By Sara Flounders

April 10, 2018

U.S. wars are based on lies and staged provocations. This is hardly news.

Now comes the charge that on April 7 someone — the imperialists are saying it was the Syrian government, although there is no proof of that — killed dozens of Syrians with a poison gas attack on the town of Douma, which had only recently been liberated from anti-government forces.

The brutal seven-year war against Syria had been winding down after the failure of every effort by U.S. imperialism to overturn the Syrian government.

The last groups of reactionary, Saudi-backed military units were defeated this month. They had relentlessly shelled the civilian population of Damascus, the Syrian capital, for years. Thousands of these fighters have finally surrendered and were forced out of the hills of East Ghouta province overlooking Damascus. They are due to be bused out of the area to Idlib, a rebel-held area in the far north of Syria.

The Syrian government has also established humanitarian corridors enabling more than 150,000 civilians to be evacuated by its forces.

The town of Douma, where the supposed gas attack took place, was the last to be liberated. The Army of Islam or Jaysh al-Islam had agreed to an evacuation.  The Syrian Arab Air Force had destroyed more than 300 positions of Jaysh al-Islam in the Douma district, including its main headquarters, communication networks and ammunition depots, over the last 24 hours before the supposed gas attack.

Syria has no motive

The idea that the Syrian government would choose this moment of victory to suddenly unleash a gas attack is incredible and ridiculous. But it is a charge that serves as an excuse for the U.S. and NATO to renew their bombing, especially since only a week earlier Trump had talked about getting the U.S. out of Syria.

The gas attack, which is said to have killed at least 42 people, was top-of-the-news, front-page coverage in the U.S. media along with Trump’s tweets. While the charge that Syria did it was met with contempt and ridicule throughout most of the world, NATO members France and Britain dutifully chimed in with immediate threats to bomb Syria.

The Israeli regime beat them to it and immediately seized the opportunity to attack Syria. Two Israeli F-15 fighters fired missiles into Syria’s Tiyas Military Airbase in Homs province before dawn on April 9.

It is beyond belief to accept that Israel — whose troops have killed 28 unarmed Palestinian civilians and injured more than 1,500 over the past two weeks, in addition to the thousands it has killed in its past bombings of Gaza — was attacking Syria over the deaths of civilians.

Charges with no proof

The imperialists’ blatant assertion of Syrian guilt is not only totally unfounded, it is unprovable and totally implausible.

Syria has repeatedly denied allegations of chemical weapons use, underscoring that it has no weapons of mass destruction. This was confirmed by the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons.

The Syrian Foreign Ministry points out that similar allegations emerge every time the Syrian Army makes advances in its fight against terrorist groups.

Last year on April 7, the Pentagon, without waiting for any evidence, attacked Syria’s Shuaryat Air Force base with 59 Tomahawk cruise missiles, supposedly in response to chemical weapons being used at Khan Shikhoun, a town in southwestern Syria. The sudden attack, orchestrated with immediate photos and a coordinated campaign of war propaganda by a compliant media, reached new heights.

Protecting civilians is the claim made by the imperialists to justify their massive bombings, destabilizations campaigns and starvation sanctions — resulting in the deaths of hundreds of thousands of civilians.

Wider war threatened

A wider war exploding from a confrontation in Syria is a growing danger. Most dangerous right now is that it coincides with the installation of extreme right-wing war hawk John Bolton as Trump’s new national security advisor.

When the U.S. ruling class wants a war, the corporate media fall into line. Whether it was the phony claim that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction in 2002, which U.S. officials knew to be a lie, or the phony “attack” by Vietnamese PT boats on a U.S. warship in the Gulf of Tonkin in 1964, the U.S. media have repeated the government’s lies to justify its wars.

This goes all the way back to the sinking of the battleship Maine in 1898, which was used to justify the Spanish-American war. A U.S. Navy inquiry in 1974 commissioned by Admiral Hyman Rickover concluded that the Maine sunk, not because of a Spanish mine, but because munitions stored aboard caught fire and exploded.

U.S. military corporations have an enormous stake in continued war. But it goes wider than that. The big imperialist corporations and banks fear the defeat of all U.S. strategic plans for the region. So once again military, corporate and media forces are dragging out the same playbook they have used time and again to keep U.S. troops in Afghanistan, south Korea, Syria and the more than 1,000 U.S. military bases around the world.

It is especially ominous that Russia was immediately blamed, along with Syria. Russian and Iranian assistance to Syria has helped frustrate U.S. plans for the overthrow of the Syrian government. In their constant drumbeat of nonstop demonization, U.S. opinion molders don’t even bother to present facts or motivation when making charges against Russian President Putin.

They also paint a dire picture that a U.S. military pullout from the region would lead to chaos and benefit Russia, Iran or China, while also leading to a resurgence of the Islamic State group in Syria. What the war planners really oppose is a unified, sovereign Syrian state.

Progressive forces opposed to endless U.S. wars must confront these criminal charges against Syria and demand of the U.S. warmakers: “Hands off Syria!”

