as even a Michigan State Police Forensics Technician admitted. Subsequent investigation has shown that many jurors did not disclose their ties with opposing parties in the case. Additionally, the Court of Appeals ruled Oct. 23 that violations of election law are misdemeanors, not felonies.

Earlier, Pinkney spoke in Detroit at Moratorium NOW’s weekly meeting Nov. 17, where Michigan Welfare Rights Organization (MWRO) leader Marian Kramer announced that a strategy meeting on Pinkney’s case will be held this coming Sat. Dec. 6 at 1 p.m. at Central Methodist Church, located at Woodward and Adams.

Marcina Cole said another busload is being organized to attend the Pinkney’s sentencing in St. Joseph Dec. 15. Over $700 was raised at the meeting for his defense.

Benton Harbor rebellion against police murders, including that of Terrance Shurn, in 2003,

Benton Harbor rebellion against police murders, including that of Terrance Shurn, in 2003.

“Our fight against racism is spreading from Benton Harbor to Ferguson to Detroit to New York City and all over the country and the world,” Pinkney said. “While the federal government is giving billions of dollars to our cities for military armaments to help police kill our kids, in Benton Harbor they found me guilty with no evidence because I organized a petition campaign to recall our mayor.”

Berrien County and Benton Harbor police carried out a mini-version of the police state that exploded after Ferguson, MO killer cop Darren Wilson shot 18-year-old Michael Brown to death Aug. 9, as he raised his hands in surrender.

In addition to the SWAT team with tanks that raided Pinkney’s home May 24 attempt to arrest him, police from numerous districts were all over Benton Harbor knocking on doors to terrorize its 90 percent Black population, he said.

Ferguson protesters take the streets Aug. 19, 2014 against police murder of Michael Brown.

Ferguson protesters take the streets Aug. 19, 2014 against police murder of Michael Brown.

“But the people of Benton Harbor are not intimidated,” Pinkney said. “They are organized to struggle. I’m proud to say I’m able to make them call martial law. At my trial, we turned their prosecution witnesses into our witnesses. They described how police came to their homes, kicked in their front and back doors, and tried to get them to lie. The prosecution tried to get over 30 people to say they didn’t sign the recall petitions on the date listed, but everyone said they signed them on that date. One lady said she signed the wrong date first and then changed it, using two different color pens.”

Pinkney recounted the testimony of a Michigan State Police forensics lab technician who was asked, “Can you say Rev. Pinkney did it [changed dates on petitions]. He said NO—that was a victory for the people.”

Pinkney identified racism as the chief problem everywhere today in the U.S., a view that was recently confirmed by a report from the United Nations Committee on Torture.

Quincy Stewart, with another Pontiac resident, speaks at meeting,

Quincy Stewart, with another Pontiac resident, speaks at meeting,

“They’re still burning crosses and hanging nooses in the workplace in St. Joseph,” he said. “This fight is not about Rev. Pinkney, it is about the people. We have to take the struggle to a whole different level.”

Quincy Stewart and another man from Pontiac, Michigan told the audience the travails that residents of their city have suffered since an Emergency Manager took over as has been done only in majority-Black cities across Michigan, including Benton Harbor and Detroit.

“We’ve suffered for five years under an EM,” Stewart said. “Every single asset has been taken. They sold the Pontiac Silverdome for a measly $580,000. We are right in the middle of Oakland County, and police repression happens every day.”

Judge Sterling Schrock, who is to sentence Pinkney.

Judge Sterling Schrock, who is to sentence Pinkney.

Oakland County, a majority white, is one of the wealthiest counties in the U.S. Oakland and Macomb Counties were two of only four counties, out of 83 in Michigan, that voted against a referendum to repeal the first Emergency Manager law, Public Act 4.

Pinkney asked his supporters to write letters to Berrien County Judge Sterling Schrock demanding to know how he could be convicted with no evidence. Schrock’s address is 811 Port St. St Joseph, MI 49085.

BANCO targeted Schrock in 2011 for his racially discriminatory murder sentencings of a white man to probation, and three Black youths to prison for life. Click on Sterling Schrock legacy of hatred to read story.

Rev. Pinkney's wife Dorothy Pinkney is in front row, with grey hat, during meeting Nov. 17 in Detroit.

Rev. Pinkney’s wife Dorothy Pinkney is in front row, with grey hat, during meeting Nov. 17 in Detroit.

STATEMENT BY REV. EDWARD PINKNEY ON BANCO WEBSITE:

Gail Freehling, the racist juror from Three Oaks, Michigan

 Standing ovation for sheriff stating Pinkney’s conviction

Gail Freehling, former city clerk for New Buffalo, MI was on Pinkney jury. Sharon Tyler, the Berrien County Clerk who oversees all city clerks there, was one of chief witnesses against Rev. Pinkney,

Gail Freehling, former city clerk for New Buffalo, MI was on Pinkney jury. Sharon Tyler, the Berrien County Clerk who oversees all city clerks there, was one of chief witnesses against Rev. Pinkney.

The look in her eyes, the expression on her face – if her eyes could shoot I would be dead. How much hate can one person have in their heart? Gail Freehling is the type who would be responsible for mobbing, hanging, and shooting blacks for no reason.

Racism in the 1960’s:  it was a huge decade and a war/battle every day between Blacks and Whites. Black and Whites had different drinking fountains and wash rooms.

Whites in Mississippi would scare blacks into leaving town by putting up signs, burning crosses, burning homes, and killing all members of the family.

In Berrien County, Michigan blacks are viewed as horrible people. When whites see a black person on TV or walking around Three Oaks, St. Joseph, or Stevensville, their first thought is, “what is a black person doing in our community?”

On October 27, 2014 in Berrien County, Michigan an all-white jury was sitting in judgment of me. The jury was motivated by something other than the truth.

Marion, Indiana, Aug. 7, 1930: Thomas Shipp and Abram Smith are lynched,

Marion, Indiana, Aug. 7, 1930: Thomas Shipp and Abram Smith are lynched.

I was found guilty with no evidence and no witnesses to testify against me, no confession, and a group of whites hating black people. In the Berrien County courthouse this was a modern day lynching.

The Sheriff of Berrien County, Paul Bailey, went to a Republican meeting and was given a standing ovation when he made the announcement that, “we convicted Rev. Edward Pinkney and he will be going to prison for the rest of his life” (with absolutely no evidence.)

In 1960 they wore white robes and masks to symbolize their color and to sometimes act like ghosts. Today they wear suits, ties, and black robes to symbolize their color. We  must not forget our friendly American police officers whose job is to serve and protect -and have murdered someone every single day of the year.

Mike Brown, 18, of Ferguson, MO, and his executioner KKKop Darren Wilson.

Mike Brown, 18, of Ferguson, MO, and his executioner KKKop Darren Wilson.

Only in America, the land of the free and the home of the brave, it is open season for cops to kill unarmed black people and not go to prison.  If Whirlpool, Rep. Fred Upton, and Berrien County Court have their way, Rev. Pinkney will be going to jail for the rest of his life, convicted with no evidence.  Killer cop Darren Wilson set free with evidence in Ferguson, Mo.

We the people must stand up against racism and discrimination, we must protect the have-nots. It is not one thing, it is everything. Let us stand together and fight and win.

Rev. Edward Pinkney

bhbanco.org

blogtalkradio.com

Pinkney to Pinkney Every Sunday at 5pm ET

Burn Baby Burn

Burn all NAACP Membership Cards

Posted by: Gordon Matthews <gormatthews@gmail.com>

_____________________________________________________________

To sign up for bus to Rev. Pinkney’s sentencing in St. Joseph, Dec. 15 at 8 am, contact Marcina Cole at 248-383-3595, or Abayomi Azikiwe at 313-671-3714.

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

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

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

Related stories:

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

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2014/05/10/rev-edward-pinkney-marcus-muhammad-battle-whirlpool-for-benton-harbor-pinkney-court-hearing-may-30/

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

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

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

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

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

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2014/11/05/all-white-jury-convicts-rev-pinkney-of-5-felony-counts-pros-wants-life-sentence/


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U.S. KILLINGS BY POLICE, PRISON CONDITIONS TROUBLE UNITED NATIONS

Alessio Bruni

Alessio Bruni (l) of Italy, Committee expert on U.S. Review, and Claudio Grossman, of Chile, Chairperson of the UN Committee against Torture, during news conference by UN Committee Against Torture.

Tribune News Service

Tribune News Service

By John Zarocostas

November 29, 2014

Protesters occupy suburban St. Louis mall on "Black Friday" to protest grand jury verdict on police murder of Michael Brown, 18, in Ferguson, MO Aug. 9, 2014.

Protesters occupy suburban St. Louis mall on “Black Friday” to protest grand jury verdict on police murder of Michael Brown, 18, in Ferguson, MO Aug. 9, 2014.

GENEVA — A U.N. anti-torture panel that is investigating the United States said Friday it was deeply concerned by what it described as the high incidence of police brutality and shootings — especially against African-Americans — in the U.S., was troubled by what it called harsh conditions in many prisons and was worried about the interrogation methods used on detainees.

The experts on the United Nations panel called for declassifying evidence of torture by the U.S. — in particular Guantanamo Bay detainees’ accounts — and declassifying and promptly releasing, with minimal redactions, the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence’s report about the CIA’s secret detention and interrogation program.

“We express concern at the reported current police violence in Chicago, especially against African-American and Latino young people, and deep concern at the frequent and recurrent police shootings or fatal pursuit of unarmed black individuals,” said Alessio Bruni, a member of the panel and a lead investigator in the review of U.S. compliance with the 1984 Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment. The U.S. ratified the 156-member-country convention in 1994. [See report on Chicago killings at http://report.wechargegenocide.org/people.html.]

Some of the 89 people killed by Chicago police in last five years; over 300 were shot.

Some of the 89 people killed by Chicago police in last five years; over 300 were shot.

Bruni, an Italian, said the 10-member panel recommended “that all instances of police brutality and excessive use of force by law enforcement officers are investigated promptly, effectively and impartially by an independent mechanism with no institutional or hierarchical connection between the investigators and the alleged perpetrators.”

On Nov. 12-13, nearly 30 senior officials from the U.S. Departments of Defense, Justice and Homeland Security, along with the attorney general of Mississippi, presented evidence and were examined by the U.N. panel. The session was part of the periodic review of U.S. compliance with the anti-torture convention. The U.S. was last reviewed in May 2006.

