VOWING TO ‘PARALYZE THIS ISLAND,’ PUERTO RICO UNIONS CALL GENERAL STRIKE AGAINST AUSTERITY

Puerto Rican workers rally in preparation for a general strike against Jones Day-style austerity measures.

Puerto Rican workers rally in preparation for a general strike against Jones Day-style austerity measures.

occupy logoPublic water, electrical workers vote to approve strike

Call on public to stop paying utility bills

Vote follows series of one-day walk-outs

June 19, 2014

This article originally appeared in Caribbean Business

PUERTO RICO — The main unions representing Puerto Rico Aqueduct & Sewer Authority (Prasa) and Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority (Prepa) workers approved strike votes on Tuesday over proposed fiscal emergency legislation that will cut benefits for employees across the island government.

UIA President Pedro Irene Maymi speaks to members.
UIA President Pedro Irene Maymi speaks to members.

The first move to approve an open-ended walkout came during a special assembly of rank-and-file Independent Authentic Union (UIA by its Spanish initials) members. The union, the biggest at Prasa, has staged a series of 24-hour stoppages in recent weeks.

 

UIA President Pedro Irene Maymi said the strike vote was intended to make the public feel the indignation that utility workers feel over austerity measures in the fiscal emergency legislation approved by both the House and Senate.

Members of UTIER, as the chief union as Prepa is known, also met in an assembly Tuesday where they unanimously approved a strike vote.

“We are going to paralyze this island until this law is stopped,” UTIER President Angel Figueroa Jaramillo said.

He also called on islanders to stop paying their electricity and water bills. Union members then took their protests to the middle of Plaza Las Américas, the largest shopping mall in the Caribbean.

The Puerto Rico National Guard has said it is prepared to step in to help insure that essential services including electric, water and ferries continue to operate in case of a general strike.

La Fortaleza announced last weekend that union leaders representing the majority of workers at Puerto Rico government agencies have agreed to pay and benefit amendments sought under García Padilla’s balanced budget proposal for fiscal 2015.

Puerto Rico Governor

Puerto Rico Governor Alejandro Garcia Padilla

However, unions representing a range of public corporations are still battling hard against the belt-tightening plan. La Fortaleza Chief of Staff Ingrid Vila on Tuesday called on public corporation union leaders to return to the bargaining table to negotiate with management. “We urge them to take this step toward firming up accords to avoid bigger complications,” she said.Gov. Alejandro García Padilla was questioned during an activity about union leaders framing their protests as an issue of rich and poor.

“On what side of the rich and poor equation is a secretary at a public corporation who earns $10,000 per month?” García Padilla asked. “Or a person who makes $200,000 per year and has 3,000 hours of vacation accumulated that must be paid off?

For more in-depth coverage of the Puerto Rico general strike, Yana Kunichoff reported for In These Times:

Public union workers from a handful of unions across Puerto Rico have spent the last week blocking ports, shutting down thoroughfares and slowing public transit. But that may be just the beginning: In the coming week, workers are expected to vote on whether to hold a general strike across the country.

The unions are standing against the austerity budget proposed this spring by members of the U.S. commonwealth’s General Assembly to deal with the country’s recent bond downgrade and looming payment of its debts to bondholders. The Fiscal Sustainability Act of the Government of the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, as the budget is called, would allow the government to bring in “emergency powers” to deal with the crisis.

(October 15th, 2009) Thousands of protestors flooded the streets in the largest public gathering in Puerto Rican history.  The massive strike was in response to the republican governor Luis Fortuño's decision to lay off 16,720 public workers.  ~ San Juan, Puerto Rico ~ Photo © 2009 Ricardo Figueroa

(October 15th, 2009) Thousands of protestors flooded the streets in the largest public gathering in Puerto Rican history. The massive strike was in response to the republican governor Luis Fortuño’s decision to lay off 16,720 public workers. ~ San Juan, Puerto Rico ~ Photo © 2009 Ricardo Figueroa

Under this authority, it could renegotiate all public employees’ contracts, liquidate unused sick days, and freeze salaries—thereby gutting workers’ collective bargaining powers. Privatizing the commonwealth’s electrical company, the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority, has also been placed on the table as an option for stanching the crisis; the emergency measures would also include closing 100 public schools.

The budget must be passed on June 30 to coincide with the beginning of the 2015 fiscal year on July 1. And as that deadline nears, unions across the island have been escalating their protests. On June 5, the union of transportation employees prevented ferries around the country from functioning. That same day, workers from the bus and port authorities, as well as the state insurance funds, blocked the entrance to the central government building in San Juan. Amid the disruptions, the labor secretary said at a council meeting he would not speculate as to whether the actions already constituted a general strike, or were just a series of protests. Continue reading


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DOLL’S GO KART SPONSORS ‘SING FOR FREE LAPS’ DAY THURS. JULY 3 4-10pm

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IRAQ: A STATE AT WAR WITH ITSELF — BY MUMIA ABU-JAMAL; U.S. BEHIND CARNAGE

Protest outside White House. The U.S. announced that it has sent 300 troops to Iraq.
Protest outside White House. The U.S. announced that it has sent 300 troops to Iraq.

 

 

IRAQ A State at War With Itself

[col. writ. 6/15/14] © ’14 Mumia Abu-Jamal

Mumia Abu-Jamal

Mumia Abu-Jamal

Lightning strikes. Those are the words that came to me as I witnessed the speed with which the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) was rolling through northern Iraq, forcing government forces to flee.The cities of Mosul, Samarah, Tikrit and others fell in a matter of days, with nothing but token resistance from the central government.

Photos appeared of long lines of men, unarmed and out of uniform, making haste in their flight from the seized cities.

Now, in shocked reactions to ISIS gains, U.S. politicians are clamoring for the return of thousands of U.S. soldiers, to buttress Iraq’s fast-fading forces. In essence, they are agitating for more war.

It’s a safe bet that this won’t happen, but the partisan call for war continues to sound.

One wonders: war for what? For a government that has made the lives of Iraq’s Sunnis a living hell? It is this very region that forms the springboard for ISIS power.

Since the fall of Saddam they have suffered the lion’s share of American and now, Iraqi state violence.

Did we think resistance would never have arisen?

The U.S. Army didn’t invade in pursuit of peace, but of petroleum. They split Iraq asunder and left it in tatters.

The Iraq invasion, a neoconservative dream that became a nightmare, was a disaster from Day One.

It remains so.

The war began with lies. It could not have ended otherwise.US pushing Iraq toward Yugoslavia-style disintegration: Rodney Martin

The neocons, who created this mess, are now trying to restart the war anew.