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U.S. District Court Judge Mark Goldsmith rules good time/disciplinary credits must be applied to re-sentenced youthful offenders 

50 who have already been re-sentenced eligible to see parole board in 14 days, state has 7 days to calculate credits for others after re-sentencings 

Judge certifies all 363 juvenile lifers as a class, appoints Atty. Deborah LaBelle as class representative; state had asked to eliminate 247 for whom prosecutors are recommending renewed JLWOP

 Judge orders further discovery re: deprivation of rehabilitative trainin

By Diane Bukowski

April 10, 2018 

U.S. District Court Judge Mark Goldsmith also ordered a hand recount of Michigan’s ballots in presidential election of Trump.

DETROIT – U.S. District Court Judge Mark Goldsmith ruled April 9 that Michigan juvenile lifers are eligible to have good time and/or disciplinary credits earned since day one of their unconstitutional sentences applied when they are re-sentenced.  He gave the Michigan Department of Corrections 14 days to calculate those credits for those currently in prison.

This means that some individuals currently serving time after re-sentencing will be immediately eligible to see the parole board, while others will have their wait time shortened.

His ruling is part of ongoing proceedings in the federal case Hill v. Snyder, brought by lead attorney Deborah LaBelle and the Michigan American Civil Liberties Union over seven years ago.

“The United States Supreme Court has ruled that juveniles convicted of first-degree murder cannot be subject to mandatory life sentences without parole,” Goldsmith said in a remarkably rigorous ruling. “Because of their lesser culpability and greater capacity to change, they must be sentenced under a process that gives them an individualized opportunity to present mitigating circumstances to avert such a harsh sentence.”

Goldsmith then referred to a statute passed by the Michigan Legislature in 2014, MCL 796.25a(6), which said that re-sentenced juvenile lifers would not be allowed to use their credits, despite the fact that ALL other prisoners are allowed to do so.

Atty. Deborah LaBelle has fought for the rights of juvenile prisoners for decades.

Calling the sentences “illegally imposed,” Goldsmith said, “In that respect, the legislative response ran afoul of our Constitution’s ban on ex post facto laws – the constitutional guarantee that laws may not retroactively criminalize conduct or enhance the punishment for criminal acts already perpetrated. For this reason, the Court must declare that provision of the statute unconstitutional and order that the youth offenders receive the credit that they have previously earned.”

Judge Goldsmith turned down the state’s request for a 14-day stay to allow it to pursue an appeal.

“Today’s ruling is a tremendous victory for fairness in our criminal justice system,” Dan Korobkin, ACLU of Michigan Deputy Legal Director, who argued the case alongside Attorney LaBelle, said in a statement. “Hundreds of youth who were serving unconstitutional life sentences will now benefit from good-time credits they earned in prison for good behavior, credits that were taken away from them by mean-spirited retroactive legislation in 2014.”

See complete opinion at

Cortez Davis-El

Cortez Davis, a staff writer for the Voice of Detroit, is one juvenile lifer who may go free shortly as a result of Judge Goldsmith’s ruling, after serving nearly 24 years in prison. His attorney Clinton Hubbell had asked that he be re-sentenced to the 10-40 years his trial judge Vera Massey Jones had imposed in 1994.

Eighteen years before the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Miller v. Alabama that mandatory juvenile life without parole was unconstitutional,  Judge Vera Massey-Jones called JLWOP “cruel and unusual punishment.” 

But Judge Shannon Walker re-sentenced Davis to the 25-60 year sentence arbitrarily mandated by Michigan’s legislature in MCL 769.25a. He says application of his good-time credits should allow him to see the parole board immediately.

“Personally, I am humbled and grateful for the Court’s decision and wisdom re: this issue of disciplinary credits and good time for those of us who have earned them for decades,” Davis told VOD by phone today.

“I’m not looking at this as a win for just those who are doing time. It is also a win for Michigan citizens, the taxpayers, because the money that will be saved can be better put to use on our crumbling educational system, our healthcare system, and services for elderly. A lot of men and woman inside these institutions are ready, willing and able to contribute positively to the growth of society, especially within our communities. People say prisons are where you pay your debt to society, but I believe prison only prepares you to pay that debt. You cannot fully pay it until your release and the work that you do to improve society then.”

Davis has a stellar prison record and has been involved in numerous activities organizing other prisoners in positive endeavors. (See box and VOD stories by Davis listed below.) He is an excellent writer and legal researcher. At the youthful age of 41, he will no doubt be a valuable contributor to society.

Another juvenile lifer who badly needs to have her good time credits restored is Jennifer Pruitt, now 42, of Pontiac, Michigan. She was resentenced to 30 to 60 years on March 2, 2017. Her earliest release date is Aug. 30, 2022. 

