Ricardo Ferrell, VOD staff writer


Editor’s note: The two Michigan juvenile lifers profiled below are among the 200 prisoners  for whom county prosecutors recommended life without parole during their re-sentencings under U.S. Supreme Court rulings in Miller v. Alabama and Montgomery v. Alabama. That is the highest number of in any state in the U.S.

By Ricardo Ferrell

January 22, 2019

Although some former prosecutors believe juvenile offenders should be allowed to prove rehabilitation, many current ones are not and have relentlessly pursued seeking the life without parole sentence again during resentencing hearings, despite many of the juveniles being able to show their rehabilitation.

In an article published in the Lansing State Journal, Peter Deegan and John O’Hair, former county prosecutors and circuit court judges, were quoted, “It makes sense that if a person who received an unconstitutional sentence as a teen can show they’ve been rehabilitated, they should have a chance at parole. As former prosecutors and judges ourselves, it’s hard to imagine that prosecutors would blithely seek to resentence more than a handful to life when the Supreme Court said those sentences were impermissible except for the “[rare juvenile offender who exhibits such irretrievable depravity that rehabilitation is impossible.]”

Former Prosecutor John O’Hair

Former prosecutor Peter Deegan

Deegan and O’Hair were once presidents of the Prosecuting Attorneys Association of Michigan.

Juvenile Lifers Brian Grandion and John Loepke both have demonstrated for several years, even prior to the Miller v. Alabama ruling, their rehabilitations beyond dispute.

Brian Grandion, 40, sentenced at 17 years-old to life without parole out of Oakland County, is an unquestionably rehabilitated case. He received his GED with an average score of 48. He (Grandion) has worked as Classification Clerk for nearly 5 years. His current supervisor, J. Houck, Classification Director, states, “… He continues to ensure the Classification Office runs smoothly. Grandion is an asset to myself and the Classification Office.”

He successfully completed Grand Valley State University’s Inside Out Prison Exchange Program in the fall of 2015. A support letter written by Prof. Jackie Martin, Criminologist at GVSU stated, “Mr. Grandion did very well earning an A for the semester; his papers were both critical and introspective. It was clear that he dedicated more time than the average student to his assignments each week. In addition, he contributed frequently to discussion and was in general a pleasure to have in class. I very much hope that he will continue his higher education upon release should he be given the opportunity; I have no doubt that he would be successful in this endeavor.”

Brian Grandion

Grandion has completed a number of workshops offered by Montcalm Community College according to Prof. Glennes Page. He also completed training in the Prisoner Observation Aide Program, which uses carefully selected prisoners to help prevent at-risk prisoners from engaging in suicidal and/or self-injurious behavior.

He was handpicked by then Deputy Warden Dewayne Burton at the Thumb Correctional Facility to be involved with a mentoring program that got started with the help of former inmate Antonio Espree for youthful offenders. The program paired an adult prison staff member and a selected adult inmate with small groups of juvenile offenders to challenge the twisted thinking that led them to prison and often keeps them there.

All block reports from corrections officers on AM/PM shifts state Grandion is a good role model to have in the housing unit. He’s completed Thinking for Change, which works on cognitive behavior, with an impressive Discharge Summary Report. He has completed a plethora of self-help programs, which he took the initiative to enroll into without referrals.

Mr. Grandion has a passion for cooking, in 1994, prior to his incarceration he received Certification from Pontiac High School in the Specialized Food Technology Program.

In 2018, he participated in a rare experience with Montcalm Community College, where criminologist Glennes Page selected a handful of prisoners to grade papers of 25 students in her criminology class. He also submitted a paper on his perspective and insight, “When you talk About the Difficulties/Struggles of Incarceration,” which was graded by MCC students as part of the special project.

ARUS T. Marsh, his counselor, acknowledged Grandion’s many accomplishments and achievements, as well as how he conducts himself in the honor unit, where he’s been housed for nearly five years. Mr. Marsh states in part, “His unit/work/program evaluations have consistently shown him to be a hard worker, well behaved, and positive example for his fellow prisoners.”

