THE REAL REASON WE ARE BOMBING SYRIA

Syrian men help survivors out of building in Aleppo after air strikes.

Syrian men help survivors out of building in Aleppo after air strikes.

 

Dennis Kucinich
Dennis Kucinich

 

By Dennis J. Kucinich

Former 16-year member of the U.S. Congress and two-time U.S. presidential candidate

September 24, 2014

The administration’s response to the conjunction of this weekend’s People’s Climate March and the International Day of Peace?

1) Bomb Syria the following day, to wrest control of the oil from ISIS which gained its foothold directly in the region through the U.S., Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Turkey and Jordan funding and arming ISIS’ predecessors in Syria.

2) Send the president to UN General Assembly, where he will inevitably give a rousing speech about climate and peace, while the destruction of the environment and the shattering of world peace is on full display 5,000 miles away.

In a speech before the United Nations on Wednesday, President Obama asked the world to join the fight against the Islamic State.Credit Damon Winter/The New York Times
In a speech before the United Nations on Wednesday, President Obama asked the world to join the fight against the Islamic State.Credit Damon Winter/The New York Times

Nothing better illustrates the bankruptcy of the Obama administration’s foreign policy than funding groups that turn on the U.S. again and again, a neo-con fueled cycle of profits for war makers and destruction of ever-shifting “enemies.”

The fact can’t be refuted: ISIS was born of Western intervention in Iraq and covert action in Syria.

This Frankenstein-like experiment of arming the alleged freedom-seeking Syrian opposition created the monster that roams the region. ISIS and the U.S. have a curious relationship — mortal enemies that, at the same time, benefit from some of the same events:

  1. a) Ousting former Iraqi President Nouri al Maliki for his refusal to consent to the continued presence of U.S. troops in his country.
  2. b) Regime change in Syria.
  3. c) Arming the Kurds so they can separate from Iraq, a preliminary move to partitioning Iraq.

US spending on war in IraqWhat a coincidence for war-profiteering neo-cons and the war industry, which has seen its stock rise since last week’s congressional vote to fund the rapid expansion of war. We have met the enemy and he isn’t only ISIS, he is us.

Phase two of the war against Syria is the introduction of 5,000 “moderate” mercenaries (as opposed to immoderate ones), who were trained in Saudi Arabia, the hotbed of Wahhabism, at an initial installment cost of $15 billion. These new “moderates” will replace the old “moderates,” who became ISIS, just in time for Halloween.

The administration, in the belief that you can buy, rent, or lease friends where they otherwise do not exist, labor under the vain assumption that our newfound comrades-in-arms will remain in place during their three-year employment period, ignoring the inevitability that those “friends” you hire today could be firing at you tomorrow.

One wonders if Saudi training of these moderate mercenaries will include methods of beheading which were popularized by the Saudi government long before their ISIS progeny took up the grisly practice.

The U.S. is being played.

Saudi Arabia mapQatar and Saudi Arabia can now overtly join with the U.S. in striking Syria, after they have been covertly attempting for years to take down the last secular state in the region. We are now advancing the agenda of the actual Islamic States — Saudi Arabia and Qatar — to fight the ersatz Islamic State of ISIS.

Now U.S. bombs and missiles might inadvertently “make the world safe” for theocracy rather than democracy. Today we read reports that Israel has shot down a Syrian warplane, indicating the terrible possibility of a wider regional conflict.

What does this have to do with the security of the 50 States United? Nothing!

Last week Congress acted prematurely in funding a war without following the proscriptions of Article I, Section 8 of the U.S. Constitution. (The day of the vote, I urged Congress to resist this dangerous and misguided legislation.) But even while the funding was given, the explicit authorization to go to war was not. To authorize a war, Congress must vote for war. It has not done that yet.

To sell its case, the administration is borrowing from the fear mongering tactics of the Bush administration. ISIS poses no direct, immediate threat to the United States — The White House even said so yesterday, just hours before bombing commenced – yet we are being sold make-believe about ISIS sleeper cells.

Obama following same war path as Bush.
Obama following same war path as Bush.

This attack on Syria, under the guise of striking ISIS, is by definition, a war of aggression. It is a violation of international law. It could lead to crimes against humanity and the deaths of untold numbers of innocent civilians. No amount of public relations or smooth talking can change that.

And yes, members of this Democratic administration, including the president who executed this policy, must be held accountable by the International Criminal Court and by the American people, who he serves.

But as we know, war is a powerful and cynical PR tactic. I expect the bombing of Syria will momentarily boost the White House’s popularity with self-serving heroic accounts of damage inflicted upon ISIS (and the U.S. equipment they use). Stuffing the November ballot box with bombs and missiles may even help the Democratic Party retain the Senate.

But after the election the voters will discover that the president played into the hands of extremists, hurt civilians, and embroiled our country deep into another conflict in the Middle East.

No blood for oilThere were alternatives. The U.S. and the international community could have contained and shrunk ISIS by cutting off its funds and its revenue from sale of oil on the black market. We could have looked to strike a deal with Syria and Iran.

In foreign policy, the administration has failed. Congress has failed. Both the Democratic and Republican Parties have passed the national checkbook to their patrons in the war contracting business. And passed the bill to future generations.

The American people, who in 2008 searched for something redemptive after years of George W. Bush’s war, realize in 2014 that hope and change was but a clever slogan. It was used to gain power and to keep it through promoting fear, war, the growth of the National Security state, and an autumnal bonfire of countless billions of tax dollars which fall like leaves from money trees on the banks of the Potomac.

Follow Dennis J. Kucinich on Twitter: www.twitter.com/Dennis_Kucinich


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AIYANA’S GRANDMOTHER CONFRONTS KILLER COP FROM WITNESS STAND; WEEKLY RE-TRIAL SUSPENDED

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Both Mertilla Jones and aunt LaKrystal Sanders break down on stand

Judge Hathway threatens witnesses, others with arrest

Cops high-five each other near witness room with no reprimand

Michael Brown rebellion in Ferguson, MO re-ignites in meantime

By Diane Bukowski

Sept. 24, 2014

One of Mertilla Jones' favorite photos of her granddaughter Aiyana, from her Facebook page.
One of Mertilla Jones’ favorite photos of her granddaughter Aiyana, from her Facebook page.

DETROIT —  Mertilla Maria Sanders Jones, who saw Detroit police officer Joseph Weekley kill her seven-year-old granddaughter Aiyana Stanley-Jones directly in front of her May 16, 2010, broke down uncontrollably on the stand today, during Weekley’s re-trial on charges of involuntary manslaughter and reckless use of a firearm.

 

Assistant Wayne County Prosecutor Robert Moran had just asked her whether Weekley put his MP5 submachine gun to Aiyana’s head and pulled the trigger, in the course of a militarized police raid on the family’s home.

“That’s what I felt I saw,” Ms. Jones responded. “Then more cops came rushing in and I asked someone to help my granddaughter. Oh my God, oh Jesus, why did he do that?”

Looking directly at Weekley as she passed by him while being escorted off the stand, she continued, “Why did you do it? Please tell me why you came in my house. You killed Aiyana. You know I never touched you. You’re wrong. She was my baby. I told you all, I get no sleep, I keep having flashbacks. I’m sick. I wouldn’t wish that on nobody. You’re the people who are supposed to protect and serve.”

Defense attorney Steve Fishman angrily confronts Aiyana's aunt LaKrystal Sanders during her testimony as Joseph Weekley watches.
Defense attorney Steve Fishman angrily confronts Aiyana’s aunt LaKrystal Sanders during her testimony as Joseph Weekley watches.

Weekley and his attorney Steve Fishman watched without evident emotion, except for what appeared to be a darker track down Weekley’s face from his left eye.

 During Weekley’s first trial, Fishman accused Jones of trying to grab Weekley’s gun and lying that Weekley deliberately shot Aiyana, among other matters. Without naming Jones in his opening statement this time, he scathingly called her a liar numerous times, asking the jury outright if they could believe Weekley would have killed a child deliberately. He said two of her sons were in prison and otherwise assassinated her character.

The prosecution did not object to those statements.

Wayne County Medical Examiner Carl Schmidt testified last week, however, that a gunshot wound resulting from direct contact with the victim’s head would leave no stippling. The lack of stippling in Aiyana’s case led some to contend that Weekley was a distance away. However, other officers on the raid team earlier corroborated Ms. Jones testimony today, that the gunshot went off within seconds of Weekley’s entry into the house, after a stun grenade had landed on the couch where the little girl and her grandmother were sleeping.

