(VIDEO ABOVE EDITED TO INCREASE VOLUME): CORTEZ DAVIS makes statement to Judge Shannon Walker expressing his daily regret over 23 yrs. for the death of Raymond Davis, Jr. (no relation). He was not the shooter. Judge Walker sentenced Davis to 25-60 years, not the 10-40 years his trial Judge Vera Massey Jones originally gave him in 1994, calling juvenile life without parole “cruel and unusual punishment.” Judge Walker admitted that Judge Jones’ sentence was LEGAL, as the US Supreme Court later declared (Miller v. Alabama, 2012, Montgomery v. Louisiana 2016.)

Davis is certified paralegal, ASL tutor, master gardener, G.O.A.L.S. youth mentor, but will still have to wait 2 more yrs. for parole eligibility

Zerious “Bobby” Meadows awaits 2nd re-sentencing May 12

Resentencing for Michigan juvenile lifers moves at cruelly slow pace: report says 68 out of 364 resentenced; of those, 18 paroled, 8 await imminent release, 21 still have to serve multiple years before parole eligibility

Cortez Davis awaits re-sentencing April 27, 2017.

By Diane Bukowski

Updated May 14, 2017

DETROIT—Despite his attorney Clint Hubbell’s contention that juvenile lifer Cortez Davis, now 40, has been serving an unconstitutional sentence for 23 years, Wayne County Circuit Court Judge Shannon Walker re-sentenced him to 25-60 years on April 27, instead of the 10-40 years Hubbell requested. Judge Walker, however, did call the 10-40 year sentence “legal.”

Retired Judge Vera Massey Jones handed down that sentence in 1994 for the murder of Raymond Davis, Jr. (no relation) during a botched street robbery, but was overturned on appeal.

Judge Massey Jones said then that she believed juvenile life without parole was unconstitutionally  “cruel and unusual punishment,” a declaration made law by the U.S. Supreme Court in Miller v. Alabama  (2012),  and Montgomery v. Louisiana (2016).

Davis’ defense attorney Clint Hubbell noted that the original sentence was clearly appropriate, because after his first 10 years in prison, Davis ceased getting tickets for various non-violent infractions. He said Davis has been ticket-free for the last 10 years, and listed his numerous accomplishments during the past 23 years.

As Davis said in an earlier article for VOD, these accomplishments for him and other juvenile lifers began well before the Miller decision. (See box.)

“I want society to know that I am no longer the broken boy that I once was,” Davis told the court April 27. “The Hon.Vera Massey Jones was one of the first people in my life who showed a positive interest in me.  For the life of me I did not see what she saw. But  I was determined not to let what she saw in me go to waste, nor am I willing to let the sacrifice that Raymond Davis, Jr. made go to waste. So I do all that I can to make sure that I can be a better me. His mother said his spirit will always live on, and I really believe his spirit lives on in me.”

Davis survived a horrific childhood, growing up in drug-infested surroundings, at one point becoming homeless, and dropping out of school in eighth grade to support his younger siblings.

Despite a sterling prison record, Davis will now have to wait at least another two years before becoming parole eligible, under hotly contested state statutes passed in 2014 requiring mandatory minimums of 25-40 years and maximums of 60 years.  A federal case, Hill v. Snyder, in which a U.S. District Court Judge initially declared all Michigan juvenile lifers eligible for parole after 10 years, is now on its second appeal to the Sixth Circuit Court by the American Civil Liberties Union.

Defense attorney Clint Hubbell argues on behalf of his client Cortez Davis, while Asst. Prosecutors Tom Dawson and wife Lori Dawson wait their turn. Dawson asked for 28-40 years and expressed cynicism about Davis’ remorse.

“Cortez served six months of the constitutional sentence Judge Jones gave him before it was appealed,” his attorney Clint Hubbell said after the hearing. “This new sentence is an unconstitutional ex post facto violation. These judges now know appeals courts will kick back any sentences [differing from the statutes].”

On March 28, an Appeals Court overturned Wayne County Circuit Court Judge Bruce Morrow’s re-sentencing of Zerious “Bobby” Meadows, 63, to 25 -45 years after he had served nearly 46 years in a felony murder case. The court kicked his case back to Judge Morrow, who will conduct a hearing Friday, May 12, at 9 a.m.

Davis lauded Judge Morrow for adhering to the spirit of Miller and Montgomery, in an article published below  “Why Impede on Their Freedom?” He also questioned the motivation of Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy in continuing to challenge a sentencing judge’s right to determine when enough is enough.

Davis’ brother, grandmother and another relative attended the hearing, along with a cousin of Raymond Davis, Jr., who said she believed Davis had not shown remorse or “found Jesus.” In an interview with VOD after the hearing, Davis’ brother Andre Parks expressed his regret that Judge Walker had not allowed Davis to be released with time served. But he and his grandmother, who cared for Davis and his siblings at various times, both said they would be waiting with open arms for Davis to finally come home.

Above: Davis’ brother Andre Parks reacts to his sentencing.

Atty. Hubbell was to meet with his client this week to decide how to proceed from the outcome of the April 27 hearing.

Meanwhile, the rest of Michigan’s juvenile lifers face more cruel and unusual punishment as  their re-sentencings creep along. The State Appellate Defenders Office (SADO), which has been assigned and paid by the state to represent juvenile lifers without attorneys, refused earlier to challenge the resentencing statutes as the ACLU is doing. 

DR. DEATH: Medical care in Michigan prisons.

SADO recently published a list of juvenile lifers who had been resentenced as of April 27. Out of 364 known cases, only 68 juvenile lifers have been resentenced, according to their list. All of them have received 60 year maximums, a practice condemned by many in the judicial world as nothing but another life sentence.

Conditions in Michigan’s prisons are harsh, with extremely poor medical treatment and dietary practices.

Juvenile lifer Charles Lewis, who has been incarcerated for 41 years,  told VOD that  prisoners call the head doctor at Lakeland Correctional Facility “Dr. Death,” because they frequently do not return alive from the prison hospital. He said they are often given the option of being “medicated to death,” i.e. placed on high doses of pain-killing drugs, since they are dying from lack of care anyway.  He said many take that option. 

Curtis Clark, 45, died 10/12/16

Bennie Clay, 66, died 1/16/2016.

“I am currently on the bunk that Benny Clay was on before he died,” Lewis wrote. “He died from complete medical neglect. For over a year he complained about back pain. And, for a year the prison doctors told him that it was the sciatic nerve in his back. When they finally decided to treat him he was terminally ill. Jerome “Beno” Haywood used to talk to me every day. We filed pleadings in the same courts at the same time. He started complaining about back pain, then went to the hospital and died. I worked in the kitchen with a young kid that wasn’t born when I got locked up [in 1976], Curtis Clark. He was the dining room lead, and I was the relief lead. He complained about back pain for two years. When they finally decided to treat him he was terminally ill.

Charles Lamont Lewis, 58, has had 3 heart attacks, has severe diabetes

“Suffice it to say that for every one that I write about there are at least five that died that I didn’t know. Most of us that have been in here for years are racing with death. Most of us have lived past the expiration date on our birth certificates. Let it come rough or smooth surely we must bear it.” (Photos of Clay and Clark are still on MDOC website. They are listed as “DISCHARGED.”)

Lewis, who earned a culinary arts degree in prison, said prisoners themselves used to cook their own food, produced on farms they worked. Former Michigan Gov. John Engler sold the farms off. MDOC hired the notorious Aramark and Trinity Corporations to provide food for their profit. Lewis said the private workers do not have food-handlers certificates, or training as cooks. He said they use rotten unwashed produce and do not clean the kitchens or machines and utensils properly if at all.

Juvenile lifer Bosie Smith.

Out of the 68 re-sentenced prisoners on SADO’s chart, only 18 have actually been released from these horrors on parole, with eight more having seen the parole board and awaiting promised release. Twenty-one of the juvenile lifers have been subjected to Davis’ situation, where they still must serve MORE time before they become parole eligible, ranging up to 30 additional years. Eighty-five percent of the prisoners are Black. On average, they have served a total of 27 years so far. Their average age when they were incarcerated was 16.

One example is Bosie Smith, 16 when he went to prison. He has served almost 25 years, but was resentenced to 31-60 years after the prosecutor first recommended another JLWOP sentence.  Smith  was the subject of two stories in MLive, linked below this story. One focused in particular on his work in a program at Lakeland Correctional Facility, training rescued dogs to be guide dogs and companions. That program is also at the Thumb Correctional Facility, where Davis is incarcerated. Davis wrote about it previously in a story for VOD.

See SADO chart at http://voiceofdetroit.net/wp-content/uploads/Resentenced-JLWOP-Clients-4-27-17-in-pdf-from-Excel.pdf

Michigan’s juvenile lifer resentencing statutes also forbid the use of “good time” credits that many prisoners like Davis achieve, further lengthening the time to be served under the state statutes.

Many counties have asked that dozens of their juvenile lifers be re-sentenced to JLWOP, grossly violating a U.S. Supreme Court directive that “only the rarest child” should be deemed incorrigible and sent back to die in prison. Prosecutors’ briefs regarding these prisoners are generally boiler plate, giving no reasons why they consider them incorrigible.


 By Cortez Davis El

Cortez Davis El

The United States Supreme Court made it perfectly clear that juvenile lifers who are now rehabilitated must be allowed to rejoin society while they are still able to contribute in a meaningful way. In two cases the highest court in the land counseled against treating child offenders like adults.

More specifically the United States Supreme Court held: “Roper and Graham establish that children are constitutionally different from adults for purposes of sentencing; because juveniles have diminished culpability and greater prospect for reform, they are less deserving of the most severe punishment.” (Miller v. Alabama, 567 U.S.___, 132 S. Ct. 2455) (2012). 

Recently the Honorable Bruce Morrow tried to follow the law and constitution as interpreted by the United States Supreme Court, when three juvenile cases were in front of him. He assessed if the men before him had been rehabilitated. You can extrapolate that Judge Morrow found the three juvenile offenders that have been incarcerated for two decades mature and not a threat to society when he re-sentenced them and ordered their immediate release.

Once again the County Prosecutor [Kym Worthy] went to the high court to stop the process and impede on the freedom that the Third Circuit Judge saw fit to restore. In Montgomery v. Lousiana, 577 U.S. ___, 136 S. Ct. 718 (2016) the U.S. Supreme Court held, “If a state may not constitutionally insist that a prisoner remain in jail on federal habeas corpus review, it may not constitutionally insist on the same result in its own postconviction proceeding.” Yet the County Prosecutor is fighting to do just that and is asking the Michigan Courts to help.

