TO READ PARTIAL LIST OF DETROITERS KILLED BY POLICE SINCE 1992, CLICK ON http://voiceofdetroit.net/wp-content/uploads/DETROITERS-KILLED-BY-POLICE-SINCE-1992-edited.pdf.
TO READ PARTIAL LIST OF DETROITERS KILLED BY POLICE SINCE 1992, CLICK ON http://voiceofdetroit.net/wp-content/uploads/DETROITERS-KILLED-BY-POLICE-SINCE-1992-edited.pdf.
Video shows Tulsa man had hands up before police shooting
Helicopter cops called him a “big, bad dude” from above
Police chief: “There was no gun”
Twin sister demands charges
September 20, 2016
TULSA, Okla. — An unarmed black man killed by a white Oklahoma officer who was responding to a stalled vehicle can be seen in police video walking away from officers and toward his SUV with his hands up before he approaches the driver’s side door, where he drops to the ground after being shocked with a stun gun then fatally shot.
In Tulsa police helicopter footage that was among several clips released Monday showing the shooting of 40-year-old Terence Crutcher and its aftermath, a man in the helicopter that arrives above the scene as Crutcher walks to the vehicle can be heard saying “time for a Taser.” He then says: “That looks like a bad dude, too. Probably on something.”
Police Chief Chuck Jordan announced before the video and audio recordings’ release that Crutcher had no weapon on him or in his SUV when he was shot Friday. It’s not clear from the footage what led Betty Shelby, the officer who fired the fatal shot, to draw her gun or what orders officers might have given Crutcher. Local and federal investigations are underway to determine whether criminal charges are warranted in the shooting or if Crutcher’s civil rights were violated.
Crutcher’s twin sister, Tiffany Crutcher, called for charges Monday.
“The big bad dude was my twin brother. That big bad dude was a father,” she said. “That big bad dude was a son. That big bad dude was enrolled at Tulsa Community College, just wanting to make us proud. That big bad dude loved God. That big bad dude was at church singing with all of his flaws, every week. That big bad dude, that’s who he was.”
Police video shows Crutcher walking toward his SUV that is stopped in the middle of the road. His hands are up and a female officer is following him. As Crutcher approaches the driver’s side of the SUV, three male officers walk up and Crutcher appears to lower his hands and place them on the vehicle. The officers surround him, making it harder to see his actions from the dashboard camera’s angle.
Crutcher can be seen dropping to the ground. Someone on the police radio says, “I think he may have just been tasered.” One of the officers near Crutcher backs up slightly.
Then almost immediately, someone can be heard yelling, “Shots fired!” Crutcher’s head then drops, leaving him completely lying out in the street.
After that, someone on the police radio can be heard saying, “Shots fired. We have one suspect down.”
Officer Tyler Turnbough, who’s also white, used a stun gun on Crutcher, police said.
The shooting comes just four months after former Tulsa County volunteer deputy Robert Bates was sentenced to four years in prison on a second-degree manslaughter conviction in the 2015 death of an unarmed black man. Shelby worked as a Tulsa County sheriff’s deputy for four years before joining the Tulsa Police Department in December 2011, officials said. She has been placed on paid leave.
The initial moments of Crutcher’s encounter with police are not shown in the footage. Shelby did not activate her patrol car’s dashcam, said police spokeswoman Jeanne MacKenzie, and the ground-level video released Monday came from the car of a second officer who arrived at the scene.
© The Associated Press In this image made from a Friday, Sept. 16, 2016 police video, Terence Crutcher, top, is pursued by police officers as he walk to an SUV in Tulsa, Okla. Crutcher was taken to the hospital where he was pronounced dead after… Initial police briefings indicated Crutcher was not obeying officers’ commands, but MacKenzie said Monday she didn’t know what Crutcher was doing that prompted police to shoot. Two 911 calls described an SUV that had been abandoned in the middle of the road. One unidentified caller said the driver was acting strangely, adding, “I think he’s smoking something.”
After the shooting, Crutcher could be seen lying on the side of the road, blood pooling around his body, for nearly two minutes before anyone checked on him. When asked why police did not provide immediate assistance once Crutcher was down, MacKenzie said, “I don’t know that we have protocol on how to render aid to people.”
The American Civil Liberties Union of Oklahoma, which also called for charges, said Crutcher was left to bleed while officers stood by. The group’s executive director, Ryan Kiesel, said Crutcher’s death shows “how little regard” Tulsa police have for the community’s minorities.
Dozens of protesters gathered outside the county courthouse Monday evening holding signs that read, “Justice 4 Crutch” and “Don’t Shoot.”
With relations between police and blacks in Tulsa already uneasy, the community needs to be the place where change happens, Tiffany Crutcher said.
“This is bigger than us right here. We’re going to stop it right here,” she said.
U.S. Attorney Danny C. Williams said the Department of Justice’s civil rights investigation into the shooting will be separate from a local one into whether criminal charges should be filed.
“The Justice Department is committed to investigating allegations of force by law enforcement officers and will devote whatever resources are necessary to ensure that all allegations of serious civil rights violations are fully and completely investigated,” he said.
Speaking Monday in Tulsa, civil rights attorney Benjamin Crump said Crutcher committed no crime and gave officers no reason to shoot him.
“When unarmed people of color break down on the side of the road, we’re not treated as citizens needing help. We’re treated as, I guess, criminals — suspects that they fear,” said Crump, who is representing Crutcher’s family just as he did relatives of Trayvon Martin, an unarmed, black Florida teenager who was fatally shot by a neighborhood watch volunteer in 2012.
He said Tulsa police drew their own conclusions about Crutcher.
“So I guess it’s a crime now to be a big black man,” Crump said. “My God, help us.”
Associated Press writer Jill Bleed in Little Rock, Arkansas, contributed to this report.
Moscow also blames the strike, which killed up to 80 Syrian troops, on America’s “stubborn refusal” to co-operate.
13:56, UK,Sunday 18 September 2016
Russia has accused the US-led coalition in Syria of being on the “boundary between criminal negligence and direct connivance with Islamic State terrorists”.
The stinging attack comes after the US admitted leading a coalition airstrike which reportedly killed up to 80 Syrian soldiers in the east of the war-torn country.
Russia’s foreign ministry said the strike jeopardised a fragile American-Russian brokered ceasefire in Syria.
It added that the strike was a result of Washington’s “stubborn refusal” to co-operate with Moscow in fighting Islamic State and other terror groups.
The Syrian military called the strike a “serious and blatant attack on Syria and its military” and “firm proof of the US support of Daesh and other terrorist groups”, using the Arabic acronym for IS.
The airstrike hit a base in the eastern city of Deir el Zour, which is surrounded by Islamic State militants.
Russia’s defence ministry said more than 60 Syrian soldiers were killed and around 100 wounded in four strikes by two F-16s and two A-10s.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a British-based monitoring group with contacts across Syria, cited a military source at Deir el Zour airport as saying at least 80 Syrian soldiers died.
A senior White House official said the US has relayed “regret” through the Russian government for the unintentional loss of life to Syrian forces.
US Central Command said the strike was immediately halted “when coalition officials were informed by Russian officials that it was possible the personnel and vehicles targeted were part of the Syrian military”.