A&E First 48 video of raid on Jones home

Many of Aiyana’s relatives in the courtroom also began weeping with Ms. Jones. They left after she was escorted into the witness room, where she could still be heard loudly crying WHY? The jury was also escorted into the jury room, but first Judge Hathaway instructed them not to try the case based on emotions, but facts and evidence. She ended the hearing for that day. No trial was scheduled for Sept. 24 and 25.

In the hallway, Ms. Jones’ daughter LaKrystal Sanders and Aiyana’s mother Dominika Stanley-Jones asked to talk to her to calm her down, and court security officers brought Ms. Jones out. She slid to the floor while Dominika and LaKrystal embraced her and began weeping again themselves. Several other family members grouped around them were crying, including a young man who was sobbing and hyperventilating. Eventually Ms. Jones and her family left the building with court security to get some air.

Mertilla Jones holds grandchildren after second police raid on their new address in June, 2012.
Mertilla Jones holds grandchildren after second police raid on their new address in June, 2012.

Prior to Ms. Jones’ testimony, while she was not in the courtroom, Hathaway said, “I want everyone to know—and it is unfortunately the case that some of the people are still in the hallway—that I am convinced there is no one in this courtroom who does not feel bad about this situation. I’m not patient about making the situation worse. To the witnesses and everyone else, lawyers, the audience, the media, we have an excellent process for allowing the jury to decide the case. Keep all these things in mind. I would hate to order arrests of witnesses, visitors and citizens, but I will not hesitate to do so.”

Weeping, Sanders had told defense attorney Fishman after a prolonged time on the stand, “You keep asking the same questions. That man killed my niece and she’s gone.” Hostile, Fishman accused her of hating all police, and read a statement she had given earlier to that effect.  . Moran asked her whether that statement was made after her niece was killed, which she confirmed. She was led out to the witness room for a break still crying.

Directly afterwards, a group of police officers standing next to the witness room started talking loudly and high-fiving each other within earshot of the witness room, where Ms. Jones and other witnesses still waited to take the stand. They were not that court’s officers but evidently had come armed to court to support Weekley. Although the jury did not observe their behavior, many of Aiyana’s relatives did.

Judge Cynthia Gray Hathaway
Judge Cynthia Gray Hathaway

When Sanders returned to the stand, before the jury was recalled, Hathaway admonished her, “You’re not respecting others or yourself.”

 After standing and being recognized to speak, this reporter asked Hathaway, “Judge, would you please include police officers in your warning because they were just out here high-fiving each other?”

Hathaway at first denied the incident occurred, but then said, “I will take your comments into consideration, and let officers know that we have a certain way of addressing matters in this courtroom, and that is strictly professional.”

Hathaway is currently married to a Wayne County Deputy Sheriff.

Ms. Jones was called back upstairs after she left the building, to confer with Moran. She reported that Moran told her he did not want a mistrial as happened previously. She also reported that Moran said ALL the jurors in the first case wanted to convict Weekley of involuntary manslaughter.

VOD reported at that time that Hathaway called a mistrial after only three days of deliberations as follows:

 “On the morning of June 18, loud shouting was heard as the Weekley jury, composed of 11 whites and one Black, continued a third day of deliberations in their room.

“Later, they sent three notes to Hathaway. The first said they were “stuck,” the second asked if they could find Weekley guilty of only some of the elements of involuntary manslaughter, and the final note, sent only an hour later, said they could not reach a verdict. They had been told they could only consider the second charge of reckless discharge of a firearm resulting in death if they found Weekley guilty of the first charge, according to a report from Detroit’s Channel 7 News.

“Hathaway told them they had to find Weekley guilty of all elements, and asked them to continue deliberating after the first two notes. After the third note, she declared a mistrial and thanked the jury profusely for their service.”

Hathaway’s role in the Weekley trial has been open for question for some time.

The First 48's Allison Howard at defense table with Joseph Weekley several years ago.
The First 48’s Allison Howard at defense table with Joseph Weekley several years ago.

She repeatedly delayed his trial, with the agreement of both prosecution and defense, saying she was waiting for “a related matter,” the trial of Aiyana’s father Charles Jones and Chauncey Owens in the death of JeRean Blake two days before Aiyana was killed, to occur first.

 The only legally related matter, however, was the trial of Weekley’s co-defendant Allison Howard, a photographer for the “First 48” camera crew that shadowed  Detroit homicide officers and the SRT team as it investigated Blake’s killing and raided the Jones home. Howard, who took the tape of the raid to a party afterward and then lied about it, was given probation by Hathaway.

The Jones-Owens trial was delayed because Wayne County Circuit Court Judge Richard Skutt ruled that jail-house snitch Jay Schlenkerman would not be allowed to testify against Jones. His ruling was appealed all the way to the Michigan Supreme Court, which took months.

Jail-house "snitch" Jay Schlenkerman in latest MDOC photograph. He is currently serving at least 6 years after multiple counts of DUI and domestic abuse,
Jail-house “snitch” Jay Schlenkerman in latest MDOC photograph. He is currently serving at least 6 years after multiple counts of DUI and domestic abuse,

 

Moran also prosecuted Jones and Owens, in what many considered a blatant conflict of interest. An anonymous source with friends in the prosecutor’s office told VOD that many others there are upset with the way the Jones family is being treated in this matter.

Jones and Owens were finally tried earlier this year, resulting in a guilty verdict of second-degree murder for Jones and an innocent verdict on gun charges, although he was accused of murder solely on the contention that he aided and abetted Owens by giving him the gun to kill Blake. Owens was found guilty of first-degree murder. Both verdicts are being appealed.

Ironically, the Jones split verdict, accepted by Judge Skutt, was similar to the split verdict during Weekley’s first trial, which Judge Hathaway did not accept.

Hathaway did deny the defense’s request for another delay in Weekley’s trial this time. Fishman contended that the police killing of Michael Brown in Ferguson, MO (date) and repeated news stories on the militarization of police in the U.S. would prejudice the jury.

 The rebellion which followed Brown’s brutal execution by officer Darren Wilson re-ignited over the past two days after a memorial to Brown was found burned down, and the Ferguson City Council delayed a decision on whether to establish a civilian police review board. Protesters and Brown’s parents said an apology by Ferguson’s mayor, scripted by a public relations firm, was insulting, and that they wanted Wilson arrested.

Prior to Sanders’ and Jones’ testimony, Jones’ son Vincent Ellis took the stand. He was staying at Jones’ home in a bedroom to one side of the living room. Fishman repeatedly asked him whether police officers who raided the home asked him “Where are the guns?” or “Where is the gun?”

Ellis said he had never had a gun at that address although he said a Facebook photo showing him with one was taken at another location.

Police found no guns or drugs found in the Jones home during the raid according to earlier testimony. Many of the family’s members have however been continually harassed and arrested by Detroit police since Weekley killed Aiyana.

It is a pattern common to the Department, which has also arrested children and relatives of other police brutality victims. They have included Arnetta Grable, who lost her son Lamar Grable to three-time killer cop Eugene Brown, and Cornell Squires, whose son was framed up on a carjacking charge by cop William Melendez, one of the chief defendants in a federal trial of 18 southwest Detroit police officers for framing up, beating and harassing witnesses.

Jones family members join other families from across the country whose loved ones were killed by police,

Jones family members join other families from across the country whose loved ones were killed by police. Arnetta Grable, who hosted the meeting, is at right.

Above: USA Today video on recent police killings across the U.S.

Recent related stories:

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2014/09/24/did-police-tamper-with-key-evidence-in-killing-of-aiyana-jones-7-to-back-up-killer-cop-weekley/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2014/09/18/stunning-revelation-in-cop-killing-of-aiyana-jones-7-direct-contact-gunshot-could-have-killed-her/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2012/01/22/aiyana%e2%80%99s-family-joins-other-police-victims-at-national-meeting-in-metro-detroit/

http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2014/09/24/break-in-reported-protesters-gather-in-ferguson/16138611/

http://www.cbsnews.com/news/tensions-mount-in-ferguson-again-after-michael-brown-memorial-burned/


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DID POLICE TAMPER WITH KEY EVIDENCE IN KILLING OF AIYANA JONES, 7, TO BACK UP KILLER COP WEEKLEY?


Video above by Silo Sh3llz “RIP Aiyana Jones”

NOTE: VOD WILL HAVE STORY UP LATER TODAY ON EVENTS IN THE COURTROOM SEPT. 24.

Mertilla Jones (l) weeps in agony at candlelight vigil for Aiyana shortly after her death; Aiyana's mother Dominika and father Charles are at right.
Mertilla Jones (l) weeps in agony at candlelight vigil for Aiyana shortly after her death; Aiyana’s mother Dominika and father Charles are at right.