When the U.S. Supreme Court extended its line of precedents to include juvenile offenders that had committed homicide offenses, this restored a sentencing judge’s discretion to enforce the spirit of the Eighth Amendment’s prohibition of cruel and unusual punishment.

Wayne County Circuit Court Judge Bruce Morrow

The Miller Court specifically said the Eighth Amendment’s prohibition of cruel and unusual punishment “guarantees individuals the right not to be subjected to excessive sanctions.” Roper 543 U.S. at 560.

The Court went on to explain that right “flows from the basic precepts of justice that punishment for crime should be graduated and proportioned” to both the offender and the offense. If the sentencing court has discretion, then why not allow their decision to restore freedom stand?  The U.S. Supreme Court did not just rely on historical precedent in their decision, but “the evolving standards of decency that mark the progress of a maturing society.”

The U.S. Supreme Court emphasized that the distinctive attributes of youth diminish the penological justifications for imposing the harshest sentences on juvenile offenders, even when they commit terrible crimes. Does this also hold true when determining if a child that has been locked away for decades is mature and rehabilitated enough to be released back into society? They have suffered continuous punishment and incapacitation. When will they be released to truly pay their debt to society by contributing to the community that they hurt?


Related stories:

On Bosie Smith:



From VOD:






























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Earlier portrait of Robinson family in happier days. The original adorns Gayle Robinson’s living room in her Westland home.

Rowan wants Robinson permanently placed at nursing home

State, federal laws re: veteran guardianship violated

Judge Terrance Keith praises guardian widely condemned as vulture, sets next hearing for Mon. May 17, 2017

Trial date for Sharmain Sowards, who defended her mother Wanda Worley against Rowan kidnapping, set for Thurs. May 4, 2017

Worley files petition to remove Mary Rowan as guardian; hearing set for May 25, 2017 in front of Probate Court Judge David Braxton

USMC veteran Gayle Robinson with early  photo of her late husband Russell, also a veteran.

DETROIT – After a fractious family battle lasting three years, Marine Corps veteran Gayle Robinson’s adult children all told Wayne County Probate Court Judge Terrance Keith April 24 that they want their mother back in her Westland home of 60 years, and notorious guardian/conservator Mary Rowan promptly dumped from her case.

Robinson is currently confined against her will in the Maple Manor nursing home in Wayne, Michigan, where Rowan placed her indefinitely without any court order. Keith had pledged during a hearing July 28, 2014, that he would not allow Robinson to be removed from her home without such an order, according to court transcripts.

“Why I am in jail?” Robinson asked a friend of the family who told VOD she visited her at Maple Manor a few days before the hearing.  Robinson told VOD during an earlier hearing that she wanted to remain in her home with her son Randy, his daughter and her dog Fluffy, a wish which a former Guardian Ad Litem, Ella Bully-Cummings, also relayed to Judge Keith.

The friend said Robinson was sitting at a table in the corner of the Maple Manor dining room with three other residents, none of whom were eating the food placed in front of them. She said Robinson had a shriveled up hot dog and potato chips on her plate. 

“When Gayle recognized me, she got up and gave me a big hug,” the friend said. They went together to the tiny room she sleeps in, but another resident who Robinson said sleeps all day occupied the bed next to a tiny TV. So Robinson does not watch the TV. When nursing home staff saw her in the room, they promptly told her to leave, she said, saying Robinson’s guardian Rowan did not want anyone visiting before her court hearing.

Mary Rowan (headshot taken outside CAYMC)

Over the past three years, Robinson has been deemed able to live on her own by medical professionals at Henry Ford Hospital, the Veterans’ Administration, and even a court-appointed evaluator, Dr. Marlena Geha.

“We have all come together,” Robinson’s daughter Mary Robinson told Keith during the hearing April 24, as the adult children crowded in front of him. “My mother’s wish is to be in her home. I will move out of my home and stay with her if she needs it. My mom is entitled to [in-home] care as a veteran. But instead over $5,000 of her insurance money has been spent at Maple Manor, out of $9,000.”

She said Rowan’s assistant Katie McDonald told her that her mother is not eligible for VA in-home care.

Judge Terrance Keith; scandal erupted when he tried to copyright Riverwalk name for his profit.

Other siblings at the hearing expressed unanimous agreement that their mother should be back at home, and that Rowan should be removed as guardian/conservator.

“I lived in my mom’s house for six months every night,” said son Ricky Robinson, referring to an agreement reached with McDonald that someone be with Robinson at all times. “But I was nothing but her prison guard, so we stopped. I kept visiting her with my kids. Please let Randy move [back] in with my mother and get rid of Mary Rowan.”

Randy and his daughter Lynette had been living peacefully with Robinson, who was active in VA affairs and other events, and was able to manage her own home and financial affairs, when her oldest daughter Kathleen Law opened probate proceedings in 2014.

Keith later ordered Randy out of the home and even jailed him for three months at Rowan’s request after his mother fled to her brother’s home in California to avoid placement in a nursing home. Keith’s order in the matter, which included a ban on family members commenting in the media on Gayle Robinson’s situation, received negative coverage on a national blog, run by Mary Sykes, in an article titled, “Worst and most amazing gag order imaginable.”  

See http://voiceofdetroit.net/wp-content/uploads/Worst-and-most-amazing-gag-orders-imaginable-TK-order-7-8-15.pdf

Gayle Robinson home of 60 years in Westland.

According to court testimony, Robinson fell twice during the period she was living on her own after her other children were not able to stay with her on a 24/7 basis in 2015. She was hospitalized once with non-life-threatening injuries.

The hospital released her with a recommendation that she use a walker, but did not say that she needed around-the-clock care. Evidently, Rowan never considered purchasing a “Life Alert” necklace for her ward. One press of the Life Alert button, used by many seniors living on their own, summons emergency medical personnel.

Randy Robinson, who has contended all along that his mother needed no guardian or conservator, said, “She feels like she’s in prison [at the nursing home]. “She can’t stand being there. She wanted to be here today and I don’t know why she’s not.”

Randy Robinson with daughter Lynette

Rowan filed a petition asking that Keith have Robinson remain at Maple Manor and that Mary Robinson pay all her guardian/conservatorship fees for the disputed time.

When a guardian is appointed for an individual, they are given a notice of their rights. It is highly questionable whether Rowan and her assistant McDonald have adhered to the following, among those laid out by the state:

  • You have the right to get an independent evaluation of your condition at your own expense.  If you cannot afford to pay for the evaluation, the court will approve reasonable costs at public expense. (Gayle Robinson presented numerous reports earlier on, but they were ignored by Judge Keith.)
  • You have the right to be present at the hearing. If you wish to be present at the hearing, all practical steps must be taken to ensure your presence, including moving the site of the hearing.
  • You have the right to have your incapacity and the need for a guardian proven by clear and convincing evidence.
  • You have the right to have the guardian’s powers and the time period of the guardianship be limited to only the amount and time necessary.
  • You have the right to send an informal letter to the judge asking that your guardianship be modified or ended.
  • You have the right to have a hearing within 28 days of requesting a review, modification, or termination of your guardianship.
  • You have the right to consult with the guardian about major decisions affecting you, if meaningful conversation is possible.
  • You have the right to be visited by your guardian at least once every three months.
  • You have the right to have the guardian secure services to restore you to the best possible state of mental and physical well-being so you can return at the earliest possible time to managing your own affairs.

Rowan chief assistant Katie McDonald; still shot from video when she and Westland cop took Rowan from her home in 2014 without a court order.

Rowan, her assistant Katie McDonald, current Guardian Ad Litem Maria Vulaj, and Anna Duba, Maple Manor LPN and director of Admissions and Case Management, contended that Robinson needs 24/7 care based on statements they presented in Vulaj’s report during the April 24 hearing.

Duba testified, but as an LPN she is not qualified to diagnose patients.

One of two written statements is from Senior Wellness Group, which has the same address as Maple Manor, 3999 Venoy Road, Westland, MI.  Maple Manor is a for-profit organization run by the Evangelista Group, which constructed the building, according to state records.

Another statement, which misspelled Gayle Robinson’s name as Gail Robinson, is from Trupti Patel, MD. It says  in one sentence  that Robinson has dementia and therefore needs 24/7 care.

They alleged the Veterans Administration has refused to release an evaluation of Robinson performed Feb. 27, 2017, because of  publicity attendant on the case, largely from VOD.

Keith ordered them to subpoena the records.

Evangelista family celebrating profits from their nursing homes.

The Michigan’s Uniform Veterans’ Guardianship Act 321 of 1937 says, “The administrator of veterans affairs, or his successor, is and shall be a party in interest in any proceedings brought under any law of this state for the appointment of a guardian of a veteran of any war or other beneficiary on whose account benefits of compensation, adjusted compensation, pension or insurance or other benefits are payable by the veterans administration.”

It further requires that the VA must examine any potential ward considered mentally incompetent before any VA funds can continue to be paid out. It also bars guardians with 10 wards from acting as a veteran’s guardian. Mary Rowan has over 400 active wards, and at least 1400 probate cases of various sorts.

Debbie Fox (r) joined Sharmain Sowards and her mother Wanda Worley at 33rd District Court in Woodhaven earlier for trial on “assault” charges brought against Sowards for legally defending her mother from Mary Rowan’s seizure without a court order. Hearing was canceled, moved to Thurs. May 4. On May 2, Wanda Worley filed her own petition to remove Mary Rowan as her guardian. A hearing will be held May 25, 2017 in front of Judge David Braxton. (See link to petition below.)

“It’s totally illegal, a federal offense that any Court should take a veteran that receives Federal benefits in as a ward of the state if it was not said by the VA that the Ward needs to be put in guardianship,” Gayle Robinson’s daughter Debbie Fox told VOD.

During the hearing, Judge Keith lifted an earlier “show cause” order against Fox, part of the one which preceded her brother Randy’s three-month stint in jail.

Randy Robinson is now represented by attorney Matt Chaiken, who told Judge Keith he would draft an order for the family to present to the judge regarding Rowan’s removal as guardian/conservator and Robinson’s return to her home. Judge Keith set the next hearing for Monday, May 17, 2017.

Keith also spent several minutes condemning the adult children of the Robinson family for their earlier divisions, and said HE selected Mary Rowan as guardian because she is a “tough” attorney needed in such disputes.

So far, property records show Rowan has not been able to get control of the Westland home, but many guardians eventually profit from their wards’ estates by taking their homes. As conservator, Rowan does currently control Robinson’s income from the Veterans’ Administration and other sources. Court records show she was granted four extensions before finally filing an income report from the opening of her conservatorship to January of 2016.