A US military official told Reuters news agency the strike was carried out using US intelligence, and added that the possible targets had been followed for days.
Australia has said its aircraft participated in the airstrike and offered its condolences to the families of Syrian soldiers killed or wounded.
The Syrian military said the damage caused by the strike has allowed the IS extremists to advance their position on to a hill overlooking the base.
Three tanks, three infantry fighting vehicles, four mortars and an anti-aircraft gun were destroyed, a Syrian military spokesman said according to Russia’s TASS news agency reported.
Following the strike, the UN Security Council held an emergency meeting overnight at the request of the Kremlin.
The US ambassador to the UN, Samantha Power, rebuked Russia for the move.
“Russia really needs to stop the cheap point scoring and the grandstanding and the stunts and focus on what matters, which is implementation of something we negotiated in good faith with them,” Ms Power said.
She said the US was investigating the airstrike and “if we determine that we did indeed strike Syrian military personnel, that was not our intention and we of course regret the loss of life”.
When asked if the incident spelled the end of the Syria deal between Moscow and Washington, Russia’s UN Ambassador Vitaly Churkin said: “This is a very big question mark.
“I would be very interested to see how Washington is going to react. If what Ambassador Power has done today is any indication of their possible reaction then we are in serious trouble.”
He said he had never seen “such an extraordinary display of American heavy-handedness” as displayed by Ms. Power at the acrimonious meeting.
The fragile ceasefire brokered by the US and Russia has largely held for five days, despite dozens of alleged violations on both sides.
It began on Monday, but aid convoys have been unable to enter rebel-held parts of the city of Aleppo – a key part of the deal.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has already questioned US commitment to the ceasefire, claiming Washington was not prepared to break with “terrorist elements” battling Bashar al Assad’s forces.
Killer cop Brian Mason killed another individual in 2012
911 call specifies someone holding a gun on a “white dude”
September 15, 2016
Tyree King, a 13-year-old boy, was mistaken for a robbery suspect — and his BB gun was mistaken for a real firearm — on Wednesday night when a Columbus, Ohio, police officer shot and killed him.
Columbus police officers responded to a call about an armed robbery on the night of Wednesday, September 14. According to Columbus police, the victim said a group of people approached him and demanded money. One of the robbers allegedly had a gun, the Associated Press reported.
About a block away, police officers ran into a group of three people who matched the description of the robbery suspects. Two people in the group ran off, and officers chased after them. That’s when King, one of the fleeing suspects, allegedly pulled out a BB gun with a laser sight from his waistband, and an officer shot and killed him. King later died at a local children’s hospital.
The other person who fled with King was interviewed and released. The robbery is still under investigation, and an internal investigation into the police shooting is underway.
So far, we only know what police have said about the shooting. For many critics of police, this is as good as knowing nothing. Trust in the police is fairly low in Black communities across the country to begin with — only 30 percent of Black people reported “a great deal” or “quite a lot” of confidence in the police during a 2014-’15 period, versus 57 percent of white people, according to Gallup.
And over the past few years, several police accounts of shootings or killings, such as the police shootings of Samuel DuBose in Cincinnati and Laquan McDonald in Chicago, have also fallen apart when interrogated with video evidence — making it especially hard for activists and protesters to take cops at their word.
Despite the few details, the police shooting is the latest to draw attention on social media from activists in the Black Lives Matter movement. The shooting has drawn comparisons to the police shooting of Tamir Rice, a 12-year-old black child whose toy gun was also mistaken for a real firearm. To critics of police, Rice’s death — and possibly King’s — was yet another example of the racial disparities in police use force and, in their view, how police are less likely to value black lives.
An analysis of the available FBI data by Vox’s Dara Lind shows that US police kill Black people at disproportionate rates: They accounted for 31 percent of police killing victims in 2012, even though they made up just 13 percent of the US population. Although the data is incomplete, since it’s based on voluntary reports from police agencies around the country, it highlights the vast disparities in how police use force.
BLACK TEENS WERE 21 TIMES AS LIKELY AS WHITE TEENS TO BE SHOT AND KILLED BY POLICE BETWEEN 2010 AND 2012
Black teens were 21 times as likely as white teens to be shot and killed by police between 2010 and 2012, according to a ProPublica analysis of the FBI data. ProPublica’s Ryan Gabrielson, Ryann Grochowski Jones, and Eric Sagara reported: “One way of appreciating that stark disparity, ProPublica’s analysis shows, is to calculate how many more whites over those three years would have had to have been killed for them to have been at equal risk. The number is jarring — 185, more than one per week.”
There have been several high-profile police killings since 2014 involving black suspects. In Baltimore, six police officers were indicted for the death of Freddie Gray while in police custody. In North Charleston, South Carolina, Michael Slager was charged with murder and fired from the police department after shooting Walter Scott, who was fleeing and unarmed at the time. In Ferguson, Darren Wilson killed unarmed 18-year-old Michael Brown. In New York City, NYPD officer Daniel Pantaleo killed Eric Garner by putting the unarmed 43-year-old black man in a chokehold. . . . Continue reading
VOD is publishing excerpts here detailing prisoner uprisings in Michigan’s own Kinross Correctional Facility, as well as Alabama, Texas, and Florida. The uprisings are a response to a call for a national prisoners’ strike on the 45th anniversary of the Attica prison uprising Sept. 9, 1971.
PRISONERS AT KINROSS CORRECTIONAL FACILITY STRIKE, PROTEST TO REMEMBER ATTICA REBELLION
By Mallory Anderson |
September 11, 2016, UPDATE 11:40 pm
KINCHELOE, Mich. (WLUC) – UPDATE: 11:40 p.m. 9/10/2016
(VOD note: Kinross is one of the state’s worst prisons. VOD has received complaints from family members of prisoners there for some time, citing mistreatment of their loved ones, including the use of racist remarks by white guards such as the “N” word and “boy,” and false allegations made by white prisoners against Black prisoners which were used by prison officials at Kinross to the detriment of the Black prisoners. There have also been repeated stabbings and fights there due to the misclassification of dangerous prisoners, who should have been at Level 5, which Kinross does not accommodate.)
The protest of hundreds of prisoners at Kinross Correctional Facility Saturday morning began peacefully but ended with some inmates damaging their housing units.
According to Chris Gautz, the Michigan Department of Corrections Public Information Officer, around 400 prisoners marched peacefully as a form of protest outside the prisoner housing units of Kinross Correctional Facility Saturday morning from 8:50 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
The protest was held to coincide with the 45th annual anniversary of the Attica Correctional Facility riots in upstate New York. Though KCF was the only prison in Michigan that experienced any form of protest this weekend, several other states across the U.S. encountered prisoner protests as well.
The warden and facility staff were able to convince the inmates to return to their housing units after speaking with the leaders of the march.
As the department began its efforts to remove prisoners involved in instigating the protest, some inmates caused damage to their housing units. According to the Associated Press, some inmates smashed sinks, started a small fire and broke at least one window. 150 prisoners were then transported to other facilities. Gautz did not specify which facilities they were transported to.
There were no injuries to any prisoners or staff during the protest or after.