“Jennifer Pruitt can hardly remember a time when she felt safe,” says an article published in Al Jazeera. “She says her father beat her until her eyes were blackened. He beat her mother and brothers. He drank and crashed their family cars, she says, and then he came home and beat them some more. And starting when she was about 10, Jennifer says, Denny Pruitt would arrange some alone time with her in a bedroom. When she told her mother about the abuse, her father called Jennifer a bitch and a liar.”

Since Pruitt’s incarceration at the age of 15, the abuse has continued in prison. Pruitt was raped by a prison guard, but the state expects her to remain in that chamber of horrors for another four years. 

Jennifer Pruitt

In his ruling, Judge Goldsmith quoted from the plaintiffs’ brief,  “. . .there are 363 offenders who are subject to the resentencing provisions of Section 769.25a. Michigan prosecutors have filed motions seeking the re-imposition of sentences of life without parole for 236 of these individuals. To date, none of these resentencings has taken place. . . . .However, resentencing hearings are proceeding for those individuals who were not the subject of motions for re-imposition of life-without-parole sentences. Approximately one hundred individuals have been resentenced to a term of years; of these, over thirty have been paroled and the remaining are parole eligible. Twenty-two individuals are still awaiting resentencing for a term-of-years sentence.”

He added later regarding state arguments that the federal courts have no jurisdiction over the matter for various reasons, “. . .it would be inequitable to require Plaintiffs – some of whom, if they prevail, would be immediately eligible for parole consideration – to wait even longer to seek resolution of their claims, particularly where the interpretation of the good time and disciplinary credits statute is clear.”

Goldsmith also certified the state’s 363 juvenile lifers as a class for legal purposes, rejecting the state’s argument that two-thirds of them, 247, should not be included because county prosecutors have recommended renewed LWOP sentences for them. Judge Goldsmith appointed attorney Deborah LaBelle, who has campaigned vigorously for juvenile lifers and other prisoners for decades, as the class representative.

Charles K.K. Lewis, wrongfully convicted, in prison 42 years, facing LWOP again

He delayed a ruling on the restoration of rehabilitative programming for juvenile lifers, pending further discovery.

Charles Lewis, a juvenile lifer who has spent 42 years in prison, and is facing a recommendation of LWOP again, said the appointment of Attorney LaBelle as representative of the class could have positive implications for the Michigan 247.

“This ruling is definitely a start,” Lewis, a skilled jailhouse lawyer, noted. “A lot of these guys [already re-sentenced] should discharge, they should take them right on parole. They said they couldn’t really deal with the issue of those re-recommended for LWOP, because nobody has been resentenced yet. But the appointment of Deborah LaBelle as a representative of the class should give her the opportunity to impact the state’s dealings with the 247. The question becomes, what is her plan for the 247? She can create an agenda for the attorneys representing them, for instance, what is required in mitigation hearings, including the provision of expert witnesses, private investigators, child psychologists, and forensic examiners, to start with.”

Lewis will represent himself at a hearing Thurs. May 24 at 9 a.m. in front of Judge Qiana Lillard, to address three motions he has filed. Story on those is forthcoming. They are motions:

  • asking for release due to actual innocence,
  • a withdrawal of the prosecution’s ex post facto motion to re-sentence him to LWOP because Judge Edward Ewell ordered his re-sentencing under Miller in October, 2012, before the 2014 state statutes were enacted
  • a motion for bond pending appeal.

Michigan and Louisiana (up south and down south) are considered the two worst states in the nation regarding their treatment of juvenile lifers, with Michigan having the highest number of juvenile lifers in the world.   Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy wants 67 of the county’s 146 juvenile lifers to die in prison, the highest actual number of any county in the state.

 Prosecutor Kym Worthy

Richard Phillips, on release Dec.14, 2017

She has refused to backtrack on these recommendations.

Last week, she falsely claimed credit for the release of Richard D. Phillips, an innocent man imprisoned since 1971, saying that her revived “Conviction Integrity Unit” headed by former defense attorney Valerie Newman, investigated the case.

In fact, the Michigan Innocence Clinic began work on Phillips’ case in 2014, which led to Judge Michael Cox’s ruling releasing him last December. He was released on his own recognizance, but required to wear a tether. He noted at the time that his situation was not over because he faced re-trial, set by Kym Worthy for Feb. 5, 2018.

Worthy held a press conference last week to announce (finally!) that she would not re-try him. How she could re-try a man 45 years later, anyway, boggles the imagination.

The U.S. is the ONLY country in the world that sentences children to die in prison, as in fact many of Michigan’s juvenile lifers are doing. Most have spent 20, 30, 40 and more years in prison serving sentences that are now considered unconstitutional from day one. Some are actually innocent of the crimes for which their lives have been sacrificed. But Michigan has fought against justice for juvenile lifers every inch of the way.

Isn’t it time for federal troops to be sent to Michigan to enforce Miller and Montgomery?

The Little Rock Nine finishing a school day in Arkansas under the protection of federal troops, enforcing the U.S. Supreme Court ruling, Brown v. Board of Education. to integrate schools.