This reporter had filed a formal request to cover the hearing using audio and visual equipment with the Probate Court’s deputy administrator. On entering the court, she was informed that Keith had granted the request. Later, however, Rowan marched back into Keith’s chambers.

Keith returned to the bench after a break, and announced that he had been advised that the only legal videotaping of a Probate Court hearing is that done by the court itself. He said the court video would be provided on request.

Rowan asked that all camera/cell phones be seized and that all email accounts be investigated. Keith did not grant that request, a gross example of unconstitutional prior restraint of the media, violating the First Amendment.

This reporter was informed today by Keith’s court clerk Jamille Hill that the videotape would not be released, but that she would be required to hire a court reporter at her expense to transcribe the hearing. Since VOD is a pro bono newspaper, published on the editor’s fixed income, Judge Keith will thus have to excuse any errors made in this story. This reporter and others have had no problems audiotaping and videotaping court proceedings in other Wayne County Courts.


Wanda Worley’s letter to judge demanding Mary Rowan’s removal due to violation of Worley’s rights as a ward and Rowan’s duties as guardian.



Rights of an individual with a guardian:


Powers and duties of a guardian:


Michigan Mental Health Code re: placement of wards with developmental disabilities


Guardianship petitions: Summary under Michigan Law













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Black Youth Project 100, Michigan Abolition Alliance, Mertilla Jones, others demand end to new Wayne Co. Jail, Dan Gilbert’s gentrification of Detroit

Protest held at new jail construction site during rush hour April 21, 2017; dozens honked horns in support

Group previously disrupted Feb. 16 Wayne County Commission meeting where commissioners voted $500,000 to study Gilbert jail swap proposal

Mertilla Jones announces protest on 2nd anniversary of 19-year-old dad Terrance Kellom’s execution by Detroit and ICE, to be held Thurs. April 27 from 1-3 pm outside the Frank Murphy Hall, Gratiot and St. Antoine

By Diane Bukowski

April 25, 2017

DETROIT — As evening rush hour traffic raced down Gratiot April 21, youth from Black Youth Project 100 and others, including Mertilla Jones, grandmother of Aiyana Jones, protested outside the foreboding structure of the half-done Wayne County Jail, calling for millions to be spent on schools, housing, and water for the people instead.  

Yana (center) was among these protesters outside the failed Wayne County Jail site April 21, 2017

I don’t want to see any jail, abolish jails, stop mass incarceration of Black people, it’s all connected,” a young woman named Yana told VOD.

“We have money to support stadiums and jails, but a bunch of schools closing, that’s fine.  The school to jail pipeline is so obvious right now, like crowded schools, kids get disinterested, kids get ignored, and the next thing you know they’re in the streets, they haven’t learned anything. It’s perfect for the people in charge—all you have to do is lock ’em all up, put ’em away, and you can have all the white people come and enjoy all the fruits of the labor. It’s not OK.”

David Langstaff of the Michigan Abolition Alliance said the group earlier disrupted a Wayne County Commission meeting on multi-billionaire developer Dan Gilbert’s proposal to build a soccer stadium at the failed jail site, while constructing an entirely new “justice complex” at the current site of the Wayne County Lincoln Hall of Justice (Youth Division) on East Forest and I-75.

Langstaff and others demanded a complete end to prisons and police as they are currently configurated, calling instead for people’s “restorative justice.” He said the group’s fight against mass incarceration began with support for a national strike by prisoners Sept. 9, 2016, on the anniversary of the historic Attica prison rebellion in 1971. Prisoners from Michigan’s Kinross Correctional Facility took part. (See http://voiceofdetroit.net/2016/09/12/remember-attica-michigans-kinross-prisoners-join-nationwide-strikes-protests/)

Arthur, a leader of Black Youth Project 100, a national organization, spoke at the rally. He said the group has chapters here in Detroit, Chicago, New York City, and New Orleans, among others. They have a Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/BYP100 and a website at http://byp100.org/.

The Detroit Public School system, largely under state-appointed CEO’s and emergency managers, has shut down over 224 schools in the city beginning in 2005 with its initial closing of 50 schools. Last year, the entire district was demolished and replaced with the “Detroit Public Schools Community District.” The previous DPS was left to pay off the gargantuan debt accumulated by the state during its reign since 1999.

The state recently claimed it would not shut 24 more schools “for the time being,” but would hand over such classic historic schools as Durfee Middle/Elementary to a “non-profit” organization called “Life Re-Modeled,” which intends to transform them into incubators for entrepreneurs. Many activists in Detroit continue to fight the closures as depicted in the video by We the People of Detroit and Kate Levy below.

The Last Cut? We the People of Detroit Documentary on School Closings from Kate Levy on Vimeo. (One correction by VOD: the closings did not begin in 2009, but in 2005 as covered by this author in the pages of the now defunct Michigan Citizen. The state first took over the district in 1999 despite the fact that it was running a budget surplus and students’ grades were on the rise.)

Mertilla Jones, still grieving over police slaughter of 7-year-old Aiyana Jones May 16, 2010

Mertilla Jones, who was sleeping with her seven-year-old granddaughter Aiyana Jones when a military-style Detroit police raid team broke into their home May 16, 2011, and shot the child to death, joined the protest at the Wayne County Jai as well.

She called for the youth present to attend a protest called by P.O.S.T. (Protect Our Stolen Treasures) on the second anniversary of the multi-police task force execution of Terrance Kellom April 27, 2015.The protest will take place Thurs. April 27, 2017 from 1 to 3 p.m. at the Frank Murphy Hall across the street from the Wayne County Jail ruin.

Jones said she will not stop fighting the system that slaughtered her beautiful granddaughter and has incarcerated Aiyana’s  father Charles Jones and his brother Norbert Jones for crimes they did not commit. They are part of the 2.5 million people incarcerated in the U.S., which has five percent of the world’s population, but 25 percent of its incarcerated population.

Jones was at the protest to represent P.O.S.T. as well, part of a national coalition of families and friends who have lost loved ones to police violence.



Thurs. April 27, 1 to 3 pm,

Frank Murphy Hall of Justice, Gratiot at St. Antoine in downtown Detroit.


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National monument in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Cortez Davis: key juvenile lifer case challenges Michigan’s merciless re-sentencing statutes

Davis’ sentencing judge, the Hon. Vera Massey Jones, called JLWOP unconstitutional 18 years before the USSC  did, in Miller v. Alabama

Hon. Shannon Walker to conduct re-sentencing Thurs. April 27, 2017 @9am in Frank Murphy Hall

By Diane Bukowski

April 26, 2017

Cortez Davis (Facebook)

DETROIT – Tomorrow, Detroiter Cortez Davis, whose first Judge Vera Massey Jones condemned juvenile life without parole as unconstitutional in 1994, 18 years before the U.S. Supreme Court agreed in Miller v. Alabama, faces re-sentencing before Judge Shannon Walker in the Frank Murphy Hall of Justice at 9 a.m.

Will Judge Walker, just elected in 2014, pay heed to words of her elder, Judge Massey Jones, just retired, who said in 2012:

“. . . .This court held [in 1994] that to sentence this defendant to natural life in prison was cruel and unusual punishment. . . .The U.S. Supreme Court has finally held in Miller v. Alabama that to sentence juveniles to life in prison without the possibility of parole is cruel and unusual punishment. This court says ‘finally held’ because Mr. Cortez Davis has been in prison for 18 years without a parole hearing. . .Thus we have locked him behind bars for over 18 years as a juvenile who did not pull the trigger, who told the victim he held at gunpoint that everything will be alright, and who had the potential to be rehabilitated. We, the people of the State of Michigan, have treated this juvenile, now man, inhumanely.” 

Cortez Davis, 16 when he went to prison after a horrendous childhood, is now asking Judge Walker, through his attorney Clinton Hubbell, to give him the sentence Judge Massey Jones originally called for. Hubbell contends every day of the 21 years he has served so far is now part of an unconstitutional sentence as declared by the U.S. Supreme Court.

WCCC Judge Shannon Walker

Retired Judge Vera Massey Jones

Davis is asking for,  “Reinstitution of the September 26, 1994 sentence for First-Degree Felony Murder of 10-40 years, with proper credit for time served of 21 years as opposed to a sentence of 25-40 years (min) – 60 years (max) pursuant to MCL 769.25a(4)(c), for the reason that MCL 769.25a(4)(c) is an unconstitutional ex post facto law as applied to Cortez; . . . . That Cortez be immediately released, or deemed immediately parole-eligible.” 

It will take courage for Judge Walker to follow in her predecessor’s footprints, in a state and county which have vigorously fought U.S. Supreme Court decisions on juvenile life without parole (JLWOP) every inch of the way. Michigan has the second highest number of juvenile lifers in the country, and Wayne County has the highest number in the state of Michigan.

Excerpt from John O’Hair’s column.

Michigan legislators who enacted MCL 769.25a deliberately sabotaged the intent of Miller v. Alabama and the USSC’s successor opinion that Miller was retroactive in Montgomery v. Louisiana. They passed statutes inserting what they termed mandatory time limits for re-sentencing of juveniles.

Those time limits have been condemned by a host of retired Michigan legal luminaries, including former Wayne County Prosecutor John O’Hair, former Michigan Governor William Milliken, and numerous advocacy groups. O’Hair even called for federal courts to step in to rectify what he termed the gross injustice of re-sentencing juvenile lifers to maximums of 40 to 60 years, which he termed nothing more than more than renewed life sentences.

 “There are many juvenile lifers that have already started trying to contribute to society while still incarcerated,” Cortez Davis said in an article published in VOD. “A few of them are housed at the Thumb Correctional Facility in Lapeer, where Cortez Davis El, Jose Burgos, Keith Maxey of Wayne County and Dontez Tillman of Oakland County are members of the G.O.A.L.S. Program, where we share our stories with at risk youth that are brought in by various agencies.”

He also cited Burgos’ work counseling suicidal prisoners, and the work of others in Stiggy’s Dogs, which “with the help of these individuals, transforms battered, abandoned, and abused dogs into service dogs and pets for veterans living with PTSD and other traumatic brain injuries and elders that need companionship.

(See full article at http://voiceofdetroit.net/2016/09/27/mich-citizens-support-2nd-chances-for-juvenile-lifers-state-county-prosecutors-induce-fear/ )

Zerious “Bobby” Meadows

A Michigan Appeals Court ruled March 28 against Wayne County Circuit Court Judge Bruce Morrow’s re-sentencing of Zerious Meadows, a juvenile lifer who has been incarcerated for over 47 years, to 25-45 years. It claimed Morrow must sentence him to the maximum of 60 years. Meadows is now 63, and was sent to die in prison when he was 15, in 1972. With conditions of inadequate medical care and unhealthy food in the Michigan prison system, he may not survive that long.