Kinross Correctional Facility in Kincheloe houses around 1,200 level I and level II prisoners. It is in Chippewa County near Sault Ste. Marie.
HUNDREDS OF FLORIDA INMATES RIOT TO PROTEST PRISON CONDITIONS
On Wednesday, a riot at Florida’s Holmes Correctional Institution left almost every single dorm damaged and saw more than 400 inmates involved in a revolt that lasted until early Thursday morning.
Officers were called in from five different prisons as well as RRTs (Rapid Response Teams). While officers were armed, no shots were fired. According to the Florida Department of Corrections there was one inmate injury and no staff injuries.
According to The Miami Herald, the riot came before a nationwide strike that is planned for Friday to protest what inmates say is violent and barbaric treatment in prisons.
For over a year, Florida’s prison system, which is the third largest system in the country, has been understaffed, which has resulted in several inmate takeovers in recent weeks as inmates express frustration about their forced confinement.
Apparently, the system is so understaffed that inmates are only allowed out when it is time to eat, because there are not enough staff members to guard them for recreation periods.
Phillip A. Ruiz, an organizer for the Incarcerated Workers Organizing Committee, told The Herald that the national protests would be nonviolent.
“They are participating in work stoppages, hunger strikes and sit-ins in protest of long-term isolation, inadequate healthcare, overcrowding, violent attacks and slave labor,” he explained.
Today happens to be the 45th anniversary of the Attica Prison riot in New York, which left dozens of employees and inmates dead as prisoners protested living conditions. Ruiz says prison conditions haven’t changed much since then.
VOD: Read The Attica Prisoners’ Demands at http://voiceofdetroit.net/wp-content/uploads/Attica-Prisoners-Demands.pdf
IS ANOTHER ATTICA ON THE HORIZON?
Friday is the 45th anniversary of the 1971 Attica Prison uprising. Twenty-nine prisoners and ten hostages were killed when police took back control of the facility after inmates rioted, demanding better conditions.
To mark the occasion in 2016, prisoners in Alabama and Texas called on fellow inmates from 24 states to join a general strike to protest living and working conditions. Two days ago, a Florida prison was one of the first to have its population join the movement when 400 inmates at Holmes Correctional “caused damage to nearly every dorm during an uprising that lasted into the early morning,” according to the Miami Herald.
Historian Heather Ann Thompson argues that there’s a direct line between the deadly 1971 Attica protests and the current call for action. For her latest book, Blood in the Water: The Attica Prison Uprising of 1971 and Its Legacy, she spent over a decade unlocking the secrets and sifting through the misinformation about the infamous prison revolt that still shapes our society’s perception of and relationship to incarceration. An edited and abridged version of our conversation follows.
Lantigua-Williams: What was the root cause of the Attica uprising in 1971?
Thompson: The root causes of the Attica rebellion were, as they are with the rebellions today, abysmal conditions in our nation’s correctional facilities. In 1971, all the Attica prisoners first tried to remedy those terrible conditions by working through the system, by writing their state senators and petitioning the commissioner of corrections, even by having a work stoppage, sitting down in the metal shop at Attica to ask for a living wage. They actually needed money to survive in Attica since the state provided so little food, so few sanitary supplies, and such poor medical care. The rebellion happened because their needs weren’t addressed and, frankly, it happened for the very simple reason that, even as men and women serve time behind bars, their sentence does not include deprivation—deprivation of food or deprivation of medical care. Yet, that was exactly what those sentences were for the men in Attica.
Lantigua-Williams: Do you see similar circumstances today?
Thompson: Yes, absolutely. One of the tragic outcomes of the Attica uprising was that the state of New York stood in front of the world and told a narrative of that uprising that was rife with lies. As a result of those lies told after Attica, the nation really sours on this idea that prisoners deserve good treatment behind bars. The long-term upshot of that was that this nation, every decade after Attica, becomes more and more punitive. Today, we have a very ironic situation: on the one hand, because of lies told after Attica we have horrendous prison conditions; also because of Attica, we have prisoners who believe that if they stand together and if they speak up they might still find some measure of justice in this system, that they will perhaps humanize the conditions where they’re locked up. In that sense, Attica has everything to do with why we are here again today.
Lantigua-Williams: What do you know of conditions or policies in Alabama and Texas that might make those states ripe for this type of protest coming from within these institutions?
Thompson: Texas is one of the largest and most brutal prison systems in the nation, rivaled by other states such as Louisiana, but not just Southern states. Northern states and Western states have the exact same brutal conditions. What is very notable about the South is that there has been a wholesale abandonment of the idea that prisoners deserve any good treatment behind bars.
In Texas, for example, prisoners are literally locked in cages longer and longer than they ever have been, with no time out of the cell. It’s sweltering, of course, because it’s Texas. It is hundreds of degrees in these cement cages. They’re serving horrendous time in solitary. They’re again being mistreated with lack of food, again suffering lack of sufficient medical care. In those states in particular, it is the physical confinement of these people that is so brutal, but also these states’ utter abandonment of their duty to treat them as people, that has concentrated these protests in these areas.
“It is the prisoners who are refusing to let these conditions just continue so barbarically without speaking up.” . . . .
Lantigua-Williams: What do you think is a realistic set of outcomes for those protesting? Do you anticipate that there might be some serious retaliation? How do you think it might be handled?
Thompson: I am deeply fearful of what the outcome of this is going to be. There is no question that it’s profoundly important to hear from people behind bars, what they need, and to see people speaking out. I am fearful because the retribution is sure to be brutal. Right now as we speak, knowing that 400 prisoners in Florida engaged in a major protest last night, I worry very, very much at this moment about what is happening in that prison. Prisons are state institutions that we pay for. The fact that I can’t tell you what is happening right now in that correctional facility to those men is horrifying.
Lantigua-Williams: If you were on a presidential advisory panel, what would you advise the next president to do first to address the prison system?
Thompson: We must begin with a complete overhaul of the criminal justice system—from root to branch. Beginning with excessive policing of social ills. Dealing with social ills, such as drug addiction or poverty, through the criminal justice system or through policing rather than the welfare or education systems needs reforms. Those reforms need to be at every one of the next levels. We need to have better public defenders. We need to have an overhaul of our laws that hold Americans behind bars longer than any other country.
In the institutions, we need to make sure that they are run humanely if they’re going to exist because every one of those people is a returning citizen. When a nation treats its most vulnerable citizens—those over whom it holds the most power—so abusively and like animals, it cannot expect whole people to come out of the other end. Society needs whole people if it does indeed care about public safety.
This article is part of our Next America: Criminal Justice project, which is supported by a grant from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation.
PRISONS ARE FOR BURNING
by Neal Shirley
Prisoners Call for a National Strike on the Anniversary of Attica
In Alabama and Texas, prisoners have enacted multiple strikes and uprisings over the last few weeks. Now they are calling for a national prison strike on the anniversary of the Attica Prison Riot.
On the night of Friday, March 11th, hundreds of prisoners took over the general population portion of Holman prison in Atmore, Alabama. Viewpoints from the prisoners varied: One described conditions of overcrowding, sending out pictures to accompany the description. Another prisoner said, “It has nothing to do with overcrowding, but with the practice of locking folks up for profit, control and subjugation.”