Since Brian’s arrival into the MDOC he has shown an ability to redeem himself by actively engaging in every available rehabilitative program. He only has a total of four misconducts in his 25 years, all relatively of an non-serious nature, i.e., Out of Place, etc. He’s mentioned by several staff as an example and role model for other prisoners. Brian has worked hard toward his transformation and shown redemptive qualities.

If the question was asked whether or not he has demonstrated and/or proved by way of his actions and continuous involvement & participation in programs to be rehabilitated? I would lend an unequivocal yes. Grandion has a strong and supportive network of people willing and able to assist with his smooth reintegration back into society. There is an employment opportunity awaiting him and a suitable home placement.

John Loepke

John Loepke, 45, sentenced at 17 years-old to life without parole, out of Calhoun County, is another rehabilitated case. Shortly after coming to prison he successfully completed his GED in April 1993, with an average score of 52. Completed all vocational counseling requirements in Building Trades and received Certification in Custodial Maintenance Technology. All work evaluations from job assignments, photographer, store clerk, laundry and VPP tutor/peer mentor all yielded good to excellent. His current work assignment as peer mentor affords John the chance to help many prisoners in the VPP (Violent Prevention Program) utilize alternative cognitive tools in coping with their violent tendencies.

John received a congratulatory letter from former MDOC director William Overton commending him on his hard work and dedication in pursuing the Career Technical Education Program. He received several letters in appreciation in recognition of his participation in the Greyhound Dog Program for his achievement in training, care and love for his Greyhound from former Warden Carol Howes.

He was one of the handlers who had been in the dog program the longest and had proven to be an valuable asset to the dog program. He volunteered with the making of leather key chains, leash and collars so that the profits from the sales could go back into the running of their non-profit animal rescue organization. John, according to the dog program leader was the “go to guy” for new dog handlers that were seeking advice about their greyhounds. Letters in appreciation and gratitude for his participation in the dog program were also written by Warden Bonita Hoffner.

In a 2017 letter of support from former Warden Carol Howes on behalf of Mr. Loepke, she wrote, “John Loepke was one of the first prisoners classified to be a dog handler and he was instrumental in the program’s success. He often acted as a spokesman for the program. He interacted with staff, volunteers, the media, and was even featured in a promotional film by the Greyhound Foundation. I believe the success and expansion of the dog programs in Michigan is entirely due to these first prisoner handlers, including John, who were in the Greyhound Program.”

He is 20 years without a misconduct report, last infraction was in 1998. John is the type of example that fellow prisoners could charter their course toward rehabilitation after. Prof. Jackie Martin of Grand Valley State University wrote in a letter acknowledging John to be one of her better prepared students in the Inside Out Prison Exchange Program.

He’s completed several Core programs, e.g., Thinking for Change; Substance Abuse Phase I; Violence Prevention Program. Mr. Loepke has also successfully completed a range of self-help programming: Cage Your Rage; Montcalm. Community College Workshops; Chance For Life. John was selected in 2014, for the Prisoner Observation Aide Program, which is part of his dual work assignment. He has done well in observing and preventing prisoners from self-harm.

Aside from his numerous participation in programming, John has continuously shown himself to be a role model that other prisoners can aspire to be like, because he’s demonstrated time-after-time his desire to do the right thing inclusive of a changed thought processes, which is geared toward an overall improvement in how he thinks, acts and behaves. Aaron Suganuma, who attributes much of his success to John’s advice, guidance and example during his short incarceration, said John also helped to change his outlook and perspective on life in general.

In his letter of support for John’s release he stated in part, “… I wasn’t used to healthy friendships – and hadn’t even attended family holidays in a few years. Deciding to let myself be friends with John was one of the luckiest chances that I’ve ever taken. 