On this, they must fail.

-© ’14 maj

US special ops troops in Iraq.

US special ops troops in Iraq.

 

U.S. PUSHING IRAQ TOWARD DISINTEGRATION

Press TVThe United States is seeking a Yugoslavia-style disintegration of Iraq in order to take over some parts of the country after Washington failed to keep its hold on the entire country, an American political commentator says.

The US wants “disintegration or breakup of Iraq, much like the breakup of Yugoslavia,” said Rodney Martin, who is the director of the World View Foundations, a website, and a host at the American Nationalist Network, an internet radio station.

Rodney Martin
Rodney Martin

 

“If the United States can’t get their hands on all of it, then they will take some of it. This just speaks to the immorality of the United States’ policy in that region and in other parts of the world as well,” he told Press TV in a phone interview on Monday.

On Sunday, Republican Senator John Barrasso said that a stable Iraq, split into three separate parts, will best serve the interests of the United States.

“The United States basically has the Kurdish region, they established that after the first (Persian) Gulf war…and then they have pledged to keep Iraq together,” Martin stated.

“And then when the political situation, which the United States created, let’s understand this political structure in Iraq was dictated to Iraq by the United States when the elections which have been conducted under a political system imposed by the United States didn’t go the way the United States wanted, then the United States pulled support and let the country fall apart,” he added.

Over the past weeks, militants from the so-called Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) — a radical al-Qaeda offshoot that enjoys support from loyalists of Iraq’s former Baathist regime — have been wreaking havoc in Iraq.

The ISIL has captured large swaths of territory across northern Iraq after seizing the city of Mosul on June 10.

The militants, who have posted pictures of their atrocious acts against Iraqi citizens online, have vowed to continue their offensive towards the capital Baghdad.

U.S. backed rebels in Syria massacred these children.

U.S. backed rebels in Syria massacred these children.

“So you have this terrorist group, ISIL, that has terrorized and engaged in horrific genocide in Syria, that was another effort by the United States to topple President Assad, and which has now returned to south and started charging on Baghdad,” said Martin, who also served for a time on the staff of a US congressman assigned to Military and Veteran Issues.

“So this is consistent with the US policy. They can’t get all of it, they’ll take some of it. They propose to cut Iraq into three regions, the Kurd region, and the Sunni region, and the Shia region, which is a kind of interesting because the majority of Iraq’s oil production actually takes place in the south, down around Basra, which would be controlled by the Shia region, which is no friend of the United States…It’s kind of archaic and schizophrenic on the part of the United States,” he stated.

GJH/AGB

http://www.presstv.com/detail/2014/07/01/369343/us-pushing-iraq-toward-disintegration/

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JUDGE BARS CELLPHONE TEXTS, CRIME MAP FROM EVIDENCE IN RENISHA MCBRIDE CASE

Renisha McBride's photo superimposed on Theodore Wafer's house, where she was shotgunned to death.

Renisha McBride’s photo superimposed on Theodore Wafer’s Dearborn Heights house, where he shotgunned her to death.

Daily media tainting jury pool? Describes barred evidence sight unseen 

Dr. Werner Spitz rambles about case events, not cause of death; to testify on human response to fear 

Hearing to continue Mon. June 30 at 9 a.m. 

By Diane Bukowski

June 28, 2014

Detroit — Wayne County Circuit Court Judge Dana Margaret Hathaway ruled June 27 that text messages Dearborn Heights police took from Renisha McBride’s cell phone are inadmissible as evidence in the trial of her killer, Theodore Wafer.

“None of these show that she would have been aggressive,” Hathaway said firmly. “They are unfairly prejudicial.” She said that they were not even proof of unrelated criminal activity. She also barred the use of police reports from two incidents that did not result in charges, and the use of a “crime map” of Wafer’s neighborhood composed by the police.

USSC barred police search of personal cell phones without warrant June 25, 2014.
USSC barred police search of personal cell phones without warrant June 25, 2014.

 

Hathaway postponed a final determination on the use of photos on the cell phone until Monday, June 30, although she said she believed the photos were not conclusive proof of anything.

Holding up her personal cell phone, Assistant Wayne County Prosecutor Danielle Hagaman-Clark asked,”You might find a naked picture of me. Does that make me a hooker?”

The Detroit Free Press vividly described the alleged contents of the barred evidence, using only defense attorney Cheryl Carpenter’s verbal depictions. Carpenter contended McBride was the aggressor in the case and was generally involved in criminal activity. The texts and photos were not shown during the pre-trial hearing.

Ironically, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled 9-0 on June 25 that police must get a warrant to search a person’s cellphone, in Riley v. California and U.S. v. Brima Wurie. Dearborn Heights police had no such warrant. They conducted no similar search of Wafer’s phone.

Attendee at McBride's funeral.
Attendee at McBride’s funeral.

“They’re treating her like she’s the criminal,” McBride’s aunt Bernita Spinks said after the evidentiary hearing. “My niece is dead. They talk about her being under the influence of alcohol and marijuana, but her killer was never tested for alcohol, barbiturates or opiates. She was never a bad person. She went to Southfield High School, and many of her classmates are wearing T-shirts with her photo.”

Spinks said her niece was likely disoriented, and may have thought she was at her mother’s house, which resembles Wafer’s house. McBride had a car accident in Detroit several hours before her body was found on Wafer’s porch in Dearborn Heights, a half-mile away; cracks in the windshield show that she may have hit her head on it. At the accident scene, she kept telling witnesses that she just wanted to “go home.”

Theodore Wafer's home at 16812 W. Outer Drive in Dearborn Heights, MI.
Theodore Wafer’s home at 16812 W. Outer Drive in Dearborn Heights, MI.

 

Wafer, 54,  blasted McBride, 19, in the face with a shotgun on that porch in the early morning hours of Nov. 2, 2013. He faces a capital charge of second-degree murder, which carries up to life in prison. He is also charged with manslaughter—death by weapon aimed with intent but without malice, which carries up to 15 years in prison, and felony firearm, which carries a mandatory consecutive penalty of two years.

Home of Renisha McBride's mother.
Home of Renisha McBride’s mother.

 

To date, he has not served a day in prison, although capital charges generally result in remand, not bond. McBride’s case has been compared nationally to the killing of Trayvon Martin by George Zimmerman in Sanford, Florida last year.