As that prisoner relayed via social media, “Things here are tense but festive. The CO and warden was stabbed… Fires were set, people got control of two cubicles, bust windows. The riot team came, shot gas, locked down, searched the dorms. Five have been shipped and two put in lockup.” Another prisoner stated simply, “We’re tired of this shit, there’s only one way to deal with it: tear the prison down.”
Though authorities regained control the following day, a second riot took place at Holman Prison early the following Monday morning involving up to 70 inmates. That morning prisoners built barricades and reportedly broke into other areas of the facility. Holman Prison has been a hotbed of organized prisoner activity, with the Free Alabama Movement operating out of the facility as well as anarchist prisoner-author Michael Kimble.
On the morning of April 4th “rolling strikes” began in multiple Texas prisons, with one unit already being put on lockdown by their administration at 9:30 am. Inspired by a growing wave of prison strikes in Alabama, Georgia, Ohio, Illinois, and California, these prisoners are part of the IWW’s Incarcerated Workers Organizing Committee (IWOC), the first widespread effort for union recognition among prisoners in decades, with over 750 members in prisons across the country. According to a statement on the IWOC website, the strikes were not officially reported as such, but were concealed as administrative lockdowns – a de-escalation tactic commonly used by prisons and their wardens. Prison administrations had been aware of and worried about the strike. Tellingly, one administration had asked prisoners weeks in advance “to write instructions on how to run the washing machines and industry equipment so that an alternative workforce [could] take over the functioning of the prison.”
But it appears this is only the beginning. Prisoners in these states and many others have coordinated and released a call for a national prison strike on September 9th, 2016, the 45-year anniversary of the Attica Rebellion.
In their call, the prisoners declare, “On September 9th of 1971 prisoners took over and shut down Attica, New York State’s most notorious prison. On September 9th of 2016, we will begin an action to shut down prisons all across this country. We will not only demand the end to prison slavery, we will end it ourselves by ceasing to be slaves.”
They continue, “To achieve this goal, we need support from people on the outside. A prison is an easy-lockdown environment, a place of control and confinement where repression is built into every stone wall and chain link, every gesture and routine. When we stand up to these authorities, they come down on us, and the only protection we have is solidarity from the outside … When we stand up and refuse on September 9th, 2016, we need to know our friends, families and allies on the outside will have our backs. This spring and summer will be seasons of organizing, of spreading the word, building the networks of solidarity and showing that we’re serious and what we’re capable of.”
The connection between fighting back against the police and the struggle against prison is fairly obvious. As the prisoners who put out this call note, “Mass incarceration, whether in private or state-run facilities, is a scheme where slave catchers patrol our neighborhoods and monitor our lives. It requires mass criminalization. Our tribulations on the inside are a tool used to control our families and communities on the outside. Certain Americans live every day under not only the threat of extra-judicial execution – as protests surrounding the deaths of Mike Brown, Tamir Rice, Sandra Bland and so many others have drawn long overdue attention to – but also under the threat of capture, of being thrown into these plantations, shackled and forced to work.”
Up until now, the fierce resistance going on behind bars has received nothing like the attention or solidarity it is owed in comparison with the riots and protests in cities like Ferguson, Baltimore, and beyond. In September 2016, that will change.
https://iwoc.noblogs.org/ (Incarcerated Workers Organizing Committee)
Some of more recent VOD stories related to prisoners’ struggles:
Mainstream media covers Lewis hearing
SADO attorney finally calls him back
Federal case challenging state’s JLWOP statutes still alive
Story by Diane Bukowski
Video by Cornell Squires
September 10, 2016
DETROIT – Michigan juvenile lifer Charles Lewis, who has been unjustly incarcerated for 41 years, says he has new hope now. His court hearing September 6 garnered mainstream media attention.
His attorney Valerie Newman from the State Appellate Defender’s Office (SADO) finally called him to consult about his next hearing October 11 at 11:30 a.m. in front of Wayne County Circuit Court Judge Qiana Lillard.
“I feel great,” he told VOD by phone. He said he discussed trial strategy with Newman, and came to a partial agreement.
Lewis is on Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy’s list of 63 county juvenile lifers she wants to die in prison, despite two U.S. Supreme Court decisions, Miller v. Alabama (2012) and Montgomery v. Louisiana (2016). They declared juvenile life without parole (JLWOP) unconstitutional. Only the “rarest” child should be dealt such a fate, they said.
Worthy’s 63 lifers represent 41 percent of the county’s 144 juvenile lifers. They represent the highest number of any county, since Wayne County has 40 percent of the state’s juvenile lifers. Worthy is asking that the remaining juvenile lifers receive a term of years under state statutes which are being challenged as unconstitutional by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU).
Those statutes, MCL 269.25 and 269.25a, say the minimum term for re-sentencing must be 25 to 40 years, and the maximum 60 years. U.S. District Court Judge John Corbett O’Meara recently denied an ACLU motion for an injunction to stop the current hearings, but appears to be negotiating a final ruling as the case continues. He has not yet ruled on the ACLU’s motion for reconsideration.
Juvenile lifer Cortez Davis is being recommended for an unknown term of years.
“I want my attorney to try to get my original sentence re-instated and have the judge give me time served since my original sentence was 10 to 14 years and I am 12 years past that,” he told VOD by Jpay email.
Davis, 39, has been incarcerated since 1994, for 22 years. Recorders Court Judge Vera Massey Jones, now retired, declared JLWOP unconstitutional during Davis’ sentencing, but appeals courts repeatedly overturned her rulings until the U.S. Supreme Court finally weighed in.
Worthy’s motions are being kept in Chief Criminal Court Judge Timothy Kenny’s office. Despite VOD’s repeated requests, the Court’s General Counsel Richard Lynch has failed to produce copies of the motions for review, while admitting they are public records. VOD is therefore filing a Freedom of Information Act request. Lynch has also failed to respond to VOD’s inquiries regarding gross discrepancies in the court’s computer records.
A major issue in Lewis’ case is the “disappearance” of all his court records dating from 1976 to 2000. The first entry on his current online Register of Actions states falsely that he was convicted by a jury in front of Judge Gershwin Drain on April 3, 2000 of first-degree murder. His conviction actually took place in 1977 in front of Judge Joseph Maher.
“I’m probably the only juvenile lifer in prison right now with no sentence,” Lewis said. “At the very least I should be in the County Jail getting a presentence report done because regardless of what happens I will need a presentence report.”
Lewis had asked Newman and his previous attorneys to file a motion to vacate his conviction and sentence due to the disappearance of his records, citing State Supreme Court precedent in People v Adkins, 436 Mich 878; 461 NW2d 366 (1990). Earlier Courts of Appeals found similarly in People v Jones, and People v. Horton.
At Lewis’ hearing Sept. 6 in front of Judge Lillard, Newman said, “I understand that the search for his [Lewis’] file has been going on for some time. We all want to find the file. But at some point we’re going to have to call ‘UNCLE’ and concede the file can’t be found.”
Newman, Assistant Prosecutor Jason Williams, and Judge Lillard agreed to hold a follow-up hearing Oct. 11 at 11:30 a.m.