Michael Brown's parents Leslie McSpadden and Michael Brown, Sr. testify at UN Committee on Torture.

Michael Brown’s parents Lesley McSpadden and Michael Brown, Sr. testify at UN Committee on Torture.

Civil rights activists and human rights groups also met with the panel in Geneva. Among those testifying were the parents of Michael Brown, 18, who was shot dead Aug. 9 in Ferguson., Mo., by a police officer. A grand jury chose this week not to indict the officer.

Asked about the decision not to charge the officer who shot Brown, Bruni said: “It is always a tragedy when a person is killed and especially by an official of the government. … Can’t say more because there has been a judicial decision on this point and we have to respect that decision.”

The committee also said it was concerned about what it called excessive use of force by law enforcement officials against immigrants and LGBT individuals, about racial profiling and about the growing militarization of policing activities.

“This (U.N.) report — along with the voices of Americans protesting around the country this week — is a wake-up call for police who think they can act with impunity,” said Jamil Dakwar, the director of human rights at the American Civil Liberties Union.

A pair holds a solitary confinement protest sign outside the Ronald Reagan State Building in downtown L.A. Monday, July 8, 2013, during a protest against solitary confinement in California prisons. (Michael Owen Baker/L.A. Daily News)

A pair holds a solitary confinement protest sign outside the Ronald Reagan State Building in downtown L.A. Monday, July 8, 2013, during a protest against solitary confinement in California prisons. (Michael Owen Baker/L.A. Daily News)

The panel said it was appalled at the number of reported deaths that followed the use of stun guns, and it recommended that the weapons be used “exclusively in extreme and limited situations” and be banned for use on children and pregnant women.

The U.N. panel noted its concern at what it described as the high number of deaths in custody — 958 inmates died in American jails in 2012, up nearly 8 percent from2010 — and it called on the U.S. government to investigate all deaths of detainees promptly.

The panel said the U.S. should limit solitary confinement to “a measure of last resort” and prohibit its use for juveniles, people with disabilities, and pregnant and breastfeeding women. It said it was concerned about the use of solitary confinement for indefinite periods.

Bruni said keeping people in maximum-security prisons in solitary confinement up to 22 to 23 hours a day was not acceptable.

The panel also raised concerns about the U.S. military’s interrogation methods. Bruni said, “Certain changes have to be made in certain parts of the military manual for interrogation.”

The report said the United States should abolish the “physical separation technique,” which limits detainees to at least four hours of continued sleep.

With regard to the Guantanamo Bay detention facility, the panel concluded that the United States should “cease the use of indefinite detention without charge or trial for individuals suspected of terrorism or related activities,” and it recommended that the government end the force-feeding of detainees on hunger strikes.

Inside U.S. Guantanamao Bay politicial prisoner concentration camp.

Inside U.S. Guantanamao Bay politicial prisoner concentration camp.

———

(Zarocostas is a McClatchy special correspondent.)

See summary of UN Committee against Torture report on United States at UN Committee on Torture Report on US 11 20 14.


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MIKE BROWN’S STEPFATHER LOUIS HEAD REACTS TO VERDICT: BURN THIS PLACE DOWN!

Stepfather Louis Head speaks for many grassroots Black youth

Enough of officials calling for peace–where were they when Mike Brown was killed?

By Diane Bukowski

Commentary

November 25, 2014

Aiyana Jones on her mother Dominika's Facebook page, with her father Charles Jones.

Aiyana Jones on her mother Dominika’s Facebook page, with her father Charles Jones.

DETROIT — As did thousands across the country, I watched the St. Louis County Prosecutor announce that the grand jury in Ferguson would NOT charge Michael Brown’s killer kop Darren Wilson with ANYTHING–not even involuntary manslaughter or reckless use of a firearm, charges faced here in Detroit by killer kop Joseph Weekley, Jr. in the machine gun slaughter of Aiyana Jones, 7, in 2010.

Of course, Weekley walked anyway while Aiyana’s FATHER Charles Jones went to prison instead for 40-60 years on trumped-up charges.

I also listened to the pathetic platitudes mouthed by our President Barack Obama, and other so-called leaders across the country, including Rev. Charles Williams of the National Action Network, here in Detroit. PEACE, they said–we need PEACEFUL protests. Williams spoke at Aiyana’s funeral, but he has been nowhere to be seen since, as her family has suffered excruciating pain, poverty and media assaults through the last four and a half years.

Ferguson police car burns Nov. 24 after grand jury verdict announced.

Ferguson police car burns Nov. 24 after grand jury verdict announced.

WHERE WERE THEIR CRIES FOR “PEACE” WHEN DARREN WILSON, EXPOSED BY “ANONYMOUS” AS LIKELY TIED TO THE KKK, EMPTIED 12 BULLETS FROM HIS GUN AT AN UNARMED 18-YEAR-OLD WHO WAS ON HIS WAY TO COLLEGE?

Tamir Rice

Tamir Rice

Where were they when Cleveland police just murdered 12-year-old Tamir Rice at a recreation center PLAYGROUND as he allegedly played with a toy gun?

Where were they when Vonderrit Myers, Jr., 18 was shot to death IN THE BACK as autopsy results have shown, by St. Louis killer kops Oct. 9?

Where were they when a virtual firing squad of white Saginaw cops lined up in 2012 to surround Milton Hall, Jr., a mentally disabled man who had only a penknife, then shot him multiple times to death?

Where were they when Northland Mall security guards in Southfield, MI lay on top of 25-year-0ld McKenzie Cochran, Jr. as he cried out that he couldn’t breathe because they had cut off his windpipe, then died as dozens of shoppers watched?

Where were they when Florida cops tased 18-year-old accomplished 18-year0ld artist Israel Hernandez to death in 2012 because he was painting on a building? Where were they back in 2005 when police in California killed 5-year-old Suzie Pena?

Kids-dead-by-police-640x205

 

The Michael Brown verdict has given the green light to killer kops across the country. This is nothing but outright violent, military WAR, particularly on youth of color, and it will only be stopped in the way that ANY war is stopped–by organizing and responding in kind.

Negroes with Guns 2Volleys of gunshots were heard during the start of last night’s rebellion in Ferguson streets. It’s not clear if they came from protesters or police. But if it was the protesters, there is no way that they can be blamed for what amounts to self defense, as famed leader Robert Williams advocated in  decades ago.

The Final Call reported that young people took the stage during Ferguson October, displacing religious leaders and other so called “civil rights” advocates.

“On stage, Tef Poe offered his street level assessment of issues and problems. So-called gang members like the GD’s and the Vice Lords are not on this stage, he noted. But it wasn’t the professional people or academics out on the streets protecting us, it was the brothers with tattoos and their shirts off, he declared. We are not professional activists or organizers but we are real people dealing with real problems, he said. “I don’t need Don Lemon to tell me what happened. I was there,” said Tef Poe, referring to the CNN newsman. Elders were challenged to listen to, respect and support this emerging crop of fearless young leaders, who have not stopped their demands for justice.”

More to come in VOD on the Ferguson grand jury verdict. I’m on my way to Detroit’s protest at 4:30 pm in Hart Plaza. Hope to see you there.

Related:

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2014/10/02/weekley-shot-aiyana-instantly-gun-at-head-grandmother-says-weekley-grabbed-raid-sgt-s-gun-after-shooting/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2014/10/30/code-black-alert-vonderrit-myers-shot-in-back-slave-patrol-officials-continue-disinformation-campaign/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2014/10/30/aclu-testifies-at-inter-american-commission-on-police-execution-of-milton-hall-in-saginaw-mi/

And more.


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CLEVELAND POLICE KILL 12-YEAR-OLD TAMIR RICE AT PLAYGROUND; PROTESTERS BLOCK FREEWAYS

Tamir Rice, 12, killed by Cleveland police at playground.

Tamir Rice, 12, killed by Cleveland police at playground.

Cleveland City Councilman Zack Reed: “How did a 12-year-old go from the rec center to the morgue?”

Child had toy gun but did not point it; caller told 911 it might be fake

Police video of killing to be released at family’s demand, killer cops not identified, put on 3 days paid leave

Investigation to take three months using grand jury

November 26 2014

Tamir Rice's father Leonard Warner comforts the child's big sister at vigil in park where he was killed.)

Tamir Rice’s father Leonard Warner comforts the child’s big sister at vigil in park where he was killed.)

CLEVELAND — Surveillance video is “very clear on what took place” at a Cleveland playground when a rookie police officer fatally shot a 12-year-old boy brandishing a fake gun, police said Monday.

Tamir Rice was shot twice in the torso Saturday afternoon and died at a hospital Sunday morning.

Deputy Chief Ed Tomba said the officer, one of two who responded to a dispatcher’s call, was less than 10 feet from Tamir under a gazebo when the confrontation took place He declined to say if the video matches the officer’s description of events, saying a full interview of the officer has not been conducted.

Neither he nor Chief Calvin Williams explained why police have not obtained a full statement from the officer.

The boy’s family declined to view the video but it was shown to family representatives, Tomba said. Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Timothy McGinty said the video would be released, but did not say when.

Protesters block freeway in Cleveland, outraged at police murder of Tamir Rice, 12.

Protesters block freeway in Cleveland Nov, 25, outraged at police murder of Tamir Rice, 12.

(Update: authorities agreed to release the video Nov. 26 after receiving a letter from the child’s parents demanding it. Click on LETTER FROM TAMIR RICE FAMILY to read it in its entirety. It says in part, “The news of Tamir’s death has devastated our family. Tamir was a bright young man who had his whole life ahead of him. This is a tragedy in our eyes. He was a loving brother. He was a grandson. He was a nephew and cousin. His favorite sport was basketball. Tamir often visited the Cudell Recreation Center to play with friends. Most of all, he enjoyed being around people. Everyone loved him.”)

Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Timothy McGinty is advocate of the death penalty. Will he advocate it for killer cops?

Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Timothy McGinty is advocate of the death penalty. Will he advocate it for killer cops?

The identities of the officers have not been made public. They were placed on three days’ paid administrative leave, and will be on restricted duty when they return, police said.

Tomba said the investigation could take three months, after which a grand jury will hear the case to decide if charges are warranted.

Tomba said one officer fired twice after the boy pulled the fake weapon from his waistband but had not pointed it at police. The boy did not make any verbal threats, but he grabbed the replica handgun after being told to raise his hands, Tomba said.