In his article, Davis asked for the same thing Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. demanded, that justice “roll down like water and righteousness like a mighty stream.”

 “Understand that the changes we’ve made didn’t start once the U.S. Supreme Court made the 2012 decision (Miller v. Alabama) nor once they made the 2016 decision (Montgomery v. Louisiana),” Davis said. “We saw the need for change long before the possibility of freedom existed for us. We want to contribute to society’s growth, not its destruction. We don’t want just anyone living next to our loved ones and we know society feels the same way about all that they love and vowed to protect. We no longer threaten the community. So instead of fearing our release, help us become successful upon release by advocating for the tools that are needed.”

The details of Davis’ individual case are spelled out in a “sentencing memorandum” submitted by Attorney Hubbell to Judge Walker, which cites his numerous accomplishments in prison, and says that his firm wants Davis to come work for it as a paralegal due to those accomplishments.

See full memorandum at http://voiceofdetroit.net/wp-content/uploads/Sentencing-Memorandum-Cortez-Davis.pdf.

Some related stories (more cited within those stories):

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2016/09/27/mich-citizens-support-2nd-chances-for-juvenile-lifers-state-county-prosecutors-induce-fear/ (Article by Cortez Davis-El)




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Rasmea Odeh thanks her supporters outside the Detroit federal courthouse June 13, 2016.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Jonathan Tukel appears to want to sabotage the plea agreement

WHEN: Tuesday, April 25th, 2017, at 1:00 PM Eastern Time (rally at 1:00 PM, hearing starts at 2:30 PM)

WHERE: U.S. District Court, 231 W. Lafayette Blvd., downtown Detroit, Michigan

MEDIA CONTACT: Hatem Abudayyeh, 773.301.4108, hatem85@yahoo.com

DETROIT — On Tuesday, April 25th, Palestinian American icon Rasmea Odeh will be joined in a Detroit courtroom by supporters from across the Midwest. There, Judge Gershwin Drain will consider the plea agreement Rasmea signed in March, which ended a three-and-a-half-year legal battle against immigration violation charges brought against her.

U.S. District Court Judge Gershwin Drain

Rather than risk 18 months or more of imprisonment, and the possibility of indefinite detention by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), Rasmea will plead guilty to Unlawful Procurement of Naturalization, lose her U.S. citizenship, and be forced to leave the country. However, she will exit the U.S. without serving any more time in prison or ICE detention, a victory considering the government’s sought after sentence of 5-7 years.

The plea agreement took away the chance for zionist Assistant U.S. Attorney Jonathan Tukel to grandstand in support of the Israeli occupation of Palestine; so on April 21st, he filed a Memorandum to enter into the record a number of points that were rejected by Rasmea in the plea negotiations, claiming that he would be able to “prove” that she committed “terrorist” acts and was a member of a “designated terrorist organization.”

Rasmea’s lead defense attorney Michael Deutsch and his team immediately filed a motion in response, denying any of the “facts” alleged by Tukel, and accusing the government of political posturing.  Judge Drain has not yet ruled on either filing.

Numerous reports have documented Israeli torture of women and children.

The 69-year old Rasmea was tortured and sexually assaulted by the Israeli military in 1969, and spent 10 years imprisoned by the Israelis, until she was released in a negotiated prisoner exchange. Years after her release, Rasmea came to the U.S. as a permanent resident to care for family, later becoming a naturalized citizen and making a home for herself in Chicago. When she was indicted in 2013, almost 20 years after she arrived here, the government claimed that Rasmea’s immigration documents were not in order. The case against her was never about immigration; it was always about attacking the Palestine liberation movement.

In her 2014 trial in U.S. federal court, where Rasmea was convicted and sentenced to 18 months in prison for allegedly giving false answers to questions on her applications for permanent residency and citizenship, Judge Drain barred the defense from challenging the legality of the 1969 Israeli military tribunal. Rasmea was not allowed to explain that she suffered from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder as a result of the torture, but she won an appeal and a new trial expressly based on the excluded torture evidence. The crimes of Israel would have been part of that new trial.

However, just weeks before the re-trial was to take place, Tukel unveiled a vindictive new superseding indictment, falsely accusing Rasmea of being a “terrorist” and a member of a “designated terrorist organization.” These new allegations laid bare the government’s motivation in this case, to criminalize the cause of Palestinian liberation. Rasmea would be on trial for her lifetime of dedication to that cause. It is impossible to imagine a fair trial for any Palestinian in an immigration case framed around accusations of “terrorism.”

Prof. Angela Davis, Frank Chapman of Chicago Alliance and Rasmea Odeh at 2015 rally.

Tens of thousands of people across the U.S. have rallied in support of Rasmea over the past three-and-a-half-years, including many organizations and individuals within the Movement for Black Lives, the anti-torture movement, and the sexual assault survivors’ movement, respectively. She is embraced by the women’s rights movement as well, having been celebrated on International Women’s Day this year.  And over 1,000 members of Jewish Voice for Peace gave her repeated standing ovations at their national member meeting in Chicago earlier this month.

Hundreds of these supporters from Chicago and other parts of Illinois, as well as from Milwaukee, Detroit / Dearborn, Grand Rapids, Ann Arbor, Minneapolis / St. Paul, Ohio, Indiana, and other Midwest areas are already committed to stand with Rasmea at the Tuesday, April 25th hearing, and rally with her outside.

Previous related stories:





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Video above shows attorney Nabih Ayad (front), l to r Kenneth Reed, Kimberly Davis and Yolanda McNair of P.O.S.T., Yvette Johnson holding Terrance Kellom’s infant daughter Terranae, Nelda Kellom, Kevin Kellom

Lawsuit says police, prosecutor conspired in cover-up; that Terrance was in custody, had hands up, no hammer when gunned down

‘Why did you fucking shoot?’—Detroit cop to ICE agent Mitchell Quinn

They can’t print enough money that would compare to my son; they need to be in prison’—Father Kevin Kellom

“Feet to Fire” protest April 27, 2017 on 2nd anniversary of Terrance Kellom’s death, from 1-3 pm at Frank Murphy Hall in downtown Detroit

By Diane Bukowski

April 13, 2017

Terrance Kellom, then 19, with infant son Terrance Desmond. A mass march was held from his father’s home down Chicago the day after his death, and more protests followed. Channel 7 video shot.

DETROIT –“The police are not being held accountable,” Kevin Kellom, father of Terrance Kellom, told VOD April 12, regarding a wrongful death lawsuit his family filed in federal court April 6. The suit targets members of a federal task force that gunned down his 20-year-old unarmed son, a father of two, April 27, 2015, in front of his family, sparking mass protests.

“I want Kym Worthy to step down,” Kellom added. “She has refused to charge any officer held in any type of police murder. Now that she justified them killing my son in front of my face, there is no other way to go but a civil suit. But they can’t print enough money that would compare to my son. They need to be in prison.”

ICE agent Mitchell Quinn, who killed Terrance Kellom.

Prominent civil rights attorney Nabih Ayad filed the suit, naming Terrance’s mother Nelda Kellom as representative of his estate (seen in red in video above behind Terrance Kellom). Defendants are Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agent Mitchell Quinn, and Detroit police officers Darell Fitzgerald and Treva Eaton, all part of the U.S. Marshall’s Detroit Fugitive Apprehension Task Force (D-FAT).

The suit charges that police conspired with the prosecutor to cover up the true circumstances of Kellom’s death, claiming falsely that he threatened cops streaming into his father’s home with a hammer after first pounding a hole in an upstairs closet and jumping into a first floor bedroom.

In fact, it says, Kellom was coming down the stairs, unarmed and already in custody with his hands up when Quinn gunned him down.

Kellom’s fingerprints were not found on the hammer, which was lying on the living room floor when he entered, only blood spray from his execution-style killing, says the lawsuit.

After sealing the Kellom autopsy report and other evidence for months, Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy refused on Aug. 19, 2015 to bring criminal charges against Quinn. Quinn formerly worked for the Detroit Police Department but was suspended after facing brutality lawsuits and criminal charges there. He was hired six months later by ICE.

The autopsy report showed that Kellom had been shot four times, including once in the right lower back. Three other shots struck him in front, in his neck, chest, and thigh. Worthy said at a press conference that seven shell casings were found.

“This is usual with Kym Worthy’s office—stall the case, interfere with it, block evidence, and then dismiss any charges,” the late Cornell Squires of the Original Detroit Coalition Against Police Brutality said during a protest after Kellom’s police execution.

“Kym Worthy cannot be trusted. You have to do your own independent investigation. We tried to encourage the family to get a second autopsy report, because we knew this was going to go down. Kym Worthy is for sale when it comes to police officers.”

The suit says Detroit cop Fitzgerald falsely told Terrance’s father Kevin and sister Teria that he had a search warrant in order to gain entry. In fact, he had an arrest warrant related to an alleged armed robbery, which did not allow access.

“Despite having an opportunity to prevent the shooting, Defendant Eaton waited until all shots were fired before she exclaimed ‘Why did you fucking shoot!’” the lawsuit adds. “Defendant Quinn then rushed out of the scene.”

Hundreds marched down W. Chicago from Kellom home April 28, 2015.

Kellom said in agony, “I just don’t get it. How can they bring my son down the stairs and shoot him in my face? I live with this every day. I have no life anymore. I don’t go anywhere, and I’m not able to work. I’ve worked the majority of my life since I was nine years old; my dad taught me that. I barely allowed Terrance’s mother to whip him. But then this cop comes to my house and kills my son, before he even got to see his daughter born? I couldn’t kill his son and get away with it.”

Kevin Kellom with Janay Williams (in pink) and her sisters, holding baby Terranae at rally June 18, 2015. Terrance did not live to see his daughter’s birth.

Terrance Kellom’s children with Janay Williams are Terrance Desmond Kellom, now three, and Terranae Destiny Kellom, now two. They were at the press conference where Ayad announced the lawsuit April 6. Terrance Desmond is in front of Kevin Kellom, and Terranae Destiny is being held by Yvette Johnson, Kellom’s fiancée.

“Every time the door opens, he says, ‘There go Daddy, here come Daddy,’” Kellom said about his grandson. “He asks his mom almost every night, ‘When’s Daddy coming home?’”

Kellom said he suffers from Post-Traumatic Stress Syndrome (PTSD), for which he is on medication, and that Nelda Kellom’s health has also been adversely affected.