“If the file hasn’t been found by that date, I will give up,” Lillard said. She said she would “writ” Lewis out of prison to be present in person, and allow one hour for him to consult with Newman beforehand. She asked Newman and Williams to share all their records with each other beforehand.
After the hearing, Lewis’ mother Rosie Lewis passionately pled her son’s case to the media, including Detroit’s Channel 7, the Detroit News, Michigan Radio, and WWJ radio.
“If they can’t find the files, they have to free my son and exonerate him, Lewis said. “ They used him as a scapegoat to cover up for the murder of that police officer.”
She recalled, “He was 17, and the Supreme Court says that because he was 17 they could not sentence him to mandatory life. So they came back with this hearing to see if they could find a file 41 years old, as tall as I am, and I KNOW what happened because I never missed a moment [of the court hearings]. If they don’t have it and they decide they want to go forward, there is no way they can go forward because there were things that happened that I know they have tried to sweep under the rug. The main thing I want to point out is that the police officer that testified, he was an eyewitness and he saw who shot his partner, memorized the license plate number, and they were able to find that person who admitted he WAS there. Then they said, ‘Well, we can’t charge him.’ No one said why.”
Lorenzo Hilliard, Lewis’ uncle, added, “He was never afforded the opportunity to have his witnesses present, and to be able to have their stories heard, the band members he was with.”
A supporter who identified himself as Brother Yohannon, a member of People Against Unjust Sentencing, said, “Under the Sixth Amendment, if there is no record they cannot sustain a conviction, it cannot stand. These courts are being run as a Jim Crow operation. They are attacking our youth before they can even begin their lives.”
Cornell Squires of We the People for the People, who is also a friend of Lewis’ family, declared, “Michigan is extremely hard on young men. This man should be set free.”
#FreeCharlesLewisCampaign, #FreeMichiganJuvenileLifersNOW, #EndSchooltoPrisonPipeline, #Beatbackthebullies, #Blacklivesmatter, #BlacklivesmatterDetroit, #StandUpNow, #SaveOurChildren, #StopWaronourYouth, #Michissippigoddam, #StopMassIncarceration
Despite dismissal of criminal charges vs. Godboldo twice, by two judges, Wayne Co. Prosecutor Kym Worthy continued persecution of mother
On eve of third trial June 16, Godboldo felled by massive brain injury
“Her blood pressure had been rising, and this caused a vessel to burst”—Attorney Allison Folmar
GoFundMe site at http://justice4maryanne.com/.
By Diane Bukowski
September 8, 2016
DETROIT — Global hero Maryanne Godboldo, who stood off police tanks, helicopters, and assault weapons to save her 13-year-old daughter Ariana from state seizure in 2011, suffered a massive brain aneurysm June 15. She was due in court the next day for a third criminal trial on multiple charges which 36th District Judge Ronald Giles and Third Judicial Circuit Court Judge Gregory Bill had each dismissed twice.
Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy appealed each dismissal, frequently exceeding the time limits allowed.
“I don’t want to say Maryanne was prosecuted to death, but she was overzealously prosecuted,” said her attorney Allison Folmar, who has been at her bedside almost daily along with family members.
Folmar said Godboldo “nearly died” June 15, but doctors were able to stabilize her and were performing more brain surgery Sept. 7 in an effort to repair the effects of the aneurysm.
“The doctors are hopeful that she will regain some of her mental capacity and ability to function,” Folmar said. “Her blood pressure had been rising and this caused a brain vessel to burst. Five years of court hearings took their toll. But Maryanne is a fighter. We strongly believe and pray that she will fight her way back. However, she will never be the Maryanne she was before. She will need further help. We are asking that people keep her in their prayers. She has a court date of October 14 for a competency hearing, but this is a hearing to determine if she will be able to be physically present and participate in her own defense, not the usual type of competency hearing.”
Godboldo had been “non-responsive” for months after the brain injury, her niece Ambyr Amen-Ra said in a GoFundMe update.
“Ariana is in the care of her family and is adjusting again to life without her mother,” Amen-Ra said. “Despite this very difficult situation, she continues to show strength and resilience. At this time we appreciate your prayers for Maryanne and Ariana.”
The Godboldo family is not well-to-do. They have established A GoFundMe site at http://justice4maryanne.com/.
On the night of March 24, 2011, tanks rolled down Linwood Avenue, recalling Detroit’s 1967 rebellion. Police assault vehicles and helicopters surrounded Godboldo’s modest west side home as she and her daughter remained inside, refusing to emerge for 10 hours. When several police officers tried to ram the side door down, they ended up retreating in fear of possible forcible resistance.
Judges Giles and Bill later ruled that the so-called “court order” which police used to take Ariana Godboldo-Hakim, to medicate her with the dangerous drug Risperdal, was not valid. It was drawn up by Child Protective Services (CPS) worker Mia Wenk, who has no medical training, and given to a probation officer at the Wayne County Juvenile Court, who rubber-stamped the signature of the Court’s Chief Justice Leslie Kim Smith.
“It is ridiculous to go in to remove in this court’s opinion to take somebody’s children based on THIS order,” Judge Giles said. “It does not even express any situation where we have exigent circumstances where it says the child is at risk. There was no imminent threat of death or severe physical harm. Therefore I am going to quash this order and everything thereafter is null and void. It is the fruit of the poisonous tree.”
There was absolutely no judicial oversight. Godboldo’s attorneys Folmar and Byron Pitts said she had every right to remain in her home with her child, and wean her off the drug under medical supervision, due to its adverse side effects.
Instead, when she finally emerged with Ariana, Godboldo was arrested. Ariana was taken to Hawthorne Children’s Hospital in Northville and held for six weeks where Wenk authorized the administration of Risperdal and three other psychotropic drugs, despite the presence of the child’s father Mubarak Hakim, at Children’s Hospital of Michigan, before she was taken to Hawthorne.
During her time in the hospital, Ariana’s prosthetic leg, which replaced a leg amputated at birth, was taken from her to immobilize her. Ariana had spent her childhood dancing and horse-back riding. Her mother and Aunt Penny Godboldo are both dancers. Penny Godboldo heads a dance troupe that performs at Hartford Memorial Baptist Church and teaches dance at Marygrove College.
There were also allegations that Ariana had been sexually assaulted in the hospital. A judge later ordered her released from the hospital, but she has continued to suffer the traumatic effects of her seizure and forced hospitalization.
Police charged Godboldo with discharge of a weapon in a dwelling, three counts of felonious assault, resisting and obstructing an officer, and a felony firearms charge.
After Godboldo’s arrest, the Michigan State Supreme Court upheld the “common-law right” to resist police misconduct and false arrest, in People v. Moreno, overturning a long-used appeals court decision, People v. Ventura, that declared people had to submit to illegal police conduct.
Five years of grueling hearings on the criminal charges against Godboldo, and ultimately unsuccessful efforts by CPS to remove Ariana from her parents’ custody, followed the traumatic events of March, 2011. During that time, Penny Godboldo’s husband Steve passed, and she and her siblings lost their mother Lovey Godboldo.
Despite the eventual dismissal of the CPS case, Worthy relentlessly persisted in Godboldo’s criminal persecution, repeatedly appealing judge’s orders, frequently in an untimely fashion.