Aiyana’s grandmother Mertilla Jones broke down weeping uncontrollably on the stand Sept 24 and repeatedly asked Weekley WHY he had killed her granddaughter and then lied about her trying to get his gun.

 She was escorted from the courtroom, and continued directly accusing him as she passed. Numerous relatives seated in the court also began weeping uncontrollably, including a young man who was sobbing and hyperventilating in the hallway outside. After Aiyana’s mother and aunt asked to speak to her to calm her down, Ms. Jones came into the hallway and slid to the floor while Dominika Jones and LaKrystal Sanders consoled her, crying as well. At least six family members in the hallway surrounded her, some weeping as well, for a lengthy time before court officers escorted them outside so Ms. Jones could get some fresh air. Judge Cynthia Gray Hathaway, who earlier threatened witnesses with arrest after LaKrystal Sanders similarly broke down prior to Mertilla Jones’ testimony, halted the trial for the rest of the week.

SRT officer says he found shell casing from fatal bullet by front doorway

Evidence techs photographed it in middle of room two hours later

Firearms expert: MP-5 gun could not have gone off accidentally

Police testimony replete with military jargon

 September 23, 2014

 By Diane Bukowski

Charles and Dominika Jones (l), parents of Aiyana Jones (r) Photo: Facebook
Charles and Dominika Jones (l), parents of Aiyana Jones (r)
Photo: Facebook

DETROIT – Police testimony in the trial of Officer Joseph Weekley this week for killing Aiyana Jones exposed a glaring contradiction regarding the spent casing from the bullet that killed the 7-year-old child during the military-style assault on her home May 15, 2010.

Sgt. Brian Bowens, part of the “Special Response Team” involved, testified Sept. 22 that he saw the casing directly inside the front doorway when he entered just after two officers rushed the little girl out of the house to St. John’s Hospital. She had been shot “within seconds” after the team broke into her home in the middle of the night according to other testimony.

“It [the casing] was on the floor between the couch [where Aiyana was shot] and the door extending out,” Bowens said. “It was very tight confines. As soon as you walked in, there was a couch directly to your left and another to your right. There was blood on the couch to the left of the door.”

Asst. Prosecutor Mark Hindelang displayed Bowen’s diagram of the scene to the jury, with the casing inside the front doorway circled in red, and Bowens’ initials next to it.

Police evidence photo of couch on which Aiyana Jones was shot by Police officer Joseph Weekley.
Police evidence photo of couch on which Aiyana Jones was shot by Police officer Joseph Weekley.

Bowens said when he entered the room, four people including murder suspect Chauncey Owens were sitting on the bloody couch where Aiyana had been shot, under police guard. Aiyana’s mother Dominika Stanley-Jones earlier testified that police had ordered herself, Aiyana’s father and grandmother, and Owens to sit there. Bowens said the only people moving about were police officers.

 Owens had just come down from the upper flat where he lived, under police guard. Thus, Owens’ entrance into the lower flat moments after the shooting apparently had not dislocated the casing.

However, a police evidence technician who processed the scene about two hours after the shooting testified today that he found both the spent casing and bullet in front of the couch on its far side near where Aiyana’s grandmother, Mertilla Jones, had been sleeping.

Artist depiction of Aiyana's shooting, presented by family attorney Geoffrey Fieger shortly after her death and a second autopsy which showed gunshot wound at top of forehead, exiting through neck.
Artist depiction of Aiyana’s shooting, presented by family attorney Geoffrey Fieger shortly after her death and a second autopsy which showed gunshot wound at top of forehead, exiting through neck.

The prosecution showed an evidence technician’s photograph of the bullet and casing with two yellow crime scene markers next to them at that location.

Weekley’s defense attorney Steve Fishman contended in his opening statement and during cross-examinations of several witnesses that Weekley’s gun went off because an individual [Aiyana's paternal grandmother Mertilla Jones] “interfered” with Weekley, perhaps grabbing his gun. Mertilla Jones had been sleeping with Aiyana on the front couch, on its left-hand side near where the casing was shown in the evidence technician photograph.

Did officers move the bullet casing to that location before the evidence technicians arrived on the scene, to back up Weekley’s story? Many supporters of the family have contended that not only Weekley, but the SRT, and the whole chain of command over them, should have been charged with murder in Aiyana’s death. Only Weekley faces a charge of “involuntary manslaughter.”

Fieger press conference after raid: Mertilla Jones and aunt LaKrystal Sanders . AP photo by Carlos Osorio
Fieger press conference after raid: Mertilla Jones and aunt LaKrystal Sanders . AP photo by Carlos Osorio

Jones is possibly expected to testify Sept. 24, in the face of Fishman’s blistering opening statement during which he repeatedly called her a “liar” for saying Weekley deliberately “murdered” Aiyana, and added that two of her sons are in prison. Asst. Prosecutors Moran and Hindelang offered no objection during his statement.

 “I figured what all of them came to do was murder,” Jones testified during Weekley’s first trial. “From the way they came in, and they knew there were children in the house, they came to kill, and they just killed a 7-year-old. I saw the officer come in, put the gun to Aiyana’s head, and just shoot. . . . The gun was placed right there at Aiyana’s head, and they pulled the trigger. I saw the light leave out of her eyes, and blood gushed out of her mouth. I knew she was dead.”

Denessa, April and Martin Westbrook described similar circumstances in a 2007 lawsuit they filed against Weekley and other SRT members in federal court.

“Defendants entered the home and did not knock or announce their presence,” their lawsuit said. “Immediately upon barging into the home, Defendants had their guns blazing and they began shooting. There were children and an infant present in the home. Without any justifiable reason whatsoever, Defendants shot Plaintiffs’ two dogs, while a child was in the same room as the dog. Defendants wrongfully detained Plaintiffs for nearly an hour. Defendants had their guns pointed at Plaintiffs and the child and infant.”

Brent Sojea, weapons expert, demonstrates MP5 semi-automatic machine gun which killed Aiyana during Weekley's earlier trial. He testified Sept. 23 again that the gun could not have fired accidentally.
Brent Sojea, weapons expert, demonstrates MP5 semi-automatic machine gun which killed Aiyana during Weekley’s earlier trial. He testified Sept. 23 again that the gun could not have fired accidentally.

The Westbrook lawsuit for “unconstitutional entry, search, detention and destruction of property” was settled for $27,000 according to Detroit City Council records.

Regarding Fishman’s contention that Weekley did not deliberately fire his gun, firearms and tool markings expert Brent Sojea testified today that was not possible, while other SRT officers testified that they are trained to keep their fingers away from a gun’s trigger even during “firearms retention” if someone tries to seize their weapon.

Sojea confirmed that Weekley’s gun fired the bullet and casing that killed Aiyana, the only ammunition in the room.

Holding Weekley’s Heckler and Koch MP5 submachine gun, Sojea said it could be fired as a semi-automatic or in automatic mode, during which it would fire 800 rounds a minute. He said he tested the gun in numerous ways to see if it could fire without pressing the trigger.

“I tested it by dropping it and banging it on its side, muzzle and butt from different heights onto a rubber mat,” Sojea said. “I used a six-plane safety test, in which I banged on it with a mallet on all sides. It would not fire.”

Sojea said tests showed that the gun required eight to nine pounds of pressure to pull the trigger.

Still from A&E video of SRT team breaking into Jones home May 16, 2010.

Still from A&E video of SRT team breaking into Jones home May 16, 2010.

The prosecution also showed evidence technician photographs of the scene and the A&E “First 48″ film of the actual raid, from a distance. Another video, likely by police, which showed the raid closer up, has not been introduced by the prosecution.

Several photographs showed brightly colored children’s toys on both sides of the two-family flat’s entrance steps, and on the porch near the entrance to the Jones’ family’s door. But all SRT officers who testified said they saw no evidence of the presence of children, including toys, during the raid. One officer testified all he saw during daytime surveillance was “a mess of people.”

Charles Jones is interviewed by Channel 2 reporter Amy Lange the morning of his daughter's death on family's porch. Toys shown are also in evidence tech photos of the scene directly after the raid.
Charles Jones is interviewed by Channel 2 reporter Amy Lange the morning of his daughter’s death on family’s porch. Toys shown are also in evidence tech photos of the scene directly after the raid.

Dominika and Charles Jones’ five children, including Aiyana and several toddlers, were staying at the home, rented by Mertilla Jones, during the period of surveillance.