“I was at a crossroads in my life, where I hadn’t liked the life that I had been living but it was easy to dive deeper and deeper into it. Hanging out with John showed me how to survive in prison without getting into drugs, gambling, fights and all the other pitfalls that are the norm there. Further, he hung out with and introduced me to a lot of people who were on a similar path of ‘I used to get in trouble, but I found a different way to live.’

This wasn’t any kind of organized program but a subculture of people simply doing their time and trying to build a healthier community to live in-within the prison.”

He added, “One of the things that John mentioned when he asked me to write this letter is that, as much as he wants to come home, he understands his victim does not have an opportunity to grow and that it is important that her family feel served. He said that he has felt remorseful for many years and he wishes that there was an opportunity for a restorative justice-style dialogue with them.”

“It seems fitting that John has now taken on the role of an aide who spends time with suicidal inmates in order to help them emotionally deescalate,” says Suganuma, who now holds a master’s degree in Social Work with a specialty in mental illness and chemical dependency.

Writer’s final note: the stories of Brian Grandion and John Loepke are indicative of those juvenile lifers who should be afforded an opportunity to prove their rehabilitation. County prosecutors and judges overseeing resentencing hearings in accordance with the Miller ruling, which addresses the unconstitutionally imposed life without parole sentences for 17 year-olds or younger, should be mindful of the fact that many of these juveniles have long ago proved beyond question their rehabilitative status.

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Channel 4 video above is from Oct. 2017 hearing in Charles “K.K.” Lewis case

Prosecutor moves to certify substitute for Lewis’ lost court record, after first telling Judge she could give Lewis “a term of years’ in exchange

Mitigation hearing canceled

Over 200 Michigan juvenile lifers still stranded in prison without sentences, 7 yrs. after U.S. Supreme court ruled JLWOP unconstitutional

“I’ve got to push hard to pave the way for others that come after me”–Lewis

By Diane Bukowski

January 22, 2019 

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. wanted all his people FREE AT LAST!

DETROIT—Charles Lewis, a Michigan juvenile lifer with 43 years in prison, says he is “shocked” by Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy’s latest move in three years of re-sentencing hearings on his case.

While waiting for a “mitigation hearing” set for May 15, where reasons for the reduction of  his life sentence would be introduced, he learned that it was canceled. Instead, Asst. Prosecutor Thomas Dawson filed a motion asking Judge Qiana Lillard to certify a grossly incomplete court record in order to proceed with re-sentencing.

Contradictorily, Dawson gave the impression during a Sept. 28 hearing that he would be amenable to a term of years sentence for Lewis, in light of the numerous files missing from his case. 

Ironically, rhe current motion will be heard Thursday, Jan. 24 at 10:30 a.m. in Judge Lillard’s courtroom, #502 in the Frank Murphy Hall at Gratiot and St. Antoine in Detroit, only three days after the official Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday. The motion claims that MCR 3.507(D) allows Lillard to do so. (See   for text.)

Lewis, an experienced jailhouse lawyer, says that is a statute covering civil, not criminal cases. He and his attorney Sanford Schulman have cited a Michigan Supreme Court decision, People v. Fullwood  (1974) that bars reconstruction of lost CRIMINAL files. Other rulings from the U.S. Supreme Court, notably Chessman v. Teets (1959), and from the Michigan Supreme Court say the remedy for cases in which court records have been wholly or partially lost is dismissal and remand.

“I am certain that Kym Worthy and Judge Lillard have already talked about the motion that [AP Thomas] Dawson filed,” Lewis said. “That is a sticking point that they will not be able to get around. This issue also probably deals with more than just me. There are probably a lot of juveniles that have stuff missing from their court files, although maybe not to the extent that I have a complete file missing. How my case is dealt with may affect cases that will come behind me. So, I’ve got to push hard to pave the way to make it better for those that come behind me.”