Judge Hathaway partially granted a defense motion to have forensic pathologist Dr. Werner Spitz testify directly after Wayne County Medical Examiner Kilak Kesha during the prosecution’s case, within limits. Kesha testified extensively at Wafer’s preliminary exam about McBride’s autopsy, including the cause and manner of her death.

Spitz said he has been certified as an expert only in the field of forensic pathology, not in the fields of physiology, psychiatry, or neurology. He said he has published no research of his own in these areas. But he is to testify primarily on the human physiological response to fear, with reference to Wafer.

Assistant Prosecutor Athena Siringas conducted a lengthy cross-exam of Spitz, contending he should only testify on cause and manner of death.

Dr. Werner Spitz at earlier trial.
Dr. Werner Spitz at earlier trial.

 

“You’ve given opinions here that involve psychology, physiology, neurology, all things that human beings do while they’re alive, and you’ve actually only examined dead people,” she told him.

Spitz countered, “The issue is how did it all happen? The cause of death is the simplest thing: anybody in the street, hundreds of people could make that determination.”

Siringas questioned why Spitz’s testimony, if allowed, should not be taken after Wafer’s during the defense case, if Wafer takes the stand. Judge Hathaway said she will instruct the jury to disregard Spitz’ testimony if Wafer does not testify.

“Quite frankly, I don’t know how the defense can put on a case of self-defense without the defendant testifying,” Hathaway said.

Assistant Prosecutor Athina Siringas
Assistant Prosecutor Athina Siringas

 

Spitz, who is 88, gave a bizarre, rambling hour-long description of a crazed, aggressive McBride pounding on and breaking the doors of Wafer’s home. He said he based that depiction on police reports and discussions with defense attorneys.

Spitz said he talked to Wafer only briefly at his home, but not about the case. He said he had not seen the police videotape of Wafer’s statement directly after the killing, nor witness statements from neighbors where McBride earlier crashed her car in Detroit. During the preliminary exam, those neighbors described McBride as disoriented but not aggressive.

“He heard pounding from different areas of the house and was wondering was he being attacked,” Spitz said. “He ran to the main door. The way I understood, he had a feeling of impending doom.”

Spitz also commented generally about an individual’s psychological reaction when awakened from a deep sleep. He brought a cartload of medical textbooks to the hearing, to demonstrate his source of knowledge in fields other than which he is certified as an expert.

Siringas asked, “Is a normal reaction [to a fear of impending doom] to open your door and expose yourself?”

Wafer has a large picture window in his living room to the left of his solid front door.

“He couldn’t have looked through his front window because it had vertical blind slats, and that would have exposed him completely,” Spitz contended. “He couldn’t look through the peephole because it was broken.”

Photos from Renisha McBride funeral program differ strongly from defense depiction of her.

Photos from Renisha McBride funeral program differ strongly from defense depiction of her.

Wafer opened the locked front door and shot McBride with a 12-gauge shotgun through the screen door, according to testimony at his preliminary exam. Carpenter and Spitz, however, contend the unarmed McBride damaged the screen door herself and broke a peephole in the solid door prior to being shotgunned to death.

Dearborn Heights police did not take the screen door into evidence until Nov. 11, nine days after McBride’s death, from Wafer’s basement. The defense claimed during the preliminary exam that “smudges” on both front and side doors were evidence that McBride hit them, but prosecutors said no fingerprints, palm prints, or evidence of human contact were found.

Autopsy drawing showing wound to Renisha McBride's face.
Autopsy drawing showing wound to Renisha McBride’s face.

 

Spitz testified that he reviewed McBride’s autopsy report, photos of her body, and transcripts of Kesha’s testimony at the preliminary exam. He said a photo of McBride’s left hand showed that it was swollen and bloody, and implied that the apparent injury resulted from her pounding on the door. He said Kesha’s report “did not address whether there was an injury on the back of her hand,” and that the hand should have been X-rayed or cut open.

 

During the preliminary exam, Kesha said it was apparent there was no wound in McBride’s hand after her body was washed. He said McBride had a gaping wound in her face, resulting from 10-20 shotgun pellets which he said “pulpified” her brain and caused blood loss.

Spitz did affirm Kesha’s description of the cause of death as the shotgun wound to the face, and the manner of death as “homicide.”

Theodore Wafer wcpJudge Hathaway also denied a defense motion to present a map of crimes in Wafer’s neighborhood, including petty larceny, provided by the Dearborn Heights police. The map as displayed on a screen had large black blotches all over a broad area alleged to portray instances of crime, without regard to the severity of the crimes.

“What matters to me,” Judge Hathaway said, “is what the defendant actually knew [about nearby crimes], testimony from him and his neighbors.”

Hathaway said she would defer a ruling on a change of venue until after jury selection.

The hearing is to resume Monday, June 30 at 9 a.m.

Related stories:

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2014/06/21/will-renisha-mcbrides-family-get-justice-in-case-against-her-killer-theodore-wafer/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2013/12/21/theodore-wafer-to-stand-trial-for-2nd-degree-murder-other-charges-in-death-of-renisha-mcbride/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2013/11/16/renisha-mcbrides-killer-theodore-wafer-charged-with-2nd-degree-murder-other-felonies-free-on-bond/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2013/11/13/worthy-has-renisha-mcbride-police-report-sign-petition-to-bring-full-charges-vs-killer/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2013/11/09/justice-for-renisha-mcbride-detroits-trayvon-martin-dearborn-hts-homeowner-is-theodore-paul-wafer/


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DETROITERS SAY: PEOPLE’S WAR ON WATER SHUT-OFFS NEEDED

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STOP WATER SHUT-OFFS! DETROITERS TAKE DEMAND TO UNITED NATIONS

As Water Crisis in Detroit Escalates, Groups Pressure United Nations to Take Action, Restore Water Service to Thousands of Residents and Ensure the Human Right to Water

Joint Media Release

June 18, 2014

Frank Lewis delivers water to his neighbors, 10 year old Edward Jones, 6 year old Pierre Cook and their parents Marilyn Cook and Edward jones during wave of water shut-offs in 2002.

Frank Lewis delivers water to his neighbors, 10 year old Edward Jones, 6 year old Pierre Cook and their parents Marilyn Cook and Edward Jones during wave of water shut-offs in 2002. The Detroit City Council later established a Water Affordability Plan, which was administered out of the city Human Services Dept. That department was closed by Mayor Dave Bing last year despite being nearly 100% federally funded. Photo by Diane Bukowski

Detroit, Michigan — In March 2014, the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department (DWSD) announced it would begin shutting off water ser­vice for 1,500 to 3,000 customers every week if their water bills were not paid, and yesterday, the City Council approved an 8.7 percent water rate increase. According to a recent DWSD document, more than 80,000 residential households are in arrears.

