STOP DUGGAN’S ATTACK ON CDBG LOW-INCOME HOME LOANS, DEMOLITION OF DETROIT’S HOUSING STOCK

 

Homes in Virginia Park Historic District neighborhood.
Homes in Virginia Park Historic District neighborhood. Photo: Wikipedia

 

 

By Joyce Moore

Dec. 18, 2014 (VOD editor–sorry, picked up story late from email.)

Joyce Moore

Joyce Moore

DETROIT – Somehow, we are putting people in office that make over $100,000.00 (One Hundred Thousand Dollars) a year to represent our best interest! We as a country give away millions to other countries. The City of Detroit: My City, Your City, Our City is clearly under attack. Demolition of beautiful structures with crown moldings, fire places that connect the living room with the dining room, beveled door casings, beveled window casings and beautiful dome ceilings is a short list of irreplaceable beauty and a list of the beauty that is lacking in new construction.

Interior of one Detroit historic home.

Interior of one Detroit historic home.

My neighborhood is composed of old historic two (2) family structures of which I have converted my two (2) family into a single home. In 2013-2014 I was a recipient of the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) Funds – Home Repair Program. I was able under the CDBG – Home Repair Program to get a new roof, windows and a porch of which this GRANT/LOAN will be forgivable within 3 to 5 years.

The purpose of the CDBG funds is to help LOW TO MODERATE income citizens through Federal Regulation (LAWS) and HUD Guidelines. These TAX DOLLARS are very much needed to be used to help build our blocks, build our neighborhoods, build our communities and build our city in terms of removing blight as houses are being demolished as we speak.

See video below with Joyce Moore and Cynthia Johnson discussing CDBG.

Mayor Mike Duggan of the City of Detroit wants to make the CDBG – Home Repair Program for LOW TO MODERATE income citizens a LOAN/MORTGAGE Program that is not forgivable. On December 17, 2014 at 04:06 P.M., I submitted a Complaint to the United States District Court – Eastern District of Michigan against Mayor, Mike Duggan of the City of Detroit and U.S. Housing Urban Development in regard to the CDBG – Home Repair Program funds being a LOAN/MORTGAGE Program. Because I don’t have the $400.00 to officially file the Complaint, I requested an individual fee waiver.

Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder and Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan congratulate each other on bankruptcy approval.

Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder and Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan congratulate each other on bankruptcy approval.

I wanted to add to this Complaint “THE PEOPLE IN THE CITY OF DETROIT and THE VIRGINIA PARK COMMUNITY COALITION – DISTRICT 5”, because this is about those who need the CDBG Funds – Home Repair Program to help with the repairs to their home as a GRANT not as a LOAN/MORTGAGE. Tomorrow, Thursday, December 18, 2014, I will call Judge Terrence Berg of the Eastern District at 1-810-341-9760 and ask him to please grant the fee waiver and expedite our Complaint. Our court case number is 4:14-CV-14775. Let’s hope that Judge Berg is a fair judge.

LET ME SAY THAT MAYOR MIKE DUGGAN HAS DISREGARDED CONGRESS AND ALL OF IT’S LAWS AS THEY PERTAIN TO “LOW TO MODERATE” INCOME CITIZENS………WHAT ELECTED OFFICIAL IS GOING TO STEP UP TO THE PLATE?

Contact Joyce Moore at 1948moorej@comcast.net.


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STATEMENT: LONG, JR. ACTED IN SELF-DEFENSE IN PIEDMONT KILLINGS;TOOK WOUNDED GIRL TO HOSPITAL

Marchers demand moratorium on foreclosures, evictions and other attacks on the people at march Aug. 28, 2012.
Marchers demand moratorium on foreclosures, evictions and other attacks on the people at march in downtown Detroit Aug. 28, 2012.

 “I thought they were going to shoot everyone”

 Franklins died; Long, Jr. facing life in prison

 Confrontations spreading since October, 2o14 Treasurer’s tax auction

 Organizers call for immediate moratorium on tax foreclosures

Conclusion of Alonzo Long, Jr. preliminary exam Tues. Jan. 6, 2015

By Diane Bukowski

 January 3, 2015 

Alonzo Long, Jr. told police in a statement that he did not fire first, and was defending family members as they moved from tax-foreclosed home.

Alonzo Long, Jr. told police in a statement that he did not fire first, and was defending family members as they moved from tax-foreclosed home.

DETROIT – Relatives, friends and community organizers supporting Alonzo Long, Jr., 22, including a half-dozen white high school students, along with relatives and friends of Howard Franklin, 72, and Catherine Franklin, 37, killed by Long Nov. 28, packed the court for the second part of his preliminary exam Jan. 2 in front of 36th District Judge Ruth Carter.

Long faces two counts of first-degree (premeditated) murder in the deaths, which he told police resulted from his defense of family members moving possessions from 15114 Piedmont in Rosedale Park. He said they were confronted by the Franklins, both armed. The elder Franklin bought the home at the Wayne County Treasurer’s October tax auction; it was deeded to him Nov 10.

“My nephew would never have had the intention to kill anybody, and my sympathy goes out to their family,” a woman who said she was Long’s aunt told VOD. No other family members from either side commented to the media.

Long’s attorney, Charles Longstreet II, told the Detroit Free Press that the case “is a question of self-defense.”

Charles Longstreet II of Longstreet Law Firm./ Facebook photo

Charles Longstreet II of Longstreet Law Firm, said case is one of self-defense./ Facebook photo

Similar incidents, none so far known to be fatal, have been reported across Detroit since the October tax auction. There appears to be confusion over new state laws which allow landlords to remove “squatters” themselves. The laws specify, however, that a court order must be obtained to evict foreclosed owners or their relatives and renters, who are NOT considered squatters, and provide stiff penalties for violations by new owners. They also are extremely harsh on actual “squatters,” putting penalties for “squatting” in the same category as those for “terrorism.”

The Piedmont home was owned by Willie and Margaret Fletcher, and occupied by their grandson, according to a county records and a board member of the Rosedale Park community association.

“The lady started shooting, and I thought they were going to shoot everyone,” Long said in a written statement read by Michigan State Detective Trooper Tracy Walton during the hearing. “My girl Tamika was shot.”

He said after the shootings, he took Tamika to the hospital and returned to his home, where he later voluntarily surrendered to police.

In the statement, Long denied shooting first, and denied stating, “Y’all got guns, I got one too.”

Home at 15114 Piedmont where shootings occurred Nov. 28, 2014.

He said he was sitting in a car outside, and entered the home after his uncle called for him from inside during an apparent argument. He said he did not see the younger Franklin with a gun at first on entering, but did see the elder Franklin with one, putting his hand across his chest to draw it. He said he drew his own gun from a holster and fired at him. All three individuals had concealed weapons permits.

Long’s lawyer Charles Longstreet II objected to admission of the statement because Walton was not present for the entire interrogation and because it was not inclusive of the entire two and one-half hour interview, which was videotaped.

“My client said he was not the first person to fire a shot, and he maintained that throughout the interview,” Longstreet said. “My client said Howard Franklin had a revolver, and [the police] did discover that.”

PA 233 box

This is part of one of three new so-called “sqatters” laws sponsored by conservative State Rep. Kurt Heise (R). Although they criminalize squatting, they also protect some rights of previous owners and their relatives, as well as renters, who are not considered squatters. 

He also said that sufficient time had not elapsed between the date of the new deed, Nov. 10, and the incident on Nov. 28, for a legal eviction to be carried out. Assistant Wayne County Prosecutor Daniel Williams countered that the occupants were “voluntarily” evicting themselves.

Detroit police officer Scott Holbrook, who said he had been on the force for a year, testified that he and his partner were called to the home by an employee of Catherine Franklin. He said they found “a lady on the porch not breathing,” and a “man on a pile of clothes not breathing.”

He said Howard Franklin had a .38 Special Ruger revolver. He said it had not been fired, since he emptied the gun of five unspent rounds before putting it into evidence. He said the gun was in Franklin’s left side shirt pocket, with the handle protruding. On cross, he said the gun would have to have been taken out of the pocket with Franklin’s right hand, causing his arm to cross his chest.

He said he did not examine the woman on the porch. An employee of Catherine Franklin’s testified earlier that she had a gun in her hand when she fell out the front door, mortally wounded. No forensic evidence has been presented.

Judge Carter said she would review a two and one-half hour video of the Long interrogation in camera before resumption of the exam and disposition of the case Tues. Jan. 6 at 1 p.m.

After the exam, Mike Shane of the Moratorium NOW Coalition Against Foreclosures, Evictions, and Shut-offs said they and other groups are instituting a city-wide campaign for an immediate moratorium on all tax foreclosures, due in part to the increasingly volatile situation they represent. He said in particular occupied properties should not be sold, and called for the charges against Long to be dismissed.

Newly installed Wayne County Executive Warren Evans previously called such a moratorium on mortgage foreclosures during his tenure as Wayne County Sheriff.

Mike Shane at rally against Detroit banks in 2013.

“This [type of incident] can happen again,” Shane said. “Clearly county and city officials are running roughshod over the neighborhoods pushing these foreclosures through. There are at least 20 different kinds of irregularities that we’ve found in the foreclosures. Housing is a human right. We don’t need to be increasing Detroit’s homeless population. People are paying too much on property taxes anyway. The county and the city are not emphasizing proper eviction procedures to the people, and Police Chief James Craig is telling everyone to get armed to defend themselves. They’re sending mixed messages.”