Members of P.O.S.T. call for Kym Worthy to step down at protest outside Frank Murphy Hall March 22, 2017

Kellom is now working with a group called “Protect Our Stolen Treasures” (P.O.S.T.), part of a national coalition of organizations seeking justice for families who have lost loved ones to police violence. It is headed by Yolanda McNair, whose daughter Adaisha Miller died after a Detroit cop’s gun went off as they were dancing together at a party in the cop’s home (seen behind Yvette Johnson in videos above.)

Other Detroit members include Mertilla Jones, grandmother of Aiyana Jones, killed by Detroit police at the age of 7 in 2011, and Kimberly Davis, mother of Kimoni “Kodak” Davis, killed in an Ohio state trooper chase (seen at left in videos above.)

They protested March 22 outside the Worthy’s headquarters at the Frank Murphy Hall of Justice, demanding that she resign. Kellom says they will protest there again on the second anniversary of his son’s death, Thursday, April 27, from 1-3 pm. 



Prosecutor Kym Worthy at press conference Aug. 19, 2015 announcing no charges in Kellom death, pointing to autopsy diagram of bullet wounds, one in his back.


Kellom family lawsuit vs. cops who killed Terrance Kellom:


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#JailKillerKops, #Justice4TerranceKellom, #Justice4AiyanaJones, #Justice4AdaishaMiller, #Justice4KimoniDavis, #DownwithPoliceState

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VOD Videos: Detroit Rally vs. U.S. attack on Syria April 7

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

(Excerpt) By Kris Hamel, Workers World Newspaper

April 10, 2017

Anti-imperialist forces from Detroit and the surrounding area joined an emergency demonstration called by Workers World Party immediately following the U.S. missile attack. Militant youth from WWP and Students for a Democratic Society at Wayne State University organized and led the rally, which was strategically held downtown at Campus Martius Park during rush hour.

Couple holds Syrian flag to protect infants. Photo: VOD

Protesters raised slogans such as “Feed the hungry, not the Pentagon!” and “The only road to peace is U.S. out of the Middle East!” drawing a direct link between the struggle at home and the struggle of Syrians against U.S. imperialist aggression.

Syrian-American (U.S.) youth organizer Joe Mshahwar of WWP told Workers World, “Students and young workers in the U.S. have nothing to gain supporting U.S. imperialism’s attempts at regime change in Syria. A militant and uncompromising anti-war movement must be ready to challenge further U.S. aggression in the region.”

Putin says trust erodes under Trump, Moscow icily receives Tillerson

Bumps up support for Syria, Pres. Bashar Al-Assad

By Yeganeh Torbati and Vladimir Soldatkin

April 12, 2017

Russian leader Vladimir Putin denounces U.S. Pres. Donald Trump

MOSCOW (Reuters) – (excerpt) Vladimir Putin said on Wednesday trust had eroded between the United States and Russia under President Donald Trump, as Moscow delivered an unusually hostile reception to Secretary of State Rex Tillerson in a face-off over Syria.

Any hope in Russia that the Trump administration would herald less confrontational relations has been dashed in the past week after the new U.S. leader fired missiles at Syria to punish Moscow’s ally for its suspected use of poison gas.

Tillerson started a meeting with Putin in the Kremlin after talking to his Russian opposite number Sergei Lavrov for around three hours. The Kremlin had previously declined to confirm Putin would meet Tillerson, reflecting tensions over the U.S. strike on Syria.

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov before meeting

Just as Tillerson sat down for talks with Lavrov earlier on Wednesday, a senior Russian official assailed the “primitiveness and loutishness” of U.S. rhetoric, part of a volley of statements that appeared timed to maximize the awkwardness during the first visit by a member of Trump’s cabinet.

“One could say that the level of trust on a working level, especially on the military level, has not improved but has rather deteriorated,” Putin said in an interview broadcast on Russian television.

In his interview, Putin doubled down on Russia’s support for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, repeating denials that Assad’s government was to blame for the gas attack last week and adding a new theory that the attack may have been faked by Assad’s enemies.

Tillerson’s official itinerary in Moscow started with the meeting with Lavrov, in an ornate hall in a foreign ministry-owned residence. In opening remarks in front of reporters, Lavrov greeted Tillerson with unusually icy remarks, denouncing the missile strike on Syria as illegal and accusing Washington of behaving unpredictably.

U.S. launches Tomahawk missiles against Syrian airbase

“I won’t hide the fact that we have a lot of questions, taking into account the extremely ambiguous and sometimes contradictory ideas which have been expressed in Washington across the whole spectrum of bilateral and multilateral affairs,” Lavrov said.

“And of course, that’s not to mention that apart from the statements, we observed very recently the extremely worrying actions, when an illegal attack against Syria was undertaken.”

Lavrov also noted that many key State Department posts remain vacant since the new administration took office — a point of sensitivity in Washington.

One of Lavrov’s deputies was even more undiplomatic.

“In general, primitiveness and loutishness are very characteristic of the current rhetoric coming out of Washington. We’ll hope that this doesn’t become the substance of American policy,” Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov told Russia’s state-owned RIA news agency.

The U.S. earlier bombed the city of Kobani in Syria, near the Turkey border, under Obama.

“As a whole, the administration’s stance with regards to Syria remains a mystery. Inconsistency is what comes to mind first of all.”

Tillerson kept to more calibrated remarks, saying his aim was “to further clarify areas of sharp difference so that we can better understand why these differences exist and what the prospects for narrowing those differences may be.”

“I look forward to a very open, candid, frank exchange so that we can better define the U.S.-Russian relationship from this point forward,” he told Lavrov.

After journalists were ushered out of the room, Lavrov’s spokeswoman, Maria Zakharova, wrote on her Facebook page that U.S. journalists traveling with Tillerson had behaved as if they were in a “bazaar” by shouting questions to Lavrov.

Moscow’s hostility to Trump administration figures is a sharp change from last year, when Putin hailed Trump as a strong figure and Russian state television was consistently full of effusive praise for him.


Also under Obama, the U.S. bombed the city of Raqqa in Syria

The White House has accused Moscow of trying to cover up Assad’s use of chemical weapons after the attack on a town killed 87 people last week.

Trump responded to the gas attack by firing 59 cruise missiles at a Syrian air base on Friday. Washington warned Moscow, and Russian troops at the base were not hit.

Moscow has stood by Assad, saying the poison gas belonged to rebels, an explanation Washington dismisses as beyond credible. Putin said that either gas belonging to the rebels was released when it was hit by a Syrian strike on a rebel arms dump, or the rebels faked the incident to discredit Assad.

Trump came to the presidency promising to seek closer ties with Russia and greater cooperation fighting against their common enemy in Syria, Islamic State. Tillerson is a former oil executive who was awarded Russia’s Order of Friendship by Putin.

Last week’s poison gas attack and the U.S. retaliation upended what many in Moscow hoped would be a transformation in relations between the two countries, which reached a post-Cold War low under Trump’s predecessor Barack Obama.

Putin gave Tillerson. a former U.S. oil executive, a Friendship Award earlier.

The United States and its European allies imposed financial sanctions on Russia in 2014 after Putin seized territory from neighboring Ukraine.

Washington is leading a campaign of air strikes in Syria against Islamic State fighters and has backed rebels fighting against Assad during a six-year civil war, but until last week the United States had avoided directly targeting the Syrian government.

Russia, meanwhile, intervened in the civil war on Assad’s side in 2015 and has troops on the ground, which it says are advising government forces. Both Washington and Moscow say their main enemy is Islamic State, although they back opposing sides in the wider civil war which has killed more than 400,000 people and spawned the world’s worst refugee crisis.

In cities around U.S., attack on Syria protested

By Kris Balderas-Hamel

Workers World

April 10, 2017

Protest in Philadelphia

In cities large and small throughout the United States, the response was swift and strong in condemnation of the U.S. imperialist, cruise missile attacks on Syria in the late evening hours (Eastern Daylight Time) of Thursday, April 6.

Many activists, a good many of whom are socialists and revolutionaries, withstood the corporate-media-spewed Big Lie that Syria allegedly utilized chemical weapons against its own people.

Although most Democrats, liberals and a good chunk of social democrats quickly sided with imperialism and the Pentagon, others took to the streets to protest this blatant intervention and warn others about the dangers of a widening war on the part of U.S. imperialism and its junior “allies.”

The protests linked the imperialist wars abroad with the war against the workers and oppressed here in the U.S., noting there is plenty of money for cruise missiles and weapons of mass destruction while basic social services and public education are slated for demolition by the Trump regime.

Following are reports from activists in several cities where demonstrations took place.

In Philadelphia, Black and Brown youth, workers, Vietnam war veterans and anti-imperialist activists carried out a militant march and rally in support of Syria, refusing to be intimidated by the police, who outnumbered the 100 or so protesters.

The messaging and chants connected various struggles and also condemned U.S. attacks against Yemen, Venezuela and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. Chants included “No bombs, no registry! Fuck white supremacy!” and “From Syria to Palestine, occupation is a crime!”

The march ended at the statue of vile racist Frank Rizzo, the city’s former police commissioner, 1968 to 1971, and then mayor from 1972 to 1980. The marchers connected Imperialist occupation and attacks abroad to racist police occupation of oppressed communities at home.

New York City protest

In New York City, after gathering at Union Square, hundreds took to the streets — including large numbers of youth — where protesters were attacked by members of the New York Police Department, who arrested at least 11 people. Among those arrested was Steve Millies of Workers World Party.

Some of the arrestees were brutalized by police, including Nerdeen Kiswani, a NYC Students for Justice in Palestine organizer and a leader in the march. Her head was slammed into the concrete as cops viciously tore her hijab from her head, choking her in the process. (samidoun.net, April 8)

Nerdeen Kiswani

Bayan USA and the International League of Peoples Struggle activists also played a strong role in the NYC march and rally.

In Portland, Ore., an emergency hands-off Syria protest got thumbs up and supportive vehicle honks from workers during Friday’s afternoon rush hour. The protest, which was covered by KOIN television, later joined other anti-war demonstrators in the downtown area.

Demonstrators in Seattle marched from Capital Hill to downtown, condemning the racist U.S. war against Syria. The Friday action was energetic despite the driving rain because of the many youthful demonstrators. The protest, called by the Answer Coalition, included participation by Veterans for Peace, the Democratic Socialists of America and World Can’t Wait.

Protesters also gathered in San Francisco in the late afternoon. The rally, organized by the Answer Coalition, included speakers from a broad range of organizations, including the International League of Peoples’ Struggle and Workers World Party.

Protests continue on weekend

On April 8 in Madison, Wis., a diverse group of labor and community representatives came out to protest at Library Mall. Zach Gevelinger, of Wisconsin Bail Out the People Movement, said, “We will remain in the streets until U.S. capitalism and imperialism are defeated.” (wibailoutpeople.org).

