Protesters during Mar. 31 march at Wayne County Treasurer Raymond Wojtowicz office on Monroe in downtown Detroit. They blocked the street for an hour.
Tragic divide between seniors, youth in Detroit highlighted in trial
30,000 homes on the chopping block in 2015 auctions; 85 percent in Detroit, 30 percent occupied
New state laws bar foreclosed homeowners from bidding on their own homes; they must pay all back taxes, interest and fees
Activists demand that auctions be stopped, say taxes illegal because required property value re-assessments not done for years
By Diane Bukowski
Sept. 4, 2015
Alonzo Long, Jr./Family photo
DETROIT – On Oct. 7, 2015, one day before this year’s Wayne County Treasurer tax foreclosure auctions begin, Alonzo Long, Jr., 22, will face re-trial on first-degree murder charges in the deaths of Howard Franklin, the winning bidder on Long’s grandfather’s home in Rosedale Park in 2014, and his daughter Catherine Franklin.
The ferocity of Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy’s pursuit of the case against Long, whose first trial ended in a hung jury, parallels the assault mounted on county residents by County Executive Warren Evans and Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder. Snyder has declared a “financial emergency” in the county, under Public Act 436, at Evans’ request, with cuts to workers’ wages and benefits on the table, along with the County’s repayment of delinquent property taxes to its cities.
Long charges derive from Nov. 2014 incident with bidders
Charges against Long derive from an alleged shoot-out with the Franklins on Nov. 28, 2014. After winning the October bid on the home at 15114 Piedmont, rented by Long’s uncle Gregory Fletcher, the Franklins did not follow legal eviction procedures by going to 36th District Court to remove Fletcher. Instead, they armed themselves and entered the premises that evening to order Fletcher and several young relatives helping him move to get out immediately.
Long’s new defense attorney Lillian F. Diallo.
Witnesses claim Catherine Franklin shot first, wounding Tamika Long. All armed parties had concealed pistol permits. Detroit police chief James Craig earlier recommended that all Detroiters should obtain the.
After five days of deliberations during the trial in July, 2014, Wayne County Circuit Court Judge Alexis Glendenning declared a hung jury.
“This is a tragic situation,” Long’s new court-appointed attorney Lillian Diallo told VOD Aug. 14 after a brief pre-trial hearing. “There are people dead here. But we also have to look at it from the standpoint of the man who sits at the [defense] table. We cannot sustain a situation as a people and a society, where youths are automatically considered guilty in situations involving older people.”
Long’s mother Susan Long said the jury was multi-racial but largely older. She said three jurors were adamant in voting “No,” and that one hugged her and told her, “I couldn’t see sending another young Black man to prison for the rest of his life. I’ll pray for you and your family.”
Home at 15114 Piedmont, as shown on Treasurer’s website.
Mrs. Long added, “Alonzo is the kind of person who, when people get into it at a party, he stays so cool and calm. He tells them, ‘hey man, just calm down.’ He was always the peacemaker in family disputes.”
The property at 15114 Piedmont, still listed under Franklin’s name despite his death, is not up for auction this year, but 30,000 other properties, 85 percent in Detroit and 30 percent occupied, will be.
30,000 foreclosed homes on auction block this year; homeowners cannot bid
Wayne County Treasurer Raymond Wojtowicz says on the county’s website that new state laws bar foreclosed homeowners from participating in the auctions to re-claim their own homes. Instead, they must pay the full amount of back taxes owing, plus interest and penalties. He has also said he will no longer limit the homes on the auction block to those owing large amounts.
Wayne County Treasurer Raymond Wojtowicz
Eric Sabree of the Treasurer’s office told VOD, “While it is not the responsibility of the Treasurer’s Office to give advice to auction purchasers, it does make all the sense in the world to relay the options that they have once they purchase occupied property. We will prepare something that the future purchasers can use as a guide. A new law (House Bill 5069, 5070 and 5071) allowing owners to request law enforcement assistance will also be referenced.”
The laws Sabree refers to were passed last year and relate to so-called “squatters,” people occupying vacant homes without the owner’s permission. Those laws caused much confusion in 2014, with many bidders assuming every occupant was a “squatter.” Sabree did not respond when asked if bidders would be told whether occupants are there legally, as in the case of Fletcher, or are “squatting.”
Exec. Warren Evans
Mich. Gov. Rick Snyder
The auction is happening as Snyder, Evans, and the County Commission work out terms of a “Consent Agreement” confirmed in August pursuant to Public Act 436. That agreement confirms among other provisions that the County can transfer funds from its “Delinquent Tax Revolving Account,” consisting of bank loans backed by delinquent tax late fees and penalties, to its general fund.
Normally, the County, which takes over the process of collecting back taxes from its cities after one year of delinquency, later repays the cities from that fund. Instead, it will be paying off its debt to the banks as cities become further cash-strapped. The state, which has cut $7.2 billion in revenue-sharing to the cities in the last 10 years, is not promising any financial assistance to the county in the Consent Agreement.
Activists want 2015 tax auctions stopped, support for Alonzo Long, Jr
Cornell Squires speaks at protest outside Wojtowicz office March 31, 2015.
Activists are demanding a halt to this year’s tax auctions, period.
They claim the auctions are illegal because cities have not followed state law requiring annual re-assessments of property value, and because of numerous irregularities in deed preparation in the Wayne County Sheriff’s office. Others decry the continued devastation both mortgage and tax foreclosures have wrought on Detroit neighborhoods, in particular.
“This is nothing but outright criminal fraud and racketeering, because the tax bills people are being forced to pay are illegal,” Cornell Squires of We the People for the People said. “State law requires annual assessments, or at the very least, reassessments every five years. It is a CRIME to force people to pay these huge amounts. Instead, they should be reimbursed for overpayments for the last 20 years, and the politicians in charge should go to jail, not Alonzo Long, Jr.”
Youth addresses Peoples Assembly Aug. 29, 2015 in Grand Circus Park.
Meanwhile, members of the Moratorium NOW! Coalition to End Foreclosures, Evictions, and Utility Shut-offs said at a “Peoples’ Assembly” Aug. 29 that they are planning a mass protest at the Wayne County Treasurer’s Office at 400 Monroe, in downtown Detroit, to stop the tax auctions.
The auctions are only held online, limiting access to those who have computers, but perhaps providing access to innovative protesters.
They are also calling for friends and supporters of Alonzo Long, Jr. to attend his trial to address what they say is a blatant miscarriage of justice. It will be held in the courtroom of Judge Alexis Glendenning in the Frank Murphy Hall at Gratiot and St. Antoine, but she is not expected to preside due to her pending transfer to family court.
Further details on Nov. 2014 shoot-out between bidders, Long, Jr.
On Nov. 28, 2014, the Franklins entered the Piedmont home twice. The Treasurer’s “bidding rules” tell winning bidders to obtain the occupant’s permission to enter. Earlier in the day, according to testimony at Long’s preliminary exam, the Franklins called the Detroit police to assist them. Officers who responded instructed them to leave and give the occupants time to get their belongings out, but the Franklins returned that evening.
On Oct. 8, 2014, they had also visited the home before any deed was issued in Howard Franklin’s name to tell Fletcher to move, according to Alonzo Long’s mother Susan Long. The deed was issued Nov. 11, 2014. (See deed at Howard Franklin QCD.)
On Nov. 28, all the utilities in the house had already been turned off, so subsequent events happened in the dark, witnesses said.
Alonzo’s friend Taniqua Russell was one of those helping out that day.
“They [the Franklins] told us they didn’t want to wait all night,” Russell said. “I was helping Tamika pack things from the drawers and closets, and the men were moving the stuff into the U-Haul. Gregory and Aleta (his girlfriend) were helping Junior (Alonzo) move a mirror, and it accidentally broke.”
She said after the U-Haul left, she and Tamika got in their car to get warm, because it was cold outside and snowing. They even invited two maintenance men working for the Franklins into the car to get warm, but they declined, she said.
Russell she heard Gregory scream Alonzo’s name from inside the house. She said she and Tamika went into the house first to see what was going on. She said Catherine and Howard Franklin were there, with the elder Franklin pointing his gun at Fletcher.
“We asked them why do you all have your guns out,” Russell went on. “Catherine said ‘It’s time for you to go, ain’t nobody gonna be here all night.’ I said the police said we could have time to move. Catherine was yelling all day, telling us to ‘get the F— out of the house.’ Greg and the old man were arguing.”
Alonzo entered the home after the two young women, she said. She said she heard Catherine shoot into the ceiling and then Tamika was shot twice in the foot.
Russell said Tamika ran outside wounded, and fell off the porch, fracturing bones in her rib cage and arm.
“When the shooting stopped, we started running outside because we didn’t know if the two maintenance men had guns,” Russell said.
She said they passed Catherine Franklin lying on the porch with her gun still in her hand, then drove home as the police were turning onto Piedmont.
“It’s not just about this shooting, but about why it occurred,” Mrs. Long said. “The Treasurer should give explicit directions to bidders about what to do if a home is occupied.”