He said the Coalition is approaching 20 community organizations this week to get support for a moratorium.

Along with the 15114 Piedmont home, community organizer Agnes Hitchcock said at least 16 others nearby on Piedmont have large past due tax bills, with one foreclosure, one owing for four years, three for three years, and two for two years. All are subject to foreclosure.

Confrontations between new owners and occupants are taking place with increasing regularity.

Ardmore home where winning bidder illegally removed everything in the house.

Ardmore home where winning bidder Tracey Moore illegally removed everything in the owner-occupied house without court order.

One woman told VOD that the home on Ardmore which her husband’s grandmother Faustine Hawkins has occupied since at least 1988 was evidently sold at the October auction. However, Ms. Hawkins had quit claimed the home, where her grandson Keith Dortch spent his entire life, to him in 2012, as shown in county records. Register of Deeds records for both Hawkins and Dortch show no foreclosure action taken against the property. Mrs. Dortch is temporarily in a nursing home recovering from a stroke, but the woman said she is expected to recover and return home.

However, Wayne County Probate Court Judge June E. Blackwell Hatcher granted an Adult Foster Care petition for conservatorship for Ms. Hawkins Nov. 10. AFC claimed in their petition that Ms. Hawkins has dementia, and “the adult has property that will be Wasted or dissipated unless proper management is provided.”

On Nov. 11, the treasurer deeded the house to Tracey Moore of Detroit from the October tax auction.

March 1 meeting on foreclosures, evictions and other community matters, attended by many Rosedale Park residents. At right are Abayomi Azikiwe and Dave Sole of the Moratorium Now! Coalition,

March 1 meeting on foreclosures, evictions and other community matters, attended by many Rosedale Park residents. At right are Abayomi Azikiwe and Dave Sole of the Moratorium Now! Coalition,

“She [Moore] got a dumpster and had everything thrown out of our home,” the woman said. “Granny is 88 had a lot of treasured properties in there. My husband got upset when he came by, and the police were called, but he wasn’t charged. We filed to take [Moore] to court, but she didn’t show up for the hearing. Now cars keep riding by our house but we’ve changed the locks and my husband has told them not to come back on the property anymore.”

The new so-called “squatter laws” actually provide for compensation to a legitimate occupant for damages three times the original value if they are illegally evicted.

Jamal Gilmer, Sereena Patterson/Photo Fox 2 News Detroit

Jamal Gilmer, Sereena Patterson/Photo Fox 2 News Detroit

In another case Dec. 9, covered by MyFoxDetroit’s Ronnie Dahl, Detroit police arrested Jamal Gilmer when he went to the house he had just purchased to get the previous owner, Sareena Patterson, to move out. Angry when police told him he could not order Patterson out without a court order, since she had a deed and was not a squatter, he told the police he didn’t need them and approached the house himself.

Patterson told Fox 2, “When you go from ‘We’re going to work out a deal, I don’t want the house’ to all of a sudden I need to get out, well then you’re going to have to go file the papers, so I can get out.”

West Outer Drive home bought by 25-year-old winning bidder.

West Outer Drive home bought by 25-year-old winning bidder.

Gilmer bemoaned his fate, saying “I had to spend a night in jail. It cost me another $100 to bail myself out and it’s like my hands are tied.”

Channel 7 covered  another case Dec. 17, in which the new owner, Brittney Harden, 25, who said she paid $50,000 for the West Outer Drive home, claimed the occupants were squatters.

Fox 2 headlined the story asserting that the occupants were indeed squatters. But the so-called “squatter,” a mother of small children, told Dahl that she had rented the house for seven years from the landlord, who lost it in the foreclosure sale. Dahl reported that Harden has now gone to 36th District Court to go through proper eviction procedures. According to Register of Deeds records, Harden herself lost her home to tax foreclosure earlier in the year.

For more information, contact the Moratorium NOW! Coalition at http://www.moratorium-mi.org/.

Related:

New state “squatters” laws at 2014-PA-0223 eviction rights landlord and tenant Heise and 2014-PA-0224 Anti-squatter and 2014-PA-0225 penalties for squatting.

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2015/01/01/stop-tax-evictions-drop-charges-vs-alonzo-long-jr-come-to-hearing-fri-jan-2-1-pm/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2014/12/19/two-dead-one-wounded-one-youth-facing-life-in-prison-for-defense-against-armed-eviction-attempt/

 


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COP WHO KILLED ANTONIO MARTIN, 18 IN ST. LOUIS SUBURB OF BERKELEY IS ANDREW WEUSTHOFF

Video above shows crowd attacking Berkeley, MO police at gas station where Antonio Martin, 18, had just been shot to death by white cop Andrew Weusthoff. Witnesses said he was alive for 30 minutes, but police did not call for medical assistance. 

Photography is Not a Crime PINACPosted by: Carlos Miller in Ferguson, PINAC News, PINAC News Top 3, Public Records, St. Louis Cop Killings, The Blue Line, Viral Videos

http://photographyisnotacrime.com/2015/01/berkeley-cop-shot-killed-antonio-martin-andrew-weusthoff/

January 2, 2015

Antionio Martin, 18, killed by Berkeley, MO cop Andrew Weusthoff Dec. 24, 2014.

Antionio Martin, 18, killed by Berkeley, MO cop Andrew Weusthoff Dec. 24, 2014.

VOD editor: Note the lack of broad news coverage of this killing, replaced by coverage of the two killings of New York City police. The mainstream media has insisted without proof that Antonio Martin had a gun, even including it in newspaper headlines. His grandmother demanded to see the gun, adding, “These police do some dirty things. They just wait until nightfall for some young Black men and then gun them down.”

Berkeley, MO — Although police in Missouri have yet to officially release the name of the police officer who shot and killed an 18-year-old man named Antonio Martin last month, we have determined his name is Andrew Weusthoff, a seemingly nice guy with a sense of humor judging by his Facebook page, which no longer exists.

The officer’s name was inadvertently released by the St. Louis County police department on Monday after we made a public records request for the full, unedited video as well as the incident report.

We still have not received the full video footage of the incident, but the report we received listed an assault on a law enforcement officer, listing Weusthoff as the victim, which makes sense because police have said from the beginning that he was defending himself after Martin pulled a gun on him.

Andrew Weusthoff, Berkeley, MO cop who killed Antonio Martin, 18 on Dec. 24. Photo of a mock mug shot is from his Facebook page.

Andrew Weusthoff, Berkeley, MO cop who killed Antonio Martin, 18 on Dec. 24. Photo of a mock mug shot is from his Facebook page, no longer in existence.

That report also states the case was “exceptionally cleared,” which is a phrase police use to close a case when circumstances prevent an officer from making an arrest as would happen when a suspect is dead.

However, three days later, we were contacted by the St. Louis County Police Department, who informed us that the  initial report was no longer valid, sending us an “updated” report.

The updated report, which they sent us today, now states that it is a “homicide” investigation, instead of an assault on a police officer.

And this time, the victim is listed as Martin.

Also, not only was “Weusthoff’s name nowhere on the second report, the case was once again listed as “active,” contradicting what Berkeley police and city officials told the media Tuesday during a press conference that they had conducted their own investigation and determined that the officer shot Martin in self-defense.

Martin's mother Toni Martin collapses in grief after being informed of her son's death.

Martin’s mother Toni Martin collapses in grief after being informed of her son’s death.

The press conference seemed more of a ceremonial gesture as they were not even the main agency investigating the incident, but nevertheless, the news was reported widely, even though the Berkeley Police Department did not provide any fresh details besides mentioning there were now “several witnesses” that confirmed the story, who remained nameless.

The official investigation is being conducted by the St. Louis County Police Department, who say the case is still open, even though their own records indicated the case was closed earlier this week.

Most people keeping up with the stories seem to take the word of police, judging by comments on social media, even though police have not released the full videos, mainly the portion that would show the actual gun.

VOD noted that video shows officer assaulting (pushing) Martin just before Martin retreats backwards, after some conversation. Martin evidently lifts his hand, but it is unclear what if anything is in it. He may very well have been pointing his finger at officer in anger at assault.

So far, police have released three clips, one showing Martin lifting his hand towards Weushoff as if he had a gun, but the video is dark and grainy and it is impossible to tell if Martin was holding a gun, a phone or anything at all.

The other two showing the cop and witnesses scurrying for cover after Weushoff fired three times as he falls on his back, evidently  believing Martin had a gun.

Martin, who was pronounced dead shortly after he was shot, is cropped from two of the videos as you can see in the video below and as we discussed here. The alleged gun is also cropped from those clips.

Toni Martin and Jerome Green, parents of Antonio Martin, at candelight vigil after killing.

Toni Martin and Jerome Green, parents of Antonio Martin, at candelight vigil after killing. His mother told the media he did not own a gun, and had just left his girl friend’s home to go to the store. His grandmother Margret Chandler, 65, demanded to see actual proof of possession of the gun, including fingerprints, etc. She told the LA Times, “If he was in the wrong, I want to know he was in the wrong I want to see the gun in his hand. I don’t want them to tell me he had it. I want to see it. These police do some dirty things. They just wait until nightfall to see some young Black men and gun them down.”

Police say they did that out of respect for his family, but his family has been asking to see the video.

Police also say they found a loaded 9-millimeter Martin’s body with the serial numbers scraped off, but that doesn’t necessarily mean he actually had a gun, considering police have long used “throwdown” guns to plant as “evidence” when they happen to kill an unarmed citizen.

We are not saying that is the case here, but unless they release the full video, we cannot rule it out either.