Protesters turned out in Buffalo, N.Y., on Sunday, April 9, to demand “Stop U.S. war on Syria!” and “U.S. out of the Middle East!” and to explain these demands to the many passersby who stopped to ask. The rally was called by the International Action Center and the Buffalo branch of Workers World Party and endorsed by the National Lawyers Guild Buffalo Chapter & Friends and the Sister District for Western New York, and supported and joined by many other groups.

Durham, N.C.

In Durham, N.C., anti-war protesters gathered at CCB “People’s” Plaza on Sunday for a rally initiated by the Durham branch of Workers World Party. People attending included members of Muslims for Social Justice; Electrical Workers Local 150, the North Carolina Public Service Workers Union; and the Triangle People’s Assembly.

Protesters held a rally at 3rd and Wisconsin streets and then marched to the Federal Building in Milwaukee to demand no U.S. war in Syria and money for human needs not war. Youth, students and members from many labor and community groups participated in the protest, which was sponsored by the Iraq Veterans Against the War-Milwaukee, the Milwaukee Antiwar Committee and the Milwaukee Coalition Against Trump. The Wisconsin Bail Out The People Movement and other organizations supported the action.

According to reports in fightbacknews.org, demonstrations also took place in Minneapolis; Houston; Salt Lake City; Tucson, Ariz.; and Tampa and Fort Lauderdale, Fla. Protesters in Jacksonville, Fla., were viciously attacked by a small group of Trump supporters and police on April 7. Several were arrested and one protester was beaten so severely he required hospitalization.

Terri Kay, Ava Lipatti, Jim McMahan, Tom Michalak, Lyn Neeley, Tom Scahill and WW staff contributed to this report.

Photos: Brenda Ryan and Joe Catron in New York City; Tom Blake in Buffalo, New York; Joseph Piette in Philadelphia; Terri Kay in San Francisco; Hannah Fahoome in Detroit; MAWO in Vancouver; Milwaukee Antiwar Committee.

Below: earlier VOD article announcing April 7 Detroit rally

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Rowan removed wards Wanda Worley (above) and Gayle Robinson from their long-time homes with no court orders, using police, took incomes, Robinson’s home, got son jailed

Rowan did not remove ward Raymond Davis, a veteran from dangerous location before his death in fire on Whittier March 8 (VOD previously reported inaccurately that Rowan had moved Davis INTO the Whittier location)

New hearings scheduled for Gayle Robinson April 24, 2017 Judge Keith, Wayne Co. Probate Court; Sharmian May 4, 2017 Judge Hesson, 33rd DC

By Diane Bukowski 

April 3, 2017 

Sharmian and mom kiss while holding their beloved pets, in their trailer home during brief reunion prior to court hearing March 29.


DETROIT – After country music singer Sharmian’s  33rd District Court hearing March 29 was postponed without notice, she and her mother Wanda Worley told VOD in the interview above why Sharmian tried to stop notorious guardian/conservator Mary Rowan from seizing Worley illegally. Sharmian is facing misdemeanor charges of “hindering and obstructing” Rowan.

The Michigan Supreme Court, however, has upheld the “common-law” right to resist unlawful conduct by police and others in a landmark decision, People v. Moreno (2012). (See ruling at http://voiceofdetroit.net/wp-content/uploads/People-v-Moreno-MSC-opinion.pdf.)

A new court date has been set for May 4, 2017 at 11 a.m. in front of Judge Jennifer Coleman Hesson at 33rd District Court in Woodhaven.

Wanda Worley (seated), with daughter Sharmian behind her, Debbie Fox at right, daughter of Gayle Robinson

Meanwhile, Sharmain is dealing with an alleged order from Judge Hesson that she undergo “forensic psychiatric” testing before June 20.

“I think they are trying to set me up by claiming I am incompetent and cannot take care of my mother, and possibly seize me the way they did her,” Sharmian said.

However, according to MDHHS Administrative Rule 330.7003, a recipient of any state-provided mental health service must give “informed consent” to it voluntarily.

“Voluntariness means the free power of choice without the intervention of an element of force, fraud, deceit, duress, overreaching, or other ulterior form of constraint or coercion, including promises or assurances of privilege or freedom,” the rule says. SeeS complete document at http://voiceofdetroit.net/wp-content/uploads/Michigan-Informed-Consent-administrative-rule.pdf

Sharmain said that early last September, she admitted her mother to a Wyandotte hospital for treatment of her drug habit, as her mother’s FULL guardian, showing hospital personnel her guardianship papers. But after a few days, she was not allowed to see her after she became concerned because the hospital was prescribing more addictive medication. (See video above.) She said she had to retain an attorney to get her mother out.

In a letter which likely triggered an Adult Protective Services request for change of guardianship to Mary Rowan, a doctor at the hospital characterized Sharmain as unstable. Rowan was appointed as TEMPORARY guardian September 21, 2016. Her acceptance of appointment is shown below, written in her handwriting as were other orders, and not personally signed by Judge David Braxton.

Document appointing Mary Rowan as temporary guardian for Wanda Worley is in her handwriting, not personally signed by judge, with no hearing held.

Later, however, other doctors discovered her mother’s sciatic nerve was painfully wrapped around her spinal column and other internal parts of her body, causing the real pain she had been complaining of for years. After surgery on the nerve, Sharmian said, the pain ceased and Worley was able to complete her conquest of her addiction. 

Sharmian had a blossoming career in Nashville for decades as a singer of country, R&B, and gospel music. The walls of her trailer home in Brownstown Township, where her mother lived with her, are decorated with dozens of photos of her with music industry greats. She says she moved back to the Detroit area due to music industry double-dealing, and to take care of her mother, who was suffering from prescription drug addiction.

Gayle Robinson at the Montford Marine Corps Black History Month Dinner in 2010.


Debbie Fox came out to support Sharmian and her mother. She described how Rowan took her own mother, Gayle Robinson, now 86, from the charming family home in Westland where her parents had lived for 60 years, raising their 10 children.

Instead, she placed her at Maple Manor in Wayne on her own despite Wayne County Probate Court Judge Terrence Keith’s promise that he would not allow such a placement without a court order. 

Rowan was also appointed conservator, seizing Rowan’s veterans’ pension and other income.

“One young lady whose dad was at Maple Manor for physical therapy when he got Mary Rowan said he had $4,000 a month income,” Debbie Fox told VOD. “Now John  [Cavataio, Rowan’s husband] brings him $250 every two weeks to buy his food, his daughter,  and her son’s. He has Parkinson’s and made an agreement with his daughter he would pay for her care if she lived with him and took care of him.”

Rowan is seated in darker blue in this photo taken just before she kidnapped Mailauni Williams (r) and held her for six months, not letting her mother Lennette Williams know where she was. This is the only known published photo of Rowan.

Gayle Robinsons’ son Randy Robinson and granddaughter Lynette Robinson were evicted from the home. Randy was jailed for 93 days at Rowan’s request, after his mother fled to Oregon to stay with her brother to avoid placement in a nursing home. 

Keith held Randy and her brother responsible for her flight. Gayle Robinson eventually returned to get her son freed, but then was locked up herself in Maple Manor without a court order.

Fox said the only resident of the family’s Westland home now is her mother’s beloved pet dog Fluffy, and that all her mother’s furnishings, family records and photos, and other belongings have been removed, many of them trashed.

Some of them can be seen below in a video taken by Randy when Rowan assistant Katie McDonald and a Westland cop came to the home to remove his mother the first time, to take her to a psychiatric hospital. In the video, Robinson unsuccessfully demands a court order allowing her removal from the cop, and says she does not know or trust Mary Rowan. The video is touched up at the beginning to emphasize the cop’s comments repeating “I don’t know” where the paperwork is.

In a later court hearing, Judge Terrence Keith stated on the record that he would not allow Rowan’s removal from her home to a nursing home or assisted living facility without a court order. Below is part of the transcript from that hearing. The whole transcript is at http://voiceofdetroit.net/wp-content/uploads/Robinson-motion-and-transcript-where-Judge-says-Robinson-cannot-be-removed-without-order.compressed.pdf .

Judge Keith on the record: Robinson was not to be removed without court order. It happened anyway.

Fox added that Maple Manor, which bills itself as an “assisted living” facility, keeps her mother on anti-depressants now. She said she, Randy and Lynette have been barred from seeing their mother.

Rowan had Randy Robinson and daughter Lynette evicted from his mother’s home.

Previously, Robinson, now 86, was a happy, healthy, active and independent Marine Corps veteran who told her previous court-appointed attorney Ella Bully Cummings at one hearing VOD attended that she did not want a guardian and that she wanted her son and granddaughter to remain with her.

Rowan now also controls Robinson’s military pension and other income as conservator of the estate.

A new court date in front of Judge Keith in Robinson’s case has been set for Monday, April 24, at 9 a.m. on a motion to change or modify the “guardianship/conservatorship order.”

Debbie Fox detailed the sequence of events since 2014 in a document sent to VOD and is asking supporters to attend the hearing. See http://voiceofdetroit.net/wp-content/uploads/Debbie-Fox-statement-on-Gayle-Robinson-history-in-Probate-Court.pdf.


Meanwhile, new information has come to light on another Rowan ward, Raymond John Davis, 60, from a review of probate court documents in the case. Davis was also a U.S. military veteran who was legally blind and suffered from diabetes.

Probate Court Judge Lawrence Paoluccia, appointed by Mich. Gov. Rick Snyder.

He was one of five men who perished in a horrific blaze at 10521 Whittier in Detroit, allegedly set by another tenant and whipped into a firestorm by 60 mph winds. Rowan’s husband John Cavataio was filmed at the scene checking on Davis (see video above).

Detroit’s Channel Four reported in the video that the apartment building had not been certified for occupancy.

Court records show Rowan was appointed as Davis’ guardian Jan. 19, 2017, by Wayne County Probate Court Judge Lawrence J. Paolucci, with the express purpose of moving Davis out of the building for his safety. Channel Four reported that Cavataio told them his wife had “just” been appointed Davis’ guardian.

Rowan finally got around to drafting an order in her writing to have police help her remove him from the premises. The order is dated March 7, and signed by Paolucci, but not time-stamped. It seems ironic that the fire happened the next day, taking Davis’ life in a most terrible fashion, particularly for a blind man.

This is the ONLY Rowan case VOD has reviewed where an actual REMOVAL order is included in the file. None were drafted for Wanda Worley or Gayle Robinson.

Dilapidated home at 12317 Monica where Wanda Worley stays with male and female residents, all wards of Mary Rowan.