Williams said the “airsoft“-type pellet gun lacked the orange safety tip required at the time of sale and was indistinguishable from a real semiautomatic pistol.

Cleveland Police Chief Calvin Williams sworn in by Mayor Frank Jackson Feb. 2014

Cleveland Police Chief Calvin Williams sworn in by Mayor Frank Jackson Feb. 2014

“Guns are not toys,” he said. “We need to teach our kids that.”

“Who would’ve thought he would go so soon?” Gregory Henderson, a close friend of Tamir’s family, told WKYC-TV. “To be 12 years old, he doesn’t know what he’s doing. Police, they know what they’re doing.”

Henderson also questioned why police did not use a Taser-type weapon.

“You shot him twice, not once, and at the end of the day you all don’t shoot for the legs, you shoot for the upper body,” Henderson said to the Cleveland Plain Dealer. Henderson, identified by that newspaper’s website as Tamir’s father, said Tamir was a “respectful” young man who minded his elders.

A 911 call to police in which a man says the gun was “probably fake” has added to the controversy.

Memorial for Tamir Rice at park where he was killed.

Memorial for Tamir Rice at park where he was killed.

Jeff Follmer, president of the Cleveland Police Patrolmen’s Association, said the officers were not told the caller thought the gun might be fake. He said an officer taking a Taser out when they believe there could be a person with a gun puts the officer at risk, the Plain Dealer reported.

The hacker group Anonymous claimed responsibility Monday for shutting down the City of Cleveland’s website after Rice’s shooting, WKYC said. The FBI is investigating.

Rice’s friends and family brought posters, candles and teddy bears to the scene.

Monday afternoon, a few dozen protesters rallied on the city’s Public Square, and some briefly blocked traffic. About 5 p.m., protesters gathered at the Cudell Recreation Center, where Tamir was killed.

Update: Tuesday after the news of the grand jury decision in the Michael Brown case was released, protests ramped up across Cleveland. See photos below:

Tamir Rice protesters block Public Square in downtown Cleveland.

Tamir Rice protesters block Public Square in downtown Cleveland.

Front shot of Tamir Rice protesters occupying downtown Cleveland freeway.

Front shot of Tamir Rice protesters occupying downtown Cleveland freeway.

 

Demonstrators lie down in Public Square.

Demonstrators lie down in Public Square.

 


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HOME FOR THE HOLIDAYS: MAILAUNI WILLIAMS BACK WITH MOM AFTER 6 MONTH KIDNAPPING

Mailauni, holding her pet dog Holly, and mother Lennette Williams relax at home Nov. 24, 2014.

Mailauni, holding her pet dog Holly, and mother Lennette Williams relax at home Nov. 24, 2014. Holly had just barked out “I wuv you” at Mailauni’s urging,

“I’m happy now” – Mailauni

“I WUV YOU” — Holly

“Her mother is the woman she loves above all others”—Judge Keith

“When is the corruption of our probate courts going to end?”—Lennette Williams

 By Diane Bukowski

 November 23, 2014

 “I just can’t believe it’s so, and though it seems strange to say I never been laid so low, in such a mysterious way. And the course of a lifetime runs over and over again. But I would not give you false hope on this strange and mournful day. When the mother and child reunion is only a motion away, Oh, the mother and child reunion is only a moment away.”  Mother and child re-union, by Paul Simon

Mailauni in high school graduation photo and posing with rose.

Mailauni in high school graduation photo and posing with rose.

DETROIT – Mailauni Williams, 33, was back home with her mother Lennette Williams Nov. 21, in time for the holidays, after being viciously kidnapped and disappeared for six months by Grosse Pointe Farms police, former visiting Probate Judge Kathryn George, who was appointed by Wayne County Probate Court Chief Judge Milton Mack,  and Mailauni’s former “guardian” Mary Rowan.

“I’m happy now,” Mailauni, who her mother calls “Pookie,” said during a visit to their home. Mother and daughter, reunited, sat together on their living room sofa with Mailauni’s dog Holly, better known as “Mutt” to Lennette, grinning from ear to ear. They were dressed comfortably for home, in matching pink and blue pajamas.

Lennette was in the process of cooking dinner for them.

Mailauni told the little dog, “I wuv you, I wuv you,” and tiny Holly responded with a loud yowl that sounded much like “I love you,” as Mailauni had trained her.

Mary Rowan, seated in blue, grabs Mailauni's arm possessively after being appointed guardian June 13. Mailauni's sister Monique is at center. Photo by Cornell Squires

Mary Rowan, seated in blue, grabs Mailauni’s arm possessively after being appointed guardian June 13, while admonishing VOD reporter for being in courtroom. Mailauni’s sister Monique is at center. Photo by Cornell Squires

Mailauni said she misses her sister Monique and was looking forward to Monique visiting the next day to bring her bookbag. She stayed with Monique at Rowan’s  direction, without a court order, for part of the six months, unbeknownst to her mother and friends, who were frantic to know her whereabouts.

Williams had just returned from trying to get Mailauni’s Blue Cross Blue Shield reinstated. Estate trustee Walter Sakowski allowed it to lapse during the kidnapping, meaning medications she needs must be paid for out-of-pocket. At Judge George’s order, Sakowski also ceased mortgage and utility payments on their home, as well as on Lennette’s car insurance, while getting fees approved for yet another attorney on the case.

“They didn’t care if she lived or died,” Williams said. Mailauni suffers from cerebal palsy and a seizure disorder that nearly killed her previously, caused by admitted malpractice during her birth at Henry Ford Hospital. She has other permanent ailments as well.

Wayne County Probate Court Judge Terrance Keith, newly assigned to Mailauni’s case, declared during a court hearing Nov. 19 that Lennette Williams is “the woman Mailauni loves beyond all others,” and that she should immediately go back to the only home she has ever known.

Lennette Williams (center), with attorney Vanessa Fluker at right, supporters Arnetta Grable (l) and Min. Malik Shabazz (top) after court hearing Nov. 19, 2014

VICTORY! Lennette Williams (center), with attorney Vanessa Fluker at right, supporters Arnetta Grable (l) and Min. Malik Shabazz (top) after court hearing Nov. 19, 2014

“Attorney [Allison] Folmar and I were in tears when Mailauni finally got home,” Williams said. “When is the corruption of probate courts in Wayne County and everywhere going to end? Jail the judges! They kidnapped my daughter to make me sign over the malpractice money in her case. No one should be allowed to get away with the thieving and plundering of estates they are guilty of.”

Grosse Pointe Farms police broke down the door to the Williams home May 22 with no valid court order, held her at gunpoint outside, and seized Mailauni, as she kept crying, “Is my mother going to be OK?”

During a subsequent, chaotic court “hearing” June 13, Judge George, acting erratically and with obvious malice, jailed Lennette Williams for five days for contempt of court, barred Attorney Folmar from presenting her case or cross-examining witnesses, and then threatened to jail her as well.

VOD ran a story on that hearing, including an expose of George’s well-publicized  removal as Macomb County Probate Court Chief Judge in Jan. 2008 by the Michigan Supreme Court.

Judge Kathryn George, now back in Macomb County.

The high court cited her appointment of a high number of cases to one agency, ADDMS Guardianship Services, among other factors.  After reviewing an audit of the Macomb Court, former State Supreme Court Justice Elizabeth Weaver wrote, “the Report confirms not only Judge George’s apparent inappropriate involvement with ADDMS guardian services, but also her apparent failure to properly oversee numerous guardianship cases.”

Despite Mack’s appointment of this shady judge, Williams kept fighting on her own until she finally retained Folmar with the assistance of her well-known friends Arnetta Grable and Anita Peeks and Elaine Steele  from the Rosa and Raymond Parks Institute. Growing up, Mailauni and her mother frequently visited the civil rights heroine, who considered her her godchild.

With the help of the VOD expose, Attorney Folmar, working with attorney Vanessa Fluker, who appeared in court Nov. 19, successfully got the Williams case re-assigned.

Judge Keith then removed Rowan from the case and temporarily assigned her to stay with her sister.

Curt Guyette said in a 2002 Metro Times story that records he reviewed showed that “Calculated over a life span of 73 years for Mailauni, the entire settlement was valued at $30.5 million, according to the settlement agreement.” Williams says the agreement  covered both mother and daughter, since she also suffered permanent physical injuries during prolonged labor.

Judge Terrance Keith with his book, "Sunrise on the Detroit River."

Judge Terrance Keith with his book, “Sunrise on the Detroit River.”

At the time, doctors expected Mailauni to survive only several years. But, as Keith himself declared, it was her mother’s constant love and nurturing that brought her to adulthood, along the way earning a high school diploma. Keith has also lauded Lennette Williams’ legal skills.

Since Mailauni’s birth, Williams, a strong, feisty, articulate, well-read and legally well-versed woman, has had to battle a legion of judges and court-appointed attorneys who progressively stripped the family’s estate with outrageous fees. Also in the mix were the Grosse Pointe Farms police, who invaded her home several times, and the school district, which falsely accused her of child abuse after stripping Mailauni naked in an exam at the school. No charges were ever brought.

Judge Keith issued his ruling for Mailauni’s return Nov. 19 on the recommendation of Mailauni’s guardian ad litem John Sullivan, who toured her Grosse Pointe Farms home with attorney Folmar the night before.  Keith also terminated the guardianship in her case, restoring the central mother-daughter relationship which has never died.

Sullivan testified that even though the home’s original built-in appliances had not yet been replaced, Williams kept a well-stocked refrigerator and freezer in the home’s connected garage, and a wide array of cooking appliances sufficient to feed her family.

Frequently, Williams also caters.

Judge Milton Mack, Jr. at left and Trustee Walter Sakowski at right live it up at Geoffrey Fieger's holiday party.

Wayne Co. Probate Court Chief Judge Milton Mack, Jr. at left and Trustee Walter Sakowski at right live it up at Geoffrey Fieger’s holiday party.

The greedy nature of the probate court system came to light at the hearing after Judge Keith’s order returning Mailauni home immediately. Trustee Sakowski began quibbling about the amounts needed for replacement appliances and renovations for the 30-year-old home.

He said that even he didn’t have a $10,000 refrigerator in his home.  A friend of Lennette’s told VOD, “They want her to live like a welfare mom.” Sakowski and other attorneys involved financially in the case are white, as is Chief Judge Mack.