Related Stories: (mainly on or by Cortez Davis-El; for stories on Charles Lewis and juvenile lifers in general, put each term in the search engine)

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Lakeith Smith after his arrest at age 15/Photo Elmore County Sheriff

Group of young unarmed teens broke into home, chased out by cops who shot one to death in the neck

Lakeith Smith charged with murder, just sentenced to 65 years in prison

Other three teens await sentencing

By Jessica Lussenhop 

BBC News, Washington

April 9, 2018

Millbrook, Alabama–After police killed a burglary suspect in a shootout, the officer was not charged – instead a teenage boy who did not fire the gun has been found guilty of his murder. How do accomplice liability laws work?

Lakeith Smith was 15 years old when he went along with four older friends on a burglary spree. A neighbour called police when the group went into a home in Millbrook, Alabama, and the responding officers surprised the teenagers as they were coming through the front door.

A’Donte Washington, unarmed, shot dead by cops at 16 for B&E

The group turned and fled out the back door, and a shootout ensued. When it was all over, 16-year-old A’Donte Washington was dead with a bullet w0und to his neck. 

It’s never been in dispute that a Millbrook police officer shot and killed Washington – officer-worn body cameras captured the fatal confrontation. A grand jury declined to charge the officer, finding that the shooting was justified.

[However, A’Donte’s family has put up a GoFundMe site saying that he was sleeping in his friend’s car before the B & E and submitted to peer pressure to go into the house. See]

Instead, Smith was charged and found guilty of his friend’s murder. Last week, a judge sentenced him to 65 years in prison. Under Alabama’s accomplice liability law, Smith is considered just as culpable in Washington’s death as if he had pulled the trigger himself.

“It’s sad in my opinion,” says Smith’s defence lawyer, Jennifer Holton. “The cause of death was the officer’s action.”

LaKeith Smith awaits sentencing in Alabama court April 6, 2018. He got 65 years in prison. Photo: WSFA 12

Alabama’s law is an example of so-called felony-murder laws and they are very common throughout the US – only seven states do not have some type of law that expands the definition of murder to include an unintentional killing in the course of committing a felony. These laws also sweep up accomplices who, again, may not have directly caused harm, but were still a party in the felony that preceded the death.

While rooted in English common law, felony-murder is a rare concept outside of the US.

In the UK, the “joint enterprise” law can be used to convict an accomplice in a murder, but it applies mostly to gang-related crimes. The UK Supreme Court narrowed its application in 2016, ruling that the person must have “foresight” and “intention” to be found guilty of the killing.

Prof. Emeritus Michael G. Heyman

“Felony-murder is a lovely American fiction,” says Michael Heyman, professor emeritus at the John Marshall Law School in Chicago. “It’s a fiction in that it attributes a killing to you that you need not have done by your own hand.”

For example, if a victim has a heart attack and dies while being robbed, the perpetrator can be charged with murder even if he had no intent to kill. If the robber’s friend was sitting in a getaway car a block away, under accomplice liability, he too can be charged with murder. One of the most famous examples involved a man convicted of murder for loaning his car to friends who went on to murder an 18-year-old girl. According to prosecutors, it didn’t matter that he was 30 minutes away.

These laws make cases like Smith’s surprisingly common, where defendants are charged with the murder of their own accomplices, who can be their friends and even relatives. These often occur in the course of burglaries gone wrong, when the perpetrators are confronted by police or armed homeowners. Recent examples include cases in Georgia, Florida and Oklahoma.

The legal logic has expanded into the opioid crisis, where, in one case, a husband was charged with the murder of his wife for providing her with the heroin that killed her.

What makes Smith’s case different, according to Scott Lemieux, a lecturer in the department of political science at the University of Washington, is that Smith went forward to trial instead of pleading guilty.

“These really long sentences are used to put pressure on people to plead,” he says. “The risk of going to trial is so extreme.”

Two brothers, same murder, but one goes free. Why?

Locked up for 23 years when the real killer was already in jail

The teenager sentenced to 241 years in prison

DA Randall Houston

Smith decided to take that risk, turning down a 25-year plea deal, and was found guilty by a jury. The other three surviving suspects have pleaded guilty and are awaiting sentencing. Randall Houston, the district attorney who prosecuted Smith, says he felt the charges and the punishment were appropriate.

“If you’re gonna bring a gun and commit a crime and somebody dies, there’s consequences in Alabama – it’s felony-murder,” he says.

Houston points out that at his sentencing, Smith laughed and smiled. Holton, the defence lawyer, says that only shows how young Smith is.

Andre Washington, A’Donte’s father, attended Smith’s trial, but he didn’t sit on the prosecution’s side of the courtroom. Instead, he sat with Smith’s mother.

“I went there to show him and his family some support. What the officers did – it was totally wrong,” says Washington. “I don’t feel [Smith] deserves that. No. Not at all.”