The Treasurer’s bidding rules last year did not tell winning bidders to take eviction cases to the appropriate district court, to be handled by officials.
The real criminals are the foreclosers, including Snyder, Evans, Wojtowicz, and banks. Protest takes street March 31, 2015.
(Photos, videos, graphics added by Voice of Detroit.)
August 28, 2015
Carver Collegiate charter school students are only supposed to walk inside red lines on the floor, single-file, or face discipline.
Karran Harper Royal was pleased to be invited to join a citizens’ committee in 2006 to plan for the future of New Orleans schools. But she soon became disillusioned, convinced that the state didn’t really want citizen input—it already had a plan and was simply seeking approval.
Ninth grade was nothing like what Darrius Jones expected. Jones, 14, imagined that with high school would come more independence. Instead, he felt like he was being treated like a kid. “You had to sit a certain way,” he recalls. “You couldn’t lean, or have your chair back.” Jones says he stepped out of line once—an actual line on the floor of the hallway, which students were supposed to follow—and was sent to detention.
It was the beginning of the 2012 school year, and Jones was in the first class of students at Carver Collegiate Academy, a brand-new charter school in New Orleans’ Lower Ninth Ward. Like a public school, it is funded by taxpayers and open to anyone. But as a charter, it is managed independently by a board of directors that can do its own hiring and firing, write its own policies and teach according to its own philosophy. In the case of Carver Collegiate, that philosophy is one of “no excuses”—strict rules and swift discipline.
April 15, 2014: Parents file complaint against RSD Carver schools
Carver is part of New Orleans’ Recovery School District (RSD), the first all-charter school district in the nation. In the chaos after Hurricane Katrina, Louisiana opted to completely overhaul the city’s failing public schools by putting them on the open market. Ten years later, cities and states around the country have embarked on their own charter-school experiments and are watching New Orleans closely, laser-focused on outcomes.
RSD superintendent Patrick Dobard, appointed in 2012.
Test scores have improved, according to two major reports that examine academic achievement over the past nine years. On Katrina’s 10th anniversary, RSD is being held up as a national model. The graduation rate has risen from 56 percent to 73 percent. Last year, 63 percent of students in grades 3-8 scored basic or above on state standardized tests, up from 33 percent.
But by other measures, the RSD suffers. In These Times received an advance copy of research conducted for the Network for Public Education (NPE) by University of Arizona researchers Francesca López and Amy Olson. The study compared charters in Louisiana, the majority of which are in New Orleans, to Louisiana public schools, controlling for factors like race, ethnicity, poverty and whether students qualified for special education. On eighth-grade reading and math tests, charter-school students performed worse than their public-school counterparts by enormous margins—2 to 3 standard deviations.
The researchers found that the gap between charter and public school performance in Louisiana was the largest of any state in the country. And Louisiana’s overall scores were the fourth-lowest in the nation.
“You can say until you’re blue in the face that this should be a national model, but this is one of the worst-perforing districts in one of the worst-performing states,” says NPE board member Julian Vasquez Heilig, an education professor at California State Sacramento.
However, test scores, high or low, are only a piece of the story. In a three-month investigation, In These Times interviewed teachers, parents and students to find out how they feel about the charterization of public education in New Orleans.
Community members mourned the closures of public schools that had served as neighborhood hubs. Students at no-excuses charters described feeling like they were in prison, or bootcamp. Teachers felt demoralized, like they didn’t have a voice in the classroom. Parents complained about a lack of Black teachers. In interview after interview, people said the same thing: The system doesn’t put children’s needs first.
A swift takeover
Before Hurricane Katrina, New Orleans public schools were struggling. The graduation rate was 18 points below the national average. Sixty-eight percent of seventh and eighth graders were testing below basic proficiency in English, 70 percent in math.
New Orleans public school classroom destroyed by Katrina. The state proceeded to dismantle the entire district afterwards.
After the hurricane hit in August 2005, the Orleans Parish School Board (OPSB) laid off some 3,000 staff and 4,000 teachers. More than half its physical infrastructure was damaged beyond repair, and its tax base was displaced.
The state of Louisiana then collaborated with corporate education reformers in the most expansive overhaul ever seen in the history of public education.
In November, the state legislature raised the bar for public schools to avoid takeover. With parts of the city still underwater, 107 of New Orleans’ 128 public schools were suddenly in the hands of the all-charter Recovery School District (RSD)—a two-year-old district that previously contained only five schools.
The remains of the historic original Cass Technical High School in Detroit. Most of Detroit’s public schools have been shut down using New Orleans as a model, driving thousands of students out of the district as charter schools profit. Detroit school closings began in 2005.
“Basically, we became the dog that caught the bus,” said Leslie Jacobs, a former member of the State Board of Elementary and Secondary Education and the woman widely known as the brains behind RSD, in an interview with the Washington Monthly. “We had nothing: no schools, no buildings, no cafeteria workers, no buses.”
What they did have was the backing of the national “education reform” movement, which pushes charters and high-stakes testing. With the public-school bureaucracy out of the way, powerhouses in the reform movement, such as the Walton and Gates foundations, came calling. In a 2006 interview with Education Next magazine, Mayor Ray Nagin put it this way: “They said, ‘Look, you set up the right environment, we will fund, totally fund, brand-new schools for the city of New Orleans.’ ”
And they did.
“In sharp contrast to the glacial pace with which the levees were repaired and the electricity grid brought back online, the auctioning-off of New Orleans’ school system took place with military speed and precision,” writes Naomi Klein in her landmark 2007 book The Shock Doctrine. She holds up the takeover as a prime example of “disaster capitalism”: “orchestrated raids on the public sphere in the wake of catastrophic events, combined with the treatment of disasters as exciting market opportunities.”
Today, RSD oversees 70 percent of the public schools in New Orleans. OPSB still contains 16 schools, the majority of which are now charters.
Each of RSD’s charter schools is like a school district unto itself. Although RSD regulates some things—for instance, that schools have open enrollment—charters are otherwise autonomous. They have their own boards, which set rules like length of school day, dress code and hiring practices, and their own management. In Louisiana and many other states, the board must be nonprofit. But management can be either nonprofit or for-profit.
Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder’s Educational Apartheid Authority
Other states have followed Louisiana’s lead. In 2012, after Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder put Detroit under emergency management, the manager closed 16 city schools and handed 15 to the Education Achievement Authority, which received millions from the likes of the Kellogg and Gates foundations. In 2013, Tennessee created the Achievement School District to take over the state’s worst-performing schools; the district now runs 27 Memphis schools, 20 of them charters.
Others are sure to follow, as long as the narrative of charter success ‘holds. Education Secretary Arne Duncan declared, in 2010, that Katrina was “the best thing that happened to the education system in New Orleans.”
“The vast majority of public schools closed by RSD in the past five years were in poor and working class, African-American neighborhoods,” the complaint says. “Many of the schools existed for over a hundred years before being closed and had been attended by multiple generations in one family. These schools employed teachers and administrators who have taught in our communities for decades—staff who hold community knowledge, understand the hardships that face our students, and pass down our shared values. … After everything that we lost in Katrina, it has been devastating to lose our schools as well.”
Karran Harper Royal/Facebook
Karran Harper Royal, a co-author of the complaint, is a former OSPB parent who was active in education politics before the storm. She was pleased to be invited to join a citizens’ committee in 2006 to plan for the future of New Orleans schools. But Royal soon became disillusioned, convinced that the state didn’t really want citizen input—it already had a plan and was simply seeking approval.
On a muggy afternoon in June, Royal drives me past the Desire housing project, where her great-grandmother lived. As a girl, Royal spent a lot of time here. The project now sits deserted, a graveyard of small brick homes boarded up in tall grass.
Most of the project’s residents were poor and black, and most attended George Washington Carver High School in the Lower Ninth Ward. Although Royal went to a different school, many people she grew up with went there: friends, cousins, her husband.
Carver was one of the “academically unacceptable” public schools transferred to RSD after Katrina. Though its test scores were low, locals nonetheless took pride in it. An award-winning example of mid-century modern architecture, Carver had a soaring auditorium and large cafeteria built to create a sense of a village. Its daycare center and music program were renowned citywide. Carver had a strong alumni network and served as an anchor for the neighborhood, bringing people together for football games and marching band performances. Its computer lab was an important resource for locals.
Alumni of George Washington Carver High School during protest.
“Was it the best school in the city? No,” says Royal. “But did it produce great people? Yes, it did. Were there some people at Carver who didn’t make it? That’s true, too. Carver was in the middle of a very poor community.”
After the storm, RSD demolished Carver and built a modular campus in its place—portable classrooms connected by wooden boardwalks. Some alumni and community members formed George Washington Carver Charter School Association in a bid to charter the school themselves, but their three applications to RSD were turned down.
Collegiate CEO Ben Marcovitz speaking to largely African-American students.