With thousands of families now without water, and thousands more expected to lose access at any moment, a group of concerned organizations have submitted a report to Catarina de Albuquerque, the UN Special Rapporteur on the Human Right to Safe Drinking Water and Sanitation, urging authorities to take immediate action to restore water services and stop further cut-offs. The report was released by the Detroit People’s Water Board, the Blue Planet Project, the Michigan Welfare Rights Organization and Food & Water Watch.

“By denying water service to thousands, Detroit is violating the human right to water,” said Blue Planet Project Founder and Food & Water Watch Board Chair Maude Barlow. “After decades of policies that put businesses and profits ahead of the public good, the city now has a major crisis on its hands. It is shocking and abominable that anyone would be subjected to these conditions.”

First Freedom Friday protest against mass Detroit water shut-offs in front of Detroit Water Board building.

First Freedom Friday protest against mass Detroit water shut-offs in front of Detroit Water Board building.

Over the last decade, Detroit residents have seen water rates rise by 119 percent. With unemployment rates at a record high and the poverty rate at about 40 percent, Detroit water bills are unaffordable to a significant portion of the population. Many of those affected by the shut-offs were given no warning. The infirm have been left without water and functioning toilets, children cannot bathe and parents cannot adequately prepare food for their families.

“When delinquent corporate water lines are still running without collection of funds, it demonstrates a level of intentional disparity that devalues the lives of the people struggling financially. Where is our compassion? Where is our humanity?” asked Lila Cabbil, President Emeritus of the Rosa Parks Institute.

Gwen Gaines at national protest against water-shut-offs and privatization. Photo: Kenny Snodgrass
Gwen Gaines at national protest against water-shut-offs and privatization. Photo: Kenny Snodgrass

 

In 2013, Detroit declared bankruptcy and appointed Kevyn Orr as emergency manager, giving him a mandate to get the city back on its feet financially. Orr has since taken steps to privatize the DWSD, and many now believe that the water shut-offs are an attempt to appeal to potential investors. In the Great Lakes region, large, private water companies charge households on average more than twice as much as rates charged by comparable publicly-controlled systems. Moreover, private operation has been linked to poor service, workforce reductions, maintenance backlogs, water leaks and sewage spills.

The Detroit People’s Water Board, the Blue Planet Project, the Michigan Welfare Rights Organization and Food & Water Watch make the following recommendations:

  1. We call on the State of Michigan and the U.S. government to respect the human right to wa­ter and sanitation.
  2. We call on the city to restore services to households that have been cut off immediately.
  3. We call on the city to abandon its plan for further cut-offs.
  4. We call on the federal and state governments to work with the city to ensure a sustainable public financing plan and rate structure that would prevent a transfer of the utility’s finan­cial burden onto residents who are currently paying exorbitant rates for their water ser­vices.
  5. We call for fair water rates for the residents of Detroit.
  6. We call on the City of Detroit to implement the original water affordability program.

Read the report here

For more information:

Meera Karunananthan, Blue Planet Project, 613-355-2100, meera@canadians.org Twitter: @CouncilOfCDNs

Kate Fried, Food & Water Watch, (202) 683-4905, kfried@fwwatch.org

People's Water Board members protest earlier outside Water Board Building.

People’s Water Board members protest earlier outside Water Board Building.

The Detroit People’s Water Board is a coalition that includes AFSCME Local 207, Detroit Black Community Food Security Network, Detroit Green Party, East Michigan Environmental Action Council, Food & Water Watch, FLOW, Great Lakes Bioneers Detroit, Matrix Theater, Michigan Emergency Committee Against War & Injustice, Michigan Welfare Rights Organization, Rosa and Raymond Parks Institute, Sierra Club and Voices for Earth Justice. The coalition advocates for access, protection, and conservation of water and promotes the human right to water.

The late Tashi Kiya at protest.
The late Tashi Kiya at protest.

 

The Blue Planet Project is a global initiative that works with organizations and activists around the world to promote water as a human right and a commons. This includes working with local organizations and activists on grassroots struggles to protect democratic, community control of water, and building a movement to see the full implementation of the human right to water and sanitation. The Blue Planet Project is affiliated with international networks including Friends of the Earth International, Red Vida (the Americas Network on the Right to Water) and the People’s Health Movement.

Food & Water Watch works to ensure the food, water and fish we consume is safe, accessible and sustainably produced. So we can all enjoy and trust in what we eat and drink, we help people take charge of where their food comes from, keep clean, affordable, public tap water flowing freely to our homes, protect the environmental quality of oceans, force government to do its job protecting citizens, and educate about the importance of keeping the global commons – our shared resources – under public control.

The Michigan Welfare Rights Organization fights for, and represents, the victims of poverty. We organize to eliminate poverty and to stop the war against the poor. We are working with people to deal with the current water crisis in the City of Detroit by advocating for low income people to demand fair treatment, registering complaints against the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department (DWSD), organizing protests and the DWSD offices and Detroit local government buildings, alerting people to resources – when available – to help with their water bills, and speaking out on the human right to water in the media and at public events.

Recent related stories:

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2014/05/28/mass-water-shut-offs-mass-incarceration-at-mound-road-prison-for-protesters/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2014/06/22/appeal-to-support-charity-hicks-powerhouse-fighter-for-the-people/


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WAR COMES HOME: THE EXCESSIVE MILITARIZATION OF AMERICAN POLICING; NEW ACLU REPORT

Read the 'War Comes Home' report

All across the country, heavily armed SWAT teams are raiding people’s homes in the middle of the night, often just to search for drugs. It should enrage us that people have needlessly died during these raids, that pets have been shot, and that homes have been ravaged.

Our neighborhoods are not warzones, and police officers should not be treating us like wartime enemies. Any yet, every year, billions of dollars’ worth of military equipment flows from the federal government to state and local police departments. Departments use these wartime weapons in everyday policing, especially to fight the wasteful and failed drug war, which has unfairly targeted people of color.

As our new report makes clear, it’s time for American police to remember that they are supposed to protect and serve our communities, not wage war on the people who live in them.

ATLANTA; SWAT Raid Ends with Toddler in Medically-Induced Coma 

Baby Bou Bou's parents Alecia and Bounkahm.

Baby Bou Bou’s parents.

This van, containing several car seats, was parked in the driveway of the home where they were staying when, just before 3:00am on a night in May of 2014, a team of SWAT officers armed with assault rifles burst into the room where the family was sleeping.