Attorney Fluker and Williams explained that the refrigerator, stove and cook-top were built into the home, and that quotes included the cost of stripping out the original installment, replacing power lines, and other matters. Judge Keith ordered Fluker to get two additional quotes and prepare a petition for funds release, including mortgage and other home-related payments as well as the monthly allowance Williams has received for other necessities of life.

Door to the Williams home in Grosse Pointe Farms, which police have not repaired after breaking in to seize Mailauni June 13, 2014.

Door to the Williams home in Grosse Pointe Farms, which police have not repaired after breaking in to seize Mailauni June 13, 2014. Photo: David Schied

Trustee Sakowski sits on the Wayne County Probate Board with Mack, who battled Williams for years over the settlement, apparently outraged that a Black woman would have the gall and intelligence to speak her mind in court. Sakowski and Mack apparently socialize together as well, as seen in a photo from a holiday party at Attorney Geoffrey Fieger’s law offices.

Williams has contended all along that she is perfectly capable of handling her own financial affairs. She says she needs no trustee, and no guardian for her own daughter. Until George’s ruling June 13, Williams was her daughter’s guardian, a victory she won. Williams keeps volumes of documents from her 30 years of battle with the courts in pristine covers, well-organized and at her fingertips and is able to argue toe-to-toe with the best legal minds.

“Mailauni is my heart, I would die for her,” she says, explaining her decades long fortitude in the battle.

Related stories:

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2014/10/24/rosa-parks-godchild-mailauni-williams-found-judge-george-guardian-rowan-removed-from-case/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2014/07/21/amber-alert-rosa-parks-godchild-mailauni-williams-missing-judge-kathryn-george-loots-estate-bars-mortgage-payments-on-her-home/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2014/10/23/serial-kidnapper-atty-mary-rowan-takes-second-adult-ward-from-home-without-court-order/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2014/06/16/shady-probate-judge-kathryn-george-jails-mom-seizes-daughter-and-estate/

 


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9 WHITES, 3 BLACKS ON GRAND JURY IN MIKE BROWN CASE; POLICE UNION BELIEVES NO CHARGES WILL ENSUE

Ferguson demonstrators outside police station with photo of Mike Brown's killer, cop Darren Wilson, projected on wall Nov. 21, 2014. Photo: Scott Olsen/Getty
Ferguson demonstrators outside police station with photo of Mike Brown’s killer, cop Darren Wilson, projected on wall Oct. 22, 2014. Photo: Scott Olsen/Getty

 

Where Is Ferguson Jury? Who Are They? It’s All Secret, and Vote Will Stay That Way

Nine votes required to indict; jurors’ identities to remain secret

Jury meeting in secret location in Clayton, MO

By Tim Bross and Andrew Harris Nov 21, 2014 5:01 AM ET

Bloomberg

Mike Brown, 18 (l), killed by Officer Darren Wilson (r) with up to 8 gunshots, on Aug. 9, 2014.

Mike Brown, 18 (l), killed by Officer Darren Wilson (r) with up to 8 gunshots, on Aug. 9, 2014.

Secrecy surrounds almost every aspect of the grand jury deciding whether a white police officer in the St. Louis suburb of Ferguson should be charged with a crime for fatally shooting an unarmed black teenager.

Missouri Governor Jay Nixon, a Democrat, has mobilized National Guard troops to support local law enforcement agencies if there is unrest after the decision, which could come as early as today.

The panel of nine whites and three blacks has been reviewing evidence since Aug. 20, 11 days after officer Darren Wilson killed Michael Brown, 18, in a street encounter.

Some eyewitnesses said Brown was shot while raising his hands in surrender. Police said he attacked Wilson while the officer was in his patrol car. The killing touched off street protests, some of them violent in the days after the shooting. Demonstrations have reignited as the grand jury’s determination draws near.

Mike Brown's body lying in street for four hours after he was killed, as agonized family members and neighbors watched.

Mike Brown’s body lying in street for four hours after he was killed, as agonized family members and neighbors watched.

The office of St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorney Robert McCulloch hasn’t divulged when or where the grand jury meets or when its work will be done, offering only the estimate its decision will be made in mid- to late-November.

St. Louis County doesn’t include the city of the same name. Grand jurors have been meeting in suburban Clayton, the county seat.

Identities of the grand jurors, seven of whom are male and five female, will be kept secret. At least nine of them will have to agree to a charge to return an indictment.

Jury’s Vote

Michael Brown's parents Leslie McSpadden and Michael Brown Sr. have testified before the United Nations.

Michael Brown’s parents Leslie McSpadden and Michael Brown Sr. have testified before the United Nations.

When a decision is reached, the actual vote won’t be disclosed, only whether the jurors voted for an indictment or for what’s known as a no-true bill. State law prohibits disclosure of the vote.

Panel members are prohibited by law from disclosing anything they saw or heard in the proceeding, or expressing an opinion about them, said Paul Fox, director of judicial administration for St. Louis County.

Violating that secrecy would put a juror in contempt of court with a penalty to be determined by a judge, said Edward Magee, a spokesman for McCulloch. Magee said he’s unaware of any such prosecutions in his 19 years in the prosecutor’s office.

Ferguson cops and protesters outside police station Nov. 22, 2014.

Ferguson cops and protesters outside police station Nov. 22, 2014.

The only significant disclosure from the current proceedings has been a description of Wilson’s four hours of testimony before the grand jury that was reported by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch newspaper.

St. Louis County Circuit Court Judge Carolyn Whittington overseeing grand jury, must OK verdict.

St. Louis County Circuit Court Judge Carolyn Whittington overseeing grand jury, must OK verdict.

If there is an indictment, it will require the approval of Circuit Judge Carolyn Whittington, who is overseeing the grand jury operations.

The case would then go to Presiding Judge Maura McShane, who will schedule an arraignment. From there, it would be assigned randomly to a circuit judge in the court’s criminal division.

McCulloch has already decided that barring the discovery of additional relevant evidence, he will not bring charges or resubmit the case to a grand jury if Wilson isn’t indicted, Magee has said.

POLICE UNION: CHARGES UNLIKELY FOR FERGUSON COP WHO KILLED MIKE BROWN

“It’s fair to say that neither he nor his defense team expect an indictment”

(VOD: Wilson and his attorney may have violated grand jury secrecy rules by disclosing information to police union; note subsequent denial by union head that they did so.)

By David A. Lieb 

Associated Press

 November 21, 2014

(excerpt)

Jeff Roorda, Business Manager for St. Louis Police Officers Association

Jeff Roorda, Business Manager for St. Louis Police Officers Association

Jefferson City, Mo. — The suburban St. Louis police officer who fatally shot Michael Brown seems confident that he will not face criminal charges from a grand jury that has been investigating the case for several months, a police union official said Thursday.

Jeff Roorda, business manager for the St. Louis Police Officers’ Association, said he met Thursday with Ferguson officer Darren Wilson, who has remained secluded from the public eye since the Aug. 9 shooting that sparked tense and occasionally violent protests and drew national attention.

Wilson has been under a lot of pressure and stress but appeared confident in the outcome of the grand jury investigation, Roorda said.

“It’s fair to say that neither he nor his defense team expect an indictment,” Roorda said, offering his impression of the situation based on the meeting with Wilson.

Roorda later told the AP in a text message that he was only speaking for himself.

“Wilson seems confident that justice will be served, but neither he nor his attorneys shared any expectations with me,” he said in the text.

Roorda told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that the AP “mistook what I said.”

Protesters demand indictment of Darren Wilson.

Protesters demand indictment of Darren Wilson.

“At no time did I say they don’t expect an indictment or that they are confident in what the outcome of the grand jury would be; it’s just that they seemed confident in the system,” Roorda said.

One of Wilson’s attorneys, who also attended Thursday’s meeting, said there was no specific discussion of expectations.

Darren WIlson attorney Neil Bruntrager

Darren WIlson attorney Neil Bruntrager

“We have absolutely no idea — no more than anyone else — what may or may not happen,” attorney Neil Bruntrager said. “The only expectation that we would have is that the grand jury would be thorough and fair.”

“We have absolutely no idea — no more than anyone else — what may or may not happen,” attorney Neil Bruntrager said. “The only expectation that we would have is that the grand jury would be thorough and fair.”

If he is indicted, Wilson will immediately turn himself in to authorities, Bruntrager said.

Wilson has been on paid administrative leave since the shooting.

A 12-person St. Louis County grand jury has been hearing evidence in the case as it weighs whether to issue charges against the white officer for the black 18-year-old’s death. A decision could come soon, though authorities have not publicized any specific date for an announcement.


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JUDGE DENIES ALL BUT PA 436 LAWSUIT EQUAL PROTECTION CLAIM, AFTER DETROIT BANKRUPTCY OVER

23 Jun 1963, Detroit, Michigan, USA --- Martin Luther King Jr Leading March in Detroit --- Image by © Bettmann/CORBIS

23 Jun 1963, Detroit, Michigan, USA — Martin Luther King Jr Leading March in Detroit — Image by © Bettmann/CORBIS WHAT WOULD DR. KING SAY ABOUT THE RACIST WAR ON DETROIT?

Plaintiffs’ complaint was amended to exclude Detroit

Judge Steeh: “. . .a law directed at temporarily reorganizing local government for the purpose of addressing a serious fiscal concern cannot be characterized as a vestige of slavery.”

 Plaintiffs’ attorney Philo: “. . . this case has never been just about Detroit, it’s about the law as it’s applied throughout the state. Not about any particular emergency manager or city.”

 Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.: “. . .you begin to question the capitalistic economy. You begin to ask the question, ‘Why is it that people have to pay water bills in a world that’s two-thirds water?’

 By Diane Bukowski

November 20, 2014

Linda WIllis and grandchild protest mass water shut-offs in Detroit Aug. 15, 2014.

Linda WIllis and grandchild protest mass water shut-offs in Detroit Aug. 15, 2014.

“There are forty million poor people here, and one day we must ask the question, ‘Why are there forty million poor people in America?’ And when you begin to ask that question, you are raising a question about the economic system, about a broader distribution of wealth. When you ask that question, you begin to question the capitalistic economy. And I’m simply saying that more and more, we’ve got to begin to ask questions about the whole society. . . .And you see, my friends, when you deal with this you begin to ask the question, ‘Who owns the oil?’ You begin to ask the question, ‘Who owns the iron ore?’ You begin to ask the question, ‘Why is it that people have to pay water bills in a world that’s two-thirds water?’ These are words that must be said.”  Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. “Where do we go from here? Chaos or community?” 1967

“The first thing we do, let’s kill all the lawyers.” Shakespeare: Henry The Sixth, Part 2 Act 4, scene 2, 71–78

DETROIT – U.S. District Court Judge George Caram Steeh on Nov. 19 at long last issued a ruling keeping alive a lawsuit against Public Act 436, brought by civil rights groups, public officials, and residents of Michigan cities under emergency managers, but later voluntarily amended to exclude the City of Detroit. (See ruling at Steeh rulgin EM lawsuit 11 19.)