Instead, in 2012, RSD turned the school over to Collegiate Academies, considered a leading light of the charter movement. Its flagship school, Sci Academy, had opened in New Orleans in 2008 and seen significant gains in math and English within two years. Sci Academy was featured on The Oprah Winfrey Show, which awarded founder and CEO Ben Marcovitz a $1 million check.
Collegiate Academies is one of several growing charter networks in New Orleans modeled on what’s often referred to as the no-excuses approach. Disproportionately used in poor and minority communities, the model is characterized by longer school days (and years), frequent testing, and strict routines and behavioral codes enforced by demerit systems. Students can earn detention—and, eventually, suspension—for relatively small infractions.
In the 2012-13 school year, the three Collegiate Academies schools had the highest out-of-school suspension rates in New Orleans. Sci Academy suspended 58 percent of its students, and the two charters opened on the former Carver campus, Carver Prep and Carver Collegiate, suspended 61 and 69 percent of their students, respectively.
Princeton doctoral student Joanne Golan
There isn’t yet a robust body of research on whether the no-excuses model encourages academic success. One widely cited analysis does show that children who were randomly selected to attend “no excuses” charter schools outperformed peers who weren’t.
But other research suggests that the approach produces good rule followers but poor critical thinkers. Princeton doctoral student Joanne Golann spent 18 months conducting fieldwork in a no-excuses charter school in a Northeastern city, interviewing close to one hundred students, teachers and administrators. She found that “students, in many cases, are taught to monitor themselves, hold back their opinions and defer to authority, rather than take initiative, assert themselves and interact with ease with their teachers.” She concluded that these “schools produce worker-learners to close the achievement gap.”
Rebellion in the ranks
When Rowena McCormick Robinson attended an orientation for prospective Sci Academy parents, it seemed promising. Officials assured her that the school offered advanced placement classes, extracurriculars and an atmosphere of strict discipline. The kind of place where her bright and quiet 14-year-old son, Russell, would thrive.
Sci Academy boxes students in according to researchers.
But within weeks of starting, the teenager, who normally woke up for school on his own, didn’t want to get out of bed. “I hate going there,” he told his mom. “It’s like prison.” When she heard about the rules the school was enforcing—rules about the way the kids had to sit, the way they raised their hand—she was furious.
These kids might be rowdy, she says, and many might come from dysfunctional homes, but they weren’t that bad. She thought it was wrong that so many were being punished as though they were delinquents.
Some of the students felt the same. Darrius Jones, who had been given detention for stepping out of line at Carver Collegiate, simply transferred schools. But in 2013, other kids at Carver Prep and Carver Collegiate started talking about a revolt. On Nov. 18, 2013, nearly 100 students walked out. They printed a list of 13 concerns, including, “We are learning material that we already learned in middle school” and “We want a discipline policy that doesn’t suspend kids for every little thing.”
Ben Marcovitz, CEO of Collegiate Academies, met with students and made a plan for reforms. Last year, Collegiate Academies launched a network-wide program focused on restorative discipline methods, instructing teachers to assume a student has just forgotten a rule and to take time to explain it. “We dropped our suspension rates from 56 to 12 percent in one year,” he says.
But the no-excuses approach shows no signs of going out of fashion. The rapidly growing charter network Knowledge is Power, for example, runs seven of RSD’s 80 charter schools under a no-excuses model, along with 176 more in “educationally underserved” communities across the country.
Younger, whiter and non-union
Teachers have young Black students pledge to “Work Hard” at Arthur Ashe RSD elementary school.
Another flashpoint in the Carver student protests was the racial makeup of the teaching staff. “There are no black teachers,” the complaint read. “The only black role models we have at the school are janitors, cafeteria workers, secretaries, security guards, and coaches.”
That bothered Rowena, too. The teachers at Sci, she says were “young and white” and didn’t understand anything about the culture. “There are a few who really care,” she says, “but they are thrown into this without knowing what they’re getting into.”
Collegiate made an effort to increase teacher diversity after the walkout, going from an 8 percent black teaching force to 30 percent.
Overall, however, New Orleans’ teaching landscape has shifted dramatically since Katrina. Before the storm, 73 percent of Orleans Parish’s classroom teachers were black. Nearly half of the teachers had been more than 15 years of experience. They were under a collective bargaining agreement with the United Teachers of New Orleans, an American Federation of Teachers affiliate.
Detroit uses Teach For America teachers, mostly white, in its charter schools.
After the OSPB layoffs, Teach for America (TFA), a nonprofit that trains college grads to teach in underprivileged communities, swept in to fill the gap, tripling the number of new recruits going to New Orleans.
The most recent teacher data available, from 2013, shows that the New Orleans teaching force is now 54 percent black, while the student body is 87 percent. The teachers are more likely than before the storm to come from an alternative certification program, such as TeachNOLA or TFA. RSD teachers average seven years of experience, OPSB charter teachers 12, and OPSB public school teachers 17. Only a few OPSB schools are unionized, and RSD is entirely non-union (although some organizing campaigns are underway).
Swarthmore education researcher Thomas S. Dee.
Do these things matter? A 2005 study by Swarthmore researcher Thomas S. Dee found that teachers of a different race than a student were significantly more likely to evaluate that student as disruptive, inattentive and rarely completing homework.
Certainly, among New Orleans residents interviewed by In These Times, there was a sense that the loss of experienced black teachers has been detrimental to black students. Rowena’s mother, Roberta, taught art in a parochial school in Louisiana. “When I was a teacher, I was parenting,” she says. “What helped them so much was me being able to meet them where there were, with whatever they lacked, or needed extra. … These teachers, they’re not ready. For whatever reason, white folk fear black folks so much. They come in with the fear.”
A large body of research shows that teacher experience has a positive impact on student learning, especially after a teacher gets through the steep learning curve of the first three years.
Teacher retention has been a challenge for charter schools across the country. RSD charter schools in New Orleans have an average annual turnover of 27 percent. An analysis of National Center for Education Statistics by the University of Arizona’s López and Olson found that 46 percent of charter school teachers in Louisiana reported plans to leave, compared to 6 percent of public school teachers.
One of the main reasons that teachers leave a post, according to Richard Ingersoll, a University of Pennsylvania professor who studies teacher turnover, is the issue of “voice.” Teachers want to feel like they have a say in the classroom.
Teaching Black students to cook at Arthur Ashe.
This was what bothered Kelly Pickett, one of the young, white teachers who started teaching in New Orleans after the storm. She’d been a chef for 10 years before going back to school at 28 to get her bachelor’s in early childhood education. Her first teaching post was in a first-grade classroom at Arthur Ashe Elementary, an RSD charter with a no-excuses approach. She’d known it was a strict school, but hadn’t fully understood how strict. She describes the experience as “horrible.”
The philosophy is “all about control,” she says. Teachers were instructed to keep students in the “STARR” position: Sit straight, Track the speaker with your eyes, And be Responsive and Respectful. Teachers had to post students’ test scores on the classroom walls. Bar charts showed where each student stood in comparison to the rest of the class and how much they needed to improve to raise the average so the whole class could win candy or a pizza party. The scores also helped determine teachers’ pay.
Classroom behavior stoplight chart.
Pickett had to enforce a complicated system of warning and shout-outs on a behavioral stoplight at the front of the classroom. A student starts at green; two warnings move her to yellow; two more, she’s at red and out of the classroom. Positive “shout-outs,” move students in the other direction. Shout-outs are for things like helping a classmate or paying attention, and warnings for things like sitting improperly (not in STARR position) or for interrupting during a lesson.
Pickett disagreed with the rules, but had no choice but to enforce them.
“The kids are smart. Really smart,” Pickett says. “Some of them find their rewards in this system, others see no point and act out deliberatively to get out. They know exactly how to derail the system. I literally have to scream at them, and I hate it.”
After one semester, Pickett quit.
Some are more welcome than others
In the high-stakes education system in New Orleans, a no-excuses approach applies not just to individual students, but to schools. Those that fail to boost test scores can and do lose their charters.
According to a recent survey of 30 principals from both RSD and OSPB schools, many feel pressure to compete for the right kind of students.
The 2015 report, funded by the Education Research Alliance for New Orleans, found that about a third used means to screen out undesirable students (“creaming,” as the authors described it), even though this is technically not allowed under RSD’s open-admissions policy. One school stopped advertising open spots and enrolled 100 fewer kids, forgoing funding, rather than attract “less-capable students.”
In other words, the report stated, “Some schools in New Orleans preferred to remain under-enrolled than to attract students who might hurt their test scores. … They viewed these practices as just part of their effort to create a coherent school culture or as a necessity for survival in a market-based environment.”
Among these practices have been illegal attempts to exclude special education students. This spring, Lagniappe Academies, an elementary school in New Orleans’ Treme neighborhood, lost its charter license after the state board of education found that administrators had deliberately screened out special needs students by refusing them services and creating a Do Not Call list of families they didn’t want to return the following year. Last year, Louisiana settled a suit filed by the Southern Poverty Law Center on behalf of 10 special-needs students in New Orleans schools—seven of which were charters—alleging that they’d been denied services and unfairly disciplined.