Lewis is the first of 200 Michigan juvenile lifers with prosecutor recommendations for renewed life without parole to be heard in court. His re-sentencing hearings have been going on since March, 2016. As a child of 17 in 1976, he was convicted of the first-degree murder of a white off-duty police officer, despite accounts from eyewitnesses including the officer’s partner that they saw another man commit the crime.

Lewis’ hopes for his freedom were buoyed last year when he was abruptly moved to the Macomb Correctional Facility’s Re-Entry Unit, after Dawson had suggested to Judge Lillard three times during a Sept. 28 hearing that she could deal with his missing records by giving him a term of years instead of life without parole. Lewis watched as several others in his unit left for hearings and went home after maxing out with sentences of 40-60 years.

Wayne Co. Prosecutor Kym Worthy virulently opposed state legislation introduced in the last decade to outlaw JLWOP. Now that the U.S. Supreme Court has outlawed, she continues to put every stumbling block possible in the way of releasing Wayne County juvenile lifers. Wayne County has the highest number of children sent to die in the state.

Social workers at the unit prepared him for reentry, arranging for him to obtain a bridge card for food and regular Medicaid. They even set an appointment with a doctor. Lewis suffers from severe diabetes and has had three heart attacks while in prison.

While at Macomb, he has been playing the piano during regular church services. During his previous years in prison, he directed and wrote music for numerous prison bands. He also played guitar, keyboards and other instruments, which he began doing at the age of 4.

But Lewis’ hopes are now cruelly dashed, and he is re-adjusting himself to the likelihood that his battle will continue into the Michigan Court of Appeals.

The new year dawns seven years after the U.S. Supreme Court first ruled mandatory juvenile life without parole unconstitutional in Miller v. Alabama.  But two-thirds of 363 Michigan juvenile lifers still languish in prison, many having served these unconstitutional sentences for decades because prosecutors claim without specific grounds that they are “incorrigible.”  This is the largest number in any state.

Earlier map of states banning JLWOP. Since then, six more states have joined the movement.

This appears to be a gross violation of U.S. Supreme Court mandates that only “the rarest child” should be sentenced to die in prison. Michigan, which has the second highest number of juvenile lifers in the U.S., and Louisiana are the two states that have been most resistant to the U.S. Supreme Court dictates, even after the high court confirmed in Montgomery v. Louisiana (2016), that Miller was retroactive.

“By contrast, the neighboring states of Wisconsin, Indiana, and Ohio have just 16 juvenile lifers combined,” says an article in the Michigan Bar Journal. “More than half of all states and the District of Columbia no longer impose life-without-parole sentences on children in any circumstance. And the United States is alone on the global stage in imposing life-without-parole sentences on children.”

The Third Circuit Court’s General Counsel Richard Lynch said, “Wayne County had 144 defendants eligible for relief under Miller. To date, 86 cases have been resolved. This leaves 58 cases subject to resentencing.” Originally, Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy said she had selected 66 cases for recommendations of life without  parole, the highest number of any county in the state.

Lewis’ longtime friend, Minister Reginald M. Reynolds X, decries the delay in Lewis’ release.

Minister Reginald M. Reynolds X/Facebook

“He has been a very influential brother to me,” Minister Reynolds X told VOD. He said he first spoke with Lewis when Lewis contacted him to ask for help with his mother’s move to another location. The Minister was released from prison in 1995. Lewis, the oldest of five children, has always looked after his mother and younger brothers and sisters by whatever means available to him during the decades of his incarceration.

“Since then, he has given me very helpful advice at critical times in my life,” Minister Reynolds X said. “He was always there for me and I was there for him. I don’t believe this brother should be in prison. He would be a tremendous asset to the community, because of the knowledge and experience he has gained through the course of these years, and the power of his personality.”

He continued, “I want to see the joy in his mother’s face when he comes home. I went with her several times to review his file, and every time we waited for hours before the clerk told us they could not find it. How can they lose a file that large? How can you hold a man incarcerated when you don’t even have the proof of why he is incarcerated?”