All we are asking for is transparency.

Berkley gun planted

Instagram collage of scene of Antonio Martin’s killing.

 

Questions Remain Unanswered in Berkeley Police Shooting of Antonio Martin Near Ferguson

Dec. 30, 2014

Photography is Not a Crime PINACPosted by: Carlos Miller in Body Cam News, Citizen Journalism, Citizens vs. Government, Ferguson, PINAC News, Surveillance Video, The Blue Line, Viral Videos

A Missouri cop shot and killed a man Tuesday night in St. Louis County, two miles from Ferguson, sparking more civil unrest as protesters clashed with police in the aftermath of the shooting.

Berkeley police say the 18-year-old man pulled a gun on the cop, causing him to fear for his life, which led to the officer pulling his own gun out and firing.

Police even provided a surveillance video that shows the suspect, Antonio Martin, raising his arm towards police as one would raise a gun.

But police cut the video immediately after that motion, preventing the public from seeing the cop pulling out his own gun and firing, insisting they are doing it out of respect for Martin’s family.

Berkeley Mayor Theodore Hoskins holds press conference after killing. Both he and the suburb's police chief are Black, and are saying the killing was necessary, as mainstream media has happily pointed out.

Berkeley Mayor Theodore Hoskins holds press conference after killing. Both he and the suburb’s police chief are Black, and are saying the killing was necessary, as mainstream media has happily pointed out.

They also said the officer was assigned a body cam, but was not wearing it. And they say the car was equipped with a dash cam but it only turns on when the cop turns on his emergency lights, which was not the case here.

And the only reason the cop was not wearing his body cam was because he had not been trained to clip it on his uniform and turn it on, which takes approximately six months to get it right, said Berkeley Mayor Theodore Hoskins.

According to ABC News:

“At this point it’s relatively new,” Hoskins said of the body cameras. “We only have three [body cams], so if it had been six months from today and we had gone through all the training I would have some concerns.”

But since authorities have the gas station surveillance video that shows the interaction, Hoskins said he wasn’t concerned about the lack of body cam footage.

“It would’ve been helpful, and in the future and when we get well trained, there will be a severe penalty for an officer who does not turn it on,” Hoskins added.

Protesters at gas station where Martin was killed are attached by police.

Protesters at gas station where Martin was killed are attached by police.

But the gas station video doesn’t contain audio nor a close-up of the interaction as the body and dash cams would have.

The incident took place Tuesday night at about 11:15 p.m. when the officer, a 34-year-old white man, drove up to the gas station in response to a report of a robbery.

The video shows Martin and a friend, both black men, standing in front of a convenience store at a gas station. They begin to walk away as the cop pulls up and steps out of the car.

Tweets allegedly from "Imperial Wizard" of KKK.

Tweets allegedly from “Imperial Wizard” of KKK.

Martin’s friend walks up to the cop while Martin walks away from the cop. The cop, who has a lit flashlight in his hand, then appears to order Martin to walk towards him, which he does.

The cop then appears to want to frisk Martin, placing his hands on him as if to have him step up against the car with his hands on the hood, but Martin takes a few steps back.

It was then when police say he pulled out a gun, but it is impossible to determine from the video if he really did have a gun. Police say they recovered a 9-millimeter gun with its serial number scraped off. They also said Martin’s friend ran off.

Hundreds of protesters descended upon the scene, resulting in clashes with police, adding more fuel to the already tense national environment between citizens and police.

Witnesses on Twitter say Martin remained alive for 30 minutes but police refused to provide him medical assistance. Here is a dispatch recording from the minutes after the shooting where the dispatcher is asking for help with crowd control but not for an ambulance.

Protesters shut down Interstate 170 the night after Martin was killed.

Protesters shut down Interstate 170 the night after Martin was killed.

While police insist the video should clear any doubts up, there are still many unanswered questions:

  • Why didn’t the officer have his emergency lights considering he was speaking to a pair of potential armed robbers, which would have ensured his dash camera would have been turned on and surely have captured the entire incident at close range?
  • Why would a patrol car’s dash cam even be set up to where it only turns on if the car’s emergency lights are turned on? How would that help in an ambush as we saw in New York City where two cops were killed just sitting in their car with their emergency lights turned off?
  • How did the cop manage to pull out his gun so fast if he was already holding a flashlight in his right hand and the suspect’s alleged gun was pointing at him from point-blank range?
  • Why do the cops insist on not showing us the entire footage, claiming it is out of respect for the family when respect for the truth should take a much higher priority, especially in an incident that could lead to more riots? After all, we recently learned how editing a video in mid-action can completely alter a story.
  • Is there more footage from other cameras they are not showing us, perhaps closer angles as the one they are showing us is quite far?
  • Will Martin’s fingerprints be found on the gun, which had its serial number scraped off?
  • Is it possible that Martin could simply have been pointing his finger at the cop, telling him to back off from trying to illegally search him?
  • Is it possible the gun could have been planted as police departments have done in the past to justify shooting unarmed citizens, including recently in New York City ?
  • Why did police initially describe it as a “routine business check” only to later say the cop was responding to a robbery call, which would normally prompt the use of emergency lights? But then why not just release the entire video instead of allowing tensions, speculations, accusations and anger to continue to grow in the wake of yet another police shooting death?
  • Here is the surveillance video as well as a video of the clashes after the shooting.
  • It’s also quite possible that everything went down exactly how police explained it, which would give the cop more than an enough justification to kill Martin.

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WHEN POLICE DIE

Police officers turn their backs as New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio speaks at the funeral of New York city police officer Rafael Ramos in the Glendale section of Queens, Saturday, Dec. 27, 2014, in New York. Ramos and his partner, officer Wenjian Liu, were killed Dec. 20 as they sat in their patrol car on a Brooklyn street. The shooter, Ismaaiyl Brinsley, later killed himself. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)

Police officers turn their backs as New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio speaks at the funeral of New York city police officer Rafael Ramos in the Glendale section of Queens, Saturday, Dec. 27, 2014, in New York. Ramos and his partner, officer Wenjian Liu, were killed Dec. 20 as they sat in their patrol car on a Brooklyn street. The [alleged] shooter, Ismaaiyl Brinsley, later [allegedly] killed himself. Cops blamed DeBlasio for speaking out against racist killings by police. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)

By Jalil A. Muntaqim

December 30, 2014

We-Are-Our-Own-Liberators-by-Jalil-A_-Muntaqim-coverOnce again, the nation is compelled to mourn the death of police officers. Rightly so, if such mourning changes the dynamics of the relationship between a para-militarized police and the communities in which they patrol. By no sense of the imagination should anyone be cavalier about the killing of a police officer, no more than they shou1d be when a police officer wrongly kills a civilian, especially an unarmed civilian. But that is the point.

When the valorization of the life of a police officer is raised to the level of hero-worshipping, what does that do to the psyche of the general population in respect to their own lives? Thus, the PBA’s demagoguery (presumably to enhance future contract negotiations) and self-righteous condemnation must be viewed in light of how it ultimately serves to improve police-community relationships(?).

In my previous blog, “Hands Up–Don’t Shoot,” I ended by stating, “…it is time to ensure Black lives matter as much as white lives, and that all people’s lives are as sacred as police lives.” So, that leads to the question, how is that possible when police lives are considered far more valuable than anyone else’s; they are more valued than a sanitation worker’s, a postal worker’s, the bus and taxi driver’s, all of whom serve the community.(?)

Antonio Martin, 18, killed  by white  Berkeley, MO cop Dec. 23, 2014.

Kaijeme Powell, killed by white St. Louis cops Oct. 8, 2014.

Vonderrit Myers, 18, killed by white St. Louis cop Aug. 23, 2014.

Michael Brown, 18, killed by white Ferguson MO cop Darren Wilson Aug. 9, 2014.

[VOD: The four young Black men above were killed by white cops in and around St. Louis, MO, between August and December, 2014, with Martin targeted after the NYC cops were killed. The media downplayed the movement against such slaughter in the wake of NYC cop killings, extolling police instead and providing extensive coverage of their funerals. Is it certain their killings were not a set-up to derail the anti-police killings movement?

Jordan Baker, killed by white Houston cop Jan. 2014 for wearing hoodie.

Jordan Baker, killed by white Houston cop Jan. 2014, terming him a suspect for wearing a hoodie.

Dontre Hamilton, killed by white Milwaukee cop for sleeping in park April 30, 2014.

John Crawford, killed by Ohio city police at Walmart .

Some so-called “national” leaders of the movement such as Al Sharpton continued to harp on “peaceful” protests. Meanwhile, many other such killings by police across the U.S. continue. The day Antonio Martin died, another grand jury in Houston, Texas refused to indict a cop in the killing of Jordan Baker, 26, in Jan. 2014. On Dec. 22, a Milwaukee grand jury refused to indict a white cop for killing Dontre Hamilton, 31, for sleeping in a park. Earlier, an Ohio grand jury refused to indict white cops who killed John Crawford for holding a toy air gun off the shelves of a Walmart store.] 

 Granted, police officers, like firemen, at times put their lives on the line to safeguard the lives of others. It is terrible that in our highly developed technological society, our humanity has yet to reach a point in which the police have not become obsolete. However, I am of the opinion that all of our humanity is challenged by the historical dynamic of racism and. capitalism (exploitation and profiteering).

St. Louis County police advance on protesters of Michael Brown

St. Louis County police advance on protesters of Michael Brown’s death, after torching of businesses.