 Surveillance officers also testified that they radioed a “take-down” crew when one saw Chauncey Owens exiting the downstairs flat and walking up Lillibridge eastbound to E. Canfield. That crew was supposed to apprehend Owens if he was seen outside the house, but surveillance officers claimed the take-down crew did not have enough time to get to him before he returned.

VOD walked the distance from the Lillibridge location to E. Canfield and back, which took approximately four minutes. The take-down crews were waiting only a short distance away from the scene. Many have said police were waiting to set up a dramatic night-time raid for the benefit of crews from A&E’s “First 48″ series. Weekley and other officers from the SRT team are featured as stars on A&E’s website for “Detroit SWAT,” the predecessor to “The First 48.”

Particularly striking during testimony by several SRT officers yesterday and today was their use of military terms during their descriptions of events.

Officer Joseph Weekley shown as star "Brain" on Detroit SWAT website.
Officer Joseph Weekley shown as star “Brain” on Detroit SWAT website.

They referred to the black uniforms worn by SRT members as “BDU’s” or battle dress uniforms, to the planned raid as a “mission,” and to the Jones home as a “target.” One SRT officer said he was familiar with the tactics because he had served nine years in the U.S. military.

 The “First 48” film crew tailing the SRT team during the raid was referred to as “embedded,” a term first coined to describe media crews operating with U.S. forces during various wars in Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya.

According to earlier published reports on the three days of jury selection, a large number of potential jurors were screened out after Judge Cynthia Gray Hathaway, the prosecution and defense read over questionnaires they had filled out. The potential jurors were asked if they had heard about the police killing of Michael Brown in Ferguson, MO, and whether they had read articles about the increasing militarization of U.S. police forces.

The second day of jury selection was dominated largely by the same questions asked personally during voir dire. By the third day, enough jurors had been screened out that “voir dire” focused largely on regular questions regarding their backgrounds and willingness to be fair.

Rise of the Warrior CopThe sitting jury is now comprised of three Black women, two Black men, one woman who appears to be from India, one woman who appears to be Arab, and seven white individuals. The jury in Weekley’s original trial had only one Black member.

One attorney indirectly associated with the case, however, told VOD, “Moran threw the first trial, and it is a conflict of interest for him to prosecute both Weekley and Aiyana’s father Charles Jones, along with Chauncey Owens, for the killing of Jerean Blake.”

Blake was shot to death May 14, 2010, a crime for which both Jones and Owens were convicted, but they are appealing their cases.

On Sept. 18, Wayne County Circuit Court Judge Richard Skutt denied Jones’ motion for either a directed verdict or a new trial, based on his jury’s contradictory verdict finding him guilty of second-degree murder while acquitting him of the gun charges that were the base for the murder charge. His attorneys said they plan to appeal. (VOD story to come on this.)

Previous VOD story on this trial:

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2014/09/18/stunning-revelation-in-cop-killing-of-aiyana-jones-7-direct-contact-gunshot-could-have-killed-her/


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EIGHT CIVILIANS, INCLUDING THREE KIDS, KILLED IN US-LED STRIKES ON SYRIA – MONITOR

From: RT

September 23, 2014 08:30

Eight civilians, three of them children, have been killed in the US-led air strikes on Al-Qaeda Nusra front positions, Reuters reported, citing the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

BEIRUT (Reuters) – Air strikes by U.S.-led coalition forces in Syria killed 30 fighters from al Qaeda-linked Nusra Front and eight civilians including children, a group monitoring the war said on Tuesday.

The strikes targeted a residential building in Aleppo province used by Nusra Front, said Rami Abdulrahman, who runs the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

The United States said earlier on Tuesday its forces had carried out eight strikes against al Qaeda-affiliated militants west of Aleppo.

(Reporting by Tom Perry; Editing by Andrew Heavens)

U.S. alleges these cities in Syria house ISIS rebels, who have been funded by the CIA from the start.

U.S. alleges these cities in Syria and Iraq house ISIS rebels, who have been funded by the CIA from the start.

Washington carried out a series of airstrikes on the city of Raqqa in the early hours of Tuesday. At least 30 militants died in the strikes, which were carried out on IS positions in Syria. Washington informed Damascus about the operation, according to a representative of Syrian Foreign Ministry.

“There is an exodus out of Raqqa as we speak. It started in the early hours of the day after the strikes. People are fleeing towards the countryside,” one local resident told Reuters.

The strikes targeted residential buildings in Aleppo allegedly used by Al-Nusra Front, according to Rami Abdulrahman, who runs the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

Store in Syria destroyed by drone in wave of attacks.
Store in Syria destroyed by drone in wave of attacks.

The US-led coalition’s targets also included training camps, headquarters and weapon supplies in northern and eastern Syria, with many IS locations “destroyed or damaged” around the cities of Raqqa, Deir al-Zor, Hasakah and the border town of Albu Kamal, Reuters reported.

 In particular, “[Islamic State] fighters, training compounds, headquarters and command and control facilities, storage facilities, a finance center, supply trucks and armed vehicles” were hit.

Raqqa (Al-Raqqa) is a city with a population of over 200,000 people, and is strategically located just 40km east of the largest Syrian dam. Raqqa is believed to be the IS headquarters.

Video posted to a social media website purports to show civil defence workers successfully rescuing a baby from under rubble in Aleppo and clashes involving Islamic Front fighters.2014-09-22 12:31 PM ESTLast Updated: 2014-09-22 01:28 PM EST

– See more at: http://www.ntd.tv/en/news/world/middle-east-/-africa/20140922/222599-rescuers-pull-baby-from-rubble-in-syria39s-aleppo.html#sthash.K1q9UDis.dpuf


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LAMAR GRABLE: ALIVE IN OUR HEARTS FOREVER

Lamar memorial


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OBAMA CONTINUES ON PATH OF ENDLESS WARS? – THE FINAL CALL

Final call logoBy Askia Muhammad -Senior Editor

Sep 17, 2014

Related news: ISIS: Made in the U.S.A.?

U.S. Air Force strike

U.S. Air Force strike

WASHINGTON (FinalCall.com) – In response to rapidly changing events on the ground in Iraq and Syria, President Obama has authorized U.S. airstrikes for the first time in Syria and their expansion in Iraq against the militant group Islamic State.

In a prime-time address, Obama vowed to hunt down Islamic State militants wherever they are. “We will hunt down terrorists who threaten our country, wherever they are,” Mr. Obama said in a live prime-time address from the White House Sept. 10. “That means I will not hesitate to take action against ISIL in Syria, as well as Iraq. This is a core principle of my presidency: If you threaten America, you will find no safe haven.”

“I want the American people to understand how this effort will be different from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan,” Mr. Obama continued. “It will not involve American combat troops fighting on foreign soil. This counterterrorism campaign will be waged through a steady, relentless effort to take out ISIL wherever they exist, using our air power and our support for partners’ forces on the ground.”

Pres. Barack Obama and Vice-President Joe Biden (r) meet with National Security Council Sept. 10, 2014.

Pres. Barack Obama and Vice-President Joe Biden (r) meet with National Security Council Sept. 10, 2014.

But in a clever exercise of rhetorical dexterity, Mr. Obama also announced he is sending 475 more U.S. military troops to Iraq, bringing the total to 1,600, while insisting the new operation does not constitute a new “war” in Iraq and Syria.

Reactions were predictable and drawn mostly along party lines. Conservative Republicans insisted the president had not gone far enough. Anti-war activists called the new policy wrongheaded.

Dennis Kucinich
Dennis Kucinich

“The President does not have power under the Constitution to unilaterally authorize a military attack in a situation that does not involve stopping an actual or imminent threat to the nation.”

This is a direct quote from an interview with then-Senator Obama in the Boston Globe on December 20, 2007, former Congress member Dennis Kucinich revealed in a Facebook status update concerning the President’s apparent flip-flop.

“We agree with the president that there is no military solution to the problems posed by ISIS,” Kevin Martin, executive director of Peace Action said in a statement immediately after the address. “And yet his proposed strategy relies far too heavily on the use of military force. It’s time to stop the bombing and escalation and use the other tools of U.S. foreign policy—working with allies in cutting off weapons, oil and funding streams for starters—which will be much more active in dealing with ISIS.”

“History shows that U.S. arms tends to fall into the wrong hands like in Afghanistan and now ISIS. More weapons in the Mideast is not the solution and is more like pouring fuel on a fire,” added Paul Kawika Martin, political director of Peace Action. Founded in 1957 when it was called SANE/FREEZE, Peace Action is the nation’s oldest and largest disarmament organization with more than 100,000 paid members in 100 chapters in 36 states.

Protesters outside White House earlier this month.
Protesters outside White House earlier this month.