Lewis’ attorney Sanford Schulman said in a motion heard Sept. 28, 2018, “The loss of the pertinent files and records is not subject to the harmless error test. It is a critical and structural error that will deprive the defendant of his constitutional right to due process. Indeed the Michigan Courts have spoken clearly on this issue. In the case of People v. Fullwood, 392 Mich. 751 (1974), [the court ruled] “On order of the Court, sua sponte pursuant to GCR 1963, 865.1(7), defendant-appellant’s conviction and sentence is peremptorily reversed due to the impossibility of reconstructing the lost record in this case. The matter was remanded to the Recorder’s Court for the City of Detroit for retrial. The Court in Fullwood noted simply and succinctly that without a complete and meaningful file, an appeal could not proceed and as such the defendant was prejudiced without any fault. As such, the case was appropriately reversed.”

Some of Charles ‘K.K.’ Lewis supporters rally outside courthouse.

That motion was one of five heard in front of Judge Lillard on Sept. 28, motions to dismiss the case due to actual innocence, the loss of the court file, ineffective assistance of counsel, and the untimely request made by the prosecutor to re-sentence Lewis to life without parole. Lillard summarily denied all the motions, but still did not say she had certified Lewis’ “restored” file. (See

Minister Reynolds X said, “I believe they are waiting for Charles and the other juvenile lifers to die in prison.”

The Coalition to Abolish Death by Incarceration met with Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf. They are moving to outlaw life without parole completely. The U.S. is actually the only country in the world that carries out LWOP sentences.





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See Free Press coverage of protest at

See MLive coverage of protest at 


 RALLY JAN 18th 5:30 pm Cobo Hall

Seize The Plant, Save the Planet: Make Detroit the engine for a Green New Deal!

Demand our local government—Mayor Duggan and Detroit City Council, and Mayor Majewski and Hamtramck City Council— take control of the Poletown plant and convert it to public use to create thousands of green union jobs.

Poletown before its demolition for GM profit

Thirty-seven years ago, the City of Detroit invoked eminent domain to gift the entire historic Poletown neighborhood in Hamtramck to GM, wiping out an entire community so the company could build the factory it intends to shutter.

Just 10 years ago, the people rescued GM from the brink of collapse with a $51 billion bailout. 

Now, we are being “rewarded” with thousands of worker layoffs, yet another cruel slap in the faces of auto workers who have made vital contributions to the very survival and subsequent success of General Motors. 

And while the company is ending production of the Volt and other smaller-sized sedans, it will be reinvesting in gas-guzzling pickup trucks and SUVs. In short, GM has abdicated even the most basic of commitments to the well-being of our society and the planet.

It is time that we as a community stand up to these reckless, corporate bullies and demand our elected leaders take the bold and decisive action we need in order to survive as a species. 

GM Chairman Roger Smith, (l), Hamtramck Mayor Robert Kozaren, and Detroit Mayor Coleman Young in front of wreckage of Dodge Main Plant. at groundbreaking for Detroit Hamtramck Assembly Plant. Workers from Dodge Main UAW Local 3 and AFSCME Local 457 fought for three years to Save Dodge Main, Save Detroit General Hospital. Since then, plants all over Detroit have been closed, and its public sector destroyed.

Join us  to demand that our local governments –Mayor Mike Duggan and Detroit City Council, and Mayor Majewski and Hamtramck City Council respond to this outrage by immediately taking control of the Poletown plant and converting it to public use to create thousands of green union jobs.