As was learned from OWS, 1% of the popu1ation controls and owns 99% of the country’s wealth. Unfortunately, more often than not, the police are used as tools of the capitalist class to protect financial interests over human interests. This is especially disconcerting as it pertains to the racialized disenfranchised and poor, such as racial profiling. In this regard, police violence represents the interests of the State. As I was once told, the police are the first line of defense for the maintenance of state power. If this is true, then it is extremely important the community-at-large recognizes how their lives are only as important as the state permits, for as long as they are exploitable/profitable.

Two dozen protesters from a gun club named after the founder of the Black Panther Party marched through the streets of South Dallas on Wednesday. The open-carry rally was organized by the Huey P. Newton Gun Club to promote self-defense and community policing in response to recent police shootings.

Two dozen protesters from a gun club named after the founder of the Black Panther Party marched through the streets of South Dallas on Wednesday. The open-carry rally was organized by the Huey P. Newton Gun Club to promote self-defense and community policing in response to recent police shootings.

Obviously, the dichotomy between the institution of police and society needs to be investigated and reevaluated, especially, when one is armed (militarized) and the other, for the most part, unarmed and vulnerable. The public perception and discourse imposed by corporate media shapes our collective thinking on the legitimacy of violence; state violence is legitimate, and any violence not sanctioned by the state is illegitimate. We then consciously accept the inevitability of the state, and thus the virtue of its violence.

Hence, community violence in inner cities is not sanctioned by the state, and therefore, it must be policed. Generally, we agree with this policing, when it saves lives and establishes social order. However, there is a causation for inner-city violence that is not readily considered for problem-solving, only managed by policing.

Black Panther Party breakfast program, which became model for free meals in schools.

Black Panther Party breakfast program, which became model for free meals in schools.

Forty years ago, the Black Panther Party sought to challenge the causation of inner-city violence. The BPP attempted to rid the community of drug dealing, gang violence, and police brutality and murder, creating free breakfast programs, free community health clinics, supporting tenants’ rights, etc. In response, the BPP was confronted with the full force of state violence, essentially destroying a movement with the potential of de-criminalizing the community, forging a revolutionary future. Lest we forget, permit me to remind us all, the death of a movement for liberation serves to keep in place the status quo of state violence in all of its forms.

Again, we must loathe all those who fail to recognize the sanctity of life. Therefore, it is extremely necessary to reject corporate media efforts to confuse the valorization of police above and beyond deaths of unarmed civilians killed by police. The noble protest against police violence must not be undermined or in any way disputed; the communities’ grievances are real and must be resolved with justice. We cannot afford to continue to preserve the dichotomy that lends to inferior to superior social paradigm in class andrace relationships, and we certainly should not seek to maintain socio-economic disparity that lends to inequitable distribution of wealth.

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

The De-Militarization and De-Centralization of police is the primary objective that will serve to ensure the safety of the community. The demand for community control of the police strengthens the capacity of the community to police themselves, ridding the community of outside armed and potentially racist forces occupying the community.

In this regard, Martin L. King, Jr. raised the following:

“The question is not whether we will be extremists but what kind of extremists we will be. Will we be extremists for the preservation of injustice, or will we be extremists for the cause of justice?”

The First Line of Defense IS Power to the People!

Fist Up Fight Back!

Remember: We Are Our own Liberators!

Jalil A. Muntaqim

Attica 12/22/14

Anthony J. Bottom #77A4283 Attica C.F. P.O. Box 149 Attica, NY 14011-0149 


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STOP TAX EVICTIONS! DROP CHARGES VS. ALONZO LONG, JR.–COME TO HEARING FRI. JAN. 2 @ 1 PM

DETROIT FACES 32,000 TAX FORECLOSURES OF OCCUPIED HOMES IN 2015.

DETROIT FACES 37,000 TAX FORECLOSURES OF OCCUPIED HOMES IN 2015. FROM “WHY DON’T WE OWN THIS” WEBSITE.

Detroit faces 37,000 tax foreclosures of occupied homes in 2015

Coalition calls for Wayne County Moratorium on Tax Foreclosures

Drop the charges against Alonzo Long, Jr., facing life in prison for defending family members against armed intrusion of home by auction winners

Alonzo Long, Jr., 22

DETROIT –The case of Alonzo Long, Jr., 22, charged with two counts of first-degree murder in the deaths of armed “landlord” home intruders, has broad implications for homeowners and occupants of all ages everywhere. The second part of Long’s preliminary exam will be held Friday, Jan. 2 at 1 p.m. before 36th District Court Judge Ruth Carter.

As the New Year of 2015 rings in, the Detroit-Why Don’t We Own This website declares 62,000 Detroit properties are up for tax foreclosure, with 37,000 thought to be occupied. The Wayne County Treasurer’s Office earlier told an attorney with Moratorium on Foreclosures, Evictions, and Shut-offs NOW! that their office will not declare a moratorium on these foreclosures, many of which are legally suspect.

A recent study by the American Journal of Public Health found that the home foreclosure crisis is directly tied to an increase in the national suicide rate.

Suicides up nationally, linked to wave of home foreclosures.

Suicides up nationally, linked to wave of home foreclosures.

“Our results suggest that the foreclosure crisis significantly contributed to the increase in suicides in the Great Recession,” said their report, titled The Home Foreclosure Crisis and Rising Suicide Rates, 2005 to 2010, published in April, 2014.  “Importantly, the effects of foreclosures on suicides were strongest among middle-aged adults, especially those aged 46 to 64 years, helping to explain the recent rise in middle-aged suicide.”

In addition, the report says, neighbors who lived near foreclosed homes showed significant increases in their blood pressure rates.

According to testimony at the first part of Long’s preliminary exam Dec. 17, he acted in defense of his family members against Howard Franklin, 72, and Catherine Franklin, 37, in the incident Nov. 28. The elder Franklin had purchased the home at the October tax auction, with the deed going into his name Nov. 10.

The home was occupied by a grandson of Willie and Margaret Fletcher, an elderly couple who had title to the home before it was foreclosed. The grandson and others were moving his possessions out of the home when Howard and Catherine Franklin showed up, “brandishing guns,” according to conversation overheard by their employees in a subsequent confrontation.

36th District Court is where Detroit landlords must go to handle eviction proceedings. Located at 421 Madison Avenue in downtown Detroit, it is also the court where the second part of Alonzo Long Jr.s hearing will be held Fri. Jan. 2 @ 1pm.

36th District Court is where Detroit landlords must go to handle eviction proceedings. Located at 421 Madison Avenue in downtown Detroit, it is also the court where the second part of Alonzo Long Jr.s hearing will be held Fri. Jan. 2 @ 1pm.

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.

During the confrontation, the employees, who had run outside, said they heard remarks from inside including, “The police gave us more time,” and “Now you’re brandishing guns.” That’s when the three women and one man moving the possessions called for help from Long, Jr., who was sitting outside the home in a car in the driveway. One of the women was wounded, likely by one of the Franklins.

The employees testified they knew both Franklins were armed. One said Catherine Franklin was holding a gun when she fell out of the front door, fatally wounded. They testified they saw Long, Jr. enter the home with a gun held “straight-arm” down at his side, pointing downwards, after the call for help from inside, and then saw and heard gunshot flashes and sounds.

Occupy Detroit and Moratorium NOW defend a home from eviction Dec. 6, 2011

Occupy Detroit and Moratorium NOW defend a home from eviction Dec. 6, 2011

Although the subsequent deaths of the Franklins are tragic, especially for their family members, they had broken the law by trying to carry out an eviction themselves, entering the premises with guns. The Wayne County Treasurer’s office does not give winning auction bidders instructions on how to deal with occupied properties at 36th District Court.

To avoid future catastrophic consequences of the foreclosure tide, including suicides and the devastation of neighborhoods throughout Detroit and Wayne County, Mike Shane of the Moratorium NOW! Coalition said they are calling on Wayne County Treasurer Raymond Wojtowicz to declare a moratorium on tax foreclosures in 2015.

The attempt to incarcerate Alonzo D. Long, Jr. for life is part of a national policy.

The attempt to incarcerate Alonzo D. Long, Jr. for life is part of a national policy.

Meanwhile, a Detroit youth who was defending his family from the illegal actions which resulted from one of these foreclosures, faces life in prison.

Shane said they are also calling for charges against him to be dismissed on the basis of self-defense and defense of others. They and other community activists plan to be in 36th District Court to support the young man Friday, Jan. 2, at 1 p.m.

DISMISS THE CHARGES VS. ALONZO LONG, JR.! CALL AN EMERGENCY MORATORIUM ON TAX FORECLOSURES IN WAYNE COUNTY!

 Related: 

https://detroit.whydontweownthis.com/

http://moratorium-mi.org/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2014/12/19/two-dead-one-wounded-one-youth-facing-life-in-prison-for-defense-against-armed-eviction-attempt/

Map 36th District Court

Location of 36th District Court on Madison Ave south of Ford Field.

 


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REV. PINKNEY DEFENSE CAMPAIGN BUILDS; WIFE SAYS THEY REMAIN STRONG DESPITE RACIST IMPRISONMENT

Rev. Pinkney addresses rally in Benton Harbor against Whirlpool, Emergency Manager law May 26, 2012.
Rev. Pinkney addresses rally in Benton Harbor against Whirlpool, Emergency Manager law May 26, 2012.