Immediately following the President’s address, on a trip to Saudi Arabia—the chief early funding source for ISIS according to many accounts—Secretary of State John Kerry announced the formation of a new “coalition of the willing,” so-to-speak.

 He said a coalition of 10 Arab countries—Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon and six Gulf states, including Saudi Arabia and Qatar—agreed to help the United States fight the Sunni militants that have seized swaths of Iraq and Syria. The commitment came after foreign ministers from the countries met with Secretary of State John Kerry in Saudi Arabia.

“Arab nations play a critical role in that coalition,” Secretary Kerry said, “the leading role, really, across all lines of effort: military support, humanitarian aid, our work to stop the flow of illegal funds and foreign fighters, which ISIL requires in order to thrive, and certainly the effort to repudiate once and for all the dangerous, the offensive, the insulting distortion of Islam that ISIL propaganda attempts to spread throughout the region and the world.”

Protest against war on Syria in Washington, D.C.
Protest against war on Syria in Washington, D.C.

In the one year since the Obama administration floated the idea, and then abandoned it, to engage in military strikes against Syria, U.S. policymakers and their allies in the corporate-owned media, have managed to “flip the script” so that today a majority of the U.S. public favors deeper U.S. intervention in the crisis created by the invasion, occupation, and destabilization of Iraq over the past 11 years.

“I think President Obama has been hounded by the media, by the war hawks in Congress, mostly from the Republican side but also from the Democrats,” Medea Benjamin, co-founder of CODEPINK and author of “Drone Warfare: Killing by Remote Control” told Pacifica Radio’s “Democracy Now!”

The U.S. is headed along “this insane (course) not only bombing in Iraq, but also talking about going into Syria, at a time when just a couple of months ago the American people had made it very clear that we were very tired of war,” Ms. Benjamin continued.

Phyllis Bennis
Phyllis Bennis

“In fact, when (President) Obama tried to do this a year ago, the American people rose up and demanded that Congress take a vote and that Congress say no, and Obama backed out. So, I think the support of the American people is very skin deep, and that if we, as a peace-loving people, do our job right now in getting out there and making some noise, we can actually have an impact in stopping the U.S. from getting into Syria and, I think, in stopping the U.S. from this insane, never-ending war.”

 The never-ending nature of such military adventures is compounded by their utter futility, according to Phyllis Bennis, director of the Project for a New Internationalism at the Institute for Policy Studies. “This was a speech set in a vortex of solutions,” Ms. Bennis told The Final Call. “Despite what President Obama has said, we all know there is no military solution.

“Calling it something other than a war doesn’t change the fact that it is a war, and we know that wars don’t work to stamp out terrorism. In fact it will make it worse, partly because it’s going to encourage more Iraqi Sunnis to believe that the U. S. is acting as the air force for the Shia and the Kurds against them—against the Sunnis,” Ms. Bennis continued.

Islamic State fighters
Islamic State fighters

“And they are therefore going to look to ISIS as their protector, not because they’re right, not because they agree with them, but rather because Iraq’s Shia dominated government has never done right by them.

 “That’s the lesson of Afghanistan in the 1980s. You can’t create a viable military that can stand up to a powerful militia that has a lot of support, that is fighting with U.S. provided weapons.” President Obama would have done better had he said, “I tell you tonight, my fellow Americans, that the intelligence agencies have confirmed ISIS does not provide a threat to the United States. Period. Stop,” Ms. Bennis said.

Others agree that there are other important issues which should command more national attention. “ISIS is not the only problem facing America,” Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) said in a statement. “The Republicans cannot continue to ignore youth unemployment at 20 percent, the starvation federal minimum wage of $7.25, the unaffordable cost of college education, the planetary crisis of global warming, and the massive wealth and income inequality which exists in our country.”

Diplomats from around the world met in Paris, France September 15 pledging to support the fight against the Islamic State. Leaders from more than 20 nations met with Sec. Kerry for high-level discussions. The reported beheading of British aid worker David Haines—the third in recent weeks—has added increased urgency to the formation of this supposed “broad-based coalition” that aims to neutralize the threat.

A demonstrator holds up a sign portraying French President Francois Hollande wearing donkey ears with a school grade of Zero and which reads, "You, President Resign." Photo: Reuters
A demonstrator holds up a sign portraying French President Francois Hollande wearing donkey ears with a school grade of Zero and which reads, “You, President Resign.” Photo: Reuters

French president Francois Hollande, who hosted the leaders, is very unpopular at present. A recent poll showed nearly 62 percent of voters want him to resign. In Baghdad, Iraq on September 12 during a one-day visit, Pres. Hollande announced that France would provide even more support in the fight against ISIS. It is unclear right now how much his outspokenness and support for military action will help him at home. His term is up in 2017.

 According to The Guardian, the conference participants were Bahrain, Belgium, Canada, China, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Egypt, France, Germany, Iraq, Italy, Japan, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, the Netherlands, Norway, Oman, Qatar, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Spain, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, United States of America, Arab League, European Union and theUnited Nations.

“They all expressed their commitment to the unity, territorial integrity, and sovereignty of Iraq. They welcomed the formation of a new government under the authority of the Prime Minister, Mr. Haïdar al-Abadi, and offered him their full support to strengthen the rule of law, implement a policy of inclusiveness, and ensure that all components are fairly represented within the federal institutions and all citizens are treated equally,” said a statement released after the Sept. 15 talks.

CNN VIDEO RE: U.S. ROLE IN IRAQ, SYRIA, GAZA, LIBYA ONGOING WARS


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LA YOUTH JUSTICE ‘DON’T SHOOT TO KILL’ REPORT: 589 KILLED BY LA COPS SINCE 2000, INCLUDING 9-MO. OLD BABY

Youth Justice LA graphic

LA cops have killed a person every week

Detroit Police Chief James  “CCW” Craig served with LAPD for 28 years

Federal oversight has not improved either LAPD or Detroit police

Detroit police chief James Craig (l) was appointed by Detroit EM Kevyn Orr (r).
Detroit police chief James Craig (l) was appointed by Detroit EM Kevyn Orr (r).

(VOD: Detroit Police Chief James “Get your CCW” Craig spent 28 years with the LAPD. He served on an internal panel that whitewashed the infamous Ramparts scandal. The US DOJ then put the department under its oversight. The LA Youth report shows that this action, including years where AG Eric Holder, appointee of Pres. Barack Obama has been in office, has not made one iota of difference, just as the USDOJ consent decree has not affected police conduct here in Detroit.)

LA YOUTH JUSTICE COALITION: This report documents the deaths of 589 people who lived in Los Angeles County and were killed by law enforcement between January 1, 2000 and August 31, 2014.

Suzie Pena, killed by LAPD in 2005 while James Craig was still on force.
Suzie Pena, killed by LAPD in 2005 while James Craig was still on force.

In addition, the report documents all cases – with name, age, race, location and where possible incident details – from January 1, 2007 – August 31, 2014 in order to remember each individual; to investigate who is impacted by race, age, gender and community (location of the shooting); and to learn from their experiences in an attempt to save lives in the future.

Based on these specific case histories, the report looks for trends or commonalities among incidents and raises concerns regarding suspicious and troubling patterns.

Finally, the report makes some comparisons between LA and other jurisdictions, and begins to evaluate media’s coverage of officer-involved homicides.

LA Youth for Justice

LA Youth for Justice

Sign Kamala Harris’ Change.Org petition at https://www.change.org/p/kamala-harris-appoint-a-special-prosecutor-to-investigate-and-prosecute-law-enforcement-use-of-force

Justice for California youth

 


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MICHIGAN DEMOCRATIC PARTY’S PLANTATION POLITICS COULD COST US SENATE

Top: Rick Snyder (R), Mark Schauer (D) running for governor; bottom: Gary Peters (D) Terri Lynn Land (R) running for U.S. Senate

Top: Rick Snyder (R), Mark Schauer (D) running for governor; bottom: Gary Peters (D) Terri Lynn Land (R) running for U.S. Senate

September 19, 2014 

By Tim Moore

tim@detiptv.com   

What will Dems for the Black population of Michigan?

What will Dems for the Black population of Michigan?

In this US Senate and Michigan Governor race, Dems can’t win without the Black vote but, do they deserve it?

If there was ever a time that the Michigan Democratic Party needed the Black vote, it is this race to Replace Snyder as governor and the election for Levin’s seat in the US Senate.

Recent polls showed that in the Governor’s race, Mark Schauer has a slight lead and Terry Land is within striking distance of Gary Peters in the US Senate race.