No-excuses charter schools around the country have been accused of disciplining underperforming students in order to push them out. Most deny that claim, but what’s clear is that their strict demerit systems lead to high expulsion rates.
Even if they’re not expelled, students leave New Orleans’ RSD schools at unusually high rates. At 61 percent, the graduation rate is the second-lowest in Louisiana. What happens to the other 39 percent? Only about 3 percent are listed as dropouts; the rest are listed as having switched schools or left the state. But no one really knows for sure. There’s no centralized database to track individual kids from K-12. Youth advocates say this makes it easy for kids to fall through the cracks. Fifiteen percent of New Orleans youth ages 16 to 19 aren’t working or in school, 6 points above the national average.
Rebuilding community power
The 10th anniversary of Katrina has sparked renewed interest in the New Orleans model. A recent Chicago Tribune editorial yearned for a hurricane to strike Chicago so that it, too, could have a “reset” to do away with “restrictive mandates” from government and demands from teachers unions.
Long-time Detroit education activist Helen Moore (center), attended the New Orleans conference and reported back from it at a People’s Assembly in Detroit August 29, 2015. She is flanked by (l) former City Councilwoman JoAnn Watson and (r) Cecily McClellan, VP of the Detroit Active and Retired Employees Association (DAREA).
But the anniversary has also brought together the budding grassroots movement that’s fighting against the larger push for corporate education reform.
In early August, Kristen Buras, author of Charter Schools, Race, and Urban Space: Where the Market Meets Grassroots Resistance, helped organize a two-day conference in New Orleans on community-centered education research. Social justice advocates, educators and union leaders from 10 cities around the country came together out of concern about a loss of community control over schools. Most, not coincidentally, are from urban school districts with high poverty rates and large populations of students of color.
Many who have seen charters replace traditional public schools report the same problems that New Orleans residents describe: closures of public schools that held neighborhoods together, younger and less experienced teachers, the loss of union jobs, experimental teaching practics that can be rigid or harsh, cherrypicking of students and rapid teacher burn-out.
In an email to In These Times, New York University education professor and NPE founder Diane Ravitch summarized the emerging, less-rosy narrative of the New Orleans model, “That model requires firing all the teachers, no matter their performance, allowing them to reapply for a job, and replacing many of them with inexperienced TFA recruits. That model requires wiping out public schools and replacing them with privately managed schools that set their own standards for admission, discipline, expulsion, and are financially opaque. These heavy-handed tactics require a suspension of democracy that would not be tolerated in a white suburb, but can be done to powerless urban districts where the children are black and Hispanic.”
The good news, says Buras, is that, “Community-based activists experiencing this model are starting to connect with one another. The narrative is starting to change.”
Sarah Cobarrubias, Ethan Corey and Karen Gwee contributed research and reporting to this article.
Terrance Kellom, 19 when he was gunned to death in his own father’s home by multi-jurisdictional task force April 27, 2015. Prosecutor Kym Worthy claimed he threatened cops with a hammer, but his fingerprints are NOT on the hammer.
Over? This ain’t over by a damned sight!
Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy did a great job acting as defense attorney for ICE agent Mitchell Quinn by dehumanizing the victim Terrance Kellom and slandering his family. Unfortunately, that’s not her job. As prosecutor, Kym Worthy’s job is to protect us from killers. Sometimes those killers happen to be cops.
You can’t convict killers by taking everything they say at face value and looking for evidence to support their claims. Worthy has held all the cards for 4 months.
Now we’ll have some time to look at her hand and point out discrepancies in the police account the way she was able to find fault with the account of a traumatized man who’d just seen his son die before his eyes.
AIYANA JONES, 7, gunned down by Detroit police May 16, 2010. Portrait by Gyasi Jones.
If only this were an isolated case. Sadly, it is not.
As with the cases of RIP Aiyana Mo’Nay Stanley-Jones. and RIP Adaisha Miller, Worthy did everything in her power to shield the police from accountability for the death of Terrance.
Stand with us Friday as we assemble in the plaza outside the Frank Murphy Hall of Justice at 4pm.
We’ll begin to delve into the evidence against Mitchell Quinn with a critical eye and let Kym Worthy know what we think of her performance.
A Black 18-year-old killed by police in St Louis earlier this week was shot in the back, authorities said on Friday, adding weight to protests that have challenged the official account of his death.
Mansur Ball-Bey, 18, dead after being shot in back as police served a search warrant.
A preliminary autopsy by the city medical examiner determined that Mansur Ball-Bey “sustained a single fatal gunshot wound to his back”, according to a statement released by the St Louis metropolitan police department.
Police chief Sam Dotson acknowledged to the St Louis Post-Dispatch, which first reported the autopsy finding earlier on Friday, that it may mean Ball-Bey was shot while running away. He said, however, “I just don’t know yet.” The shooting is being investigated by the department itself.
Renewed protests broke out in St Louis on Wednesday evening after Ball-Bey was killed as officers executed a search warrant at his aunt’s home that morning. Police deployed teargas and smoke canisters to sweep demonstrators from the streets and nine people were arrested, as some threw rocks and bottles at police lines.
Chris Ball-Bey, the brother of Mansur Ball-Bey, sits by his brother’s memorial after a candlelight vigil on Walton Ave in St Louis on Thursday. Photograph: Lawrence Bryant/Reuters
Police swiftly said Ball-Bey “turned and pointed a gun” at officers after fleeing the home raid through the back door with another teenager. “Fearing for their safety, two officers fired their weapons,” they said on Wednesday. Some witnesses have insisted, however, that the 18-year-old was not carrying a weapon and was shot as he ran away.
Two white male police officers shot at Ball-Bey, police said. The pair, 33 and 29, have both worked at the department for seven years. Their names have not been released and it is not clear which officer’s shot struck Ball-Bey. The officers have been placed on leave.
At a press conference on Friday afternoon, Dotson insisted the medical examiner’s findings “do not change the scope of the investigation” and pledged the inquiry would provide a “complete picture” of what happened.
Dotson said police had spoken to a witness who supported the officers’ allegations against Ball-Bey. He said the witness had, however, also reported the 18-year-old “tossed” the gun at some point, but did not elaborate further.
Dotson said that in preparation for possible further unrest, St Louis city officers were working 12-hour shifts. He appealed for calm from protesters and urged a 14-year-old boy he said escaped after Ball-Bey’s shooting to come forward.
“We will continue to share as much information as we can as quickly as we can,” said Dotson.
The shooting took place about nine miles south-west from where Michael Brown, an unarmed black 18-year-old, was shot dead in August last year by a white police officer in the St Louis suburb of Ferguson. Ball-Bey’s death also fell on the anniversary of the fatal police shooting of Kajieme Powell, a black 25-year-old who had a knife, nine miles to the east.
Brown’s shooting unleashed months of protests in the region and elsewhere, thrusting issues of race and criminal justice on to the national political stage.
Mansur Ball-Bey was a member of the nation of Moors.
Police alleged Ball-Bey was carrying a stolen gun equipped with an extended magazine of ammunition. They said four guns and some crack cocaine were recovered from the scene.
Friday’s statement said the metropolitan police department’s “force investigative unit” would complete a full inquiry into the shooting. Its report will be given to local and federal prosecutors – Jennifer Joyce, the St Louis circuit attorney, and Richard Callahan, the US attorney for the eastern district of Missouri – for review, the statement said.
VOD: Mansur Bell-Bey’s killing brings the total number of people killed by law enforcement in the U.S. in 2015 to date to 667, according to http://killedbypolice.net/. In 2014, 1106 human beings died at the hands of police. People are being killed at the rate of at least one every three days.
Terrance Kellom and his babies Terrance Desmond and Terranae Destiny Kellom, and other family members. Photo: Facebook Janay Williams
Autopsy report released after Worthy press conference, shows Kellom WAS shot in back; attorney to file civil suit
3 other entrance gunshot wounds noted by ME; no second autopsy done
No fingerprints on hammer Kellom allegedly used to pound hole in upstairs crawl space, threaten cops
Police gun(s) that fired 7 bullets not identified; invading task force included I.C.E., Wayne, Oakland County sheriffs; Livonia, Detroit PD’s
BLMDetroit calls protest for Friday, Aug. 28 @ 4 p.m., Frank Murphy Hall
“I want her to resign by Sept. 21, 2016, the 20th anniversary of my brother Lamar’s death”—Arnetta Grable, Jr.
By Diane Bukowski
August 20, 2015, updated August 21, 2015
Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy points to autopsy diagram of body of Terrance Kellom, 19, during press conference Aug. 19, declaring no charges will be brought In his death.
DETROIT – ““I knew she wasn’t going to prosecute this dude,” Arnetta Grable Jr. told VOD after Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy’s announcement on Aug. 19 that no charges would be brought against I.C.E. agent Mitchell Quinn in the death of Terrance Kellom, 19, on April 27.
“I knew the media was going to prosecute Terrance Kellom at the same time, like they did with my brother Lamar,” she said.