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#SAHEEDVASSELL killed on 50th anniversary of MLK assassination

“It was almost like they did a hit”–witness

Rally planned for Thursday night

New York Daily News

BY Laura Dimon Richard Schapiro Ellen Moynihan John Annese Janon Fisher 

Updated: Thursday, April 5, 2018, 3:21 AM

A bipolar Brooklyn man waving a metal object at passersby was fatally shot by police Wednesday when cops responding to 911 calls for a man with a gun said he “took a two-handed shooting stance” and pointed at them.

The man, identified by family members as Saheed Vassell, 34, was a Jamaica-born welder and the father of a teenage boy.

Police said they were responding to three 911 calls that came in around 4:40 p.m. about a black man wearing a brown jacket waving what people thought was a silver gun on the corner of Utica Ave. and Montgomery St., NYPD Chief of Department Terence Monahan said at a press conference.

When the officers got to the street corner, Vassell turned to face them, aiming the object at them, Monahan said.

 “The suspect then took a two-handed shooting stance and pointed an object at the approaching officers,” the chief said, holding up a surveillance photo of a blurry figure standing next to a bodega ice machine with his arms outstretched.

Four officers — one in uniform, three in plainclothes — fired 10 shots, striking Vassell multiple times at about 4:45 p.m., Monahan said.

Youth confronts cop after killing of #SaheedVassell

Police can be heard on emergency radio saying they were on scene at about 4:42 p.m. and 27 seconds later, officers were calling for an ambulance. The NYPD did not give an explanation when asked about that timeline.

No firearm was found at the scene — and police said Vassell had been holding a metal pipe with a knob on the end.

Jaccbot Hinds, 40, who witnessed the shooting said officers jumped out of their unmarked police car and fired without warning.

Saheed’s father Eric Vassell mourns with young family member

“They just hopped out of the car. It’s almost like they did a hit. They didn’t say please. They didn’t say put your hands up, nothing,” Hinds said.

The NYPD refused to say if the responding officers warned Vassell before firing.

Vassell was taken to Kings County Hospital, where he died.

None of the officers wore body cameras, Monahan said.

Bereft family members fought with security at Kings County Hospital after hospital staff refused to let them see Vassell’s body.

His 15-year-old son, Tyshawn, described him as a caring father who looked after him.

“He’s always been there for me no matter what,” Tyshawn said. “He’d always come check up on me, ask me if I’m good.”

Residents prepare for memorial

He struggled to find the reason for the confrontation with police.

“He cared for everybody. If you saw him, he’d always be in a laughing mood. You would never catch him down,” Tyshawn said.

The shattered teen said he was still trying to process the news.

“This is what our society has come to,” he said.

Neighborhood where #SaheedVassell died.

Eric Vassell, 63, the slain man’s father, said that his son, who went to Wingate High School, struggled with bipolar disorder, but refused treatment.

“He hasn’t taken his medication for years,” the father said.

The elder Vassell said he used to fret about Saheed.

“We were always worried for him. We would say should anything happen to him, we just have to do what we can do,” he said.

He, too, struggled for answers Wednesday night.

“Why shoot to kill?” he said. “Are you so afraid that you have to take his life.”

Witnesses said the gunfire threw the afternoon into chaos.

“I heard all these shots, I thought it was firecrackers at first. I turned around and you just see the cops standing over the guy,” witness Chris J. said. “First it was one, then it was nonstop after that.”

Another memorial for #SaheedVassell

The witness, who was sitting in a salon across the street, said a plainclothes officer handcuffed Vassell as he lay motionless on the sidewalk.

“Blood was everywhere,” Chris said. “They put him on his back and they tried to compress his chest but he was gone.”

One bullet shattered a window at Chucky Fresh Market at 414 Utica Ave.

 “There were gunshots, and I just ducked,” said a clerk who declined to identify himself. “A minute later, cops were everywhere.”

After the shooting, an angry crowd formed at the edge of the police tape shouting at police and pointing out the officers they believed to be responsible.

“The whole community came outside,” he added. “People were going crazy. It was a nightmare out there.”

Vigil and protest held Thursday night on behalf of #SaheedVassell.

Vassell was known as a quirky neighborhood character with some mental health issues. His family said that he struggled with alcohol, but the community knew he meant no harm.

Andre Wilson, 38, who’s known Vassell for 20 years, said he was odd but harmless.

“All he did was just walk around the neighborhood,” Wilson said. “He speaks to himself, usually he has an orange Bible or a rosary in his hand. He never had a problem with anyone.”

Wilson said he was shocked that it would come to this.

“The officers from the neighborhood, they know him. He has no issue with violence … This shouldn’t have happened at all.”

Vassell’s ex-partner, Sherlan Smith, 36, mother to Tyshawn, said she parted with Vassell on good terms.

“He was a good father. He wasn’t a bad person. No matter how they want to spin it, he wasn’t a bad person,” Smith said. “Too many black people are dying at hands of police officers and it’s about time something be done.”

On the fence outside Vassell’s building a sign read, “Without Consequences Police Murders Will Continue”, on the back it said “Black Lives Matter.”

She also noted the bleak symbolism of Vassell getting shot on April 4.