Some of the kids’ toys were in the front yard, but the Habersham County and Cornelia police officers claimed they had no way of knowing children might be present. One of the officers threw a flashbang grenade into the room. It landed in Baby Bou Bou’s crib.

Infant Bou Bou still in coma from flash grenade.

Infant Bou Bou still in coma from flash grenade.

It took several hours before Alecia and Bounkahm, the baby’s parents, were able to see their son. The 19-month-old had been taken to an intensive burn unit and placed into a medically induced coma. When the flashbang grenade exploded, it blew a hole in 19-month-old Bou Bou’s face and chest. The chest wound was so deep it exposed his ribs. The blast covered Bou Bou’s body in third degree burns. At the time of this report’s publication, three weeks after the raid, it was still unclear whether Baby Bou Bou would live. Bounkahm spent this Father’s Day in the hospital with his son. Learn more at www.justiceforbabyboubou.com and in ACLU report.

Aiyana Jones with mother Dominika Jones, shown after mistrial in killer cop Joseph Weekley's case.
Aiyana Jones with mother Dominika Jones, shown after mistrial in killer cop Joseph Weekley’s case.

DETROIT: SWAT TEAM MURDERS AIYANA STANLEY-JONES, 7

“In 2010, 7-year-old Aiyana Stanley-Jones was killed when, just after midnight, a SWAT team threw a flashbang grenade through the window into the living room where she was asleep. The flashbang burned her blanket and a member of the SWAT team burst into the house, firing a single shot, which killed her.” (From ACLU Report).

Since Aiyana’s horrific death, her family has been subjected to unending agony by a police cover-up, which recently resulted in the imprisonment of her father Charles Jones for 40-60 years .  See VOD related stories in Aiyana’s case at bottom of this post.

Disparate Impact on Communities of Color

It is widely known that policing tactics across the country often unfairly target communities of color. According to our investigation, the use of paramilitary weapons and tactics appears to be no different. These maps show the distribution of SWAT raids by racial composition of neighborhoods in two cities, but this trend is echoed nationwide. Read the complete report for more.

Austin, TX and Cinncinnati, OH SWAT Deployments by Racial Composition of Census Blocks

Cinncinnati, OH Austin, TX

Nationwide Trend

Hyper-aggressive policing won’t go away simply by identifying a couple “bad apples” or dismissing the problem as a few isolated instances. As this map makes clear, excessive militarization is a nationwide trend.

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To Serve and Protect, Not to Raid and Ravage

Not every situation requires 20 heavily armed SWAT officers and an armored personnel carrier. And yet, we collected reports of full deployments to homes where no contraband was found, where there was no clear reason for thinking the people inside would be armed or awake, and where children and the elderly were present. We need to ensure that hyper-aggressive tools and tactics are only used in situations where they are truly necessary to protect people. It’s also time to push for greater transparency and ensure that the federal government is not incentivizing the militarization of our state and local police.


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APPEAL TO SUPPORT CHARITY HICKS, POWERHOUSE FIGHTER FOR THE PEOPLE

First of Freedom Fridays protests outside Detroit Water Board against massive water shut-offs in Detroit. Marchers call for defense for Charity Hicks, who spent two days in concentration camp conditions at the Mound Rd. prison for protesting shut-offs of her neighbors.

First of Freedom Fridays protests outside Detroit Water Board against massive water shut-offs in Detroit. Marchers call for defense for Charity Hicks, who spent two days in concentration camp conditions at the Mound Rd. prison for protesting shut-offs of her neighbors.

Justice Powerhouse- Charity Hicks

Submitted by Miles on Tue, 06/17/2014 – 1:20pm 

The Praxis Project is publishing this appeal by Kolu Zigbi to support our comrade and sister Charity Hicks. Please consider supporting this extraordinary servant leader.

“Your Human Dignity shouldn’t be truncated because you’re priced out of the commodification of an essential resource.

Charity Hicks on water shut-offs

 Dear Friends and Colleagues,

Charity Hicks, an extraordinary Detroit activist, advocate, movement weaver, and policy director for the East Michigan Environmental Action Council (EMEAC), has been in a coma in a New York City hospital since May 31st.

She has very serious head and chest injuries resulting from a hit and run accident near Penn Station in NYC as she waited for a bus to go to the Left Forum where she was to present on a panel.

There are two parts to this email: the first describes some of her work, the second describes the need for your support and how to help.

Some of you may have heard Charity speak at the Environmental Grantmakers Association State of the States dinner at Colors restaurant in Detroit last February, or at the EDGE Funders gathering held at EMEAC the next day. I’ve had the honor of working closely with her because Charity is one of four Fellows of the Everybody At the Table for Health (EAT4Health) initiative. Read her EAT4Health bio here.

Charity Hicks is at right, attending 2013 Eat4Health convention in Texas.

Charity Hicks is at right, attending 2013 Eat4Health convention in Texas.

She has been working to understand and influence federal policies to facilitate food access in low income communities, benefit regional farmers including African American producers, create living wage jobs in food retail and spin-off businesses, while promoting opportunities for cooperative ownership.

Charity always spoke out for the marginalized, affirmed the role of government against privatization, wove deep ecological understanding into her analysis, mentored young leaders and sat at many tables such as the Food Justice Task Force and the People’s Water Board. Charity worked with the US Food Sovereignty Alliance to bring Food Sovereignty Award recipients from Haiti and Brazil to visit urban farmers in Detroit and she later traveled to Brazil to meet with members of the MST (Landless People’s Movement).

Just in the week before the accident Charity:

  • Hosted other EAT4Health Fellows on a tour of the historic home, the Cass Corridor Commons, which EMEAC owns, manages and shares with other non-profits.

    Maude Barlow speaks in Detroit as Charity Hicks (far left)) chairs.
    Maude Barlow speaks in Detroit as Charity Hicks (far left)) chairs.
  • Helped co-lead the peoples’ response to the City’s shut-off of thousands of Detroit households for non-payment of water bills as even just $75. As a member of the People’s Water Board, Charity called attention to the human rights issues involved, bringing Maude Barlow to Detroit to speak about water as part of the commons. Maud declared: But the people of Detroit face another sinister enemy. Every day, thousands of them, in a city that is situated right by a body of water carrying one-fifth of the world’s water supply, are having their ‎water ruthlessly cut off by men working for the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department. Most of the residents are African American and two-thirds of the cut offs involve children, which means that in some cases, child welfare authorities are moving in to remove children from their homes as it is a requirement that there be working utilities in all homes housing children.
  • Organized a People’s Movement Assembly on Food Justice at EMEAC

Watch this interview with Charity that explains the connections between Climate Change, the polar vortex, poverty, banks and bankruptsy, the need for an alternative approach to sustain infrastructure, and why Detroiter’s are getting their water shut off. (Link not working, alternate speech in Montreal below.)