 

Editor’s Note: HEARING ON PINKNEY PRE-SENTENCING MOTIONS JAN. 15

VOD spoke with Rev. Pinkney’s wife Dorothy Pinkney and their family spokesperson Larry Pinkney (not related) Dec. 28. They informed VOD that Rev. Pinkney’s attorneys filed two motions prior to Rev. Pinkney’s Dec. 15 sentencing to 2.5 to 10 years in state prison. Berrien County Judge Sterling Schrock refused to hear them at the time, but they will be heard in his courtroom Jan. 15, 2014, at the Berrien County Courthouse in St. Joseph, Michigan.

(L to r) Rev. Pinkney, wife Dorothy, staunch supporter and organizer Marcina Cole during support event at UAW Local 22 hall Sept. 8, 2014.

(L to r) Rev. Pinkney, wife Dorothy, supporter and organizer Marcina Cole during fund-raiser at UAW Local 22 hall in Detroit Sept. 8, 2014.

One motion alleges that the prosecution and court knowingly planted a juror, Gail Freehling, who is friends with one of the chief witnesses against Rev. Pinkney, Berrien County Clerk Sharon Tyler. 

It says Freehling also knows the Berrien County Sheriff, who initiated the raid on Rev. Pinkney’s home in May and continued terrorizing Benton Harbor residents  who signed petitions to recall Mayor James Hightower. The second is a motion for mistrial, which states there was no evidence for a guilty verdict. It also includes an appeals court decision affirming that violations of the election law are misdemeanors, not felonies. Both are included at Rev. Pinkney motions from attorney Tat Parish.

Rev. Pinkney's photo from Charles Egeler Reception Facility shows that he remains strong, optimistic and unbowed.

Rev. Pinkney’s photo from Charles Egeler Reception Facility shows that he remains strong, optimistic and unbowed.

Dorothy Pinkney told VOD,  “I cannot visit my husband yet because he is still in quarantine at Jackson prison, but I am able to receive calls from him. His spirit is good. His voice sounds like himself. He is still hoping to come out of this situation. He knows a lot of people are concerned and working on his behalf against this racist attack. We’re all waiting on the judge’s decision on the motions Jan. 15. An appeal is ready to go forth if they are denied.

“My husband is the only voice in the community for the people,” Mrs. Pinkney continued. It is so obvious how they pushed this trial even without evidence, in an attempt to silence him. He wants people to continue the battle to free Rev. Pinkney, and to boycott Whirlpool, Harbor Shores, and the Senior PGA in Benton Harbor. I am holding up, holding on to my faith and beliefs, strengthened by the support out there. I still remain hopeful that my husband will be released soon.”

Rev. Pinkney asks that everyone continue the boycott of Whirlpool, as well as the Harbor Shores development, and the Sr. PGA held at its golf course, all backed by Whirlpool

Rev. Pinkney asks that everyone continue the boycott of Whirlpool, as well as the Harbor Shores development, and the Sr. PGA  which is  held at its golf course, all backed by Whirlpool.

Dorothy Pinkney said when the appeal is filed if the motions are denied, the Michigan American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) plans to become involved in the case. She said her husband is locked down 23 out of 24 hours a day, and is assigned only one hour a day to make phone calls, so she remains available at any time for his calls.  

Larry Pinkney said, “We view this horrendous attack not only as an attack against Rev. Pinkney, but on all of us. Our intention is to publicize his case nationally and internationally, and raise funds for his defense.”

Support Pinkney croppedHe said contributions can be made online through PayPal on the Black Autonomy Community Network Organization (BANCO) website at http://www.bhbanco.org/. Contributions through check or money order can be mailed c/o BANCO, 1940 Union Ave. Benton Harbor, MI 49022.

Rev. Pinkney is currently housed at the MDOC intake facility in Jackson. He can receive mail at the following address:

Rev. Edward Pinkney #294671

Charles Egeler Reception & Guidance Center (RGC)

3855 Cooper St.  Jackson, MI 49201-7547 


Supporters of Rev. Edward Pinkney comfort Dorothy Pinkney after his sentencing Dec. 15, 2014. They Include Detroiters Abayomi Azikiwe, Marian Kramer, and Monica Patrick. Photo by Joh Madill/donated to People's Tribune.

Supporters of Rev. Edward Pinkney comfort Dorothy Pinkney after his sentencing Dec. 15, 2014. They Include Detroiters Abayomi Azikiwe, Marian Kramer, and Monica Patrick. Photo by Joh Madill/donated to People’s Tribune.

Activists around the US are angered over racial injustice in southwest Michigan

Pinkney serving 2.5 t-10 years in state prison for alleged “forgery under the Michigan election law;” MSP tech testified there was no evidence

Sign petition to Eric Holder demanding release

By Abayomi Azikiwe

Pan-African News Wire

December 20, 2014

DETROIT – Michigan political prisoner Rev. Edward Pinkney is now being held in Jackson state prison. He remains in good spirits despite what many Michigan citizens have labeled the “racial injustice” that has landed him in detention over claims he changed the dates on five signature entries on a recall petition designed to remove Benton Harbor Mayor James Hightower.

$85 Million Whirlpool headquarters on St. Joseph River in Benton Harbor. Whirlpool shut down all its plants in Benton Harbor, laying off thousands, and is now in the midst of a massive land grab.

$85 Million Whirlpool headquarters on St. Joseph River in Benton Harbor. Whirlpool shut down all its plants in Benton Harbor, laying off thousands, and is now in the midst of a massive land grab.

During the course of the trial there was no material or circumstantial evidence presented that would implicate Pinkney in the purported five felonies. Many believe the Berrien County activist and leader of the Black Autonomy Network Community Organization (BANCO)  is being punished by the local authorities for opposing the corporate program of Whirlpool Corporation, which is headquartered in Benton Harbor.

In 2012, Pinkney and BANCO led an “Occupy the PGA” demonstration against the world-renown golf tournament that was held at the newly-created Jack Nicklaus Signature Golf Course on Lake Michigan. The course was carved out of Jean Klock Park, which had been donated to the City of Benton Harbor decades ago.

Benton Harbor Mayor James Hightower at Whirlpool HQ event.

Benton Harbor Mayor James Hightower at Whirlpool HQ event.

Berrien County officials were determined to defeat a recall campaign [in which Rev. Pinkney participated] against Mayor James Hightower of Benton Harbor who opposed a program to tax local corporations [like Whirlpool] in an effort to create jobs and improve conditions in the majority African American municipality. Benton Harbor, like other Michigan cities, has been devastated by widespread poverty and unemployment.

Statements of support pour in

This is not the first time that Pinkney has been imprisoned for his political activities. In 2007, he was convicted in a second trial, with the first ending in a hung jury, for “mishandling” absentee ballots during a recall election involving two Benton Harbor City Commissioners. The results of the elections removing the officials were overturned after criminal charges were filed against the BANCO leader.

Deutoronomy quotePinkney was sentenced to one year under house arrest and four more years of probation. Later in 2007, he was charged with violating his terms of the sentence for allegedly threatening a judge in Berrien County.

The threat charge stemmed from an article he wrote in the People’s Tribune newspaper based in Chicago where he quoted scriptures from the Old Testament. He was ordered imprisoned for 3-10 years.

[Full quote from Deuteronomy is at Biblical curses for disobedience to God.]

The charges were overturned in late 2008 by the Michigan Appeals Court after the activist received widespread support from the civil liberties, ecumenical and academic communities across the country. He was released at the end of 2008, and successfully completed his probation returning to full-time activism in Berrien County.

Rev. Pinkney ran for Congress against Whirlpool-sponsored Fred Upton on the Green Party slate in 2008.

Rev. Pinkney ran for Congress against Whirlpool-sponsored Fred Upton on the Green Party slate in 2008.

Pinkney, in 2008 from his prison cell, ran for United States Congress on the Green Party ticket in Michigan. He received 3,500 votes in a challenge to Fred Upton, a Republican congressman and heir to the Whirpool corporate dynasty.

In a Dec. 17 statement issued by Green Party Watch, the organization says, “The overt targeting of an African American activist for a politically-motivated prosecution is reminiscent of recent episodes involving Chuck Turner and Elston McCowan, both Greens who challenged the power structures in their communities. In a system where police officers regularly kill unarmed African American men without facing trial, it is especially galling that the same system sentences an African American activist to up to 10 years imprisonment on trumped-up, politically-motivated charges.”

The New Jim Crow bookBlack Agenda Report, a well-known media outlet opposing the corporate influence over African American politics in the U.S., wrote in an editorial last week, entitled, Whirlpool and Racism Imprison another Black Leader, “This may seem like an Old Jim Crow story, about a preacher from a small, mostly Black town who wanted only to help his people through the voting process, but is set upon by backward whites determined to maintain their monopoly on political power. And, it is true; Old Man Jim Crow is alive and well on the banks of Lake Michigan.”

The same editorial continues, “But it is the New Jim Crow, the Mass Black Incarceration State, that has snatched 66 year-old Rev. Pinkney away to what could become life in prison. The judge and prosecutor said Pinkney’s 12 past and present felony convictions make him a career criminal, even though each count stems from an elections process. The Old Jim Crow would have unapologetically sent Pinkney to the chain gang for being an uppity Black man, but the New Jim Crow simply piled on a bunch of felonies to put him away as a serial criminal, allowing the system to claim race had nothing to do with it.”

Truth OutA national conference call was held on Dec. 18, designed to build a defense campaign. Former Vermont State Senator Ben-Zion Ptashnik initiated the call through the People Demanding Action organization. (Ptashnik is also co-editor of Truth Out.)