“I was at the hair salon when Kym Worthy announced her decision on the Channel 2 News,” Grable explained. “People in the shop were saying Terrance Kellom was just a bad seed, that he had warrants out. Nobody ever considered that he was not convicted, and never will be convicted because he’s dead now. Nobody ever considered that his family said he was turning his life around. She [Worthy] got up there and justified the shooting. No one considered how the hell did he get shot in the back if he was coming at the cops with a hammer.”
Grable has been active in the protest movement against Kellom’s killing by a “Detroit Fugitive Apprehension Team.
Arnetta Grable, Jr. (r) with others at vigil for Terrance Kellom May 2, 2015.
Three-time killer cop Eugene Brown shot Grable’s brother Lamar, 20, to death in 1996. Worthy also refused to prosecute Brown, despite a multi-million jury judgment in the family’s favor, and exposure of an internal police report recommending that charges be filed against Brown for killing Grable and others. The family’s battle to clear Lamar’s name took ten years, overlapping Worthy’s tenure in office.
Kellom was shot multiple times and killed after a seven-member multi-jurisdictional Detroit Fugitive Apprehension Task Force (D-FAT) invaded his father Kevin Kellom’s home with an armed robbery arrest warrant, but no search warrant. Police identified the shooter as Immigration and Customs Enforcement (I.C.E.) agent Mitchell Quinn, a former Detroit police officer. They said he fired because Kellom threatened him with a hammer.
Kevin Kellom holds his newborn granddaughter Terranae Destiny Kellom at rally June 18; his grandson Terrance Desmond Kellom is behind him.
“The police knocked on the door, I opened the door, they came in,” Terrance’s father Kevin Kellom said in part April 28. “There was no need to come in the way they did. They brought my son downstairs, they executed my son in my face. My son died with clutched fists, no hammer. My son reached for me, he got shot twice in his chest. After that, eight more shots ring out. Every time you come in contact with a young Black man, does it have to result in death?”
Worthy acted as judge and jury post-execution during the press conference Aug. 19. She declared Kellom guilty of the armed robbery cited in the warrant and other crimes without a trial. Her declaration was put into black and white in a timeline slide which said for Mar. 31, 2015, “T. Kellom robs pizza del.”
Part of timeline slide Worthy showed at press conference.
That was the arrest warrant police were executing when they also executed Kellom. They entered the home without a search warrant, which was not signed until hours after Kellom was killed.
Worthy also claimed Kevin Kellom, who said he had witnessed the first two shots before police shoved him into the dining room, lied repeatedly in his accounts. She said Kellom and five other witnesses, out of a total of 17, were subjected to interrogations through court-ordered investigative subpoenas. At these events, individuals are not allowed legal representation and are forced to give their statements under oath in a hostile atmosphere.
“As always, we let the facts in evidence and absolutely nothing else guide us,” she said. “No one person, not the news media, not letters, not protests, not petitions, not emails threatening or otherwise, not phone calls, not any member of the public, not any organization, and no threats will dictate any perceived ideas of justice.”
Numerous police cars surrounded the Kellom home at Evergreen and W. Chicago on Detroit’s west side during the press conference, according to a report from a Kellom family member. Evidently, Detroit Police Chief James Craig feared a popular uprising in reaction to the decision.
Hundreds marched down W. Chicago in Detroit from Terrance Kellom’s home April 28. Photo: Kenny Snodgrass
Hundreds had marched outside the Kellom home, taking the streets, the day after Terrance Kellom was killed, as a fiery rebellion raged on in Baltimore against the police custody death of Freddie Gray, Jr. A vigil and three other protests of Kellom’s death occurred afterwards, with one still planned for August 28.
Quinn, a U.S. Marshal, two sheriffs from Oakland and Wayne Counties, one Livonia police officer, and two Detroit police officers comprised the D-FAT team involved, Worthy said.
Terrance Kellom smiles for a friend who grieved his death on Facebook.
“Terrance Kellom was shot four times,” Worthy said, as she laughed during an aside with a Michigan State Trooper, because she at first said seven times.
“Once in the neck with a downward trajectory and no exit wound, once in the shoulder with a downward trajectory and no exit wound; once in the posterior flank with a slightly upward trajectory near an exit wound on the abdomen, and once through and through in the thigh and groin with a downward trajectory that exited out of the groin area.”
Referring to the “posterior flank” wound, she said, “The wound at the far right of his back is consistent with his body twisting slightly to the right.”
No such explanation is given in the complete Medical Examiner’s report, finally released Aug. 20, and Worthy cited no ballistics evidence to that effect. The ME’s report says simply regarding the gunshot wound to Kellom’s back:
Family attorney Karri Mitchell has contended all along that Kellom was shot at least once in the back, shedding doubt on the police contention that only ThQuinn shot Kellom as he ran towards him holding a hammer.
The downward trajectories of the wounds also do not appear to support the prosecution’s claim that Kellom was standing up as he advanced on D-FAT members. Kellom’s father said at one point that he fell to his knees after the first two shots.
Terrance Kellom autopsy diagram shows he was shot in the back as family and attorney claimed.
Worthy showed a body diagram of Kellom’s gunshot wounds from the Wayne County Medical Examiner’s (WCME) autopsy report, but did not release the entire report to the media at the time, or to his family afterwards, choosing instead to give her own interpretation of the chart.
The report was finally released the next day. In a highly unusual move, Worthy earlier ordered the autopsy report and all other evidence in the case sealed pending her decision on charging Quinn.
Worthy’s Communications Officer Maria Miller said regarding the sealed autopsy report, “We have the ability to request that the Medical Examiner not distribute the report if it will interfere with an investigation. A number of witnesses had to be questioned about the fatal shooting. In this instance it was granted [by the ME] because we were able to show that the release of the information would interfere with the investigation.”
She said she could not cite a legal explanation for this and referred that question to attorneys for the ME. In its original May 8 Freedom of Information Act request for the report, VOD cited Swickard v. Wayne County Medical Examiner, 438 Mich. 536, 475 N.W.2d 304, 19 Media L. Rep. 1833 (1991), affirming 184 Mich. App. 662, 459 N.W.2d 92, 17 Media L. Rep. (1990) (summary disposition affirmed for newspaper in FOIA action holding autopsy reports to be public records).
Kevin Kellom’s wife Yvette Johnson at protest June 8, 2015.
Worthy said occupants of the house at the time of the shooting were Terrance Kellom and his unidentified “new girlfriend,” his father Kevin Kellom with his “girlfriend” Yvette Johnson (to whom he is married), Terrance’s sister Teria and her boyfriend, and Terrance’s unidentified “new girlfriend.”
“Kevin Kellom’s girlfriend was in the upstairs bedroom partially clothed, so a female officer was called upstairs,” Worthy said.
“Two DFAT officers went upstairs, and found Terrance Kellom hiding in an attic crawl space,” she continued. “The Oakland County Sheriff looked into the crawl space, and observed him hiding by a heating duct. Terrance Kellom was ordered out, but he yelled at the officer, ‘I have a gun, shoot me bitch, kill me.’ He was observed with a hammer in his hands. He disconnected the heating duct and began to hit floor with the hammer, then crawled through the hole he made in the floor. The DFAT officer watching him radioed that he was going through the floor. The officer ran back downstairs to the southwest bedroom, where he believed he would drop down.”
Worthy said no fingerprints were identified on hammer, which she alleged Kellom used to smash a hole in a crawl space floor, then threaten police. Circled areas show drops of blood id’d as Kellom’s.
Despite Worthy’s description of Kellom’s repeated, forceful use of the hammer, she said Kellom’s fingerprints were NOT found on the hammer, only spots of his blood. She showed a photo of the hammer and a map describing its alleged location on the hallway floor near where Kellom fell.
This reporter earlier went to the upstairs bedroom involved with a family member. The “crawl space” is actually part of that bedroom, not an “attic.” There is no third level in the house.
A very small hole in the crawl space floor was observed, which did not appear large enough for a human being to get through. Worthy claimed it was large enough for Kellom, who was 5’9” and 145 lbs., measuring it at 20 by 11.5 inches. There was additionally no heating duct apparatus in the crawl space, although photos Worthy displayed of it showed large pieces of metal hanging out. The photos were hard to interpret and are not shown here, but in the link at bottom of story. They contain several confusing overlays.
She did not explain why the three police officers said to be in the room stood by idly while Kellom took time hammering a hole in a solid floor, instead of restraining and cuffing him.
Hole in the southwest bedroom closet ceiling can be seen above and to the right of the video arrow. Worthy alleged Kellom jumped through it from a crawl space upstairs. It is small and is directly above a very small space over a closet shelf. Kevin Kellom told Fox2, “You can see nobody could get through that hole.”
“Quinn heard him dropping to the floor [in the southwest bedroom],” Worthy continued.