Godboldo’s arrest and her daughter’s involuntary institutionalization elicited global outrage and support. It exposed such child seizures as common practice not only in the Wayne County Juvenile Court, but across the U.S. and much of the world.
Godboldo later received a major Human Rights award from the Citizen’s Commission on Human Rights in 2012, as did her attorney Allison Folmar in 2013.
“Free Charles Lewis Campaign” begins at hearing Sept. 6, 2016; hearing set for 10:30 AM, rally requested by Lewis set for 9 AM outside Frank Murphy
County Pros. Kym Worthy says parole for ‘White Boy Rick” possible, but wants 41% of county’s juvenile lifers, most of them Black, to die in prison
USSC said only the “rarest” child should face such a fate
“I wanted to see justice done to my people–doing the right thing was not to sentence Mr. Davis to natural life”–Judge Vera Massey-Jones, who declared JWLOP unconstitutional in 1992, in case of Cortez Davis
VOD discovers corruption in Third Circuit Court criminal records
By Diane Bukowski
Sept. 3, 2016
DETROIT – What is Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy thinking?
While indicating Aug. 26 that she may no longer oppose parole for convicted drug dealer and FBI informant “White Boy Rick,” she has recommended that 41 percent of the county’s 147 juveniles sentenced to life without parole, 98 percent of whom are Black, should be re-sentenced to die in prison.
“Having been immersed in the Juvenile Life Without Parole (JLWOP) Murder cases for the last six months, I have noted parallels to the Richard Wershe case that have caused me to review the office position in his case,” Worthy, who earlier opposed Wershe’s parole, said in a statement. She added that parole is governed by the state parole board.
Wershe was sentenced at the age of 17 to life in 1988 for possession of more than 650 grams of cocaine with intent to distribute. It later became a life WITH parole sentence.
Detroiter Charles Lewis, one of the 63 juvenile lifers Worthy wants to die in prison, has begun the “Free Charles Lewis Campaign” for himself and others similarly situated. He is calling for supporters to attend his post-conviction hearing Tues. Sept. 6, at 10:30 a.m. in front of Wayne County Circuit Court Judge Qiana Lillard, and to rally earlier at 9 a.m. oustide the Frank Murphy Hall in downtown Detroit, on St. Antoine at Gratiot. He and other juvenile lifers are asking their families and friends to turn out.
“I have tried to get the JLWOP’ers on this location that they are seeking life without the possibility of parole for to come together on the basis of what we have in common,” Lewis wrote VOD. “Because what we all have in common transcends race, religion, social status and age. We are all in the same boat and we should come together .”
Lewis is at the Lakeland Correctional Facility, at a low Level 2 security rating. He has had several heart attacks while in prison, but the Michigan Department of Corrections refused to fund minimal stent surgery for him several years ago.
The U.S. Supreme Court has twice declared juvenile life without parole (JLWOP) unconstitutional, “cruel and unusual punishment,” saying that only the “rarest” child should be dealt such a fate, even when convicted of murder or felony murder.
Michigan’s juvenile lifers are now being re-sentenced under state statutes challenged as unconstitutional in federal court by Attorney Deborah LaBelle and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Michigan. Although U.S. District Court Judge Corbett O’Meara earlier refused to grant an injunction against current court proceedings, the Hill v. Snyder case is still ongoing.
LaBelle says county prosecutors across the state have recommended that 80 percent of the state’s juvenile lifers be re-sentenced to die in prison.
The others are relegated under the statutes to sentences with a predetermined minimum of 25-40 years, and a maximum of 60 years, in violation of Miller.
LaBelle says only one juvenile lifer has lived past 60 years in prison.
The state has assigned the State Appellate Defender’s Office to handle all the hearings for those without their own attorneys. SADO representative Peter Van Hoek earlier told VOD they would not challenge the state statutes. SADO attorney Valerie Newman is in charge of assigning SADO attorneys to represent juvenile lifers. She and SADO Director Dawn Van Hoek have lately refused to respond to email inquires from VOD regarding Lewis.
“I have been trying to contact Valerie Newman to find out what the hearing on September 6, 2016 is for,” Lewis wrote to VOD. “She has instructed her staff not to accept any of my phone calls. She sent me a letter telling me that if I wanted her to interview alibi witnesses that I had to send her a letter stating that I wanted her to interview the witnesses.
“Here is what is strange, she said in her letter that she read all of the files and records that she had. If she had read all of the files and records that were in her possession she would have seen all of the alibi witnesses statements and contact information. She did not say what she read or what her impression of what she read was. She also did not say what the hearing was for.”
Newman to this date has not met personally with Lewis, although he says she interviewed three other juvenile lifers at Lakeland. It is likely Judge Lilliard will once again hold a “videoconference” Sept. 6, preventing Lewis from personally consulting with Newman and violating his constitutional right to adequate legal representation.
Court officials earlier testified in several hearings in front of Judge Lilliard that Lewis’ entire murder case file, which occupied three cartons, has been “lost.”
RESEARCH SHOWS LEWIS LIKELY INNOCENT OF CHARGES
VOD research has shown that Lewis is likely innocent of charges that he killed off-duty police officer Gerald A. Sypitowski on July 31, 1976, as well as armed robbery of a pizza delivery man, Raymond Cassaban, just prior to Sypitowski’s killing. The most direct eyewitness in the murder case, Sypitowski’s partner Dennis Van Fleteren, identified another man entirely. Both cases involved testimony against Lewis from his three alleged younger accomplices, who were never tried but, unlike Lewis, had paid attorneys.
The trial transcript in the armed robbery case IS in the scraps that remain of his murder case file. In the robbery case, Cassaban testified that he never identified Lewis from police photo line-ups, but only after he saw him in court months later.
During both trials, Lewis testified that he was with a band called “Pure Pleasure” playing at the UAW Local 212 hall at its former Detroit location during the time of the robbery and subsequent murder. During cross-examination by Asst. Prosecutor Robert Morgan in the robbery trial, he named his “alibi witnesses,” several of the band members. Morgan confirmed he had the names by supplying the first name of one Charles knew only by his last name.
But Lewis’ court-appointed attorney Arthur Arduin never subpoenaed the alibi witnesses to testify in either case.
Instead, Arduin told juries outright in opening and closing arguments that his client was guilty but that his accomplices should have been charged as well. In the armed robbery case, Cassaban testified that he had never identified Lewis from police photo line-ups, but only after he saw him in court a year and a half later.
The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals in 1988, ruling on Lewis’ habeas corpus appeal, remanded Lewis’ case to the trial court for several reasons including the failure to call alibi witnesses.
“Lewis is entitled, however, to further review of his claim that trial counsel failed to investigate potential alibi witnesses,” the Sixth Circuit Court said. “If Lewis is correct when he alleges that his attorney unreasonably failed to investigate alibi evidence, then a constitutional violation may well have occurred. . . .The District Court failed to address this claim in the proceedings below. On remand, the District Court should permit Lewis to present this claim. He appears to have raised it in the state court proceedings although he has not had any ruling.”