In the past, the Michigan Democratic Party could always count on the usual cast of loyal, undemanding and subservient African American voters. You know, the ministers, the Black masses, labor leaders and political operatives who are happy for a photo op with these office seekers, as if standing next to them conferred some special status for them.

Michigan courts have stalled application of 2012 U.S. Supreme Court decision outlawing juvenile life without parole.
Michigan courts have stalled application of 2012 U.S. Supreme Court decision outlawing juvenile life without parole.

As part of the election season ritual, the Democratic candidates have to make their required pilgrimage to the Black churches in Detroit and other urban areas around the state. These appearances are imperative because this is pretty much all they are required to do.

 They don’t have to make promises to push affirmative action, reduce the life sentences of 12 year old Black boys, help Detroit keep its Water Department or throw some crumbs to Black businesses. They are sticking to the script: show up, try to keep up with the rhythm of the choir and smile a lot.

This election year seems to be a little different. More flanks of the party are saying that this is not enough. The number of articles questioning why Blacks continue to support the Dems for nothing in return has increased.

The Black statewide media group (of which this entity is a part of) is threatening to tell their followers to sit this one out. And, a metro Detroit canvasser with hundreds of workers and a huge following through Michigan said he would do the same.

Donna Brazile, national vice-chair of the Democratic Party.
Donna Brazile, national vice-chair of the Democratic Party.

The latter two groups are irritated because Donna Brazile said this past summer that the Democratic Party spends about 2% of its money with Black media, consultants and canvassers. This is all while they spend millions on an increasingly ineffective cable TV ad campaign.

In the past, the voice for these various Black constituents came from the Mayor of Detroit. However, in their infinite wisdom, Detroiters elected “A Great White Hope” Mike Duggan. Talk about confused. Detroit has more people than the next 9 largest cities in the state. They contribute a huge share of sales, income, lottery, not to mention traffic fees and taxes that the state could not function without. Yet, thanks to a biased media, they have accepted the label of “liability to the state”. Or the good old “White man’s burden” crap.

Tim Moore speaking at City Council meeting in 2013.
Tim Moore speaking at City Council meeting in 2013.

So the question is, do African American in Michigan make demands for their vote that was paid for with the blood , sweat and tears of their ancestors or do they continue to accept a pat on the head instead?

 Tim Moore is a well-known Detroit-based media entrepreneur, journalist, and commemtator who coordinates www.uintv.net, a national network of internet TV stations dealing with issues affecting the Black community in particular. Links to UINTV’s websites are at the beginning of the story. His family founded Simon’s Pizza, the last Black-owned business in Cobo Hall before its takeover by a regional authority.

Related story:

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2014/04/11/detroit-based-internet-tv-subscription-service-launches-crowd-funding-campaign/

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day march in Detroit, 2011.

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day march in Detroit, 2011.


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STUNNING REVELATION IN COP KILLING OF AIYANA JONES, 7: DIRECT CONTACT GUNSHOT COULD HAVE KILLED HER

Joseph Weekley shown as star on previous series, Detroit SWAT. He is actually dimunitive in height, appearing to be under five feet tall.

Joseph Weekley shown as star on previous series, Detroit SWAT. He is actually dimunitive in height, appearing to be under five feet tall.

Did Weekley deliberately kill child as grandmother testified earlier?

Weekley defense calls grandmother “liar” because lack of stippling indicated Weekley did not shoot at close range

Medical examiner says direct contact gunshot wounds result in no stippling

Post conviction hearing on Aiyana’s father Charles Jones Sept. 19

By Diane Bukowski

September 18, 2014

Aiyana Stanley-Jones and mother Dominika Stanley-Jones. Her mother is shown collapsing after a mistrial was declared in Joseph Weekley's first trial.
Aiyana Stanley-Jones and mother Dominika Stanley-Jones. Her mother is shown collapsing after a mistrial was declared in Joseph Weekley’s first trial.

DETROIT—Opening statements in the re-trial of Detroit police officer Joseph Weekley for killing Aiyana Stanley-Jones, 7 in May, 2010 were eclipsed by a revelation from Wayne County Medical Examiner Dr. Carl Schmidt regarding the gunshot wound to the top of the little girl’s head.

 Weekley fired his MP5 submachine gun a few seconds after entering the home, during a military-style raid, according to both the prosecution and defense. Aiyana died at St. John’s hospital after police took her to the hospital. They prevented her mother, father, and grandmother from seeing or holding the child in her dying moments.

“This was not the typical appearance of an entrance wound,” Schmidt testified on direct exam by Wayne County Assistance Prosecutor Robert Moran. “It was irregularly shaped. When the bullet strikes an intermediate target, it can deform the bullet . . . True stippling is when a gun is fired close enough to the surface and gunshot residue is deposited on the skin.”

Wayne Co Medical Examiner Dr. Carl Schmidt
Wayne Co Medical Examiner Dr. Carl Schmidt

He said “pseudo-stippling” results from a gun being fired through a hard object, but firing through a soft object such as a blanket or other fabric leaves no stippling.

“There was no evidence of close-range firing,” he told Weekley’s defense attorney Steve Fishman on cross-exam.

“Mertilla Jones [Aiyana’s paternal grandmother, who was sleeping with her on a front room couch], lied in court statements, depositions and newspaper stories,” Fishman had said in his opening statement. “She’s going to testify that Joseph Weekley came in the house, walked up to Aiyana Jones, put his gun to her head and assassinated her. That’s a complete and total lie.”

He based his statement for the most part on the absence of stippling.

But this time, Schmidt countered, “If the muzzle of a gun was in contact with the skin, there wouldn’t be stippling.”

Asst. PA Robert Moran
Asst. PA Robert Moran

Moran, whose office charged Weekley only with “involuntary manslaughter” involving gross negligence, said in his opening statement that Weekley was not charged with deliberately killing Aiyana, as if the idea of a police officer deliberately killing someone, especially a child, was absurd.

Weekley previously was sued for an incident where he deliberately shot two pet dogs in front of young children during an earlier SRT raid. After Schmidt’s final statement, Moran rushed the M.E. off the stand

A 2012 report from Lindsey Harle, M.D. in Pathology Outlines on the effects of gunshot wounds says,

“Contact: muzzle is pressed against the skin when fired: ● On head, where the scalp is tightly covering the skull, entry wounds can have several different appearances: ● Round wound with blackened, seared skin margins ● Stellate shaped wound, due to tearing of skin from expanding gas dissecting between the scalp and skull ● Round wound with muzzle imprint, also due to gas expanding under the skin causing it to press back against the gun.”

Dr. Harle goes on to say that stippling only occurs with intermediate range gunshot wounds, not contact or near-contact wounds.During a break, VOD asked Moran why he cut off Schmidt’s testimony about the lack of stippling in a contact gunshot wound, but he refused to discuss the issue.

Aiyana's father Charles Jones and Chauncey Owens during their trials.
Aiyana’s father Charles Jones and Chauncey Owens during their trials.

In what some have termed a blatant conflict of interest, Moran also prosecuted Aiyana’s common-law uncle Chauncey Owens and her father Charles Jones for killing Je’Rean Blake, 17, on May 14, 2010. That event led to the raid on the Jones home, as police hurriedly tried to solve the crime “within 48 hours.”

A camera crew from the A&E TV show “The First 48,” was embedded with police, filming their every move prior to and during the raid. Their videotape has been used as evidence by the prosecution, but a second videotape, allegedly taken by police, has somehow disappeared from the field, with no objection from Moran.

The second witness, Aiyana’s young mother Dominika Stanley, broke down weeping on the stand at several points. She testified that she and her four young children were staying for a couple of weeks at Mertilla Jones’ home so they could be with their father.

She said Aiyana’s cousins Markwell Robinson and Vincent Ellis, and great-aunt JoAnn Robinson (who has since passed) were also staying in the home.

Mertilla Jones, grandmother of Aiyana, weeps as she shows the child's photo before hearing on the cop who killed her October 29, 2012.
Mertilla Jones, grandmother of Aiyana, weeps as she shows the child’s photo before hearing on the cop who killed her October 29, 2012.

“I was in the back bedroom with all four of my kids and Charles,” Stanley testified. “Aiyana walked out of the room and went to sleep with her grandmother, which was not unusual.” She said Charles went to check on his daughter afterwards, and then returned to their bedroom without event.

 She testified she suddenly heard Mertilla screaming and weeping, “They killed Aiyana.”

“I just knew I couldn’t be hearing that,” Stanley, who is slightly built and fragile-looking, said. At that point, she curled up, put her head in her hands on her lap and began weeping for some time.