We need bold action today if we are going to avert climate catastrophe and rehabilitate the Rust Belt. Let’s start that green revolution right here, by making Detroit the engine of a Green New Deal!!!

igned on by:

Poletown’s Immaculate Conception Pastor Joseph Karasiewicz and parishioner

Autoworkers Caravan/ Boggs Center/ Breathe Free Detroit/ Detroit Democratic Socialists of America (DSA)/ Detroit Eviction Defense/ Detroit Jews for Justice/ Detroit League of Revolutionaries for a New America East Ferry/Warren Community Assn./ East Michigan Environmental Action Council/OneHamtramck Soulardarity/Sunrise Lansing/ Unifor Local 222 Political Action Committee (Canada)/ Unifor Local 222 Retired Workers’ Chapter/ We the People, Michigan/ Detroit IWW/ GMB Solidarity  Committee … so far




Moratorium NOW!: State MEGA tax credits oblige GM to maintain 34,750 jobs at Detroit Hamtramck Assembly and Warren Transmission plants

GM must repay 50% of tax credits if it relocates plant after they take effect

GM the only automaker to refuse to provide amounts of MEGA credits

By the Moratorium NOW! Coalition                               Contact: 313-319-0870

Facebook page at

January 11, 2019



See full lawsuit at

The Chevrolet Volt electric vehicle with extended range capability is assembled at the General Motors Detroit-Hamtramck Assembly Plant on the same line with Cadillac DTS and Buick Lucerne vehicles Tuesday, November 30, 2010 in Detroit, Michigan.  (Photo by Jeffrey Sauger for Chevrolet

Above: GM Hamtramck Assembly worker Dnitra Landon reacts angrily to announcement that plant  will close.


Steven Greenhouse in Lordstown, Ohio


There’s a sign outside the General Motors assembly plant in Lordstown, Ohio, that reads: “GM, We Invested in You. Now It’s Your Turn to Invest in US.”

Ever since the US’s largest car company’s immense assembly plant opened here 52 years ago, it has dominated this blue-collar town. Now GM workers here are furious that the automaker plans to idle – and perhaps permanently close – the plant.

Related: ‘No jobs on the horizon’: workers respond to General Motors’ decision to close plant

GM stunned its workforce on 26 November, the Monday after Thanksgiving, by announcing it would cut roughly 14,000 jobs and idle five factories in North America, including the Lordstown plant, which employs 1,600 workers. One factor stoking the workers’ ire is that GM’s move came after American taxpayers rescued it from bankruptcy with a $49.5bn federal bailout in 2009.

While some have blamed Trump policies for the closure, or at least for his inability to stop them, it’s the company that workers hold most responsible.

“Their announcement was really a kick in the stomach,” said Danny Adams, who has worked at the plant since 1996. “It’s not woe is me. It’s woe is us.”

Like many GM workers here, Adams, 53, is worried and bitter, not knowing where he might find a new job and wondering whether he’s too old to train for a new career. Adams could perhaps transfer to another GM plant, but he fears that such a move would be hugely trying for his 15-year-old son.

“This is devastating. This is our livelihood,” said Stephanie Allein, 40, who began working for GM in 2000 and was transferred to Lordstown in 2010.

Reactions at a union meeting in Oshawa, Ontario, one of the regions also affected by the layoffs. Photograph: Lars Hagberg/AFP/Getty Images

“This isn’t my first rodeo,” Allein said. “This is my third GM plant. I’d like to be able to plant my roots somewhere. I feel like a gypsy.” Allein, who helps assemble dashboards, transferred to Lordstown when her GM plant in Shreveport, Louisiana, closed. Before Shreveport, she worked at a GM-owned Delphi auto parts plant in Lockport, New York, which laid her off in 2006.

“When I came here,” Allein said, “there was this feeling this plant has been around forever, that this plant wasn’t going anywhere. You felt a security coming here. People bought houses.” The Lordstown facility occupies over 900 acres and has produced more than 16m vehicles, including Pontiac Firebirds and Chevy Cavaliers and Vegas. Last year, it generated $250m in wages, money that was the engine of Lordstown’s economy.