Charity never shrank from calling out racism, and sharing a vision of justice and opportunity for all, and she used her intellectual gifts to inspire others to work together. She was in demand, perhaps too much so, and rarely turned down an invitation to speak, to create connections and grow the movement, often traveling long distances by bus and train, never complaining of the time and discomfort involved.

Charity’s husband, Louis, came to New York to be with her in the hospital. Ife Kilimanjaro, EMEAC co-director, was in the City at the time of the accident, attending the same conference. She has stayed to care for and advocate for Charity. Both have been by Charity’s side almost continuously, taking turns spending the night in her room. Sadly, Charity has, till today, been unresponsive.

What can we do? What can you do?

  • EMEAC has set up a fund to collect donations promising that 100% of the money collected will go to meeting Charity’s needs. Please donate whatever you can to:

(1) Go to www.emeac.org

(2) Click “MAKE A DONATION

(3) Name your donation and type “For Charity Hicks” under “Dedication or Gift” in the designated box

Or you can just click this button

You may also mail donations to the office, but be sure to write “For Charity Hicks” on the check or money order.

EMEAC
C/o Charity Hicks
4605 Cass Ave.
Detroit, MI 48201

  • Forward this appeal to others in your network who may be compassionate and care about justice
  • Louis and all of us who love Charity have not stopped hoping for a miracle and praying for her to come back. Please think of her, send her your love and good energy. Do what your spirit moves you to do on her behalf.
  • If you know a professional/expert that comes to mind who might provide pro-bono help (an attorney, a brain surgeon, etc.) or have potentially helpful information to share please let me know and I will help connect you with Ife and Charity’s husband.

This is devastating for all of us, and we particularly lift up Louis and Ife for support, but also Charity’s mentors and fellow activists in her home in Detroit, and the many who know and love her throughout the country and even internationally.

With Thanks,

Kolu

Related article with Charity Hicks interview after her arrest for protesting water shut-offs in her neighborhood, shortly before the NYC tragedy. Article says Charity was expected to speak at Call ‘em out Gathering that Satuday, but the accident intervened.

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2014/05/28/mass-water-shut-offs-mass-incarceration-at-mound-road-prison-for-protesters/ 

Below: video of healing circle for Charity Hicks in Detroit June 5, 2014.


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AMERICA’S WAR CRIMES IN IRAQ

Protest against U.S. wars, held on the sixth anniversary of the U.S. war on Iraq.

Protest against U.S. wars, held on the sixth anniversary of the U.S. war on Iraq.

 

BAR logo 2Freedom Rider: America’s War Crime in Iraq

 

by BAR editor and senior columnist Margaret Kimberley

June 17, 2014

Presidents Obama and Bush: same agenda in Middle East.

Presidents Obama and Bush: same agenda in Middle East.

For the people of the Middle East, the American war never ended; it continued under the brutal, U.S.-backed jihadists who ravaged Syria, and have struck at Iraq with a vengeance. In the United States, George Bush gets the blame for the Iraq War while the First Black President reignites the region with his proxy wars and apocalyptic threats. “Imperialism is still on the move and now has a more shrewd personification in the person of Barack Obama.”

Iran is now more of a “frenemy” because it supports Iraqi president Maliki against the ISIS threat.”

Beginning in 1991 the United States government brought what has become a never ending hell to Iraq. President George H.W. Bush’s war that year was followed by devastating sanctions which were continued by presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush. It was bad enough that 500,000 children died because of shortages of food and medicine but in 2003 Bush the younger and his henchmen and women rolled the dice on invasion and an occupation that lasted for more than ten years. The Project for a New American Century, the 21st century version of Manifest Destiny, demanded a Pax Americana which set out to make the United States the master of the world.

"Shock and Awe:" U.S. invasion of Iraq, March 20, 2003

“Shock and Awe:” U.S. invasion of Iraq, March 20, 2003

It is unfortunate that Bush, Cheney, Powell, Rice, Rumsfeld, and company became the only faces of American aggression. They are indeed responsible for the 2003 invasion but imperialism is still on the move and now has a more shrewd personification in the person of Barack Obama.The corporate media have quite a lot to answer for in their reporting of the Iraqi and American relationship. They take their cue from whoever is in the White House and repeat what countless spokespeople tell them to write and to broadcast. After having accepted the Bush administration policy of embedding journalists with American troops, Iraq was then ignored and disappeared from the consciousness of this country. Recent events have made Iraq a focus of attention once again and the news is still terrible for the people of that country.“The history of American and Saudi collusion to destabilize that region is a long and sad tale.”

War crime: ISIS operatives execute police and soldiers in open field.
War crime: ISIS operatives execute police and soldiers in open field.

ISIS, translated into English as Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant or Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, is the latest head of the fundamentalist Jihadi hydra created by the United States and gulf monarchies. ISIS is making huge territorial gains as the Iraqi army collapses in its wake. The history of American and Saudi collusion to destabilize that region is a long and sad tale. For many years these partners in crime have left a trail of death and devastation in Afghanistan, Libya, and Syria as well as in Iraq.

 

Now the propaganda that Americans have been fed by two presidents and their helpers in the press is falling apart. They have to explain why Iran, a country depicted as our mortal enemy, may end up saving the Iraqi government. Iran has also been devastated by United States sanctions and its very destruction has been openly advocated by Israel and numerous administrations and members of Congress. Iran is now more of a “frenemy” because it supports Iraqi president Maliki against the ISIS threat.

Iraqi baby deformed by depleted uranium.

Iraqi baby deformed by depleted uranium.

After the deaths of one million people, after the hellish destruction of Fallujah, after the babies deformed by depleted uranium, Iraqis are again fleeing from the disaster of American intervention. As politicians are trotted out to defend their lies and the likes of Tony Blair attempt to deflect responsibility for their evil acts, it is important to remember the extent of the decades long crime.The press[15] and politicians may speak in terms of the 5,000 American lives lost or the astronomical sums spent, but it is the ongoing war of American terror that must be remembered.

The depiction of George W. Bush as the villain of bad judgment and lies is certainly true, but America’s violence and commission of war crimes should be the central issue when Iraq is discussed so that Democratic Party imperialists aren’t permitted to do likewise.