The conference call included activist members of the clergy, electoral reform organizers, former Green Party candidates, progressive Democrats, the People’s Tribune newspaper, Moratorium NOW! Coalition, and others. The call provided an update on the case, plans to publicize the plight of Rev. Pinkney and the people of Berrien County, recruiting a legal team and a fundraising drive to proceed with an appeal.

Ptashnik and Victorial Collier wrote in on Dec. 16 that “Concerned activists and clergy associated with People Demanding Action, a national social justice organization, are circulating a petition to ministers and various organizations. The petition is to be forwarded to the U.S. Justice Department and Attorney General Eric Holder, asking for an investigation into the circumstances of Pinkney’s trial and sentencing. To sign the petition, click on:

http://salsa.wiredforchange.com/o/6405/c/10113/p/dia/action3/common/public/?action_KEY=10735

Related stories:

http://peoplestribune.org/pt-news/free-pinkney/

Dorothy Pinkney article on Rev. Pinkney’s first jail term:  http://www.solidarity-us.org/node/1878  

http://www.greenpartywatch.org/2014/12/17/rev-edward-pinkney-is-latest-african-american-green-leader-targeted-for-political-prosecution/ 

BAR story on Pinkney sentence http://blackagendareport.com/node/14574

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2014/12/16/rev-pinkney-gets-2-5-10-yrs-as-cops-wilson-pantaleo-walk-on-mike-brown-eric-garner-murders/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2014/11/30/rev-pinkney-lynch-mob-mentality-in-st-joseph-as-he-awaits-sentencing-dec-15/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2014/11/05/all-white-jury-convicts-rev-pinkney-of-5-felony-counts-pros-wants-life-sentence/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2014/10/29/free-rev-pinkney-frame-up-benton-harbor-trial-targets-nationally-known-freedom-fighter/

http://www.heraldpalladium.com/news/local/petitions-changed-but-by-whom/article_a1311aa0-a30c-5d3c-8208-ae3fc791fbc8.html

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2014/07/13/drop-the-charges-against-rev-edward-pinkney-of-benton-harbor-trial-set-for-july-21/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2014/06/07/benton-harbor-rev-pinkney-to-face-trial-on-felony-charges-july-21-despite-no-evidence/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2014/06/03/rev-pinkney-in-the-mouth-of-the-beast-in-benton-harbor/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2014/05/27/dismiss-all-charges-against-rev-pinkney-court-fri-may-30-save-benton-harbor-boycott-whirlpool/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2014/04/26/free-rev-edward-pinkney-recall-whirlpool-stooge-benton-harbor-mayor-james-hightower/ 


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MARY ROWAN DENIES FAMILY VISITS TO DYING GRANDMOTHER; NOW CO-GUARDIAN IN ROBINSON CASE

Grand and great-grandmother Nora Rodman in hospital bed, has been crying to see her family members. Attorney Mary Rowan has refused them access.
Grand and great-grandmother Nora Rodman in hospital bed, has been crying to see her family members. Attorney Mary Rowan has refused them access.

 Family, anguished by guardian Mary Rowan’s refusal to let them visit Nora Rodman, 84, who is dying, contacts VOD after reading Robinson story

“My mom died 7 years ago. My grandma is the last piece of her I have left. I just want me and my kids to spend the time she has left with her.”

“My grandma calls out our names all day.”

Update on Gayle Robinson case: Judge orders 6-month co-guardianship including Rowan Dec. 9

By Diane Bukowski  

December 23, 2014  

Nora Rodman with cards on bedside table.

Nora Rodman with cards on bedside table.

Wayne County, MI—After reading VOD’s story on guardian Mary Rowan’s abuse of her ward Gayle Robinson, a third family has contacted VOD about Mrs. Nora Rodman, 84, another ward of Rowan’s.

They say Rowan is barring Mrs. Rodman’s daughters, grand-children, and great-grandchildren from seeing  her in hospitals and nursing homes. Ms. Rodman is likely dying.

“When my mom called Qualicare she was told that my grandma is not allowed to have any visitors,” a granddaughter of Mrs. Rodman’s told VOD. My grandma is in her last days with end stage CHF and renal failure. My grandma calls out our names all day and we do not understand how [Mary] Rowan can ban our family when it is clearly not in my grandma’s best interest.”

Rowan told one family member that she herself has not seen Mrs. Rodman, although guardians are required to visit every three months. She was appointed Aug. 4, 2014.

Wayne County Probate Court Judge June Blackwell-Hatcher. Photo from law school alumni newsletter.

Wayne County Probate Court Judge June Blackwell-Hatcher. Photo from law school alumni newsletter.

Mrs. Rodman had just been released from Providence Hospital after various other placements in nursing homes and hospitals, and is now at Qualicare on E. Grand Blvd. in Detroit.

Family members believe Rowan is causing her needless suffering through prolonged medical procedures.

Wayne County Probate Court Judge June E. Blackwell-Hatcher, the daughter of Robert Blackwell, appointed Rowan as guardian in Mrs. Rodman’s case Aug. 4, 2014.

Mrs. Rodman’s granddaughter Amanda Ulmen was in tears as she discussed Rowan’s refusal to let her see her grandmother in the hospital. Since Rowan is listed as guardian in hospital records, hospital personnel must abide by her decisions.

“My mom died seven years ago,” Ulmen said. “My grandmother is the last piece of her that I have left. I just want me and my kids to spend what time she has left with her. Two of my aunts went to see her yesterday and were refused time with her also. This is heart-breaking, sickening, and outrageous.”

Amanda Ulmen mother Kimb

Amanda Ulmens mother Kimberly Ann Fritz at her wedding. Mrs. Fritz was the youngest of Mrs. Rodman’s six children. She suffered an accidental death in 2007 at age 46.

Ulmen said Rowan had her grandmother placed in the Four Chaplains nursing home for several weeks beginning in August, and she and her children visited her there often, bringing flowers and cards. Mrs. Rodman was then sent to Garden City Hospital, and from there to St. Jude’s nursing home in Westland, which Ulmen said was in horrible condition. She was just in Providence Hospital with pneumonia and is “actively dying,” Ulmen said.

She said the hospital repeatedly called Rowan to get her permission to implant a stent, but could never reach her, so eventually two of her daughters signed for the procedure. A daughter said Mrs. Rodman was subjected to multiple colonoscopies at the earlier locations, even though she had colorectal cancer earlier. She had to receive four pints of blood at Providence to counteract the effects of the colonoscopies.

She said her mother is listed as “full code,” meaning all resuscitation efforts must be made  regardless of the will of either her mother or family members.

Rowan box 3“My four kids are also not allowed to see their grandmother,” a daughter said. She asked not to be identified because Rowan retaliates against any challenges to her, using denial of hospital visits as one option.

“Rowan keeps putting her through every test and surgery that she can,” the daughter said.  “My mother needs hospice. The head nurse at Providence agreed that it is time to let her go. But Rowan has threatened to move my mother to the other side of the state and ban all her children from seeing her if we don’t play her game.”

She said that Rowan has abused and humiliated both family members and hospital staff, even hanging up on them, when they have called her, even they are even able to get through to her.  She added that many medical staff members have told her that Rowan is the guardian for numerous patients at their institutions.

“She is punishing my mother for us girls,” she said. “I told her ‘I want to bring my mother home,’ and she told me, ‘that’s never going to happen.’” Rowan, Guardian Ad Litem Sean Heck, and Judge Blackwell-Hatcher had not responded to messages from VOD for comment on this case before press time.

“My family has had similar dealings with Mary Rowan,” Mrs. Rodman’s niece commented on-line after reading the Robinson story. “She is very curt and condescending. She does not display one ounce of compassion toward her clients or families. I do not know how she has gotten away with this treatment. She is very intimidating and threatening. I feel sorry for any family that has to tolerate this so called lady. Mrs. Rowan has NO business being a court appointed guardian.”

Hearing held on Gayle Robinson case Dec. 9; Rowan remains co-guardian for 6 months

Gayle Robinson, who along with her late husband Russell Sr. served in the Marine Corps, at 2010 Montford Point Marine Corps Black History Month Banquet.

Gayle Robinson, who along with her late husband Russell Sr. served in the Marine Corps, at 2010 Montford Point Marine Corps Black History Month Banquet.

Detroit — Meanwhile, Gayle Robinson’s son Randy Robinson said he and his sister Deborah Fox were put through a grueling and lengthy mediation session at Wayne County Probate Court Dec. 9, made all the worse when their mother was told to leave.

Gayle and husband Russell Robinson.

Gayle and husband Russell Robinson.

“My mother got upset because everybody was yelling,” Robinson told VOD. His mother’s own attorney Sean O’Connor did not want her back in the mediation, although Mrs. Robinson appeared to be perfectly capable of expressing her desires. During the hearing, she clearly stated to Judge Keith that she does not want the daughter and husband who initiated the probate court proceedings, OR their children, to visit her. She said that before that couple visits, they must pay back money they stole from her.

Mrs. Robinson, now 84, was sitting outside the courtroom when VOD arrived.

“It looks like when you get old, you don’t have the right to take your own money out of the bank anymore,” Mrs. Robinson told VOD. “I don’t need a guardian, but I want my brother to be my conservator and I want my son Randy and his daughter Lynette to stay with me.”

Gayle Robinson at recent Goodfellows holiday fund-raiser.

Gayle Robinson at recent Goodfellows holiday fund-raiser.