U.S. District Court Judge George Caram Steeh

U.S. District Court Judge George Caram Steeh

Steeh had promised to render a written opinion shortly after oral arguments on April 29. But he clearly waited until after U.S. Bankruptcy Court Judge Steven Rhodes affirmed Detroit’s bankruptcy plan Nov 7. Now that severe and possibly irreparable damage has been done to the people of the largest Black-majority city in the country, Steeh has decided it’s OK to rule.

Steeh dismissed eight of nine claims at the request of the State of Michigan. He upheld only a claim based on the Equal Protection clause of the 14th Amendment, which cited the discriminatory use of Emergency Managers in Michigan’s majority-Black cities.

“The First Amended Complaint states that 52% of Michigan’s African American population resides in cities with an EM, a consent agreement, or a transition advisory board,” Steeh said. “At the same time, only about 2% of Michigan’s white citizens live in communities governed by an EM. . . Fiscal indicator scores between 5 and 7 place a municipality on a fiscal watch list while scores between 8 and 10 result in the community receiving consideration for review. However, six out of seven communities (85%) with a majority population of racial and ethnic minorities received EM’s when they had scores of 7. At the same time, none of the 12 communities (0%) with a majority white population received on EM despite having scores of 7 or higher.”

Plaintiffs' Attorney Herbert Sanders

Plaintiffs’ Attorney Herbert Sanders

During the April 29 hearing, Attorney Herbert Sanders passionately argued that PA 436 also violated the 13th Amendment, one of eight claims that Steeh denied. (Original lawsuit at PA 436 Phillips 2 6 13.)

“The stigma of PA 436 is that African Americans are incapable of self-government,” Sanders said. “I submit the denial of the right to vote through the exercise and implementation of PA 436 is to impose the badge and incidents of slavery.”

But Steeh opined, “. . . plaintiffs have not lost their right to vote. Not only is there no restraint on plaintiffs’ ability to vote in local elections, the power of the entire political process is open to them. . . . They can initiate new legislation through the petition process, or use the referendum procedure to reject PA 436, as was successfully done on . . . PA 4. With every device in the political arsenal remaining available to plaintiffs, a law directed at temporarily reorganizing local government for the purpose of addressing a serious fiscal concern cannot be characterized as a vestige of slavery.”

Detroit, Michigan - A monument to the underground railroad, which smuggled slaves to freedom in Canada, at the end of the line on the banks of the Detroit River looking towards Windsor, Ontario in Canada. Photo by Jim West

Detroit, Michigan – A monument to the underground railroad, which smuggled slaves to freedom in Canada, at the end of the line on the banks of the Detroit River looking towards Windsor, Ontario in Canada.
Photo by Jim West

Steeh wrongly stated several times that Michigan residents could reject PA 436 through a referendum. However, state statutes proclaim that the general electorate cannot rescind statutes with financial provisions in them. Such a provision was deliberately written into PA 436 to nullify the people’s right to vote on the act.

Most mainstream media coverage has echoed Crain’s Detroit’s take on the matter.

“U.S. District Judge George Steeh in a ruling today echoed U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Steven Rhodes’ prior statement that the lawsuit against Public Act 436 of 2012 would not necessarily invalidate Detroit’s bankruptcy or debt shedding plans, and called that assertion from state officials  ‘speculative at best.’ He also notes that the lawsuit claims are not directly related to Detroit.”

Atty. John Philo on RT video interview.

Atty. John Philo on RT video interview.

John Philo, another attorney for the plaintiffs, agreed that the case is not about Detroit.

“There are a hundred variables that come into play before that stage, and that (rescinding Orr’s appointment) is not our endgame,” he told Crain’s. “Because this case has never been just about Detroit, it’s about the law as it’s applied throughout the state. Not about any particular emergency manager or city.”

U.S. President Barack Obama and former Attorney General Eric Holder evidently agreed earlier, refusing to open a Voting Rights Act investigation of PA 436’s predecessor PA 4, and then sending federal witnesses to the bankruptcy trial who testified on behalf of Detroit EM Kevyn Orr. Obama staff earlier met with Detroit Emperor Dan Gilbert and his evident ally Dennis Archer to map out plans for “The Detroit District.”

Steeh continues throughout his ruling to describe PA 436 as simply “a law directed at temporarily reorganizing local government for the purpose of addressing a serious fiscal concern.”

First demonstration in Detroit calling for cancellation of city's debt to banks May 9, 2012.

First demonstration in Detroit calling for cancellation of city’s debt to banks May 9, 2012.

Such a simplistic description of the Act belies the truth of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.s’ statement challenging the system of capitalism.

The entire administration of Gov. Rick Snyder, in collusion with the Democratic administrations of two Detroit mayors and numerous Detroit legislators, have been acting at the behest of the banks and corporations represented by the law firm of Jones Day and others. They want to make an example of Detroit, boasting that they have now stripped the country’s largest Black-majority city of nearly all its assets, and of any economic self-determination whatsoever.

The capitalist system is foundering world-wide, and it is rushing to steal everything it can from the poorest and most oppressed segments of society, before moving on to the upper echelons. The future will show the level of resistance it encounters.

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. to Harry Belafonte: “We have fought hard and long for integration, as I believe we should have, and I know that we will win. But I’ve come to believe we’re integrating into a burning house. I’m afraid that America may be losing what moral vision she may have had. And I’m afraid that even as we integrate, we are walking into a place that does not understand that this nation needs to be deeply concerned with the plight of the poor and disenfranchised. Until we commit ourselves to ensuring that the underclass is given justice and opportunity, we will continue to perpetuate the anger and violence that tears at the soul of this nation.” King burning house

 


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MISSOURI GOVERNOR DECLARES STATE OF EMERGENCY IN FERGUSON

By Mariano Castillo and Dana Ford, CNN

November 18, 2014 

Michael Brown button(CNN) — Ahead of a grand jury’s decision on whether to indict a police officer in the killing of Michael Brown, Missouri has both called in the National Guard and diminished the role of the Ferguson Police Department.

Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon declared a state of emergency Monday as a precaution, he said, in the event of unrest or violence.

It’s unknown when the grand jury will hand down a decision on whether to indict Ferguson Police Officer Darren Wilson for his fatal shooting of Brown, a teen. Prosecutors have suggested the grand jury would be done deliberating in mid- to late November.

At the national level, the FBI last week issued a bulletin to law enforcement urging vigilance in the days before the Ferguson grand jury decision, according to a law enforcement official.

The bulletin did not cite any specific intelligence to suggest there was any ongoing threat to officers. It was based on what had occurred during previous protests.

The bulletin expressed concern over possible violence relating to Ferguson protests and warning officers to be vigilant. In addition, it also mentioned that officers should take proper precautions and be vigilant over possible hacking of their personal information, the law enforcement official said.

Protesters in Ferguson after Michael Brown's murder by Darren Wilson.

Protesters in Ferguson after Michael Brown’s murder by Darren Wilson.

‘Possibility of expanded unrest’

Nixon said he signed the executive order because of the “possibility of expanded unrest.”

Nixon said people have the right to protest peacefully but that citizens and businesses must be protected from violence and damage.

Michael Brown's killer Darren Wilson

Michael Brown’s killer Darren Wilson

St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay said the governor’s plan will bring National Guard troops to St. Louis County, where Ferguson is located, but he said their role is designed to be secondary to local law enforcement.

As Missouri prepared to deploy the troops — officials did not say how many — the role of the Ferguson Police Department in the case of unrest in that city will be reduced.

In the event of unrest in Ferguson, that city’s police will not be at the forefront of a response, Nixon said in a teleconference with reporters. The St. Louis County Police Department will lead any response, and they will be the ones coordinating with the National Guard, if needed.

The governor expects the role of Ferguson officers will be to handle routine calls not related to protests or unrest.

Brown, a black teen, was fatally shot by Wilson, a white police officer, on August 9. The grand jury is weighing whether to indict Wilson.

‘That ugliness … cannot be repeated’

Senseless act of violence and destruction: Mike Brown's body lies in street for four hours before being removed, as his family, friends and neighbors watched in horror.

Senseless act of violence and destruction: Mike Brown’s body lies in street for four hours before being removed, as his family, friends and neighbors watched in horror.

“In the days immediately following Michael Brown’s death, peaceful protests were marred by senseless acts of violence and destruction,” the governor said last week.

“That ugliness was not representative of Missouri, and it cannot be repeated,” said Nixon.

The state of emergency will expire in 30 days unless extended by another order.

Slay said the exact positions of the National Guard troops has not been decided, but he said the troops will “not be on the front lines, confronting protesters.”

National Guard in Ferguson

National Guard in Ferguson

They will play a secondary role, he said, and will be partnered with local law enforcement anywhere they are posted.

While Slay emphasized the back-up role of the National Guard, he said he agreed with the governor’s decision to declare a state of emergency.

The troops are needed for visibility and deterrence, Slay said.

There are too many unknowns about what the grand jury decision might be and how the public may react, he said.

Slay said it makes sense to be prepared in case there is violence.

The governor said the goal is to keep citizens safe while protecting people’s right to protest.

CNN’s Shimon Prokupecz contributed to this report.


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REV. EDWARD PINKNEY IN DETROIT MON. NOV. 17 @ 7PM; FACES LIFE IN PRISON ON CONVICTIONS WITH NO EVIDENCE

Pinkney in Detroit 11 17 14


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DETROIT BANKRUPTCY PLAN: GENOCIDE IN USA’S LARGEST BLACK-MAJORITY CITY; RICH GET 95.9%, POOR GET 13.5%

Objector James Cole called it another Greenwood massacre

Banks, corporations recover 95.9%; Detroit retirees get 13.5%

City carved up for corporate profit as water shut off to 31,300 householdsUN-Convention-on-Genocide-scan0211

By Diane Bukowski 

November 13, 2014 

DETROIT – U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Steven W. Rhodes confirmed Detroit’s “Eighth Amended Plan of Adjustment” Nov. 7, as Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder, Detroit “Mayor” Mike Duggan, and Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr, along with the vast majority of the mainstream media, celebrated unabashedly. See his order at Oral_Opinion_on_Detroit_Plan_Confirmation.

Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder and Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan celebrate bankruptcy plan confirmation Nov. 7, 2014.

Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder and Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan celebrate bankruptcy plan confirmation Nov. 7, 2014.

Thus the largest Black-majority city in the U.S. has fallen victim to the largest Chapter 9 bankruptcy filing in the country’s history. Despite proponents’ statements that the plan represents a “rebirth of Detroit,” it actually constitutes genocide as defined by the United Nations. It will dismember the city, steal its assets on a grand, unprecedented scale, and impoverish its 82 percent Black population even further, inflicting “conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part.”

Bankruptcy objector James Cole and several dozen others said in an earlier motion that Rhodes supported “parties/agents/carpetbaggers (the financial 1% leaders) that pursue a fast-track policy of plundering and pilfering the assets of Detroit’s Indigenous Citizenry under the bankruptcy fallacy and fiction.”

James Cole compared bankruptcy plan to 1921 Greenwood massacre.

James Cole compared bankruptcy plan to 1921 Greenwood massacre.

He compared the plan to the horrific, racist burning and looting of Greenwood in 1921, a prosperous community in Tulsa, Oklahoma known as “The Black Wall Street.” Three hundred Black residents of Greenwood were murdered during the assault.

A recent report from the independent Municipal Market Advisors, cited in The Bond Buyer, says the plan is likely built on sand.

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

MMA cited Detroit’s deliberately devastated public school system as a major detriment to new residency and investment in the city.

MMA also said that Rhodes’ “expert witness” Martha Kopacz, hired to review the feasibility of the plan, while affirming it, raised red flags. “The feasibility described to the court is fragile at best,” MMA said. “And, it is important to remember that the target is to provide just adequate basic services: hardly an effective marketing spin.”

This is not Detroit in 1967; it is the Black Wall Street in the Greenwood neighborhood of Tulsa, Oklahoma in 1921, consumed by flames set by KKK members and other whites. Three hundred Black residents died, thousands of homes and business were forever destroyed.

This is not Detroit in 1967; it is the Black Wall Street in the Greenwood neighborhood of Tulsa, Oklahoma in 1921, consumed by flames set by KKK members and other whites. Three hundred Black residents died, thousands of homes and business were forever destroyed.

VOD looked at the ACTUAL recovery amounts for all Detroit creditors, not the phony reports from the mainstream media that focus only on “unsecured” creditors. They claim Detroit shed $7 billion out of $18 billion in debt under the Plan of Adjustment, with city retirees faring better than corporate creditors. VOD’s analysis shows that, including vast amounts of property and revenue ceded to the corporations, corporate creditors recovered 95.9 percent of their city debt. Retirees recover only 13.5 percent, combining a 17 percent pension/annuity recovery rate with a 10 percent OPEB (health benefits) rate.

Figures in the chart below include secured debt. They are from various sources including Rhodes’ opinion, retirement system annual statements, and the Plan of Adjustment. Some  figures are approximate, such as the value of city assets handed over to corporations.

Recovery chart

Gov. Snyder lauded the settlement, will may bring about the end of Detroit.

“People will long remember that when Detroit arrived at this troubling hour, its residents and leaders – with supporters statewide – started to pull together as one,” he said in a statement. “Our state has rallied around its largest and iconic city. It is no longer Detroit vs. Michigan, but the embracing of Detroit, Michigan.”

Protester carries painting of Detroit "Dictator" Kevyn Orr.

Protester carries painting of Detroit “Dictator” Kevyn Orr.

Meanwhile, Orr stuck his foot in his mouth, confirming opponents’ observations about the origins of the bankruptcy. Perhaps he was rushing to get out of Dodge back to Washington, D.C.

“What happened here in Detroit was a combination of leadership from the governor’s office — people forget that this process began in 2010 and 2011 and its culminating now, leadership from the legislature, tolerance and leadership from city officials, and the different set of rules and laws that applied in this case, as well as from the foundations and the DIA founders who brought in a significant sum of money to address those concerns,” he said at the press conference announcing the confirmation.

Thus, he said, the Detroit case does not set a precedent for other cities.

Bruce Bennett

Bruce Bennett

Corinne Ball

Corinne Ball

Jones Day partner Bruce Bennett roundly contradicted him in a Bond Buyer interview.

“[Rhodes] opinion not only proves and endorses the plan of adjustment, it also approves and endorses the city’s approach to the Chapter 9 case,” Bennett said. “The eligibility opinion and the opinion of the judgment are going to stand as important precedents in municipal bankruptcy law for a really long time.”

Of course, many Detroiters have known for a long time that Orr has been only a Black face for the bankruptcy. In an earlier email, JD partner Corrinne Ball condescendingly told him, “Kevyn- there are diversity related issues, you have to be the star on this stuff and be able to discuss what we can provide.”

Bankruptcy is racist assault on Detroit under slavemaster PA 436

Bankruptcy protest

Bankruptcy protest

By the “different set of rules and laws that applied in this case,” Orr referred to Michigan Public Act 436, which put him in office as EM with virtually unlimited powers.

The act has disenfranchised not only Detroiters, but over half the African-American population of Michigan. Rhodes barred objectors from challenging the constitutionality of PA 436 in higher courts.  U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder and President Barack Obama ignored requests to investigate its predecessor act PA 4 as a violation of the Voting Rights Act.

No other city currently pursuing Chapter 9 is thus afflicted.

Events in 2010 and 2011 referred to by Orr included the publication of a Jones Day white paper entitled, “Pensions and Chapter 9: Can Municipalities Use Bankruptcy to Solve Their Pension Woes?” which laid out the plan of action that has governed Detroit’s bankruptcy proceedings. The parties including various law firms also conspired to ensure that the Emergency Manager act would remain on the books despite a state-wide popular repeal of PA 4.

ernst-young-hit-with-civil-fraud-suitIn 2011, Ernst & Young held a secret meeting with the Detroit City Council claiming the city was going to run out of cash by June, 2012, which it did not. Ernst & Young were the auditors for the Lehman Brothers, whose collapse precipitated the global economic crash of 2008. The states of New York and New Jersey sued E&Y for their losses. E&Y’s Gustav Mulhatra was a major witness in bankruptcy proceedings, despite not being qualified as an “expert witness.”

Law firms originally hired by the state in 2011, including Jones Day and Miller Buckfire, were later brought on board by the city, under terms of the treacherous 2012 “Consent Agreement” with the state, to carry out the plan conceived earlier.

On Oct. 10, 2012, Judge Rhodes chaired a one-sided forum on Chapter 9 and Emergency Managers which consisted of key players in the Detroit bankruptcy. They included a co-author of the original EM law, PA 4, two EM trainers, and Charles Moore of Conway McKenzie, a major non-expert witness at the bankruptcy trial. Rhodes denied requests to recuse himself for this blatant conflict of interest.

Judge Rhodes at Oct. 10, 2012 EM/CH9 forum with (l to r) Frederick Headen of State Treasury, who has helped take over dozens of cities, Edward Plawecki, EM trainers Douglas Bernstein and Judy O’Neill, also a co-author of PA4, predecessor to PA 436, and Charles Moore of Conway McKenzie, chief witness for Jones Day at bankruptcy proceedings.

Judge Rhodes at Oct. 10, 2012 EM/CH9 forum with (l to r) Frederick Headen of State Treasury, who has helped take over dozens of cities, Edward Plawecki, EM trainers Douglas Bernstein and Judy O’Neill, also a co-author of PA4, predecessor to PA 436, and Charles Moore of Conway McKenzie, chief witness for Jones Day at bankruptcy proceedings.

RHODES’ RULING: SIMPLE-MINDED, ERRONEOUS, RACIST 

Rhodes is at the lowest end of the pecking order of federal judges. Above him are the U.S. District Court, the Federal Court of Appeals, and the U.S. Supreme Court. With the help of the mainstream media and betrayals by retirement system and union officials of their memberships, Rhodes kept constitutional appeals by city workers and residents out of those courts during the pendency of the bankruptcy.

Addison Village Hall and Library

Addison Village Hall and Library

His only previous experience handling a Chapter 9 bankruptcy was that of the tiny Addison Community Hospital Authority in Lenawee County, Michigan in 1992. Addison has a population of only 605 according to the 2010 U.S. Census.

These factors help explain the stunning simple-mindedness, subtle racism, and outright errors exhibited in his oral ruling as committed to writing.

In that ruling, Rhodes says the “major issues relating to confirmation” are “good faith, best interests of creditors, professional fees, unfair discrimination, fair and equitable, and the treatment of constitutional claims against the city.”

He left out at least one key issue contained in “11 U.S. CODE § 109 – WHO MAY BE A DEBTOR,” a basic requirement that the municipality be insolvent.

DETROIT INSOLVENCY: $132.6 MILLION

Wallace Turbeville at Wayne State University forum April 8, 2014

Wallace Turbeville at Wayne State University forum April 8, 2014

In his Nov. 2013 report on Detroit’s bankruptcy, Demos Senior Fellow Wallace Turbeville, a former Wall Street banker not allowed to testify in court, said,

“Detroit’s emergency manager, Kevyn Orr, asserts that the city is bank­rupt because it has $18 billion in long-term debt. However, that figure is irrelevant to analysis of Detroit’s insolvency and bankruptcy filing, highly inflated and, in large part, simply inaccurate. In reality, the city needs to address its cash flow shortfall, which the emergency manager pegs at only $198 million, although that number too may be inflated because it is based on extraordinarily aggressive assumptions of the con­tributions the city needs to make to its pension funds.”

The full Demos Report is at Demos Detroit bankruptcy report highlighted.

The city’s 2013 Comprehensive Annual Financial Statement says, “The City of Detroit was insolvent on June 30, 2013 as the General Fund liabilities exceeded its assets by $73.0 million and cash and investments on hand totaling $102.2 million were insufficient to meet obligations then due. The City’s accumulated unassigned General Fund deficit was $132.6 million on June 30, 2013.”

So it was really $132.6 million? That was the sum total of Detroit’s alleged insolvency?

STATE OWES DETROIT AT LEAST $1.5 BILLION

Former Councilwoman JoAnn Watson speaks as groups take lawsuit for a referendum on PA 4 to the Court of Appeals.