“On the anniversary of the man who stood up for black people … you’re going take a black man down with nine bullets,” Smith said.

The shooting comes as the nation paused to reflect on the 50th anniversary of the assassination of the Rev. Martin Luther King.

NYPD cops killing black man shows little change since MLK’s death



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April 5, 2018

By Brian Ellison, candidate for US Senate

Madison Heights, MI – On April 3, 2018, Jim McQueen, a homeless man who has recently been staying at the Crosslands Hotel in Livonia, stumbled across some human ashes in a trash can that he was sifting through, in an effort to find returnable bottles and cans. Jim thought that the right thing to do was to try and get the ashes to the loved ones of the deceased. After getting no help from the hotel, Jim called the Livonia Police, and local media to help get the remains returned to the family.

WXYZ Detroit (7 Action News) came to the hotel to interview Mr. McQueen and to help get the story out to try and find the family.

Crossland Hotel, 11808 Middlebelt Rd.
Livonia, MI 48150
Phone number (800) 804-3724

After the news crews left, hotel management told Jim that he would have to leave the hotel because it was against the rules to have news crews on the property. Jim will be forced to leave the hotel on Friday morning and currently has no place to go.

Jim has been homeless since December 26, 2017, after he was evicted from his home in a mobile home park. Jim has been struggling to get a job and pay his bills since he is deaf and has had his driver’s license suspended by the state. Without a way to get to work, and without the money needed to have his license reinstated, Jim has been caught in the vicious cycle of perpetual homelessness that plagues thousands of men and women in the Detroit area. 

Jim has had some luck through private charity, but has not been able to raise enough money to get him out of the rut that has lead to his current sense of desperation and hopelessness. He has had a GoFundMe ( donation site that has raised over $1700 in 3 months, but the money is simply going to pay for his hotel stays rather than to have his license reinstated and his plates renewed on his nearly 40 year truck.

Jim has broken dentures, broken hearing aids, and needs help from people that the government has been unable to provide. Please help spread Jim’s story and bring attention to the thousands of people that struggle daily to get by, and are penalized when they try to do the right thing. 

Brian Ellison became aware of Jim’s current situation through a mutual friend and has been working to help Jim get back on his feet for the last couple weeks. This latest eviction may turn out to be the last straw for an already struggling young man in need.

CONTACT: Committee to Elect Brian Ellison, Candidate for US Senate, Brian Ellison, brian@ellison4senate.com586-899-8766

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Collage at third anniversary memorial for Anthony Clark-Reed, April 30, 2018

“I can’t breathe” – Cops refused to give him his asthma inhaler while he lay handcuffed and straddled; Clark-Reed was asthmatic, weighed 300 lbs.

Clark-Reed’s youthful friends recall happy memories as well

Family awaits results of wrongful death lawsuit

Community continues to organize to stop the violence, help their neighbors

Across U.S., crazed cops continue to kill, beat and harass Black men: Stephon Clark in Sacramento, Johnnie Rush in Asheville, N.C.

By Diane Bukowski

April 4, 2018

According to a lawsuit now in federal court, filed by Attorney Herbert Sanders, Detroit police officers Tracy Moreno, Robin Carver, and Eric Carthan illegally stopped Clark-Reed, who had severe asthma and weighed 300 lbs., as he drove down Vernor Avenue.

Atty. Herbert Sanders

“Defendant Moreno then forcefully pulled Mr. Clark-Reed out of the vehicle, slamming him onto the ground,” the suit says. “While on the ground, Moreno straddled Mr. Clark-Reed and then handcuffed him. As a result of being forced to the ground . . .Mr. Clark-Reed began to struggle to breathe.”

The three officers then pulled Clark-Reed up to walk him to their squad car, while he was still having trouble breathing.

“While gasping for air, Mr. Clark-Reed asked that the officers provide him with the inhaler from his vehicle,” the suit continues. “Thereafter, Mr. Clark-Reed collapsed to the ground and died while in the custody of the Defendant officers.”

The officers claimed at the time that they did get the inhaler to Clark-Reed, but that it didn’t work. Numerous officers were seen at Clark-Reed’s car after his death, going over it with a fine-tooth comb looking for any sort of weapon or drugs. None were found. 

One cop claimed at the time that Clark-Reed died from swallowing drugs, but the medical examiner found nothing of the sort in his system, and ruled that he had died from an asthma attack.

New DPD grads get badges March 11, 2018; note most are white.

Officer Carthan was promoted to the rank of Corporal in 2017, according to the DPD website. Officer Carver was sued at least once more in front of Eastern District Court Judge Avern Cohn in 2015 by a defendant who was also stopped on the southwest side, which police said was a “high crime area.”

According to a document in the suit, Carver claimed he saw the defendant with a gun and gave chase. The defendant denied ever possessing a gun and said he did not fit the description of the individual police were pursuing.

Pastor Clark told the weeping crowd that Detroit police did not give any information on their son’s death to him or Clark-Reed’s mother Leda Reed until late the following day.