She was very lucid and personable as she chatted. She said regarding Mary Rowan and her assistant Katie McDonald, “Those two are against me.” The pair had police kidnap her from her own home without a court order, and confined in the psychiatric ward at Botsford Hospital for eight days Oct. 1. She told VOD the police who removed her tied her up in transit, and that she had a heart attack in the hospital.

Below is part of her admission record, which questions the validity of the “court order” Rowan’s assistant Katie McDonald and Westland Police Sgt. Randall Thivierge produced when they took her to Botsford after she, her son and her daughter refused to have her  go. She had already been thoroughly examined at Henry Ford Hospital, they said.

Botsford ER report on Gayle Robinson questioned legitimacy of alleged "court order."

Botsford ER report on Gayle Robinson questioned legitimacy of alleged “court order.”

Robinson said she was especially frightened at Botsford during what sounded like an MMRI exam. It involves putting the patient through a coffin-like tubular device. She said that she has a pacemaker and thought the test might affect it.

Gayle Robinson with friends at Montford Post Marine Corps Black History month celebration, 2010.

Gayle Robinson with friends at Montford Post Marine Corps Black History month celebration, 2010.

She added, “Mary and Ricky owe me all the money. Why should they take all of my husband’s insurance and it belongs to me? None of them have the right to kick Randy out.”

At a previous court hearing, several of Randy’s siblings insisted that he must be evicted from his mother’s home, but Judge Keith did not uphold that wish during the Dec. 9 hearing.

Judge Keith agreed to bar visits from that couple pending their adhering to a regular payment schedule of the equity loan they took out on Mrs. Robinson’s home, allegedly without her consent.

Despite Rowan’s request for sole guardianship, Judge Keith appointed Rowan and Mrs. Robinson’s brother James Brown as co-guardians on the case for the next six months, after which Brown will take over both guardian and executor duties.

Judge Keith assigned the job of working out visitation with Mrs. Robinson’s children to her brother, but Rowan remained active during the hearing.

Mary Rowan

Mary Rowan and her husband own this house/office at 1303 Nottingham, Grosse Pointe Park.

To prove that her mother is not “legally incapacitated” as she is listed in court records, Deborah Fox showed VOD numerous photo cards of her mother, who is a veteran and the widow of a veteran, attending functions including the Women Veterans’ Stand-Down at the Taylor VFW hall,  fund-raising in Garden City for the Goodfellows, and visiting with Detroit City Council President Brenda Jones.

Mary Rowan lives in and runs her office at 1303 Nottingham, Grosse Pointe Park. Court records show the property is in her name and that of her husband, John Cavataio. According to state records, he runs a specialty contractor business called John T. Cavataio, Inc., which handles new construction basement finishing.

It is unclear why Rowan is being assigned as guardian in so many Probate Court cases. In the earlier case of Lennette and Mailauni Williams, she testified the “court administrator’s office” selected her. Wayne County Probate Court Chief Judge Milton Mack, Jr. is in charge of the court, and runs it with a tight rein, according to reliable sources.

Related stories:

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2014/11/25/home-for-the-holidays-mailauni-williams-back-with-mom-after-6-month-kidnapping/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2014/10/24/rosa-parks-godchild-mailauni-williams-found-judge-george-guardian-rowan-removed-from-case/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2014/10/23/serial-kidnapper-atty-mary-rowan-takes-second-adult-ward-from-home-without-court-order/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2014/07/21/amber-alert-rosa-parks-godchild-mailauni-williams-missing-judge-kathryn-george-loots-estate-bars-mortgage-payments-on-her-home/ 

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2014/06/16/shady-probate-judge-kathryn-george-jails-mom-seizes-daughter-and-estate/


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MILWAUKEE PROTESTERS MARCH, BLOCK FREEWAYS AS COP WHO KILLED DONTRE HAMILTON WALKS

No charges for Milwaukee officer who shot man 14 times; DOJ investigating as family, protesters react in outrage

Starbucks workers called police because Hamilton was sleeping in park

Two other officers responded twice, but left after saying man not doing anything wrong

Manney shot Hamilton even after on ground, some witnesses say

Autopsy report showed one gunshot in back, seven others at a downward trajectory from some distance, numerous bruises, clean toxicology, contradicting cop’s report of hand-to-hand battle with Hamilton

Milwaukee Governor puts National Guard on alert

December 22, 2014

One reaction to killings of two NYC cops last week.

One Facebook reaction to killings of two NYC cops last week. Thanks to Agnes Johnson for posting it.

VOD: Hundreds of protesters packed downtown Milwaukee streets Dec. 22 after it was announced that no charges would be brought against Officer Christopher Manney for killing Dontre Hamilton by shooting him 14 times April 30. Earlier on Dec. 19, 74  were arrested for causing a three-mile traffic jam on I-43 to protest the killing.

They marched despite calls from New York’s mayor for protests to cease until two officers shot to death there were buried. The protests followed dozens of others in Milwaukee since Dontre’s killing, including occupations of city hall and shopping centers.

The U.S. Department of Justice has now initiated an investigation of the killing.

Milwaukee has a long history of police killings of African Americans, detailed in the Milwaukee Sentinel-Journal  at  http://www.jsonline.com/watchdog/watchdogreports/derek-williams-death-in-milwaukee-police-custody-repeats-history/ A Dec. 9 study by Thomas Frolich in Think Stock.com recently declared Milwaukee the worst of 10 largest cities and states in the country for Blacks to live. Michigan came in sixth. Click on MICHIGAN RANKS 6TH AMONG 10 WORST STATES FOR BLACK AMERICANS for print version of study.

Milwaukee traffic jam Dec. 19, 2014 caused by protesters.
Milwaukee traffic jam Dec. 19, 2014 caused by protesters.

 

USA TodayAamer Madhani, 3:15 p.m. EST December 22, 2014

A former Milwaukee police officer will not be charged with a crime for the shooting death of a 31-year-old man with a history of mental illness, the Milwaukee County District Attorney’s Office announced Dec. 22.

Dontre Hamilton, 31. Family photo

Dontre Hamilton, 31. Family photo

The April 30 shooting of Dontre Hamilton in a downtown park by Officer Christopher Manney inspired a series of protests in Milwaukee, including one over the weekend that led to dozens of activists being arrested after shutting down I-43.

Manney shot Hamilton 14 times during an incident that occurred after workers at a nearby Starbucks called police to complain about him sleeping in Milwaukee’s Red Arrow Park.

“This was a tragic incident for the Hamilton family and for the community,” District Attorney John Chisholm said in a statement. “But, based on all the evidence and analysis presented in this report, I come to the conclusion that Officer Manney’s use of force in this incident was justified self-defense and that defense cannot be reasonably overcome to establish a basis to charge Officer Manney with a crime.”

The decision comes weeks after prosecutors in Missouri and New York cleared officers in high-profile cases in which police used force in Ferguson, Mo., and Staten Island that have spurred nationwide protests and anger over treatment of African Americans by law enforcement.

Killer cop Christopher Manney was fired but has appealed; now he faces no criminal charges.

Killer cop Christopher Manney was fired but has appealed; now he faces no criminal charges.

The national debate over police relations with the African-American community escalated after the killing of two New York City police officers on [Dec. 20] by a man who cited his anger about the Michael Brown and Eric Garner cases on social media.

Jonathan Safran, an attorney for the Hamilton family, said they were “extremely disappointed” with the decision and that the case “cries out for justice, criminal charges against Christopher Manney, and accountability to Dontre Hamilton’s family.” Safran also called on the Justice Department to investigate whether Hamilton’s civil rights were violated by Manney.

“The federal government knows that justice has to come to the people,” said Nate Hamilton, the brother of Dontre Hamilton, at an afternoon news conference.

Nate Hamilton added: “The people have been calm. The people have not stood up. So when will we stand up?”

Dontre Hamilton (2nd from left), with his brothers. (Family photo).

Dontre Hamilton (2nd from left), with his brothers. (Family photo).

The ACLU of Wisconsin also blasted the decision.

“If Officer Christopher Manney did not violate the law, then is anyone legally responsible for Mr. Hamilton’s death?” the civil liberties group said in a statement. “Does the criminal law protect individuals like Mr. Hamilton from deadly force exercised by police officers? Are police officers above the law?”

Dontre's mother Maria and brother Nathaniel Hamilton after his killing.

Dontre’s mother Maria and brother Nathaniel Hamilton after his killing.

Manney showed up to Red Arrow Park after receiving a voice mail from his acting desk sergeant about “a homeless guy sleeping” in the park and asked him to respond, according to a report from Chisholm’s office.

At the time of the call, Manney was handling another unrelated incident and two other officers were dispatched to the park, but Manney was unaware of it. The two other officers checked on Hamilton twice and determined he wasn’t doing anything wrong. Hamilton’s family said he had battled schizophrenia and stopped taking his medication shortly before the shooting.

When Manney arrived in the park after the other officers had left, he said, he found Hamilton laying on the ground in the park and asked him to stand up. He said that Hamilton then stood up and turned his back to him. The police officer began patting-down Hamilton.

Occupation of Milwaukee's downtown mall: I'm sleeping, don't shoot.

Occupation of Milwaukee’s downtown mall: I’m sleeping, don’t shoot. Photo: Occupy River West.

As Manney was conducting the frisk, he told investigators, Hamilton twisted his body so he was facing Manney.

Manney, who says Hamilton’s right hand was balled in a fist, said he tried to disengage from Hamilton, according to the DA’s report.