Former Councilwoman JoAnn Watson speaks as groups take lawsuit for a referendum on PA 4 to the Court of Appeals.

At a hearing before Rhodes Oct. 15, former Detroit City Councilwoman JoAnn Watson declared, “The state has a conflict of interest because it is a debtor to the city.” She then went on to explain that Michigan owes Detroit at least $1.5 billion.

She cited the State’s deliberate refusal to pay Detroit over $224 million in agreed-upon revenue-sharing, the attendant loss of $600 million in non-resident income taxes, as well as the State’s cutting of $732 million in revenue-sharing to the city over the previous 10 years, cited in a report from the Michigan Municipal League.

Add to that the billions in tax abatements the City of Detroit has granted over the years to the various corporations which are feeding like pigs from the bankruptcy trough, and the billions of dollars lost in property and income taxes due to the massive and illegal foreclosure devastation of Detroit’s neighborhoods by those same banks and corporations.

So to avoid bankruptcy, all the state really had to do was cough up $198 million of what it and the corporations OWED the 82 percent Black population of Detroit.

Detroit Mayor Duggan (l) and others celebrate as Gov. Snyder signs “Grand Bargain.”

Detroit Mayor Duggan (l) and others celebrate as Gov. Snyder signs “Grand Bargain,” a/k/a “Grand Theft”

THE GRAND BARGAIN: PENSION PLANS LOSE HALF-BILLION DOLLARS FROM CITY OVER 10 YEARS PLUS CUTS TO WORKERS, RETIREES 

“The cornerstone of the plan is the grand bargain,” Rhodes says in his ruling, citing traitorous settlements by the Official Committee of Retirees, the General Retirement System, the Police and Fire Retirement System, AFSCME Council 25, the UAW, and various retirees’ associations.

City retirees protest April 1, 2014.

City retirees protest April 1, 2014.

“The settlements represented in the Grand Bargain are the pension settlement, the state contribution agreement, and the DIA settlement,” Rhodes says. “The plan of adjustment reflects the Grand Bargain in its treatment of class 10, which consists of the PFRS claims, and class 11, which consists of the GRS claims. The State of Michigan, a number of charitable foundations, the Detroit Institute of Arts and a number of individuals will contribute to the City’s two pension plans a total value of $816 million over 20 years.?”

Broken down, the pension funds will get contributions from the state of $195 million over 20 years, 13 percent of what Michigan owes Detroit. The DIA will contribute $100 million over 20 years, while the city loses title to billions pf dollars worth of art, which will be transferred to a bank trust, as well as the DIA building, its land, and revenues from two parking lots there. Private foundations will contribute $366 million over 20 years, no doubt using them as tax write-offs if they are not already tax-exempt non-profits.

Charles Moore, another chief “non-expert” pro-bankruptcy witness who is an accountant for Conway McKenzie, estimated the city averaged around $100 million a year in contributions to the two retirement systems, which will be eliminated until at least 2023. So that’s $1 billion. Since the Grand Bargain covers 20 years, half of it is $408 million over 10 years. That’s a LOSS in city contributions to the retirement systems of $592,000,000, over a half-billion dollars over the next 10 years.

But that’s not the end of the devastation wrought on city workers and retirees.

PENSION, ANNUITY SAVINGS, HEALTH CARE CUTS 

Wall Street bull

Wall Street bull

The mainstream media is reporting that Wall Street bondholders are angry because they are allegedly being treated worse than retirees in the bankruptcy plan.

The Bond Buyer reported, “The case did not set legal precedent because the city reached settlements with all of its major creditors. But for muni bond investors, key lessons will be the city’s successful move – supported by the state of Michigan and driven largely by political considerations – to elevate pension debt over bond debt.”

Rhodes says, “The settlement will net approximately $190 million for the GRS, which is about 49% of the City’s calculation of its claim here.” Earlier, he said the GRS allowed claim totaled $1.879 BILLION. Didn’t he learn simple math in school? That amounts to 10 PERCENT of the GRS claim.

Later, he proclaims, “The City’s disclosure statement, which the Court approved, stated that the recoveries are 59% for PFRS and 60% for GRS. Based on a number of complex arguments, the City now asserts that the true recovery percentages are much lower and that there is no discrimination in favor of the pension class 10 and 11. . . .The Court concludes that even if the pension classes’ recoveries are what the disclosure statement declares, the resulting discrimination against the unsecured and convenience classes is not unfair.”

I am a woman I am a man

Protest recalls Memphis sanitation workers’ strike of 1968, which Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. supported, and was gunned down in the midst of it.

What about discrimination against the city’s majority-Black workers, retirees and residents?

The media says General Retirement System retirees will lose “only” 4.5 percent of their monthly pension checks. In fact, losses to retirees amount to far more. The total average loss of COLA to each GRS retiree amounts to $33,500. The hotly debated savaging of retirees’ annuity savings plans will result in an average loss of $27,000 plus 6.75 percent annual interest, to retirees who generally get only $19,000 a year in pension pay-outs.  Rhodes says later the city expects to recoup $387 million from the ASF cuts alone. He says pension and ASF cuts will be capped at “only” 20 percent.

The late world renowned Detroit activist General Baker campaigned against VEBA's in the auto plants.

The late world renowned Detroit activist General Baker campaigned against VEBA’s in the auto plants.

Police and Fire Retirees, manipulated for use against non-uniformed workers, were rewarded with NO loss in their pension checks, but still a 45 percent loss in COLA.

This does not factor in cuts in health care for workers and retirees under the age of 65, expected to save the city $3.9 billion. Current retiree health plans will be replaced by “Voluntary Employee Benefit Associations” (VEBA’s), bank trusts with state-appointed boards. Language in the plan says the VEBA’s do not guarantee that ANY health care will be provided.

Rhodes says current city workers will have their pension plans frozen and replaced with “new hybrid pension plans” whose provisions are “less generous” than the current plans.

“PENSION REDUCTIONS WILL CAUSE REAL HARDSHIP. . .IN SOME CASES SEVERE” — Rhodes

Detroiter at mass demonstration against PA 4 April 13, 2011 in Lansing, MI

Detroiter at mass demonstration against PA 4 April 13, 2011 in Lansing, MI

In 2004, the City of Detroit had 13,486 employees. Ten years later, according to its Human Resources Department, it has only a little over 9,000 workers. Add to that the loss of  thousands of health, workforce development, human services, sanitation, recreation and public lighting department workers to privatization, along with DWSD workers to the regional Great Lakes Water Authority.  Clearly the retirement systems’ income from these members will diminish accordingly over the years.

Whether the systems will survive at all is open to question. ALL Detroit retirees may eventually find themselves depending solely on their Social Security checks.

Additionally, what becomes of thousands of decent jobs with union wages and benefits for the city’s increasingly unemployed population, especially the youth?

“PFRS and GRS will each have an investment committee that will make recommendations to, and in certain situations approve the actions of, their boards of trustees,” Rhodes says. These “investment committees,” largely appointed by the state, will thus decide which state business cronies get billions.

City retiree Ezza Brandon participates in protest outside Michigan AFSCME HQ after her union agreed not to appeal bankruptcy plan to Sixth Circuit Court.

City retiree Ezza Brandon participates in protest outside Michigan AFSCME HQ after her union agreed not to appeal bankruptcy plan to Sixth Circuit Court.

Regarding appeals to the Sixth Circuit Court by unions and retiree organizations, Rhodes throws out a ball park figure, not based on any cited calculations, that they will have a 25 percent chance of success.

Not to worry, though. Those groups already told the Sixth Circuit the appeals would be withdrawn if the Grand Bargain and the Plan of Adjustment go through, and that they will not oppose PA 436 or bring up the State Constitution’s protection of public pensions under Art. 9 Sec. 24.

Ironically, PA 436 requires EM’s to adhere to the provisions of Art. 9, Sec. 24, which Rhodes of course does not note in his opinion.

Calling the pension settlement “miraculous,” Rhodes then admits, “At the same time, the Court must acknowledge that these pension reductions will cause real hardship. In some cases, it is severe. This bankruptcy, however, like most, is all about the shared sacrifice that is necessary because the City is insolvent and desperately needs to fix its future.”

COPS, SYNCORA, FGIC CLAIMS: CITY PAYS $472.4 M, BILLIONS IN ASSETS, CANCELS LAWSUIT SAYING CRIMINAL DEAL WAS ‘VOID AB INITIO” 

Wall Street at City Council table advocating for disastrous $1.5 B COPS loan Jan. 31, 2005: Joe O'Keefe of Fitch Ratings speaking, Stephen Murphy of Standard and Poor's to his left; Detroit CFO Sean Werdlow (l), Deputy Mayor Anthony Adams (r).

Wall Street at City Council table advocating for disastrous $1.5 B COPS loan Jan. 31, 2005: Joe O’Keefe of Fitch Ratings speaking, Stephen Murphy of Standard and Poor’s to his left; Detroit CFO Sean Werdlow (l), Deputy Mayor Anthony Adams (r). PHOTO: Diane Bukowski

In January, 2013, EM Kevyn Orr filed suit against the parties involved in the infamous $1.5 billion Pension Obligation Certificate (POC), otherwise known as COPS (Certificates of Participation) deals of 2005-o6. He called the deals “void ab initio, illegal and unenforceable.” He cited the fact that paper corporations were created to handle the loans, and that they were a way of circumventing the city’s debt ceiling by not issuing actual bonds, among other issues.

He failed to cite the fact that city voters were deprived of their right to vote on the debt by hiding it as “certificates” instead of bonds, and the unethical involvement of then Detroit CFO Sean Werdlow, who took a top position with SBS, one of the lenders, in Nov. 2005, and is now its COO.

Currently, the city owes $2.8 billion on the COPS claims as they are commonly known, due to defaults, interest and other factors.

Protester against global bank UBS, which has committed criminal fraud world-wide.

Protester against global bank UBS, which has committed criminal fraud world-wide.

The original deal was brokered by Wall Street, whose representatives from Standard and Poor’s and Fitch Ratings came to the City Council table Jan. 31, 2005, threatening to lower the city’s bond ratings if the loan was not approved, which they did anyway at the end of 2005.

The lenders were the global bank UBS AG and SBS Financial, backed by the Bank of America. The loan was insured by Financial Guaranty Insurance Corporation (FGIC), and Syncora.