But there was hope for the future of this poor southwest Detroit community, among those who spoke of organizing their neighbors to build a better life for their children and grandchildren. They area of the southwest side that Rev. Clark ministers to is very multi-national; it includes many Black and white families as well as Mexican-Americans.

Among them was  Elizabeth Valdez, whose organization, founded in 2011, sponsors “Stop the Violence” campaigns including counseling sessions, community-based patrols of the neighborhoods, and provision of food and other necessities for families and homeless people. She said they have networks all over Detroit and outside of Detroit, and invited those present to join them.

After the memorial service in the church, participants gathered outside to release blue, white and green balloons into the sky and hold a candlelight vigil. VOD was not able to stay to cover this part. However, a photo of the vigil held three years ago on April 1, 2015, which involved dozens of youth from the community, is below. 

Youth at candlelight vigil for Anthony Clark Reed April 1, 2015, outside his father’s church on Springwells.

Across the nation including Detroit, brutal killings, beatings and harassment by police continue despite the years pf massive protests by the Black Lives Matter movement and other groups. 

Stephon Clark, 22, a father of two, was slaughtered by Sacramento police last week, sustaining multiple gunshots, most in his back, inside the home where he lived with his grandparents.

And in the last couple of days a shocking video has surfaced showing white cops beating and choking a young Black man, Johnnie Rush,  N.C. nearly to death last year, as he yelled, “I can’t breathe,” has surfaced. He told the cops he was only going home from work. His crime? Jaywalking.

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Wayne Co. Commission plans final vote BEFORE second town hall meeting

 Full Commission meeting Wed. Apr. 5 @ 10 am, Guardian Building

Put robber baron Dan Gilbert, failed reality show “THE CHIEF” star Warren Evans IN the jail for endangering east side neighborhood

 By Ron Seigel

 April 4, 2018

DETROIT –– Due to public concern about the location where billionaire Dan Gilbert and Wayne County Executive Warren Evans want to put a new county criminal justice complex, Evans has tried to calm the public by holding two town meetings, where citizens can express their views.

The problem is the whole thing may be voted on before the second town meeting.

The criminal justice center will include a jail, a juvenile detention center for kids, and a courthouse. (See full description at left.) The proposed location for the building would be on the east side of Detroit at East Ferry near the I-75 expressway.   

Some feel it should not be close to a residential neighborhood.  Area residents there have expressed fears that this will destroy the quality of the neighborhood and endanger the safety of their children.

There have been concerns about those in the building itself. As noted in past articles, former Detroit planner Hilanius Phillips warned that the air pollution in the area from an incinerator, a lead waste plant and the expressway itself would create the same health problems as the water pollution has in Flint.  He contends the prisoners living there, the police, guards law clerks and secretaries working there, families and clergy visiting prisoners and witnesses subpoenaed to testify at trials, could face sickness, breathing problems and lead poisoning.

Although a town meeting was officially scheduled on April 10 to give the people a chance to voice their views on this issue, the commissioners may be making it a dead issue.   On April 3 the commission’s Committee of the Whole voted to approve the location of the center exactly where Evans and Gilbert want it.  This may then be sent to the full board meeting on Thursday April 5, for final approval.

Commissioners Diane Webb and Jewel Ware were the only ones who did not vote for it.  Webb voted against it.  Ware abstained, because she wished to learn more.  

The commission did have a public session, where the public could be heard.  But that was held after the meeting was adjourned, the resolution had passed and any damage that existed was done.  Even then the citizens were given only two minutes to discuss such a complex issue.

When the formal meeting had been held commission members revealed several misconceptions.

Gilbert will get site of scrapped Wayne Co. Jail for $5oM; County lost $350M on scrapped project

Some members said the county should check the ground where the center would be built  for environmental problems and clean it up.  The trouble is that if Phillips is correct, the pollution would not come from the soil, but would be brought in from  the outside area by polluted air from the incinerator, the lead  waste plant and the expressway.  The county would have no official power to shut down the incinerator and the lead waste plant and the county certainly could not close a state highway.

The full commission meeting, where the final decision on the center’s location might be made, will be held five days before Evan’s public is scheduled to take place.  It will be held Thursday April 5 at 10 a.m. in the commission’s hearing room on the Mezzanine level  of Detroit’s Guardian Building, 500 Griswold.  Come one.  Come all.  Or give your commissioner a call. Tell county commissioners not to rush where angels fear to tread. People’s lives demand more deliberation.

Proposed new Wayne Co. Jail/courthouse/offices site

Youth demanded SHUT DOWN JAILS, TURN ON WATER! April 21, 2017




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The woman affectionately known to millions of South Africans as the Mother Of The Nation passed away on Monday afternoon at the Milpark Hospital surrounded by her family.

Eyewitness News | April 2, 2018 

Winnie Madikizela-Mandela waves as she attends 54th ANC Conference in Johannesburg 2017

JOHANNESBURG – The late Winnie Madikizela-Mandela is being remembered on Monday evening as a voice for the voiceless, a champion of justice and equality and a symbol of the struggle against apartheid.