Davis’ doctor, Benjamin Nguyen, M.D. of the John Dingell Medical Center on John R, a Department of Veterans Affairs Hospital, reported in a Jan. 10, 2017 letter that Davis told him his glucometer, which measures blood sugar levels, and cash had been stolen from him at the Whittier location on several occasions.

“Mr. Davis is in need of guardianship to secure appropriate placement with the sustainable assistance and support required to meet his basic needs,” Dr. Nguyen continued. “Mr. Davis would benefit from [a] guardian to assist with management of his life affairs and medical decisions to ensure his basic needs are being met and he has the quality of life deserving to him as an aging veteran.”

Bedbug bite scars on Wanda Worley’s leg

According to Wanda Worley, Rowan is similarly unavailable to meet the needs of the eight residents at the group home on Monica in Detroit, where she has been staying for the last five months, against her will.

All the residents are allegedly Rowan’s wards and appear to act as if they cannot leave without the permission of Rowan’s aide.

“No one there has ever even seen Rowan,” Worley told VOD. “She doesn’t give us enough food. We only get a $44 a month allowance, so some of the staff help us out by going into their own pockets to take care of us.”

She said the place has been infected with bedbugs, and showed VOD the scars from the insects that remain on her legs.


Rights of an individual with a guardian:


Powers and duties of a guardian:


Petiti0n for Temporary Guardian:


Michigan Mental Health Code re: placement of wards with developmental disabilities


Guardianship petitions: Summary under Michigan Law












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Bernie Sanders, Top Progressives Announce New Medicare-For-All Push

The Huffington Post

Daniel Marans

March 27, 2017

HP says Sanders using “Overton Window” strategy to obtain concessions, not necessarily complete single payer health care

CREDO’s Murshed Zaheed: No to “collaborating with right-wing extremists that control Congress


National Nurses United in Chicago push to tax Wall Street to fund single-payer health care.


WASHINGTON ― In the wake of the Republican  failure to repeal the Affordable Care Act on Friday, leading figures in the progressive wing of the Democratic Party are rallying behind a single-payer health insurance and a raft of other bold reforms.

These lawmakers and grassroots leaders have long believed that the problems plaguing the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, are rooted in the original health care law’s attempt to accommodate, rather than gradually replace, the private, for-profit health insurance system.

Now that efforts to eliminate the law wholesale are effectively dead, they are again arguing that the best way to improve the country’s health care system is to confront the power of corporate health care providers more directly.

“We have got to have the guts to take on the insurance companies and the drug companies and move forward toward a Medicare-for-all, single-payer program,” Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) said on MSNBC’s “All In with Chris Hayes” on Friday night. “And I’ll be introducing legislation shortly to do that.”

Even before the Republicans withdrew their Obamacare repeal bill, Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.), the deputy chair of the Democratic National Committee and a close Sanders ally, previewed this message at a rally in defense of Obamacare on Thursday.

“Don’t just be satisfied with defeating Trumpcare ― set your sights on creating real Medicare for all!” he told a cheering crowd of hundreds of activists.

Representatives of several major progressive organizations ― the Working Families Party, the Progressive Campaign Change Committee, Credo, Social Security Works and the National Nurses United ― all echoed this push in conversations with The Huffington Post on Friday and Saturday.

“The problem is the insurance companies, Big Pharma ― they’re gonna come back and use the chaos to their advantage,” predicted Social Security Works executive director Alex Lawson. “If Democrats go with a half-a-loaf policy, Republicans are going to blame them for the failures of Big Pharma. They have to immediately pivot to expanding Medicare.”

Notwithstanding the support of the influential groups for the proposal and ― according to a May 2016 Gallup poll ― even a majority of the American people, Medicare-for-all legislation is a non-starter in the current Congress. Single-payer health insurance still lacks support from many, if not most, Democrats, let alone from the Republican lawmakers who control both chambers.

But the proactive strategy speaks to increasing confidence among progressives that if they stick to their ideals and build a grassroots movement around them, they will ultimately move the political spectrum in their direction.

“It does take time for social change,” said Chuck Idelson, communications director of the National Nurses United, a 150,000-person labor union that has long advocated for a single-payer health insurance system. “We didn’t end slavery overnight. It took from Seneca Falls in 1848 ’til 1920 until women won the right to vote. But they only won it by building a movement.”

Overton Window

In the meantime, a potential benefit of this ambitious approach is what’s known as shifting the “Overton Window,” a political science term for the narrow range of acceptable political views at a given moment in time.

By adopting a position that is considered extreme by contemporary standards, politicians and activists can make more attainable policy goals start to seem reasonable by comparison. [VOD: i.e. Sanders et al are not REALLY working to achieve single payer health care at this point, just concessions from corporate health care industry and other politicians.]

That phenomenon already seems to be working in progressives’ favor.

Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), the only one of Sanders’ Senate colleagues to endorse his presidential bid, discussed the possibility of lowering the Medicare eligibility age or empowering Medicare to negotiate drug prices in his statement on the Republican bill’s collapse.

“There are plenty of ideas already on the table that would make health care more affordable for working families, from a public option, to prescription drug negotiations, to offering older Americans the chance to buy into Medicare,” Merkley said on Friday. “I’m happy to work with anyone, from either side of the aisle, to explore these or any other ideas that would improve health care for working Americans.”

U.S. Senator Jeff Merkley/AP photo

Lowering the Medicare eligibility age from its current level of 65 is a “very interesting” idea, because of the positive financial effect it would have on the Obamacare insurance exchanges, said Austin Frakt, a health economist for the Department of Veterans Affairs.

By allowing the oldest exchange participants to enroll in Medicare, lowering the Medicare age would relieve the health insurance marketplaces of some of their costliest customers, said Frakt, who also has academic posts at Boston University and Harvard.

“It would reduce the premiums in those markets,” he predicted. (Frakt noted, however, that absent measures to offset the cost of the additional beneficiaries, the change would increase Medicare’s financial burden.)

Social Security Works’ Lawson praised the idea as an incremental step toward Medicare-for-all. 

“Start by lowering the age to 62 and get it down to zero,” he said. “If Democrats go with a half-a-loaf policy, Republicans are going to blame them for the failures of Big Pharma.”

Trump meeting with big pharmaceutical companies; he flipped his original position on lowering drug prices.

Another progressive policy gaining mainstream traction is legislation permitting the importation of prescription drugs from Canada, where the existing single-payer system keeps prices lower. Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) was one of several Democratic senators to endure heavy criticism in January for helping block a resolution supporting drug importation. In late February, Booker became a co-sponsor of legislation Sanders introduced that would legalize prescription drug importation from Canada and other countries.

President Donald Trump  talked about getting tough with pharmaceutical companies over the price of prescription drugs as recently as early January.

But he has remained silent on the matter since inauguration, including the 17-day period when he was trying to pass House Republicans’ Obamacare repeal bill. What’s more, the ordeal cast serious doubt on his willingness to take on the GOP’s ultraconservatives, who no doubt oppose any form of government intervention to reduce drug prices.

Trump now claims he is counting on Democrats to negotiate over Obamacare on his terms, since, in his telling, the law is on the brink of collapse .

Obamacare’s insurance exchange markets have major problems in some states and regions, but the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office characterized them as stable overall.

Mushed Zaheed of Credo and Netroots Nation

Still, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) suggested in a CNN interview on Friday night that Democrats would be open to working with Trump and congressional Republicans on reforming the law.

“We’re not gloating that they failed. We’re sad that they won’t work with us to improve Obamacare,” he said.

Murshed Zaheed, political director of Credo, warned Democratic leaders that any Democratic efforts to work with Republicans would not get any help from grassroots groups like his.

“If Democrats want to push their version of so-called moderate proposals ― good luck to them,” Zaheed said. “I don’t think anybody should be under any illusion that Schumer or [House Minority Leader Nancy] Pelosi will get anything from collaborating with the right-wing extremists that control Congress.”  

Massive march for single-payer health care, kick out insurance companies

Open Letter to Delegates Attending the National Single Payer Strategy Conference in New York City

“Let’s Fight For What We Need: Medicare For All”–not “Obamacare”

Jannuary 13, 2017

Dear Sisters and Brothers:

The Call for the National Single Payer Strategy Conference begins with an affirmation with which we agree wholeheartedly:

We believe that a powerful resistance movement anchored in the labor and social movements can turn the tables on Trump and all that he represents. To win, we must inspire Americans to fight for what they need, not what the political establishment tells them they can get.”

And what they need is Single Payer, now! The American people support Single Payer (or Medicare For All) overwhelmingly. The Bernie Sanders campaign made Single Payer a household term; his call for it galvanized young people and workers from coast to coast.

With the Affordable Care Act now under attack by the incoming Trump administration, a wing of the establishment — the corporate Democrats — are telling us to hold our horses on Single Payer and focus on the defense of ACA. Many are the same people who told us that Single Payer could not be included in the Democratic Party platform or raised during the final months of the presidential campaign. (A San Francisco Bay Area nurse who appeared before the DNC Platform Committee to argue for Single Payer told a San Francisco report-back forum she felt like she was “crashing the Democratic Party’s country club party.”)

Yes, we must defend the gains contained in the Affordable Care Act (ACA), but we cannot and must not defend ACA as such. Nor should we put the ACA on the same level as Medicare and Medicaid, two historic gains.

Labor economist Dr. Jack Rasmus

The ACA was a law written by insurance industry lobbyists and representatives of other price-gougers in healthcare. Under ACA, hundreds of billions of dollars meant for the care of patients are siphoned off as profits for the big healthcare insurance companies — money that would be saved by their elimination from the system. This money could be used to ensure quality and comprehensive coverage for all residents.

The ACA’s flaws are fundamental: rising premiums (which are scheduled to spike big time in 2017), rising deductibles, rising co-pays, tens of millions still without coverage, exclusion of undocumented immigrants, bloated and wasteful administrative costs, growing problems in collective bargaining in negotiating good benefits programs, etc.

Labor economist Jack Rasmus summed it up well:

In his farewell address, President Obama touted the fact that on his watch, 20 million of the 50 million uninsured got health insurance coverage, half of them covered by Medicaid, which provides less than even ‘bare bones’ care, assuming one can even find a doctor willing to provide medical services. The rest covered by ACA mostly got high deductible insurance, often at an out-of-pocket cost of $2,000 to $4,000 per year. Thus, millions got minimal coverage while the health insurance industry got $900 billion a year. . . .

“In the wake of ACA’s passage, big pharmaceutical companies have also been allowed to price gouge at will, driving up not only private health insurance premiums but Medicare costs as well, and softening up the latter program for coming Republican-Trump attacks.”