Those witnesses have not testified to date. VOD earlier interviewed Chuck Jackson, a leader of the “Pure Pleasure” band in question, who said the band did have a contract to play at Local 212 that night and that Lewis worked with the band. He said they would not have left until after 2 a.m. The robbery and murder took place prior to that time. He said he did not know Lewis had been in prison for 41 years because no one ever contacted him.
Reverend Aaron McCarthy. President of the Detroit Chapter of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, remarked in a comment on that VOD article, “Injustice anywhere is injustice everywhere!”
He said he was a former President of Pure Pleasure.
“Nobody ever tried to contact me until the kid had done 40 years, that he should not have,” McCarthy said. “Scared children lie to their parents so why would they not lie to the Police, and the Judge. Question them again. I bet they recant, and where are the records? STRANGE! STRANGE, STRANGE. LET THAT BOY OUT!”
Lewis added, “SADO has not filed a motion for additional funds to hire psychologists and psychiatrists. SADO to my knowledge has not asked for crime scene reconstructionists for anyone. The bulk majority of the juveniles that were convicted of first degree murder were convicted because they had bad attorneys to begin with . . . . Right now I’m represented by a lawyer appointed by the State and that is the difference between a 40 to 60 year sentence and mandatory life all over again.”
MILLER V. ALABAMA: SPECIAL GUIDELINES FOR JUVENILE SENTENCING; STATE RULES INCLUDE ‘EVIDENCE PRESENTED AT TRIAL’
In Miller v. Alabama, the USSC set special guidelines for sentencing juveniles, including psychiatric assessments. Even the Michigan state statutes guiding these hearings say “The court may consider evidence presented at trial together with any evidence presented at the sentencing hearing.”
VOD has twice reviewed what scraps exist of Lewis’ murder case file, the last time on Sept. 1, after documents from his former attorneys Jennifer Neumann and Brandi Walkowiak of Foley & Lardner had been added. Those attorneys DID argue that Lewis’ innocence needed to be considered, and questioned Arduin’s defense tactics.
The file is being kept in Lilliard’s courtroom, not in the official court records office. There is still no sign of the three cartons of original court file documents. Lewis has asked unsuccessfully for his attorneys to file a motion to dismiss his case, citing Michigan State Supreme Court precedent.
Wayne County Clerk’s Office representative David Baxter and others have testified in front of Lilliard that those files were “lost” sometime in the last few years. A prison social worker found a copy of an April 3, 2000 order signed by then Wayne County Circuit Court Judge Gershwin Drain dismissing Lewis’ charges, and gave it to him 10 years afterwards.
Lewis pursued the matter, only to receive a letter in which Judge Drain denied ever signing such an order OR having anything to do with Lewis’ case. That letter was not even signed by Drain, but rubber-stamped. However, Drain went on to accuse Lewis of forgery, and possibly accessing the court’s computer system to alter the Register of Actions (ROA) on his case.
The current ROA version shows that Drain presided over a jury trial on April 3, 2000 in which Lewis was convicted (Lewis was convicted in 1977 by a jury under Judge Joseph Maher.) An earlier version says that Drain dismissed Lewis’ conviction.
CORRUPTION IN THIRD CIRCUIT COURT CRIMINAL FILES
VOD, while investigating another prisoner’s case, discovered that something is very wrong in the court records system. That wrong is being perpetrated internally, not by any prisoner’s scheme. Records publicly available on the court’s website, as well on the computers kept for public use in the Clerk’s Office on the 9th floor of the Frank Murphy Hall, show that a motion hearing was held Aug. 26 on the other case, and list the presence of the defendant and several attorneys.
The defendant was not in fact present according to information she relayed to her husband, and neither was her attorney of record, who spoke with VOD.
The staff in the Clerk’s office ran the Register of Actions from their own computers and came up with an entirely different version that did not include the falsified list of people present.
Baxter advised VOD to go to the Court Administrator’s office with both print-outs. Karen Smith, administrative assistant to Deputy Court Administrator Alisa Shannon said they would forward the conflicting print-outs to Richard Lynch, General Counsel for the Court.
VOD spoke with Lynch earlier to request to review the motions Worthy filed regarding the county’s juvenile lifers, but he has been stalling on compiling that information, despite admitting that it is part of the public record. The motions are not available, as they should be, in the individual prisoners files, but are being secretly kept in Criminal Court Chief Judge Timothy Kenny’s office.
VOD spoke to Lynch Sept. 2 about the gross falsehood perpetrated on the public in the other prisoner’s case, but he is stalling on investigating that as well. New records VOD did find in Lewis’ current file indicate that his full case file was forwarded to the General Counsel’s office in 2012. VOD has left a message for Lynch asking if HE has the file.
Free Press reporter Brian Dickerson wrote an article Aug. 27 excoriating most county prosecutors for re-recommending life without parole for the majority of state juvenile lifers. In the article, he said Oakland County Prosecutor Jessica Cooper “allowed” him to review motions in those cases.
However, in a section subtitled “Worthy’s responsible approach,” Dickerson made excuses for Worthy.
“Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy has taken a markedly different approach than most of her peers, recommending that only 61 of the juvenile lifers eligible for resentencing in her county — about 40% — should be resentenced to LWOP,” Dickerson wrote. “She’ll argue that 92 others should be able to apply for parole at some point, although she believes some lifers should serve at least 40 years.
He said Worthy told him in a phone interview, “I tried many of these cases myself. I remember the families. And it was very difficult to get around the horrendousness of some of these crimes. But we had to because this came from the Supreme Court.”
Forty percent of Wayne County’s cases is does not equate to the Supreme Court’s ruling that only the “rarest” of children should be condemned to die in prison.
Attorney Clinton Hubbell, who represents Wayne County juvenile lifer Cortez Davis, said the current prosecutor in that case told him Davis is being recommended for a term of years. But, Hubbell said, Davis still does not know what judge he will go in front of, and that is the situation for other juvenile lifers as well.
Davis’ sentencing judge, Vera Massey Jones, retired last year after refusing in 1994 to sentence him to life without parole as a juvenile, instead sentencing him to 10 to 14 years. The state Court of Appeals overturned that sentence, and Worthy later got it to overturn a 2012 effort by Judge Massey-Jones to re-sentence Davis again after the Miller decision.
In 1992, Judge Massey Jones declared in her ruling on Davis’ case that juvenile life without parole violated the Eighth Amendment by being “cruel and unusual punishment,” and was therefore unconstitutional.
In 2012, she asked Assistant Prosecutor Timothy Baughman, also involved in Lewis’ appeals, “Mr. Davis has waited how many years? After I ruled that the thing was cruel and unusual, how many years has Mr. Davis been in prison waiting for the Supreme Court of the United States to come to a rational decision on this case?”
Baughman replied it was 18 years.
“I stayed here because I wanted to see justice done to my people,” Judge Massey Jones said later. “I followed my father around Recorder’s Court when I was a little kid . . . .I had a great deal of respect for him and for the other people who happened to be African-American lawyers, and really fought for people’s rights. And so, to me, doing the right thing was more important than anything else. And doing the right thing back then was not to sentence Mr. Davis to natural life in prison.”
Lewis and his fellow juvenile lifers are demanding now that Worthy , as well as SADO, “do the right thing” and allow them to see the light of day and be held in their family’s arms before they die in prison.