GM’s decision left people fuming, but not without hope, because it didn’t say the plant was closing. Rather, it said the plant was “unallocated”. That day, GM announced it was ending production of the Chevy Cruze in the US – that’s the car the Lordstown plant makes (although GM will continue to produce the Cruze in Mexico along with several crossover vehicles). GM was responding to a slowdown in sales of smaller cars, like the Cruze, and to Trump’s easing fuel economy standards, a move making it easier for automakers to focus on producing larger cars and trucks.

GM said it was idling Lordstown and four other plants – in Detroit; Baltimore; Warren, Michigan; and Oshawa, Ontario – to cut costs and free up money to invest in electric and autonomous cars. The Lordstown workers hope GM will opt to assemble another car, perhaps an electric car, here. “We should be building the next-generation car here,” Allein said. “We should be building the crossovers here, not in Mexico.”

GM CEO Mary Barra announces plant closings.

The workers are also angry that GM, helped by the $1 trillion corporate tax cut enacted last year, has spent nearly $14 billion on stock buybacks since 2015, money that could have been invested in developing next-generation vehicles.

There’s a bipartisan push to save the plant. Governor John Kasich, a Republican, Senator Sherrod Brown, a Democrat, and Senator Rob Portman, a Republican, have pressed GM’s chief executive, Mary Barra, to find a way to keep the plant open. Brown, who is contemplating a presidential run in 2020, has urged Trump to back legislation he has introduced that would give consumers $3,500 rebates on American-made cars.

United Auto Workers Local 1112 here has mounted a letter-writing campaign – including hundreds of letters from children – to urge Barra not to shutter the plant. Jake Shevetz, a second grader, wrote: “I don’t want to move and the families that have to move probably don’t want to. But my mom says if they get something new, we won’t have to move.”

Cheryl Jonesco, who was laid off in early 2017 when the Lordstown plant cut its third shift, said: “They’re receiving our taxpayer dollars and investing in these other countries. I don’t know how Barra can lay in her bed and sleep at night.”

Worker at GM’s Lordstown Assembly Plant.

Dave Green, president of UAW Local 1112, said his goal wasn’t just to persuade GM to keep the plant open, but to make sure the workers have alternatives. His local has created a transition center that workers stream into day after day, to ask for help finding another job or getting retraining.

“GM is betraying the American worker, the American taxpayer,” Green said. “Chevrolet is apple pie. It’s an American icon. What disturbs me is GM is going to exit this entry-level segment. If there’s no entry-level cars, what are they going to put people in? Are we going to see Toyota, Honda and Kia gain market share and GM throwing in the towel?”

Last April, Ford announced it was eliminating traditional sedans from its US lineup, except for the Mustang, ending production of the Focus, Fusion, Fiesta and Taurus. That came after Fiat Chrysler cut the Dodge Dart and Chrysler 200 to concentrate on more profitable Ram pickups and Jeep SUVs.

Adams says GM is making a strategic mistake by ending US production of the Cruze and several other sedans: the Chevy Impala, Chevy Volt and Buick LaCrosse. “GM had the perfect opportunity to say, ‘We are the only American car manufacturing company that is building cars in the USA.’ They could have been like Harley-Davidson. They missed it right there because they want their pockets full of money.”

In a speech in nearby Youngstown in July 2017, Trump promised to bring back auto jobs. “They’re all coming back,” he said. “Don’t move, don’t sell your house.” Trump has criticized GM about layoffs, but the Lordstown workers say he hasn’t done enough.

“If you’re going to make promises, you got to keep your promises,” Adams said. “I’m sorry. We’re blue-collar. You shake my hand. It’s a promise.”

Ever since the US’s largest car company’s immense assembly plant opened here 52 years ago, it has dominated this blue-collar town. Now GM workers here are furious that the automaker plans to idle – and perhaps permanently close – the plant.