They have to explain why Iran, a country depicted as our mortal enemy, may end up saving the Iraqi government.”

Very few Americans remember that millions of people around the world foresaw the calamity and acted to try and prevent it. Not only were there huge protests in many nations but there was serious discussion of the extent of American criminality. The World Tribunal on Iraq[16] held a series of meetings from November 2003 through June 2005 in New York, London, Rome, Lisbon, Stockholm, Mumbai, Tunis, Hiroshima, Beirut and other cities.

Participants in World Tribunal on Iraq

Participants in World Tribunal on Iraq

The culminating session in Istanbul produced a Declaration of the Jury of Conscience[17] which spelled out in stark detail the violations of the United Nations Charter and the Nuremburg Principles. The tribunal spared no one, condemning the governments of the United States and the United Kingdom for acts of aggression and the United Nations Security Council for its inaction. One of the tribunal’s charges is particularly prescient:“Engaging in policies to wage permanent war on sovereign nations. Syria and Iran have already been declared as potential targets. In declaring a ‘global war on terror,’ the US government has given itself the exclusive right to use aggressive military force against any target of its choosing. Ethnic and religious hostilities are being fueled in different parts of the world.”

CIA-led Libyan "rebels" targeted Black Libyans for lynchings and massacres.

CIA-led Libyan “rebels” targeted Black Libyans for lynchings and massacres.

As the politicians and pundits scramble for cover remember the words of the tribunal. Barack Obama knows that Bush was condemned more for sending American troops to fight overseas than for the substance of what he did. Obama can’t be allowed to use ISIS and similar groups to attack Syria without also paying a price. Democrats can’t defend Obama’s destruction of Libya or carrying out “kill list” assassinations without being called out as complicit as the neo-cons of the Bush era. Ultimately they are all neo-cons and the so-called “mistake” of the Iraq war will be revisited again unless American imperialism is called just that.Margaret Kimberley’s Freedom Rider column appears weekly in BAR, and is widely reprinted elsewhere. She maintains a frequently updated blog as well as at http://freedomrider.blogspot.com.[18] Ms. Kimberley lives in New York City, and can be reached via e-Mail at Margaret.Kimberley@BlackAgendaReport.com. .

Source URL:http://blackagendareport.com/content/freedom-rider-america%E2%80%99s-war-crime-iraq

Links:

[1] http://blackagendareport.com/category/department-war/war-against-syria

[2] http://blackagendareport.com/category/department-war/us-iran-threats

[3] http://blackagendareport.com/category/department-war/susan-rice-iraq

[4] http://blackagendareport.com/taxonomy/term/1439

[5] http://blackagendareport.com/category/department-war/jihadist-wars

[6] http://blackagendareport.com/category/department-war/isis-attack-iraq

[7] http://blackagendareport.com/category/department-war/iraq-war

[8] http://blackagendareport.com/category/department-war/iraq-sanctions

[9] http://blackagendareport.com/category/department-war/gulf-war

[10] http://blackagendareport.com/category/department-war/donald-rumsfeld-iraq

[11] http://blackagendareport.com/category/department-war/colin-powell-iraq

[12] http://blackagendareport.com/category/department-war/cheney-iraq

[13] http://blackagendareport.com/category/department-war/bush-wars

[15] http://www.fair.org/blog/2014/06/11/iraq-is-a-place-where-americans-suffered/

[16] http://www.tni.org/archives/mil-docs_wti

[17] http://www.indymedia.org.uk/en/regions/world/2005/08/320190.html [18] http://freedomrider.blogspot.com/


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WILL RENISHA MCBRIDE’S FAMILY GET JUSTICE IN CASE AGAINST HER KILLER THEODORE WAFER?

Renisha McBride's mother Monica McBride (r) and sister grieve after preliminary exam victory against her killer Theodore Wafer Dec. 19, 2013.

Renisha McBride’s mother Monica McBride (r) and sister grieve after preliminary exam victory against her killer Theodore Wafer Dec. 19, 2013.

In pre-trial hearing, judge admits all transcripts, tapes of 911 calls and Wafer statements at prosecution’s request 

Defense alleges Wafer “feared” Black teen, wants to insert their witness Dr. Spitz during prosecution case 

By Diane Bukowski 

June 21, 2014

Renisha McBride, 19 when shot to death by Theodore Wafer, 54.

Renisha McBride, 19 when shot to death by Theodore Wafer, 54.

DETROIT—Renisha McBride’s mother Monica McBride sat quietly crying and rocking slightly side to side, while her father Walter Ray Simmons at one point leaned over and put his head in his hands, during a motion hearing June 20 on the second-degree-murder, manslaughter trial of her killer, Theodore Wafer.

Dearborn Heights resident Wafer, 54, sat in the row behind them with a smug smile on his face before the case was called, in front of Wayne County Circuit Court Judge Dana Margaret Hathaway.

Wafer admittedly opened his locked, solid front door and used a 12-guage shotgun to shoot 19-year-old McBride in the face as she stood on his porch in a light blue hoodie, unarmed and evidently dazed after an automobile accident half a mile away. Many have compared the killing of the young Detroiter to that of Trayvon Martin in Sanford, Florida, contending racism was at the root of both killings.

Rally for justice for Renisha outside Dearborn Heights police HQ Nov. 7, 2013.

Rally for justice for Renisha outside Dearborn Heights police HQ Nov. 7, 2013.

Wafer did not call 911 until after shooting the teen, reporting only, “Uh, yes, I just shot somebody on my front porch with a shotgun, banging on my door. I live at 16812 W. Outer Drive. Thank you.”

Wayne County Circuit Court Presiding Judge Timothy Kenny earlier granted a defense motion to recuse the first judge selected, Judge Qiana Lillard, who is Black, on a claim that she had ties with members of the Prosecutor’s office. Kenny is a member of the ultraconservative Federalist Society.

Wayne Co. Circuit Court Judge Dana Margaret Hathaway.
Wayne Co. Circuit Court Judge Dana Margaret Hathaway.

 

Judge Hathaway heard five motions filed by the defense and prosecution, with remaining motions to be heard Thursday June 28.

“The jury pool’s minds have been poisoned by arguments that aren’t the facts,” Wafer’s defense attorney Cheryl Carpenter contended, arguing for a jury questionnaire to be sent out prior to the trial opening July 21, 2014. Hathaway denied the motion, ruling that it would duplicate “voir dire” questioning of the jury in person.

She granted a motion by the prosecution in which the defense concurred, to have a jury pool of at least 200 instead of the 50-60 usually empaneled. The trial is expected to last three weeks and include at least 35 witnesses.