UBS AG and BOA have been criminally and civilly charged in hundreds of lawsuits around the world for manipulating the LIBOR interest rate to their benefit, and otherwise gouging profits illegally from mortgage loans and other sources. UBS AG paid a $2.5 billion settlement to the U.S. Department of Justice in one lawsuit.

Rhodes claims it is only 13 percent of the original claim. Rhodes LIES.

Joe Louis Arena on priceless Detroit waterfront.

Joe Louis Arena on priceless Detroit waterfront.

Settlements with UBS, BOA, FGIC and Syncora totaled $472.4 million in new debt, including the $33 million Downtown Development Authority claim.

But they also included the handover of city revenues from Joe Louis Arena and profits from later redevelopment of surrounding, priceless riverfront land, all city revenues from the Detroit-Windsor Tunnel and the Grand Circus Park parking garage, plus other unspecified claims on city assets. There has been no total computation of the worth of these assets, but they most certainly run into billions of dollars, far more than the outstanding debt.

‘GREAT INVESTMENTS’ IN DETROIT BY FGIC, SYNCORA?

Lawyers and financial advisors celebrate FGIC agreement. Hidden amongst all the whites is EM Kevyn Orr, crouching down in center. Photo: Crain's

Lawyers and financial advisors celebrate FGIC agreement. Hidden amongst all the whites is EM Kevyn Orr, crouching down in center. He wasn’t even named in Crain’s caption.

State and city leaders have touted the deals as great investments in Detroit. However, FGIC is currently under state oversight in New York City.

“FGIC emerged from rehabilitation on August 19, 2013, and is responsible for administering its outstanding insurance policies in accordance with the terms of the First Amended Plan of Rehabilitation for FGIC, dated June 4, 2013,” according to an FGIC release.

FGIC is under state oversight due to poor financial condition in past.

FGIC is under state oversight due to poor financial condition in past.

That is why it must get New York state approval for the deal.

Weiss Ratings said it was “on the brink of failure” in 2012.

“As of March 31, 2012, FGIC reported negative capital of $3.7 billion and losses year to date of $146.7 million, after $1.2 billion losses in 2011. It had been rated “Very Weak” by Weiss Ratings since January 2010,” the agency reported.

FGIC filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in 2010, citing $391.5 million in debt as compared to $11 million in assets.

Syncora has seen a downturn in its financial position as well. It is currently being monitored by the New York State Department of Financial Services.

A 2012 report from the department said, “Due to the deterioration of the financial condition of the Company, the Department denied the repayment of the entire unpaid principal amount outstanding and all accrued interest on the$150,000,000 short-term surplus note maturing on December 28, 2011.”

Puerto Rican workers have been demonstrating all year against proposed cutbacks to their pensions and jobs, to solve the island's debt crisis, made in the USA.

Puerto Rican workers have been demonstrating all year against proposed cutbacks to their pensions and jobs, to solve the island’s debt crisis, made in the USA. Their unions have threatened a general strike. Utility unions are calling on customers NOT to pay their bills!

Both FGIC and Syncora are on the hook for billions of dollars in insurance on various forms of debt in Puerto Rico, which is facing the possibility of default, forcing insurers to accumulate larger financial holdings.

The Bond Buyer reported, “Total net par outstanding exposure to Puerto Rico bonds by Assured, MBIA’s National Public Finance Guarantee, Ambac Assurance Corp., Syncora Guarantee and Financial Guarantee Insurance Corp was $15.7 billion by June 30, according to an analysis by the Bond Buyer. The financial guarantors have wrapped a wide spectrum of Puerto Rico debt, from commonwealth general obligations to below investment-grade aqueduct and sewer bonds.

“Puerto Rico is one of the major systemic risks they’re facing,” said Triet Nguyen, managing partner of Axios Advisors LLC. “If it does come down to substantial default, then bond insurance will get hit the same way they’re going to get hit on Detroit. The key is going to be the Puerto Rico economy, at the end of the day, it drives everything else.”

Rhodes' ruling now means muni bonds can be backed by city assets in Chapter 9 bankruptcy.

Rhodes’ ruling now means muni bonds can be backed by city assets in Chapter 9 bankruptcy.

Does Detroit REALLY want these incompetent, greedy companies investing here?

Ironically, other business magazines report that the market for municipal bonds has improved since Detroit’s settlement with FGIC and Syncora. That is clearly because insurers figure that what they can’t get from tax-backed bonds they can steal from the assets of the cities they insure.

No wonder Rhodes rushed into these deals. After all, the stock market demanded it.

BEST INTEREST OF CREDITORS: ART, NOT WATER PRESERVED

Rhodes completely contradicts himself in this section.

Detroit Institute of Arts saved for private elite.

Detroit Institute of Arts saved for private elite.

“No provision of law allows the creditors to access the DIA art to satisfy their claims,whether in bankruptcy or outside of bankruptcy,” he says, referring to attempts by some creditors to monetize DIA holdings.

Rhodes then lauds in glowing terms the contributions of the DIA.

“The evidence unequivocally establishes that the DIA stands at the center of the City as an invaluable beacon of culture, education for both children and adults, personal journey, creative outlet, family experience, worldwide visitor attraction, civic pride and energy, neighborhood and community cohesion, regional cooperation, social service, and economic development,” he raves.

However, he says later, “Beyond that, the record reflects that the City has made reasonable efforts to monetize other assets, including the Detroit Windsor Tunnel, certain real estate properties, certain parking properties, the Joe Louis arena property and certain other property that it no longer needs. It also entered into the Great Lakes Water Authority memorandum of understanding with Wayne, Oakland and Macomb Counties, which benefits all creditors. The Court finds that the City has made reasonable efforts to monetize its assets to satisfy the best interests of creditors test.”

Wastewater Treatment Plant worker on strike Sept. 30, 2012 in heroic, last-ditch effort to SAVE DETROIT>

Wastewater Treatment Plant worker on strike Sept. 30, 2012 in heroic, last-ditch effort to SAVE DETROIT>

Thus, Rhodes says, it is all right to monetize and give away an asset like the $6 billion Detroit Water and Sewerage Department, which provides the most essential element of life aside from air to its customers—water.

This comes as no surprise, since he earlier ruled that there is no obligation under the State constitution to provide sanitary water at affordable prices to Michigan residents. He was responding to a lawsuit filed on behalf of tens of thousands of Detroiters, including seniors, children and disabled people, objecting to Detroit’s massive shut-off of water to their homes.

Remember part of the UN definition of genocide: “Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group; deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part.” 

 

 

UNFAIR DISCRIMINATION – “A MATTER OF CONSCIENCE” NOT LAW 

Rhodes now declares, “In connection with this final step, the Court must determine the meaning of the phrase unfair discrimination in section 1129(b). The Court concludes that fairness and unfairness are matters of conscience and that determining fairness is a matter of relying upon the judgment of conscience.”

The 14th Amendment should protect the people of Detroit against unequal treatment; Rhodes thinks its up to his conscience, a sure sign of racist beliefs.

The 14th Amendment should protect the people of Detroit against unequal treatment; Rhodes thinks its up to his conscience, a sure sign of racist beliefs.

He proceeds to claim that the plan FAIRLY discriminates IN FAVOR OF PENSIONERS.

Of course, as can be seen from the chart above, that is not the case. Corporations get a 95.9 percent recovery, while pensioners get 13.5 percent.

As far as unfair discrimination being a matter of conscience, Rhodes, although he is a Federal judge, has apparently forgotten numerous Federal LAWS including among many, the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Voting Rights Act, the 14th Amendment to the United States Constitution, the Equal Employment Opportunity Act, Age Discrimination Acts, Americans with Disabilities Act, Equal Pay Act, Family and Medical Leave Act, and the Homeless Bill of Rights.

Civil Rights ActThese laws were not passed to protect the corporations and banks of this country, as Rhodes seems to aver. Many have been cited in lawsuits challenging the constitutionality of PA 436. Most glaring, of course, are the Detroit bankruptcy filing’s violations of the Civil and Voting Rights acts, and the 14th Amendment.

This bankruptcy filing was brought down under a dictatorship, without the consent of Detroiters or their elected officials.

It GROSSLY violates the 14th Amendment.

The 14th Amendment to the Constitution ratified on July 9, 1868, granted citizenship to ‘all persons born or naturalized in the United States,’ which included former slaves recently freed. In addition, it forbids states from denying any person “life, liberty or property, without due process of law” or to “deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.” By directly mentioning the role of the states, the 14th Amendment greatly expanded the protection of civil rights to all Americans and is cited in more litigation than any other amendment,” says a Library of Congress web guide.

The City of Detroit is the largest and poorest Black majority city in the U.S. It was deliberately targeted by Jones Day, which represents most of the major banks and corporations in the U.S., and by Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder and the think tanks behind him, which formulated the emergency manager laws. Those laws have targeted ONLY majority Black cities in Michigan.

We Charge GenocideThe Detroit bankruptcy ruling seeks to turn back the clock to the days of slavery and Jim Crow, with Detroiters subservient to their plantation masters in the country’s white oligarchy. More than that, it seeks to LYNCH the City of Detroit, to commit genocide against its majority residents, by “Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group and deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part.” 

Other parts of the UN definition of genocide are being carried out against the majority population of Detroit by other arms of the state. They include the disproportionate kidnapping of Black and poor children by Child Protective Services, the unbridled police murders and incarcerations of Blacks from Detroit and across Michigan and the U.S., and finally Detroit’s skyrocketing infant mortality rate, a direct effect of poverty and the destruction of available public health care through privatization of the Detroit Health Department, and the sale of the Detroit Medical Center to Wall Street hedge funds for profit.

What does a people do when faced with genocide? Organize an army, construct barricades to stop the water shut-off trucks, take over essential city services, take back DWSD and Belle Isle by any means necessary. Preserve the future for the children and grandchildren of the City of Detroit. THIS IS A GENUINE AND IMMEDIATE MATTER OF LIFE OR DEATH.

The video above is of a press conference held by the Detroit Retired and Active Employees Association. They can be contacted c/o Bill Davis at 313-622-6430. Other organizations active in the ongoing fight against the Detroit bankruptcy plan of genocide are Detroiters Resisting Emergency Management, at http://www.d-rem.org/, the Stop of Theft of Our Pensions Committee at 313-680-5508, and many more.

There are no related VOD stories posted here because they are too numerous. Just put “bankruptcy” or “emergency manager” or “consent agreement” in the search engine to bring up complete VOD coverage of the Detroit takeover over the past several years.


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