The young revolutionary.

The woman affectionately known to millions of South Africans as the Mother Of The Nation passed away on Monday afternoon at the Milpark Hospital surrounded by her family.

The struggle stalwart had been in and out of the facility, battling a recurring kidney infection.

Leading tributes is President Cyril Ramaphosa who says the country has lost a hero.

“Even at the deepest moments of our struggle for liberation, mam’ Winnie was an abiding symbol of the desire of our people to be free. In the midst of repression, she was a voice of defiance and resistance.”

African National Congress secretary-general Ace Magashule says Madikizela-Mandela’s spirit encouraged freedom fighters and inspired both young and old.

“Comrade Winnie dedicated her life to the betterment of her people and she worked for the realisation right to until the end of her life. She was an inspiration to both young and old who shared her vison of an egalitarian prosperous and free South Africa.”

Winnie Madikizela-Mandela at Union Buildings in Pretoria April 27, 2004

Opposition parties have also paid tribute to Madikizela-Mandela with the United Democratic Movement praising her as a feisty and vocal freedom fighter, while the Democratic Alliance has expressed its sadness.

Party leader Mmusi Maimane said: “We join the continent, the people of this country and certainly the freedom fighters all over the world in mourning and we certainly owe a great deal of gratitude as a country but also we need to celebrate her life and continu the values of the struggle that she stood for.”

The Nelson Mandela Foundation has described Madikizela-Mandela’s passing as a blow.

In a statement, the foundation says the woman many referred to as the Mother of the Nation travelled a long road with her former husband and fellow anti-apartheid activist Nelson Mandela

Pres. Nelson Mandela and Winnie Mandela in Detroit in 1990/Walter P. Reuther Library 

The foundation’s chairman professor Njabulo Ndebele says all South Africans are indebted to Madikizela-Mandela.

Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu has sent his message of condolences, hailing Madikizela-Mandela as a defining symbol of the struggle against apartheid.

Meanwhile, the Ahmed Kathrada Foundation has described Madikizela-Mandela as an iconic symbol against apartheid, whose militancy, courage and defiance kept the struggle alive.


Hitekani Magwedze 

JOHANNESBURG – The African National Congress (ANC) has lauded late struggle stalwart Winnie Madikizela-Mandela as one of the greatest icons of the struggle against apartheid.

Winnie Mandela returns to Brandtfort, where she was exiled, to visit the children

Madikizela-Mandela passed away in the early hours of this morning at Netcare Milpark hospital after battling an infection to her kidneys.

The governing party, which she fought under, said it would be visiting her family home later on Monday.

Energy Minister Jeff Radebe says the ANC dips its banner following the death of Madikizela-Mandela on Monday morning.

“She was really a colossus of the southern African political landscape. As the ANC, we dip our revolutionary banner in salute of this great icon of our liberation struggle.”

He says Madikizela-Mandela’s fight against the apartheid regime is exemplary.

Nelson Mandela leaves prison with Winnie at his side.

“This was in recognition of her fearless and uncompromising stand that she took against the might of the apartheid regime.”

Joint details of her memorial and funeral will be released from the family, the ANC and the government.

Yonela Diko

Meanwhile, the ANC in the Western Cape says the passing of Madikizela-Mandela is indeed a sad day for the nation.

Provincial spokesperson Yonela Diko said: “And she really heeded to that call of Albertina Sisulu of ‘wa thinta abafazi wa thinta imbokodo’- you touch a woman you touch a rock. They were strong, they were resilient. And it’s not far-fetched to say that Winnie Mandela kept the struggle single-handedly while the men were languishing in prison.”


Hector Peterson, during historic Soweto Rebellion in 1976

SOWETO – SOUTH AFRICA, JUNE 16: On 16 June 1976 high-school students in Soweto, South Africa, protested for better education. Police fired teargas and live bullets into the marching crowd killing innocent people and ignited what is known as “The Soweto Uprising”, the bloodiest episode of riots between police and protesters since the 1960’s. (Photo by Bongani Mnguni/City Press/Gallo Images/Getty Images)

Women campaign with young Nelson Mandela.

South African youth battle apartheid, ready for combat.

In memory of the heroes of the Sharpeville massacre.

In this July 3, 1981 photo, anti-apartheid demonstrators march through Auckland, New Zealand to protest the tour of South Africa’s Springbok rugby union team. The tour had proceeded, in the face of bitter opposition from critics of South Africa’s system of apartheid or racial segregation; with the sanction of the New Zealand Rugby Union and government of then Prime Minister Robert Muldoon. Few of the players who will wear the New Zealand or South African jerseys in Saturday’s, Sept. 12, 2009, Tri-Nations rugby test at Hamilton directly remember the last visit by the Springboks to this sedate North Island city.(AP Photo/New Zealand Herald) ** NEW ZEALAND OUT, FAIRFAX AUSTRALIA OUT **


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