Related: ‘No jobs on the horizon’: workers respond to General Motors’ decision to close plant

Trump threatens to cut GM subsidies in retaliation for U.S. job cuts 

The workers are also angry that GM, helped by the $1 trillion corporate tax enacted last year, has spent nearly $14 billion on stock buybacks since 2015, money that could have been invested in developing next-generation vehicles.

There’s a bipartisan push to save the plant. Governor John Kasich, a Republican, Senator Sherrod Brown, a Democrat, and Senator Rob Portman, a Republican, have pressed GM’s chief executive, Mary Barra, to find a way to keep the plant open. Brown, who is contemplating a presidential run in 2020, has urged Trump to back legislation he has introduced that would give consumers $3,500 rebates on American-made cars.

United Auto Workers Local 1112 here has mounted a letter-writing campaign – including hundreds of letters from children – to urge Barra not to shutter the plant. Jake Shevetz, a second grader, wrote: “I don’t want to move and the families that have to move probably don’t want to. But my mom says if they get something new, we won’t have to move.”

Cheryl Jonesco, who was laid off in early 2017 when the Lordstown plant cut its third shift, said: “They’re receiving our taxpayer dollars and investing in these other countries. I don’t know how Barra can lay in her bed and sleep at night.”

The alternative: Sitdown at GM plant in 1930’s.

Dave Green, president of UAW Local 1112, said his goal wasn’t just to persuade GM to keep the plant open, but to make sure the workers have alternatives. His local has created a transition center that workers stream into day after day, to ask for help finding another job or getting retraining.

“GM is betraying the American worker, the American taxpayer,” Green said. “Chevrolet is apple pie. It’s an American icon. What disturbs me is GM is going to exit this entry-level segment. If there’s no entry-level cars, what are they going to put people in? Are we going to see Toyota, Honda and Kia gain market share and GM throwing in the towel?”

Many workers suspect that GM announced that it was leaving Lordstown “unallocated” rather than closing it outright in order to pressure the UAW to grant some concessions in next year’s contract negotiations to help persuade GM to keep the plant open.

If that’s GM’s tactic, Adams isn’t buying it. “That’s 100% union-busting,” he said. “They’re just trying to make us beg.”

While the workers feel anger, they also feel a lot of pride. They’re proud that the Cruze and the high marks it received helped restore GM’s reputation after the 2009 bankruptcy. “When we heard the news in November, we went right back to our jobs,” Allein said. “We give 100%. We didn’t give up. I don’t think anybody is ready to give up. No one wants to believe that this is it for Lordstown.”

Steven Greenhouse is the author of the book, Beaten Down, Worked Up: The Past, Present, and Future of America Labor, which will be published in August 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Willis X. Harris

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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Baltimore residents succeeded in banning water privatization in city charter.

77% of city voters approve charter amendment

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

By Rianna Eckel



November 8, 2018

Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh signs charter amendment banning water privatization.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Video below describes struggle leading up to historic vote in Baltimore

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

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

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

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

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

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

Some Related Stories:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Presiding criminal court Judge Timothy Kenny.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

MSP’s Christopher Corriveau

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Related documents:

Judge Timothy Kenny’s ruling Dec. 3, 2018

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

Part one of Searcy brief with Motion:

Part two of  Searcy brief with Motion:

Related stories:


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

Ricardo Ferrell, VOD staff writer

By Ricardo Ferrell

November 26, 2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Judge Joseph Toia

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

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

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


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

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

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

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



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Pueblo Sin Fronteras advocates for migrants

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

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

November 25, 2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Migrant child cries under attack. Reuters photo

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

Migrants running from tear gas. Reuters

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

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

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

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

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

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Troop deployment to cost  +$72M

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Toluse Olorunnipa, Bloomberg

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Trump with “Great Wall of Mexico.”

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

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




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

Refuses to recognize COA had proper jurisdiction on case

Favors $8.7 BILLION Madison Capital Funding

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

By Diane Bukowski 

November 20, 2018


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Madison Capital’s headquarters in the Chicago Mercantile Exchange.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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