“Charles went out, and then I heard him just screaming,” she finally continued. “I went to the front room, and I saw police guns and flashlights. Charles was on the floor, Mertilla was on the floor, and I just dropped to the floor by the couch. Charles and Mertilla were hugging each other on their knees and still screaming. Markwell and JoAnn Robinson were on the other couch.”

She continued, “The police were wearing all black. A police officer approached me and I jumped to my knees crying. I didn’t know where my daughter was. I asked where she was, and asked to go to her, and they told me ‘not right now.’ I was there four hours, and when I got ready to leave, they told me she was in surgery. Two police officers took me and Charles to the hospital. They sat me and Charles in this room, and police, doctors and nurses came in. The first one said my baby was alive, but at some point they told my my daughter had died.”

From Dominika Stanley-Jones Facebook page.
From Dominika Stanley-Jones Facebook page. There has been more outrage expressed at the child’s killing across the U.S. and the world than is evident in Detroit, largely due to local media criminalization of her family. But her case is becoming widely known again in the wake of the murder of Michael Brown in Ferguson, MO and the subsequent community rebellion.

Moran showed a photo of Aiyana, clearly destined to be a beauty when she grew up, with big luminous eyes and dimples. Then he brought out the Hannah Montana blanket under which Aiyana had been sleeping for Stanley to identify, which she did.

 At that point, Stanley asked for a break. She could be heard in the witness room sobbing, “I can’t do this” and “It hurts so bad” repeatedly. Weekley remained in his seat at the defense table, stone-faced and immobile, staring straight ahead.

After a half-hour, Stanley returned for cross-examination.

Fishman asked her if she was staying on Lillibridge on May 14 when Blake was killed, and whether she was on the front porch with other members of the Jones family when Owens’s brother Shrrod Hurt, known as “Chinaman” rode by.

Fishman said in Weekley’s first trial in 2012, which ended in a hung jury, that the group heard Hurt talk about the Blake shooting at a nearby liquor store. He cited testimony given in front of a grand jury by Aiyana’s aunt LaKrystal Sanders, in which Sanders referred to Dominique Simpson, the mother of Charles’ other children, not Dominika Stanley, being present.

Aiyana Jones' father Charles Jones and Dominique Simpson grieve in front of shattered window as child's aunt watches. Family members say both mothers helped each other looking out for all of Charles' children. Photo by Diane Bukowski
Aiyana Jones’ father Charles Jones and Dominique Simpson grieve in front of shattered window as child’s aunt watches. Family members say both mothers helped each other looking out for all of Charles’ children. Photo by Diane Bukowski

 

Simpson is seen in a photo taken by VOD at right consoling Charles the morning of Aiyana’s death.

Fishman implied in that trial that Stanley was negligent for having her children stay in a home where a murder suspect lived upstairs. Stanley, however, testified today that she knew nothing about the killing at the liquor store. She said she did not talk to Chauncey Owens, who was convicted of first-degree murder for the killing.

Fishman asked her whether Mertilla Jones had told her a couple of days after the child’s death that she hadn’t seen anything, and that she was on the floor during the shooting, evidently aiming to impeach Jones’ expected upcoming testimony.

Stanley said yes.

Lyvonne Cargill, mother of Je’Rean Blake, has been publicizing videos she posted on Facebook claiming Jones told differing stories of the events. She is apparently not satisfied that Aiyana’s father and common-law uncle have been convicted and locked up, but has openly stated in her posts that she wants Jones charged with perjury.

An anonymous informant who said he knows people in the Prosecutor’s office told VOD several months ago that prosecutors did plan to charge family members with perjury. He said his friends in the office are upset about the continuing campaign to vilify a family who has already suffered so much.

These same toys were in front yard of Jones home when police surveilled the place the day of May 15, 2014, according to testimony in Weekley's first trial. Aiyana's cousin Mark Robinson, who was restrained by Sgt. LaTanya Brooks, told her there were children in the house.
These same toys were in front yard of Jones home when police surveilled the place the day of May 15, 2014, according to testimony in Weekley’s first trial. Aiyana’s cousin Mark Robinson, who was restrained by Sgt. LaTanya Brooks, told her there were children in the house.

LaTanya Brooks, a retired Detroit police sergeant from the Homicide squad, testified after Stanley regarding the homicide unit’s investigation into the Blake killing and anonymous calls they had received identifying Chauncey Owens as the killer. She said one caller, identifying herself as an “aunt” in the Jones family, gave his address at 4056 Lillibridge, and others claimed he had an AK 47 and a 45 caliber pistol.

Brooks said no AK47 was found in either flat after the raid, which she helped coordinate. Police during Weekley’s earlier trial all testified that they found no weapons at either address.

In “The First 48” video of Brooks’ preparation for the raid, she repeatedly refers to the 4056 address, not to 4054 Lillibridge, where Mertilla Jones lived. Jones family members have said they never saw a search warrant for their own home.

Aiyana Jones' family at rally on courthouse steps March 8, 2013. (L to r - mother Dominika, grandmother Mertilla, aunt, maternal grandfather, aunt LaKrystal.
Aiyana Jones’ family at rally on courthouse steps March 8, 2013. (L to r) – mother Dominika Stanley, grandmother Mertilla Jones, aunt, maternal grandfather Jimmie Stanley, aunt LaKrystal Sanders.

There is also police conversation on the videotapes, which were shown to the jury by the prosecution, that the Jones home was likely a drug house. However, testimony at Owens’ trial indicated that Owens’ half-brother Sh’rrod Hurt lived across the street, and was likely running drugs out of that house. Defense attorney David Cripps’ alternate theory of the Blake killing was that Sh’rrod Hurt, who admitted to being at the scene, confronted and killed Blake.

The trial will resume Monday, Sept. 22, at 9 a.m. in Judge Cynthia Gray Hathaway’s courtroom, #801.

On Friday, Sept. 19, a post-conviction hearing regarding Charles Jones is to be held in the courtroom of Wayne County Circuit Judge Richard Skutt. Jones’ appeals attorney contends that there is no cause to have convicted Jones of second-degree murder, since the jury in his trial found him “not guilty” of all gun charges. Prosecutor Moran alleged that Jones gave Owens the gun to kill Blake. Jones’ attorney has also filed for a writ of habeas corpus.

Aiyana box
RELATED STORIES:

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2014/08/16/police-and-protesters-clash-again-in-ferguson-east-side-detroit-rebellion-aug-13/ 

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2013/10/22/families-demand-no-police-state-under-detroit-chief-craig-top-cops/ 

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2012/11/09/every-36-hrs-police-in-u-s-kill-a-black-person-demand-pres-obama-take-action/ Continue reading


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PROTEST TARGETS GM CEO BARRA FOR FIRING DISABLED COLOMBIAN, INDIAN, AND US WORKERS, KILLING AND INJURING DRIVERS

Protesters line up across from Cobo Hall as GM CEO Mary Barra speaks inside Sept. 7, 2014.

Protesters line up across from Cobo Hall as GM CEO Mary Barra speaks inside Sept. 7, 2014.

By Diane Bukowski

 Sept. 15, 2014

 DETROIT – Workers brandishing crutches marched outside Cobo Hall as General Motors (GM) Executive Mary Barra spoke to the “World Congress on Intelligent Transportation” here Sept. 7.

Jorge Parra speaks to protesters outside 2013 International Auto Show in Cobo Hall.

Jorge Parra speaks to protesters outside 2013 International Auto Show in Cobo Hall.

“Hey, Mary Barra, we stand with Jorge Parra,” they chanted, referring to a disabled GM worker in Colombia who was fired after being injured on the job and is now conducting a hunger strike that may end in his death.

It is GM’s policy not only in Colombia, but in plants in the U.S. as well to “dump workers like trash,” speakers said.

As workers at GM’s Colmotores Plant conducted a hunger strike outside the U.S. embassy with their mouths sewn shut in 2012, Parra told Alternet, “This is for all the workers. “We are now prepared to die because this situation is critical. General Motors has given us no choice.”

GM Colombia workers on hunger strike in 2012, with mouths sewed shut.
GM Colombia workers, Jorge Parra center, on 2012 hunger strike, with mouths sewed shut.

Alternet reported at the time, “More than 200 Colmotores employees have been injured while working at the automotive plant outside Colombia’s capital city of Bogota. Herniated discs, severe carpal tunnel syndrome, lumbar scoliosis and chronic tendonitis are among the list of complaints they claim many have suffered after years spent doing repetitive, physical work making GM’s car parts.Instead of providing medical care and changing the work patterns of injured employees, GM fires them, according to the protesters, who last year set up the Association of Injured Workers and Ex-Workers of Colmotores (Asotrecol) in an attempt to defend their rights.”