Indeed, the Democrats’ failure to campaign for Single Payer played right into Trump’s hands. This was best explained by Jack Kingston, a Republican former member of Congress from Georgia:

One of the reasons that Hillary Clinton lost the election is the widespread anger in the Rust Belt and other regions over the rising costs of healthcare under Obamacare. It might not be a top media story, but it is certainly a discussion at the dinner tables in working-class and middle-class households across the country. Everyone is concerned that premiums and healthcare costs are going to soar in 2017 under Obamacare. Trump said that Obamacare has to go, and he got a real hearing.” (from interview on PBS at the Republican election-night gathering)

At a time when the national discussion is heating up around the question of what the ACA should be replaced with, the labor movement needs to go on the offensive with the call to replace ACA with Medicare For All. This, in fact, is the best way to defend and expand the gains contained in ACA. It is the only real solution!

To focus, as the Democrats are urging labor to do, on defense of ACA is a losing proposition. To win, we must inspire Americans to fight for what they need, not what the political establishment tells them they can get — and that includes the Democratic Party wing of the establishment.

It is time to break with this “lesser-evil” approach to politics. It is time for labor to assert its independent voice. It is time for the labor movement to break with its ties of subordination to the Democratic Party and launch a full-scale offensive to demand: Single Payer Now!

This is the message, we believe, that needs to come out of the National Single Payer Strategy Conference.

Issued by the Labor Fightback Network. For more information, please call 973-975-9704 or email conference@laborfightback.org or write Labor Fightback Network, P.O. Box 187, Flanders, NJ  07836 or visit our website at laborfightback.org. Facebook link https://www.facebook.com/laborfightback.

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Video above: Mary Rowan ward Raymond Davis among five men dead in fire in uninspected group home; husband John Cavataio featured in footage

Probate Court judge ordered Davis seized from his own apartment by Rowan and Detroit police March 7, 2017; two days later he died in fire

Well-known country music star Sharmian Lynette Worley’s mother Wanda Worley also a Mary Rowan kidnap victim, without court order, song below is for her mom

Are wealthy elite running homes for victims of probate kidnappings?


Wed. March 29, 2017,  11 a.m., 33rd District Court

19000 Van Horn at Allen Rd; Woodhaven; Judge Jennifer Coleman Hesson

By Diane Bukowski

March 27, 2017

Mary Rowan (seated in darker blue, in the process of kidnapping developmentally disabled Mailauni Williams (r) outside court in 2014, as Mailauni’s previous caregiver (l) and sister (2nd from r) watch. Taken by VOD, this is the only known published photo of Rowan. Rowan now has 1396 Probate Court cases.

DETROIT, MI —  Serial kidnapper-guardian Mary Rowan continues to strike. Now she may also be an accessory to the murder of one of her wards, Raymond Davis. Rowan is additionally pressing charges against country singer Sharmian Lynette Worley for trying to protect her mom from Rowan, who had no court order to take her.

Regarding the death of Davis and four other men March 9 in a fire on Whittier in Detroit, Wayne Co. Prosecutor Kym Worthy has charged one of the allegedly mentally ill residents for setting the fire, which was fanned into an inferno by gusting winds.

According to probate court records, Rowan and Detroit police seized Davis, who is blind, from his own apartment March 7, and put him in the Whittier home. Two days later he was dead.  See http://voiceofdetroit.net/wp-content/uploads/Raymond-Davis-Docket-Information.pdf.

The other men who died were  James Johnson, Leo Dear, William Ballard, and Norman Connors, according to a report from Channel Four. Neither the operators of the home, which was not licensed by the city or other entities, nor Rowan, who placed Davis, who is blind, in an unlicensed home with possibly dangerous roommates, are being charged.

Rowan is currently involved in the cases of at least 1398 individuals under that court’s supervision, according to its records.

Sharmain Worley (l) with mother Wanda Worley (r) and kids.

Six months ago, Rowan seized Wanda Lynette Worley, mother of Nashville-based country music star Sharmian (pronounced Char-min) from the home she shared with her daughter in Brownstown Twp.

VOD’s review of Wanda Worley’s probate court file shows that Judge David Braxton, in charge of Worley’s case, NEVER issued any order granting authority to Rowan to take Worley away from her daughter, who is also known as Sharmian Sowards. There are also no notices of service of an order appointing Rowan as successor guardian, on Sharmian or the rest of Worley’s family. See http://voiceofdetroit.net/wp-content/uploads/Wanda-Worley-WCPC-roster.pdf.

Sharmian told VOD it was not Rowan’s first attempt to take her mother.

“First, Mary Rowan come banging on my mobile home, screaming as loud as she could, ‘Where is Wanda Worley, I’m the guardian.'” Sharmian told VOD. “I told her get off my property NOW and she left. A week or two later, I was in my front yard, weatherizing  the house and cleaning it a with hose. She pulled up again. I still didn’t know who the woman was. I continued washing my house. I told her again do not come on my property. She looked like the Wicked Witch of the West, very scary and intimidating, and I was not giving my mother to her.”

33rd District Court Judge Jennifer Coleman Hesson.

Both Sharmian and Rowan called the police, who took her mother after assuring Sharmian she would be OK and would be back in a couple of days. They claimed to have seen the non-existent court order. Sharmian says she never saw it and never knew who Rowan was.

Wanda Worley has not come back home for good since. Meanwhile, Sharmian faces misdemeanor charges of “resisting, hindering and obstructing a police officer/public official,” under what appears to be a city ordinance.

A trial on the charges against Sharmian will take place in 33rd District Court Wed. March 29 at 11 a.m, in front of Judge Jennifer Coleman Hesson.


In a landmark decision in 2012, People v. Moreno,  the Michigan Supreme Court upheld the “common-law” right to resist unlawful arrests, warrantless home invasions, and other unlawful conduct by the police. See http://voiceofdetroit.net/2012/05/18/michigan-supreme-court-upholds-right-to-resist-police-misconduct/.

Since no court order existed for Rowan to take Wanda Worley, Rowan and Brownstown Twp. police were acting unlawfully and Sharmian had the right to resist Rowan’s kidnap of her mom.

Wayne County Probate Court Judge David Braxton

Sharmian first asked to be appointed as her mother’s guardian under Wayne County Probate Court Judge David Braxton on Feb. 4, 2016.  

She cited a long-term history of mental illness and in later years, prescriptions repeatedly given to her mother by various doctors  including the highly addictive drugs Lyrica, Dilaudid and Percocet. Sharmian said that while her mother was on the drugs, she began telling hospital staffers and neighbors that Sharmian was beating her. Sharmian firmly denies that.

“Mom goes in and out of hospitals constantly for drugs, and they give them to her, this needs to stop or she is going to die,” Sharmian said in a letter in the court file. “Before my mom takes her last breath, I want to enjoy something I’ve never had. My mother.” 

Sharmian said, “I never saw a court order to take my mom, and if there is one, I believe it is fake. I want to get her [Rowan] for lying to the police, kidnapping and filing fake documents. I don’t believe the judge’s signature appointing Mary Rowan as my mom’s guardian is his. The records say she was appointed Sept. 21, 2016, but my mom was in the hospital then.”

In fact, the records VOD reviewed show that Braxton likely did not sign documents in Worley’s file. Not only was there no order to remove Worley, the document removing Sharmian as her mother’s guardian, shown above, is signed in handwriting that appears very similar to other entries in the document, such as Mary Rowan’s name. There is an illegible initial next to Judge Braxton’s alleged signature.

That order was initiated and signed after Worley spent time at Wyandotte Psychiatric Hospital, where she received more drugs. On Sept. 9, according to court records, Sharmian went to the hospital to bring her mother home, but she was not allowed to see her, despite showing her guardianship papers. A doctor at the hospital claimed Sharmian was acting bizarrely. The hospital called police on Sharmian, but she contacted a legal services attorney who came and got her mother released to go back home with Sharmian.

12317 Monica Detroit; Mary Rowan “group home”

Worley told VOD during a brief visit with her daughter last week that she has been shunted from one Detroit home to another, allegedly adult foster care homes. She is currently at 12317 Monica. It is questionable whether any of the homes are licensed as such.

Sharmian said her mother had been at the Monica address for five months, with eight other men and women. Her mother told her a woman named Wendy runs it.

“Every one of them is a ward of Mary Rowan,” Sharmian said her mother told her. “None of them know what she looks like. They all hate her. One 83-year-old woman says Mary Rowan cleaned out her bank accounts and took her house. My mom got bedbugs while she was there. They finally brought in an exterminator and threw all the beds out. Then, when those 60 mph winds happened, the home lost electricity for 3 days and no one saved the people for three days—they were freezing. Then they put mom and eight others in another home  on Lindsay St. There are more homes, all of them about 15 minutes away from the Monica address, and the people believe Wendy owns all of them.”

However, Wayne County records list the taxpayer at the Monica address as Capital Clearance Group, Ltd. It is four years delinquent on property taxes there, like the house on Whittier that burned.  According to Register of Deeds records, the group also owns 31 other properties in Detroit. The company is not registered with the State of Michigan. Various sites claim it is based in Wyoming and has offices all over the world. See http://voiceofdetroit.net/wp-content/uploads/Capital-Clearance-Group-Ltd-properties-in-Wayne-County.pdf.

“Three investment experts and banking elites came together in 2007 and amidst the Sub-Prime debt crisis of 2008 and burst of the property bubble, managed to collectively conduct a wholesale acquisition of land and properties across various states at a low borrowing cost and purchase price,”  says one site. “In a short span of just one year, the founders of Capital Clearance Group managed to grow it to tens of millions of dollars in total Assets Under Management based on its current market value.” See http://www.capitalclearance.com/web/index.html.

 Are rich folks running what are essentially prisons for those illegally kidnapped through the probate courts? Sharmian said she is now working with groups throughout the country against such abuse. She has a Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/sharmian1. She and her mother were recently interviewed on The Oakley Radio blogspot at http://www.blogtalkradio.com/marti-oakley/2017/03/26/out-of-the-closet-sharmian-worely-the-guardianship-of-her-mother.

Sharmian Worley with fans. She has her own record company.

Sharmian has asked that her phone number be published in this story so that others in similar situations can contact her. It is 615-589-6381.

Related VOD stories:









#StopGuardianAbuse, #StopProbateElderandMinorKidnapping; #FreeWandaWorley, #FreeGayleRobinson, #FreeMaulauniWilliams, #Justice4RaymondDavis, #Justice4JamesJohnson, #Justice4LeoDear, #Justice4WilliamBallard, #Justice4NormanConnors, #JailWayneCountyProbateKidnappers

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