“He [Kellom] came out of the bedroom with the hammer in hand. He was ordered to drop it several times. He did not, and continued to advance. Quinn fired once, and paused briefly, but Kellom continued to advance. Agent Quinn fired several rounds while backing up, and Kellom fell forward. Two DPD officers present witnessed the weapon [hammer] in his hand. The male DPD officer drew his own weapon, but did not fire any rounds.”
Worthy said a joint Detroit and Michigan State police task force investigated Kellom’s death, and her office followed up with its own investigation during the 98 days following the issuance of a warrant for Quinn. Quinn is a former Detroit police officer who compiled his own record of brutality lawsuits and a felony charge of assaulting his former wife, which was later dismissed, during his time on that force.
Map showing where fired bullets were found.
Map showing location of shell casings from fired bullets.
Worthy said the investigation also considered “dozens” of pieces of evidence, including bullet trajectory, blood spatter patterns, paint analysis, fingerprints, trace evidence of insulation fibers and drywall, serology including DNA, and blood analysis, in addition to witness interviews and the autopsy report.
Photo of hall after Kellom’s killing. It is not time stamped. It is unknown whether hammer at lower left was there when Kellom was killed, or was placed there by police afterwards, like a “throw-away” gun.
She displayed a map of shell casings and bullets found. She said there were seven fired jacketed .40 caliber bullets, one in the southwest bedroom, one in the northwest bedroom, one in the hall way at the base of the steps, and one lodged in the doorjamb of the stairwell behind its molding.
Seven spent .40 caliber casings were also found, four in the north half of the living room, one in the hallway at the base of the stairs, one along the north wall of the bathroom, and one in the top shelf of the closet at the end of the hallway.
The three other bullets were found in Kellom’s body by the Medical Examiner, she said. She did not identify from whose gun(s) the bullets came.
Both maps show an extremely scattered range of found bullets and casings. A recent study showed that spent shell casings land to the right and rear of the shooter 75 percent of the time, so exactly where were the shooter(s) located? (See ShellCasingStudy.)
Worthy said fibers and drywall particles shown in the photos had adhered to Kellom’s clothes as he allegedly jumped through the hole, but that the MSP lab could not match paint chips found on Kellom’s clothing to the paint in the ceiling of the southwest downstairs bedroom.
Cornell Squires, of the Original Detroit Coalition Against Police Brutality, was present during the April 28 rally at the Kellom home.
Members of the Original Detroit Coalition against Police Brutality at the April 28 protest against Terrance Kellom’s killing. They are (l to r), Arnetta Grable, Jr., Butch Carrington, Arnetta Grable, Sr., Herman Vallery (father of Lamar Grable), and Cornell Squires.
“This is usual with Kym Worthy’s office—stall the case, interfere with it, block evidence, and then dismiss any charges,” he said. “Kym Worthy cannot be trusted. You have to do your own independent investigation. We tried to encourage the family to get a second autopsy report, because we knew this was going to go down. Kym Worthy is for sale when it comes to police officers. A second autopsy would have been credible evidence to prove any foul play.”
Rev. Curtis Williams of Trinity Chapel Funeral Home refused to allow second autopsy of Terrance Kellom unless family paid additional fees for funeral.
Arnetta Grable, Sr. said she had already lined up Macomb County Medical Examiner Mark Spitz to do a second autopsy at the funeral home, with repairs to the body completed in time for the funeral.
But Roosevelt “Butch” Carrington, Jr. whose own brother Rodrick Carrington was killed by Eugene Brown in 1995, said he went to the funeral home with his cousin Kevin Kellom. He said funeral home director Rev. Curtis Williams told them the funeral would cost more money if a second autopsy was done.
Worthy said during the press conference that she has prosecuted numerous cops, including one recently for lying during an investigation.
However, during her tenure, she has prosecuted only two police officers out of dozens who killed Detroiters, in cases covered by this reporter. They were Detroit cop Joseph Weekley, who killed Aiyana Jones, 7, in 2010, and Michigan State Trooper Jay Morningstar, for killing a homeless man in Greektown. The prosecution clearly threw the case against Weekley during three trials covered extensively by VOD, and a jury acquitted Morningstar.
Arnetta Grable, Jr. said new leadership is needed, reflecting the sentiments of many young people across the U.S. as they watch their counterparts slaughtered by law enforcement, up to 746 so far this year alone, according to statistics compiled by http://killedbypolice.net.
Members of Lamar Grable’s family and other victims of police officer Eugene Brown outside Frank Murphy Hall, where they met with Kym Worthy’s staff to demand charges against Brown. She refused to charge him.
“I think it starts in community, with leaders who are supposed to have our back and don’t have our back,” Grable Jr. said. “I’m tired of it. I feel that we as a people, Black and white and whatever, need to stand up and make a decision about who’s going to lead us, or decide to lead ourselves. We are running ourselves into the ground more and more, listening to ministers, civil rights leaders, and others in the community that don’t have our back. We need somebody willing to fight for us. It’s not going to be the feds, the city, the state, or any government. How did they let them run up in Terrance Kellom’s house and treat him like that? How did they let them kill a little bitty boy half their size like that? We need to rise up. We can’t sit around and do nothing.”
So-called community leaders in Detroit have repeatedly stopped or sabotaged militant protests like that in Baltimore which forced murder charges to be brought against four cops involved in the police custody death of Freddie Gray, Jr.
Hundreds who attended a vigil for Aiyana Jones the night of May 16, 2010, after Detroit police killed her that morning, began to march on the police station afterwards, but were stopped by Ron Scott, according to three individuals present at the vigil, including Kenny Snodgrass, who took the video below.
A march and rebellion at that time may have changed the tenor of events afterwards, during which the entire Jones family has faced unrelenting media attacks and watched as killer cop Weekley walked.
Two weeks later, Rev. Horace Sheffield, Sam Riddle, and several others forestalled a mini-rebellion in an east-side neighborhood near Aiyana’s after Grosse Pointe and State Police shot and wounded an unarmed young man in the neck as he exited his car after a chase.
Kym Worthy takes the oath of office as Prosecutor Jan. 6, 2004, as her adopted daughter Anastasia looks on. Worthy has refused to support state legislation barring juvenile life without parole.
Grable, Jr. called Prosecutor Worthy an “evil” person.
“She’s never really been a mother, she never cared about the lives of us in this city or this state or she would have tried to do better,” Grable, who has two children, including a son named Lamar after her brother, said. “Instead, she is doing the devil’s work. Next year will be the 20th anniversary of Lamar’s death, on Sept. 21, 2016. By that date, I want her to resign. We’re going to find everything we can find on her, so that she won’t show her face in Detroit again.”
FACEBOOK EVENT TO PROTEST EXONERATION OF POLICE IN TERRANCE KELLOM’S DEATH
WE’VE HEARD FROM KYM WORTHY; NOW KYM WORTHY HEARS FROM US!
FRIDAY, AUGUST 28, 2015 @ 4 pm
Protest at Frank Murphy Hall of Justice, Gratiot at St. Antoine
Over? This ain’t over by a damned sight! Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy did a great job acting as defense attorney for ICE agent, Mitchell Quinn by dehumanizing the victim, Terrance Kellom and slandering his family. Unfortunately, that’s not her job. As prosecutor, Kym Worthy’s job is to protect us from killers. Sometimes those killers happen to be cops.
Marchers protesting Terrance Kellom’s death on April 28 also remembered Aiyana Stanley Jones.
You can’t convict killers by taking everything they say at face value and looking for evidence to support their claims. Worthy has held all the cards for 4 months. Now we’ll have some time to look at her hand and point out discrepancies in the police account the way she was able to find fault with the account of a traumatized man who’d just seen his son die before his eyes.
If only this were an isolated case. Sadly, it is not. As with the cases of RIP Aiyana Mo’Nay Stanley-Jones. and RIP Adaisha Miller, Worthy did everything in her power to shield the police from accountability for the death of Terrance. Stand with us Friday as we assemble in the plaza outside the Frank Murphy Hall of Justice at 4pm. We’ll begin to delve into the evidence against Mitchell Quinn with a critical eye and let Kym Worthy know what we think of her performance.
Protesters at Flint city hall in January. Flint’s Emergency Manager ordered the city to disconnect from the Detroit Water & Sewerage Dept. and establish its own water treatment facilities. Residents have since complained of polluted water, higher rates.
Genesee County Judge Archie Hayman issues injunction lowering Flint water bills, stopping shut-offs immediately
Order results from lawsuit filed in 2014 by Flint residents
Genesee County Circuit Court Judge Archie Hayman/file photo Flint Journal
FLINT, MI — An order signed Monday, Aug. 17, would lower water and sewer rates by 35 percent in Flint and could require the city to drop a ready-to-service fee charged to customers.
City officials said they will appeal the decision and ask that the injunction be put on hold.
“We will immediately file an appeal of the court’s order and seek a stay pending higher review,” City Attorney Pete Bade said in a statement released by the city. “It is our position the court should not have issued the injunction. The court abused its discretion by granting the injunction and ignored well-established legal standards.”
Hayman’s decision, reached last week and formalized Monday, also orders the city to meet with an attorney representing Flint residents who filed the lawsuit in 2014 and negotiate repayment of $15.7 million to the city’s sewer fund.