#FreeCharlesLewisCampaign, #FreeMichiganJuvenileLifersNOW, #SaveOurChildren,#EndMassIncarceration,#SchooltoPrisonPipeline, #Beatbackthebullies, #Blacklivesmatter, #BlacklivesmatterDetroit, #StandUpNow, #StopWaronourYouth, #Michissippigoddam
Download copies at http://voiceofdetroit.net/wp-content/uploads/SteinGP.pdf
By Aurora Harris
August 25, 2016
Posted By Aurora Harris to Detroit Parents With Special Ed Students at 8/25/2016 01:44:00 PM
VOD editor’s note: The Detroit News reported Sept. 1 that the State School Reform Office released a report listing the five percent of lowest-achieving schools in Michigan. More than one-third of those schools are in the new “DPS Community Schools District (DPSCSD).” Eight have already been closed. The News also reports that Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder and DPS Emergency Manager Stephen Rhodes claim that no DPSCSD “lowest-performing” schools can be closed until 2019, because it is a new district. It was formed by state public acts which ended the Detroit Public Schools District, strenuously opposed by Detroit legislators and the elected Detroit Board of Education. Those acts require schools to be graded “lowest-achieving” for three years before closure, as determined by the School Reform Office. However, charter school officials are clamoring for the schools involved to be closed immediately. See list of alleged “lowest-achieving schools” at http://voiceofdetroit.net/wp-content/uploads/2015_Lowest_Achieving_Schools.pdf
DETROIT — Last week, I received an eight page report on proposed school closings in the Detroit Public Schools District beginning in September 2016 (in two weeks). As some of you may have learned from my last blog entry, I am continuing my research on the number of Special Education students in the [DPS Community Schools District] that may be affected by school closures, the type of education and resources they will receive, and funding sources for Special Education in
As a concerned parent of a loved one with Autism, a Special Education Advocate for parents in Detroit, Michigan, and a co-founder of We The People of Detroit, I have been concerned with the quality of education special needs students have been receiving.
Since Detroit Public Schools were placed under Emergency Managers, beginning with Robert Bobb, I have continued independently researching and writing about special education (or the lack of) in the DPS, EAA (Education Achievement Authority, a State system for low performing schools) and Charter Schools.
There are several questions I am attempting to answer:
Some of my questions come from the inability to find detailed spending reports concerning special education in Detroit while under Emergency Managers from Robert Bobb to Judge Rhodes, and majority legislators in Lansing refusing requests by Detroit legislators to have a forensic audit done for DPS while it was under emergency managers.
As an advocate, parents asked me if they can enroll their child with special needs in a charter school or they have told me that charter schools in Detroit have told them they “are full” when the parent attempts to enroll their child. In response to those parents, I have told them that in the State of Michigan, according to federal law, all schools, including charters, must provide Free and Appropriate Public Education (FAPE) and charters cannot deny enrollment because the student has a disability.
When parents told me that a charter school told them they are “full,” meaning they are at full enrollment capacity and cannot accept the student with a disability, it reminds me of the discrimination by charter schools that took place in New Orleans, where complaints were filed and the Supreme Court ruled in favor of the parents when they found the charters were discriminating against the students. See an article by the Southern Poverty Law Center here: https://www.splcenter.org/news/2010/07/28/children-disabilities-face-discrimination-new-orleans-schools.
In connecting the dots between New Orleans and Detroit, news sources in the past compared the closing of schools in Detroit to New Orleans, where New Orleans’ schools were destroyed and closed down by Hurricane Katrina (a natural disaster). The truth is the City of Detroit and Detroit Public Schools has not experienced a natural disaster like Hurricane Katrina.
Detroit Public Schools were and still are being destroyed and closed down by Emergency Managers continually creating economic disaster by increasing the school district’s debt, and upholding polices and mandates that allowed for more charters schools to open. An article by the Metro Times covered the increase in debt after six years of Emergency Managers: http://www.metrotimes.com/detroit/after-six-years-and-four-state-appointed-managers-detroit-public-schools-debt-is-deeper-than-ever/Content?oid=2302010
Today I discovered two reports by the Citizens Research Council of Michigan. The first report supports what I have told parents.
The first report dated March 30, 2012 is “Special Education Enrollment: Traditional Public Schools vs Charter Schools” ( http://crcmich.org/special-education-enrollment-traditional-public-schools-vs-charter-schools/# ). It discusses the mistaken belief that charter schools can have a selective enrollment process and explains why they “cannot categorically deny enrollment.”
The full reports may be downloaded in PDF from the Citizens of Michigan Research Council website at the links indicated above. Regarding special education students, school closure, water shut off and foreclosure, the questions previously stated remain, and, based on the reports I read today, if Detroit Public Schools’ total enrollment of special education students is increasing, and half of those students are in six center-based schools (see DPS website map at http://detroitk12.org/admin/academic_affairs/special_education/ ):
DPS Center-Based Special Education Schools
Another part of the report states: “Special education students account for 12.7 percent of Michigan’s (excluding DPS) total public school enrollment in 2015-16, compared to 18.2 percent for DPS. Relative to total enrollment, DPS’s special education population is almost one-third larger than the statewide average.13 While DPS’s special education share has been trending up over the 10-plus years, the opposite has been occurring statewide.”
“Another difference in DPS’s special education population is that roughly one-half of the disabled students (2,269 FTE of 4,499 FTE) attend one of the six center-based programs operated by the district. For all other districts and charter schools in Wayne RESA, 44 percent of the disabled student body attend center-based programs located across the ISD.
This report shows an increase in the number of students enrolled in the schools, from 13% to 18%, from the early 2000’s to present. It also states that students with special needs are moving slower out of the district when compared with general education students. “Table 4” shows there were almost 4500 students receiving special education from 2011-13. The report also shows differences between Detroit’s Special Education enrollment and other districts.
The second report, “Public School Enrollment Trends in Detroit Memo 1141, June 2016” provides details on the trends in enrollment from 2009 through 2016, and, enrollment of Special Education students ( http://crcmich.org/enrollment_trends_detroit-2016/)
The final question is based on a recent water shut off mapping study called “Mapping the Water Crisis: The Dismantling of African American Neighborhoods in Detroit” by the We The People of Detroit Community Research Collective. We The People of Detroit is a local non-profit, that I am a co-founder of.
Are special education students residing and/or attending schools in areas heaviest hit with water shut offs or foreclosures? I believe we can find an approximate number of special needs students affected by looking at the location of school closures and the maps provided by the We The People of Detroit Community Research Collective. A sample of the maps are found here: https://wethepeopleofdetroit.com/communityresearch/.
Media reports include Fox 2 News’ interview above, and stories linked below.
#SpecialNeedsStudentsMatter, #SaveOurKids, #SaveOurChildren, #SaveDPS, #StopSchoolClosings, #MoneyforEducationnotforBanks, #MoneyforEducationnotforwar, #BlackLivesMatter, #BlackLivesMatterDetroit, #BlackEducationMatters, #Beatbackthebullies, #StandUpNow, #StoptheWaronBlackAmerica, #DefendPublicEducation