 Now, according to protest organizer Frank Hammer, GM has carried the same policies over to its plant in Gujurat, India, which Barra recently visited. Hammer said 269 cases of spinal injuries have been documented there, with GM firing those unable to work. GM laid off 800 of 1600 workers and replaced with temporaries, paying the permanent workers 90 cents an hour while the temporaries make 47 cents an hour “for exactly the same work,” Hammer added.

GM workers at Gujurat Plant in India. Photo: Hindu Business Line.
GM workers at Gujurat Plant in India. Photo: Hindu Business Line.

He noted that newspapers in India are now reporting on the Colombian workers’ hunger strike as well.

The Hindu Business Line reported in January, 2014, “Two days after Chief Minister Narendra Modi’s claim about ‘no labour problem in Gujarat’, a workers’ unrest has surfaced at General Motor’s Halol plant near Vadodara where around 450 contractual workers began staging dharna (sit-in) outside the factory premises since Friday, opposing auto maker’s move of giving fresh appointment letters to only a few selected workers.

Out of the nearly 700 contractual workers at GM’s Halol unit, around 450 workers have stopped work since Friday and are sitting outside the factory premises staging protest, a worker union leader said. GM makes Tavera SUV at its Halol plant.”

UAW member Melvin Thompson speaks about conditions in GM plants here and abroad.
UAW member Melvin Thompson speaks about conditions in GM plants here and abroad.

The newspaper reported other ongoing labor unrest at GM plants in India. GM workers also conducted a mass strike in India in 2011.

“One company, one workforce,” shouted Melvin Thompson, a GM worker from UAW Local 140, as he strode back and forth with a bullhorn. He has visited Parra and the Colombian workers multiple times.

“We’re all related, Colombia and India halfway around the world,” Thompson said. “We love each other. Jorge and his comrades are on a hunger strike again, and this time he says he’s not going to stop. I’m not comfortable with that because I know his commitment, but GM around the world is readily able to pay workers a wage that spends the same in their country as it does here.”

The Colombian workers make only $350 a month.

Injured GM worker speaks.
Injured GM worker speaks.

Thompson noted that in 1994, GM had twice as many workers and their cars cost half as much as they do now.

“But after bankruptcy, these companies are ruthless,” Thompson explained. “They are building a plan for all working people to be subservient, a plan that has room only for the elite and the servant class.”

Notably, Detroit Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr, who is new engineering a phony bankruptcy for the City of Detroit, was on the team of Jones Day lawyers who engineered GM’s Chrysler bankruptcy.

Simone, a Detroit-area Chrysler worker who sustained injuries to her neck and back on the job, recounted her experience with GM’s policies toward its workforce.

“The company only accepted partial responsibility and forced me back to work,” she said. “When you have to walk in pain, it’s very difficult, nobody really understands. We need GM to take responsibility for serious injuries and serious health and safety issues in its plants everywhere.”

The protesters picked up a chant of, “Unsafe plants, unsafe switches, GM bosses count the riches.”

Protesters carried this sign denouncing GM CEO Mary Barra.
Protesters carried this sign denouncing GM CEO Mary Barra.

Despite $1.3 billion in costs from an ongoing recall of seven million GM vehicles with faulty ignition switches, GM reported net revenue of $37.4 billion in the first quarter of 2014, compared to $36.9 billion in the first quarter of 2013.

“The performance of our core operations was very strong this quarter, reflecting the positive response of customers to the new vehicles we are bringing to market,” Barra told MLive in April. “Our focus remains on creating the world’s best vehicles with the highest levels of safety, quality and customer service, while aggressively addressing our business opportunities and challenges globally.”

Protester Linda Street disagreed. She reported that she suffered permanent injuries from a car crash due to a faulty ignition switch in her GM car. She said that she once worked three jobs at a time, taking nice trips during her vacations, but now is permanently disabled.

Injured driver Linda Street speaks as Frank Hammer (l) and friend (r) hold signs displaying results of her accident.
Injured driver Linda Street speaks as Frank Hammer (l) and friend (r) hold signs displaying results of her accident.

“In 2007, I was driving my car onto the freeway and had to slam on the brakes to avoid another car,” Street told VOD. “The ignition cut off completely, I could not restart the car, and the airbags did not deploy.”

She said vertebrae in her spine, her rotator cuff and her knees were severely injured when the airbags did not work. She has to walk briefly with crutches, or utilize a wheelchair.

So far, 19 people killed in such accidents have been awarded $1 million each by GM, and 125 more have submitted applications for compensation for fatal accidents, the Wall Street Journal and other news sources just reported. Over 300 more individuals have applied for compensation for serious injuries, according to reports from GM.

The switches were installed in Chevrolet Cobalts, Saturn Ions, Pontiac G5s, Chevrolet HHRs, Pontiac Solstices and Saturn Skys, from model years 2003-07, and some others. GM has recalled up to 2.6 million cars with the switches. When a car is jostled, the ignition switches can turn off the engine, cutting power to its brakes, steering and airbags.

Protesters demand Zero Tolerance for GM anti-labor practices.
Protesters demand Zero Tolerance for GM anti-labor practices.

Barra was the headline speaker for  the 2014 World Congress on Intelligent Transport Systems, which ran from Sept. 7-11 in Cobo Hall, sponsored by the Intelligent Transportation Society of America (ITS America) in partnership with ERTICO (Europe’s ITS) and ITS Asia-Pacific. The World Congress comes to North America every third year.

Other speakers included Gov. Rick Snyder, Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan and Michigan Department of Transportation director Kirk T. Steudle.

ITS America reported that “more than 10,000 of the world’s leading transportation policymakers, researchers, high-tech innovators, and business professionals from the United States, Europe and Asia will gather to share the latest intelligent transportation systems (ITS) applications from around the globe.”

Protesters brandished walkers and crutches in solidarity  with injured workers.
Protesters brandished walkers and crutches in solidarity with injured workers.

Jim Barbaresso, 2014 ITS World Congress chairman, told attendees in a letter, “We are on the cusp of a transformation, where technology offers realistic solutions to our global mobility, safety, and environmental challenges. Detroit is at the heart of this transformation. The Motor City is made of both grit and silicon, where industry and technology are coming together to forge the next generation of transportation systems.”

But the Congress caused a great deal of mobility problems for metro Detroit drivers.

Not only did it take over Cobo Hall, it also took over at least three quarters of Belle Isle, including all of its interior, for exhibits including vehicle road demonstrations, during all four days of the Congress.

Protesters outside EM Kevyn Orr's June 10, 2013 talk at Wayne State. Most Black folks have been driven from the island by the State Police. On Sept. 14, the island was taken over by hundreds of whites in bicycle, car, boat and foot races. Regular auto traffic was consigned to one lane.
Protesters outside EM Kevyn Orr’s June 10, 2013 talk at Wayne State. Most Black folks have been driven from the island by the State Police. On Sept. 14, the island was taken over by hundreds of whites in bicycle, car, boat and foot races. Regular auto traffic was consigned to one lane.

Public traffic was relegated to one exterior roadway from the bridge eastbound to the Nature Center on the north end of the island, and back the same way.

Belle Isle is now operated by the State of Michigan, under a $0 “lease” imposed by EM Orr. Apparently the state takeover includes a corporate takeover of the island as well.

This reporter, attempting to ride her bike on the island, heard many people telling guards they wanted to take their children to the Aquarium, the Conservatory, and other attractions which were not accessible. No public notice of the shutdown was given.

ITS America hired a private security agency whose employees, mostly young Black men, had to fend off hostile reactions to the shutdown, without signs or literature to explain what was going on. One worker, who said he was on the verge of leaving due to abuse from motorists, reported that they were not even making minimum wage. Apparently ITS has adopted GM’s policies as well.

Related stories:

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2013/01/22/workers-youths-including-gm-colombian-hunger-striker-besiege-2013-detroit-auto-show/

http://www.alternet.org/world/we-are-prepared-die-workers-colombia-general-motors-plant-sew-their-mouths-shut-protest

http://www.usatoday.com/story/money/cars/2014/09/15/gm-ignition-swtiches-death-count/15667463/

http://www.thehindubusinessline.com/companies/strike-by-contract-workers-at-gms-halol-plant/article5590509.ece

Melvin Thompson shouts at conference attendees, "One world, one workforce." His T-shirt refers to the School of the Americas, where the U.S. trains torturers and assassins to terrorize workers globally.

Melvin Thompson shouts at conference attendees, “One world, one workforce.” His T-shirt refers to the School of the Americas, where the U.S. trains torturers and assassins to terrorize workers globally.

 


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