The judge’s injunction orders the city to stop water disconnections and liens for past-due bills effective immediately.
Flint’s EM had city set up its own pipeline (red) from Lake Huron, duplicating DWSD pipeline (blue).
“I love this city. I am not trying to run the city into bankruptcy,” said Genesee Circuit Court Judge Archie Hayman. “I’m just making it follow the law.”
Unless the state Court of Appeals stays Hayman’s decision, it could result in lower water and sewer bills for Flint customers almost immediately, said attorney Val Washington, who represents Flint water customers Larry Shears and Margaret Fralick in the lawsuit.
Officials have said city water and sewer customers pay some of the highest rates in Michigan. Hayman’s decision says the price includes a 35 percent rate hike enacted in 2011 in violation of a city ordinance that required advance notice to customers and that higher prices be added over 12 months rather than all at once.
The judge also enjoined the city from collecting readiness-to-service fees until it complies with a city ordinance requiring officials to justify those charges in writing.
Water and sewer customers pay the fees, which amount to a $57.38 for a typical residential customer, as a part of their monthly water and sewer bill.
Attorney Val Washington argued for Flint residents. MLive photo
Hayman has also said the city wrongfully transferred $15.7 million in water and sewer funds in 2007 to help settle a lawsuit involving sewage overflows.
The city released a statement from City Administrator Natasha L. Henderson Monday that says officials “are carefully reviewing the judge’s order to ensure the city is compliant.”
“As always, the focus is on providing services to this community including safe and secure water that all of our families and businesses depend on,” Henderson’s statement says.
City officials have said the judge’s ruling could force Flint into bankruptcy, and Henderson issued a hiring freeze directive to department heads earlier this month in response to Hayman’s order.
VOD: why can’t U.S. District Court Judge Bernard Friedman issue the same order for Detroiters in current case before him? After U.S. Bankruptcy Court Judge Steven Rhodes denied Detroit plaintiffs in Lyda v. Detroit, case was appealed to District Court.
Video above: hundreds turned out for vigil for 15-year-old Andre Green
Green killed on anniversary of Michael Brown death, same day cops in Ferguson critically wounded Tyrone Harris, Jr.
Witness Allen Eaton, father say Green did nothing to threaten cops
Indy cops have few dashcam videos, no bodycams
Teen sixth person killed by Indianapolis police this year
729 dead at the hands of U.S. law enforcement in 2015
Andre Green, 15, dead at hands of Indy cops
From video in Indianapolis Star, eyewitness Allen Eaton, who was standing a short distance away:
“When the police came through here chasing the car, the car went on a dead end. The car tried to turn around. I guess he didn’t know he couldn’t get out. He turned, he bumped the police car after that. And after that the police told him get out and they just fired at him. He wasn’t trying to run down the police officers. He was trying to back up, and that’s when he bumped them back, he couldn’t go nowhere. He definitely wasn’t trying to run them down. [the other guys] jumped out and ran. They was trying to get away. Then the police just killed him. He didn’t do nothing that made them feel that he was threatening their life.”
Allen Eaton at site of Andre Green’s killing by Indianapolis police. Indianapolis Star
August 11, 2015
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — The father of a 15-year-old boy fatally shot by Indianapolis police who had cornered the young carjacking suspect after a pursuit said Wednesday he believes his son posed no threat to the officers.
Andre Green’s father, Kenneth Green, said he questions the police account of his son’s fatal shooting, including the assertion that the teen was accelerating a stolen car in a possible attempt to strike officers who had cornered him near a cul-de-sac after two passengers bailed out.
Police said Monday that three officers fired on the teen Sunday night, Aug. 9, because they feared the accelerating vehicle might strike them after it had rammed a police car moments before.
Kenneth Green told The Associated Press he believes his son was just trying to get away from police, not threaten them, as he accelerated the car, which police said had been stolen Sunday at gunpoint.
Ikeila Watford, cousin of teenager Andre Green who was shot by IMPD Sunday night, sheds a tear as his aunt Chonda Watford and sister Terika Jackson mourn the loss of his life on Monument Circle during a vigil held Monday evening, August 11, 2015.(Photo: Matt Detrich/The Star)
“He wasn’t a threat. They said my son was armed, but I don’t know about that. All I want to know is the truth, what happened to my son — if he was right or wrong,” Green said while seated outside the home where his son’s mother lives on a shady, tree-lined street.
“I have a lot of pain in my heart right now. I’m just looking for answers to my questions.”
Police said Monday that the youth was holding a handgun when he exited the car after being shot and that the confrontation and shooting was not captured by any department cameras.
Green’s shooting happened the same weekend as events marking the anniversary of the death of Michael Brown, an unarmed, black 18-year-old who was fatally shot by a white police officer in Ferguson, Missouri.
Assistant Police Chief Lloyd Crowe said Wednesday he believes the two white officers and a black officer acted appropriately when they opened fire on the Indianapolis youth because they feared the accelerating car could strike them.
Woman stops by memorial for Andre Green, 15, in Indianapolis alley where he was killed by police.
“I wasn’t there, obviously, but I have faith that these officers relied on their training in that instance to make a decision on the reasonable use of force, the level of force to use,” he said.
Crowe said it isn’t known yet how many shots the officers fired, how many times Andre Green was struck, or whether a handgun found near his body was the one used to fire four shots after the car was stolen from its owner about an hour before the deadly confrontation. No one was injured in that shooting.
The three officers, who are on administrative leave, will likely be interviewed later this week or early next week by members of the department’s internal affairs unit investigating the fatal shooting, Crowe said. The department’s policy is to give officers involved in fatal shootings a 72-hour cooling down period and access to counseling before such interviews occur, he said.
Crowe said it’s expected to take weeks for the internal affairs unit to complete its findings. That report would be forwarded to prosecutors to determine if the officers acted appropriately or if any of them could face charges, he said.
“A lot of us have questions we want answers to, but they’re just not available at this point,” he said. Crowe added that the three officers are emotional and shaken up by the shooting, which he called “a tragic, tragic event for everybody involved.”
Green said his son, who pleaded guilty in May to juvenile charges of auto theft and criminal mischief stemming from the March theft of a car from an Indianapolis church, had some run-ins with the law but was “a wonderful son.”
“Just because he had a court record doesn’t make him a bad person. Plenty of people make mistakes,” he said.
Protesters at Wayne County Treasurer June 8, 2015.
Alonzo Long, Jr.
PACK THE COURT!
SUPPORT ALONZO LONG, JR.
Friday, August 14, 2015 @9am
Frank Murphy Hall of Justice Rm. #604
(St. Antoine at Gratiot)
Long defended his family members from illegal armed eviction by tax foreclosure bidders in 2014
Young man’s first trial ended with hung jury
The first trial of Alonzo Long, Jr., 22, charged with two counts of felony murder as well as first-degree murder, ended in a hung jury. This is good news. A preliminary exam, a prelude to a second trial, is scheduled for Friday, August 14.
Long’s family and friends have asked for our support by attending the hearing. The hearing will take place on Friday, August 14, at 9 am, in room 604 of the Frank Murphy Hall of Justice. The Frank Murphy Hall of Justice is located at Saint Antoine St. and Gratiot Ave.
Rosedale Park home on Piedmont where shootings took place Nov. 28, 2014.
Last November 28, Alonzo Long, Jr., was helping his uncle move out of a home in Rosedale Park that the family lost in the fall 2014 tax foreclosure auction. The purchasers of the home, Howard L. Franklin and his daughter Catherine Franklin, arrived and accused Long and his relatives of stealing window blinds and a chandelier from the property.
The Franklins called the police. The police arrived and observed that the previous owners were vacating the property and ordered the Franklins to leave and allow the move-out to proceed with any more hinderance and harassment. But that evening, the Franklins arrived at the home again.
It was dark both inside and outside of the home. The electric and gas service to the home had already been terminated. The Franklins arrived armed. Long was also armed. All three people had permits to carry a concealed pistol. According to witnesses, the Franklins shot a young woman family member first. Relatives called Long to come into the house for defense. A shootout occurred and tragically ended with the deaths of the Franklins.
MASS PROTEST VS. ILLEGAL TAX FORECLOSURES AT WAYNE CO. TREASURER OFFICE JUNE 8, 2015.
According to the Voice of Detroit,
Howard Franklin did not follow the law by first going to 36th District Court’s landlord-tenant division and filing for eviction, a mandatory process with notice to occupants that, if successful, is carried out only by Wayne County bailiffs. The Franklins had no right even to enter the premises without permission of the occupants, according to the treasurer’s bidding requirements.
The tragic deaths of the Franklins are the direct consequence of the mass tax foreclosures initiated by Wayne County Treasurer Raymond Wojtowicz and supported by Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan.
Racketeering partners Detroit un-Mayor Mike Duggan, billionaire Dan Gilbert. Gilbert heads Detroit Blight Removal Task Force despite USDOJ charges of predatory lending, illegal foreclosures brought against his company, Quicken Loans.