Wayne County Assistant Prosecutor Terry Anderson argued strongly against an unusual defense motion to have their expert witness, Dr. Werner Spitz, testify immediately after Wayne County Assistant Medical Examiner Kilak Kesha. Kesha gave lengthy testimony during Wafer’s preliminary exam that Wafer “pulpified” the teen-ager’s brain, from a likely distance of three feet, with numerous shotgun pellets, shooting through a screen door.

Theodore Wafer during earlier arraignment on the information.
Theodore Wafer during earlier arraignment on the information.

“It is our case, and our burden (of proof),” Anderson said. “We should not have our case interrupted with the defense’s strategy. It would be overwhelming to the jury to have two technical witnesses testify back to back. Dr. Spitz should testify as part of the case in chief of the defense.”

 

Judge Hathaway discounted a defense argument that Spitz’s time was constrained due to the limited availability of his office manager, who Carpenter said accompanies him everywhere. Judge Hathaway said she would rule on the motion at the hearing June 28.

Spitz, now 88, is a world-renowned forensics pathologist but did not participate in the initial autopsy.

Judge Hathaway granted the prosecution’s motion to admit video/audiotapes and transcripts of three 911 emergency calls, two from Carmen Beasley of Detroit, who called 911 after McBride’s car crashed in front of her house, and the one from Wafer after he shot the teen.

20th Circuit Court Judge David Turfe, who bound Wafer over on all charges.
20th Circuit Court Judge David Turfe, who bound Wafer over on all charges.

The prosecution also moved to admit audio/videotapes and transcripts of Wafer’s conversations with Dearborn Heights police while he was in their car after the shooting, and of a statement he made to them at their headquarters that night. Carpenter objected to admission of the transcripts.

 

Anderson said the prosecution would likely use the evidence to impeach Wafer if he testifies. The prosecution objected to the admission of the police headquarters videotape during the preliminary exam on the basis that Wafer himself was present and could be cross-examined.

Twentieth District Court Judge David Turfe agreed, and barred the showing of the videotape at that time.

 Death house: Theodore Wafer's residence in Dearborn Heights.
Death house: Theodore Wafer’s residence in Dearborn Heights.

Carpenter said, “I strongly object to the admission of the transcripts . . .this case is about what Theodore Wafer felt like at the time he shot [McBride]. In the police car he kept saying “Ohmigod, ohmigod, ohmigod.”

 

She claimed the transcripts would not show the fear in his voice. Then she asked that the jury only review any tapes in the courtroom itself, not the jury room.

Judge Hathaway admitted both the transcripts and audio/videotapes.

She said, “The jury will have the opportunity to look at and hear the tapes and review the transcripts as often as they want.”

Gun expert with shotgun used to kill Renisha McBride testified at preliminary exam it could not be fired accidentally.

Gun expert with shotgun used to kill Renisha McBride testified at preliminary exam it could not be fired accidentally.

Daily media coverage of the hearing focused largely on Carpenter’s claim that Wafer feared for his life, including a Detroit Free Press headline, “Dearborn Heights porch shooter’s defense says case is all about fear.However, testimony at the preliminary exam showed that Wafer had to go into a back bedroom to get his shotgun, return to the front door, open it, and then shoot McBride in the face although there was no evidence she was armed.

In binding McBride over on charges of Second-Degree murder, Manslaughter – Death By Weapon Aimed with Intent But Without Malice, and Felony Firearms, Judge Turfe questioned why Wafer didn’t call 911 BEFORE opening the door if he feared for his life.

Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy announces charges against Wafer Nov. 15, 2013.
Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy announces charges against Wafer Nov. 15, 2013. Assistant Prosecutors on the case are (second from left) Terry Anderson and Danielle Hagaman-Clark.

 Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy had to order the Dearborn Heights police, who first released Wafer without charges, to do a more thorough investigation of the case. They did a second crime scene review Nov. 11, during which they discovered a key piece of evidence, the perforated front door screen, in Wafer’s basement.

To date, Wafer has not spent a day in jail for McBride’s killing, despite the fact that bond is not normally issued in such cases. Second-degree murder is a capital charge carrying up to life in prison.

Malice Green painting by Benny Israel at the site of his death, 23rd and Warren in Detroit.
Malice Green painting by Benny Israel at the site of his death, 23rd and Warren in Detroit.

Next week, motions will include one for a change of venue from Wayne County due to the defense’s claim that publicity on the case has featured charges of racism. Since the abolition of Recorders’ Court in 1999 by the state legislature, however, the majority of Wayne County jury panels have been white.

 

Out-state legislators voted to abolish the court, which drew its jurors and judges solely from Detroit, in the wake of a Recorders’ Court jury verdict that two white police officers, Larry Nevers and Walter Budzyn, were guilty of second-degree murder in the 1992 beating death of Malice Green, a Black Detroiter.

Renisha McBride's aunt Bernita Spinks at preliminary exam Dec. 19, 2013.
Renisha McBride’s aunt Bernita Spinks at preliminary exam Dec. 19, 2013.

The defense is additionally moving to admit evidence about crime statistics in Wafer’s Dearborn Heights neighborhood, and text messages, photos, and school records of Renisha McBride. The defense claims they show McBride, who had never been convicted of any crime, had an aggressive side.

 

Her aunt Bernita Spinks, however, told VOD during the preliminary exam, “Renisha didn’t rip and run in the streets. She didn’t hang out at bars. She was a homebody, a sweetheart who stayed to herself. She was loving and kindhearted. While other people her age would be home sleeping, Renisha would be at her job [as a temporary Ford worker] at 4 a.m.”

After the pre-trial hearing, Spinks told Channel Four news,  “There’s a phone, you even opened the door. You took the time to load the gun. It’s all right there.” Regarding the jury, she said, “You have a mind, you have eyes, you should know right from wrong. All I’m going to say is the right decision will be made.”

Related stories:

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2013/12/21/theodore-wafer-to-stand-trial-for-2nd-degree-murder-other-charges-in-death-of-renisha-mcbride/ 

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2013/11/16/renisha-mcbrides-killer-theodore-wafer-charged-with-2nd-degree-murder-other-felonies-free-on-bond/ 

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2013/11/13/worthy-has-renisha-mcbride-police-report-sign-petition-to-bring-full-charges-vs-killer/ 

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2013/11/09/justice-for-renisha-mcbride-detroits-trayvon-martin-dearborn-hts-homeowner-is-theodore-paul-wafer/


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