The Detroit tax foreclosures have actually been illegal for the last 20 years, during which the City of Detroit did not perform annual property evaluations as required by state law.
They also could have been resolved by using federal “Hardest Hit Funds” to keep homeowners in their homes. In November 2014, approximately $250 million was still available to assist homeowners keep their homes.
Instead, Mayor Mike Duggan, subprime lender Dan Gilbert, Governor Rick Snyder, and other elected misleaders, successfully lobbied the Federal government to allow the Hardest Hit Funds to be used to tear down blighted structures!
Had the funds been used to pay for property tax delinquencies and keep people in their homes, the City of Detroit, the Wayne County Treasury, the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department, and the Detroit Public Schools would have also benefited.
Facebook: Pack the Court! Support Alonzo Long, Jr.
Video above: Ferguson shooting of man [Tyrone Harris, Jr.] and arrest of videographer recording crime scene –posted by Photography is not a Crime
Harris family denies he had a gun; why were plainclothes police tailing this friend of Mike Brown’s? Who shot into crowd at store first?
Ferguson 15-year-old says he would fire at police: “I wouldn’t want to do it but I would to save my life.”
By Richard B. Muhammad and J.A. Salaam –Final Call Staffers
Updated Aug 11, 2015 – 4:41:39 PM
(Photos, captions and videos inserted by Voice of Detroit.)
Tyrone Harris Jr. who is fighting for his life. His family denies he was armed; girlfriend who was with him said he was running toward her car, which was parked near plainclothes police car. Police said they had been tailing him all day. Was he targeted by police as friend of Michael Brown? Who started the barrage of shots outside the store–protesters or police? Why were plainclothes police involved in the first place?
FERGUSON, Mo. (FinalCall.com) – The image of a young Black male, bloodied, handcuffed facedown and surrounded by police officers was perhaps the ultimate illustration of how little has changed a year after 18-year-old Mike Brown, Jr., was shot to death here by a White police officer.
A state of emergency was imposed Aug. 10 as Tyrone Harris, Jr., fought for his life at Final Call press time. According to the St. Louis County Police Dept. the 18-year-old was involved in a gunfight with others on West Florissant Avenue, fled his enemies but turned his weapon on plainclothes officers responding to the gunplay.
The emergency declaration did little to keep people off of streets, it initiated a nightly cycle of confrontation well-established a year ago. Aggressive policing, tear gas and what demonstrators see as intimidation only breed a counter refusal to back down or kowtow to authorities.
Some 2,000 protestors showed up the night of Aug. 10 and appeared to outnumber police officers, who remained in full riot gear and quickly moved against anyone who tried to block traffic.
“It’s like the police have learned nothing. The state of emergency is the result of county government’s unwillingness to control the police and authorities, who used excessive force on a crowd that was retreating as instructed,” said Montague Simmons, executive director of the Organization for Black Struggle. “Once again, police disregarded the rules of engagement. (County executive Steve Stenger) has shown no interest in engaging in dialogue or changes.”
Gwen Drisdel, Tyrone Harris, Jr’s grandmother, shows his high school diploma to St. Louis Post-Dispatch reporter. She told him, “I don’t believe he would disrespect police like that. There was a lot of confusion, and it was very dark. . . .I know his girlfriend said he was running from the shooting toward her car, and where the plainclothesmen were. He was running from the bullets; I’m not even sure he knew he was encountering police.”
“The Organization for Black Struggle supports the pursuit of justice through nonviolent civil disobedience as displayed by Moral Monday sit-in participants today. Based on St. Louis County Commissioner Stenger’s stated criteria for declaring a state of emergency, the St. Louis metro area should always be under a state of emergency because of the constant potential for harm to Black people and relentless attempts to silence those who work toward justice,” Mr. Simmons added.
“In light of last night’s violence and unrest in the City of Ferguson, and the potential for harm to persons and property, I am exercising my authority as county executive to issue a state of emergency, effective immediately,” Mr. Stenger announced referring to 50-60 gunshots that rang out the early morning of Aug. 10. St. Louis County Police Chief Jon Belmar said shots were fired at an unmarked police vehicle and with bullets piercing a window and the front of the SUV.
Mr. Harris, Jr., is accused of firing those shots.
He faces 10 felony charges, five counts of armed criminal action, four counts of first-degree assault on a law enforcement officer and a firearms charge. He was in critical condition after surgery and family members complained they were given no information and were not given a chance to see him.
St. Louis Alderman Antonio French. He disparaged looters as opportunists. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. said rebellions are “the voice of the unheard.” There have been looters in every major rebellion in the U.S. They are poor people re-distributing the wealth that is not available to them, unlike Alderman French, who evidently has no need to do so–VOD
The shots rang out in the wee hours of Aug. 10 as protestors confronted a line of officers dressed in riot gear across Ferguson Avenue and West Florissant Avenue as officers essentially had protestors surrounded.
“Opportunists,” in the words of Alderman Antonio French of St. Louis, tried to break into some businesses. Shots rang out as he and others tried to prevent any looting.
Malik Shabazz of Black Lawyers for Justice, who was back in town to commemorate the one-year anniversary of the rebellion and killing of Mike Brown, Jr., saw a confrontation between two groups and then heard gunshots. It looked like a dispute as a teenager broke into a store and others tried to take the stolen items, he said.
As Mr. Shabazz ducked for cover, he couldn’t tell who was doing the shooting, but heard something striking the street.
Panic set in as shots were fired. People ran, snatching up baby strollers and children. Others ducked behind cars or any available barrier. Police said shots were also fired on a lot in front of a market. They ordered people away from their lines.
Protesters face off against police on West Florissant, where Michael Brown died. FC photo
A short time after people cleared out, social media exploded with tweets and photos saying someone had been shot, possibly killed. People returned to the area, angry, frustrated and fed up. There was shouting, some items thrown at police, then smoke bombs and what protestors called tear gas.
The county executive declared enough is enough: “The recent acts of violence will not be tolerated in a community that has worked so tirelessly over the last year to rebuild and become stronger.” He turned law enforcement authority and police emergency management for Ferguson and surrounding areas into the hands of Chief Belmar.
An active and peaceful weekend gave way to angst, protest and civil disobedience as protestors shutdown several highways, were arrested sitting-in at the St. Louis federal building and took to the streets. “Justice Department do your job!” they chanted outside of the federal court building.
Cornel West (third from l) and others engage in civil disobedience outside federal courthouse in St. Louis. West and others were later arrested. FC photo
Pastor Cori Bush questioned whether the state of emergency was to protect people or property. None of the three people shot last night were mentioned by the county executive, she said. She also saw the declaration as an excuse for officers to escalate conflict.
Things were peaceful when police didn’t come out, then it progressed from talking with officers, to reinforcements quickly filing in, to two tanks, and riot gear wearing officers in an L-shaped formation moving forward, pushing people for no reason, said Pastor Bush. She came out to West Florissant Avenue after hearing someone had been shot.
“All we wanted to know was what was going on,” Pastor Bush said. Some people were maced in the face, mace hit the back of her head and then people went crazy, she said. There had to be 300 officers on the scene, said Pastor Bush.
No peace until police shootings stop
Pastor Cori Bush (l) during protests. From Twitter.
Police and politicians aren’t the only ones who are fed up, said Pastor Bush. “Ferguson will take more of this until they stop shooting us. What do they expect? What day on the calendar can they pinpoint and say ‘we are not going to shoot you?’ We came out here for justice and if we wanted to turn back we would have done it months ago,” said the woman who described herself as “Miss Ferguson Frontline.”
“After a year of protests and conversation around police accountability, having plainclothes officers without cameras or proper identification in the protest setting leaves us with only the officer’s account of the incident, which is problematic,” observed Kayla Reed of the Organization for Black Struggle.
Family members of the accused shooter insisted he did not have a weapon and was trying to get away from shooters when officers fired on him.
Anthony Shahid. Twitter photo Richard Muhammad
“The people are more fed up than the police and the politicians because the politicians have put things in place that is business as usual,” said activist Anthony Shahid, who has been engaged in protests and supporting the father of Mike Brown, Jr. over the past year.
The police are disconnected from Blacks and with “this Darren Wilson mindset are shooting us straight down and our people are tired of it. Young people just are not going to take it,” he said.
He called for four and half days of civil disobedience and shutting down anything and everything—highways, bus stations, convention centers, federal banks, tourist attractions. “I am saying close them down because White folk don’t understand nothing but money,” said Mr. Shahid.
“It’s not going to get better,” he said. They are shooting Black folk like animals but even the animals have more rights than Blacks do, added the activist. Animal rights groups will defend the well-being of animals but no one cares about Black suffering, said Mr. Shahid.
“I don’t see Black police shooting White boys like that,” he continued. So long as cops, politicians, prosecutors and police unions collude to protect all officers, the unrest is not going to die down, Mr. Shahid predicted.
“I see the volcano getting ready to erupt,” he said.