Hamilton lunged and then tried to strike Manney with his fist, according to the police officer’s account. Manny blocked the punch and struck Hamilton with an open palm to the chin. Hamilton then grabbed Manney in the shoulder area, pulling the police officer towards him and struck him on the right side of his head, the report said.

Dontre Hamilton's family leads one of many protests since his killing April 30, 2014.

Dontre Hamilton’s family leads one of many protests since his killing April 30, 2014. Photo: Occupy River West.

At that point, Manney felt he was losing control of the situation and decided to use his wooden baton on Hamilton.

“Manney separated from Hamilton, removed his baton with his left hand and transferred it to his right hand,” the report said. “When Hamilton continued to be aggressive, Manney struck him once in the rib area with the baton. Manney states that Hamilton trapped his baton between his arms and his torso and spun away from Manney. Manney attempted to retain control of his baton but could not.”

Manney also told investigators that he attempted to hit the emergency button on his radio but couldn’t reach it because of the struggle. As he tried to push away from Hamilton, Manney said, he felt a blow from his baton on the right side of his neck.

Protesters at Milwaukee shopping mall, outside Starbucks whose workers called police about Dontre sleeping in the park.

Protesters at Milwaukee shopping mall, outside Starbucks whose workers called police about Dontre sleeping in the park.

He told investigators that he felt he was out of options and decided to draw his weapon in the hope that Hamilton would stop. But he said Hamilton continued to approach wielding the baton.

“Manney fired his weapon but it did not seem to have any effect on Hamilton, so he continued to fire while walking backwards from Hamilton,” according to Manney’s account to investigators. “Hamilton fell forward and Manney continued to fire because he perceived Hamilton still to be a threat. He stopped firing when Hamilton was completely on the ground.” (VOD: note autopsy report brief below.**)

Milwaukee District Attorney John Chisholm.

Chisholm said that a review of the incident by an outside expert on use of force by police, Emanuel Kapelsohn, concluded that Manney’s decision to fire his weapon was in line with his training.

“The Dontre Hamilton incident is quite unusual in that P.O. Manney appears to have tried every level of force on the Force Option Continuum before resorting to deadly force,” Kapelsohn wrote in his report.

As part of his report, the district attorney also released an autopsy sketch, detailing Hamilton’s wounds, as well as summaries of accounts from witnesses in and around the park that saw all or parts of the incident. Investigators heard conflicting accounts from witnesses who said that Manney continued to shoot Hamilton after he had fell to the ground.

Milwaukee police chief Edward Flynn.

Milwaukee police chief Edward Flynn.

But the autopsy revealed no conclusive evidence that any of the shots were fired while Hamilton was prone.

Police Chief Edward Flynn fired Manney in October, stating that the officer had identified Hamilton as mentally ill, but ignored department policy and treated him as a criminal by frisking him.

The Milwaukee Police Association condemned Manney’s firing as politically motivated, and members voted no confidence in Flynn soon after the firing.

Manney is currently appealing his dismissal.

Gov. Scott Walker has put Wisconsin National Guard troops on standby in case there is unrest in Milwaukee. He told reporters in Appleton on Monday that he didn’t anticipate violence, but had the troops ready out of an abundance of caution.

“It’s one of the great things about living in America—people have the right to protest,” Walker said. “They just don’t have the right to put other people’s lives at risk. I’m just asking that they be mindful of that.”

hamilton_autopsy**VOD: The following description of the autopsy report is from the website of http://occupyriverwest.com/.

Note that the killer cop in this case falsely portrayed Hamilton as a large beast-like individual who continued to advance despite multiple gunshots. He was only 5’7.”

Similar descriptions were given of Michael Brown and Eric Garner by their killer cops. These racist descriptions indicated the cops did not consider their victims human. Earlier, Detroit police attempted to have the use of hollow point bullets authorized for similar reasons (in one case, they said they needed them because they would have made it easier to kill a 16-year-old in a heavy winter jacket for an unsuccessful fast food robbery.) Their original use was by invading British troops against Africans in the 19th century, who the British also considered sub-human.

“According to the autopsy, seven of the shots that hit Hamilton had a downward trajectory, and one of the bullet wounds showed that Hamilton was shot in the back from behind.

The autopsy also showed “no stippling or unburned or burned gunpowder particles on [Hamilton’s] skin,” which the family’s lawyers say shows that Hamilton was shot from some distance.

Painting by C. E. Fripp, depicting British Lieutenants Melvill and Coghill in battle with Zulu soldiers at the Battle of Isandlwana. In this case, the Zulus triumphed against the invading army despite its weaponry.

Painting by C. E. Fripp, depicting British Lieutenants Melvill and Coghill in battle with Zulu soldiers at the Battle of Isandlwana. In this case, the Zulus triumphed against the invading army despite its weaponry, in just defense of their homeland.

The medical examiner’s account also says that Hamilton had bruises on the right side of his chin, scalp and arm.

Toxicology results also showed no traces of illicit drugs in Hamilton’s system.

The medical examiner’s findings call into question how Manney described Hamilton in a memo he wrote to Milwaukee Police Chief Ed Flynn on Oct. 1.

In his memo, Manney wrote that Hamilton had a “muscular build” and “most definitely would have overpowered … me or pretty much any officer I can think of, to tell you the truth. He was just that big, that muscular … I would say he would be impossible to control if you were one-man.”

Manney also described Hamilton as being “considerably younger than me, in much better shape than me, and much stronger and more muscular than me.”

But the autopsy results do not support Manney’s description. In the report, the medical examiner said that at the time of his death, Hamilton was a 169-pound, 5-foot-7 “well developed, overweight … adult-black male.”


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TWO DEAD, ONE WOUNDED, ONE YOUTH FACING LIFE IN PRISON FOR DEFENSE AGAINST ARMED EVICTION ATTEMPT

Detroit Police Chief James Craig was celebrated in the June, 2014 issue of the NRA's America's First Freedom magazine.
Detroit Police Chief James Craig was celebrated in the June, 2014 issue of the NRA’s America’s First Freedom magazine. Note virtually razed neighborhood surrounding him. He has repeatedly encouraged “law-abiding” citizens to arm themselves. Shootings by homeowners of people they thought were trying to break in have increased, but in this case the home’s occupants were blamed, not the intruders.

New homeowner violated proper court procedures, “brandished gun” 

Deceased and accused all armed, had CCW’s, as Chief Craig advocates 

“Don’t people have a right to defend themselves if someone enters their home with a gun?”

$100 M in Hardest Hit funds should pay delinquent taxes, to keep people in their homes and put money in city and county coffers, says attorney

By Diane Bukowski 

December 19, 2014

Alonzo D. Long, Jr.

DETROIT – Catherine Franklin, 37, and her father Howard Franklin, 72, were both armed when they entered a home at 15114 Piedmont to evict its occupants Nov. 28, according to testimony at the preliminary exam of Alonzo D. Long, Jr., 22, on Dec. 17. The elder Franklin had purchased the home during the October Wayne County tax foreclosure auction.

Both Franklins lost their lives in the ensuing events, after an argument over the tenants’ removal of a dining room chandelier and window blinds, described in other news accounts as “fixtures.”

Long, who was helping his relatives move their possessions out of the home, faces two charges of first-degree murder, one count of felony firearm, and one count of discharge of a firearm in a building. About a dozen young people came to court in his support. Three apparent relatives of the Franklins also attended.

According to police, Long and the deceased parties all had concealed weapons permits.

“I saw Cat outside with a firearm in her hand when she came stumbling out,” Carlos Williams, an employee of the Franklins, testified, after defense attorney Charles Longstreet II refreshed his memory with the statement he gave police that day. Williams said she was bloodied and fell face first onto the porch.

Catherine Franklin in a photo from a 2008 article on her business, Vend R’ Us.

He and another employee said the younger Franklin had paperwork from the treasurer’s auction which she showed to the occupants and to police when they came to the scene at the beginning of events. The Franklins called them around 3:30 p.m.

Police left shortly afterwards, after getting the Franklins to agree to give the occupants more time to move, according to DPD Chief Information Officer Michael Woody.

Williams and another employee identified Long during the hearing as the man they saw enter the house during the argument, which took place hours later, around 9:30 p.m.

Williams said he left the house when he saw guns being produced inside. On cross-exam, he said he did see the elder Franklin with his gun in hand. He said someone “got loud” with Franklin and put their hands on him.

He said a man in the house told Franklin that the police said they had time to “get their stuff out,” and “now you’re brandishing firearms.” He said the man said, “Go get Junior.”

Home at 15114 Piedmont, in photo from Wayne County Treasurer's auction website. Testimony during exam referred to the presence of large bushes which could obstruct view of what went on inside. Both employees testified they were outside the house looking through the doorway when the shooting happened.

Home at 15114 Piedmont, in photo from Wayne County Treasurer’s auction website. Testimony during exam referred to the presence of large bushes which could obstruct view of what went on inside. Both employees testified they were outside the house looking through the doorway when the shooting happened. One said he was standing on the lawn.

Williams said Alonzo Long, Jr., who had been sitting in a car in the driveway, entered the house, crossing paths with Williams as Williams ran out.

He said Long had a gun held at his side “stiff-arm” style, pointing downward. He said after he left, he saw Long fire the gun but could not see where he was aiming. He said he saw three “muzzle flashes” and then heard five more gunshots as he ran.

Williams told 36th District Judge Ruth Carter that other than his employers, there were three women and one man in the home. Police earlier said one of the women was wounded, and that the man was taken into custody on an unrelated count.

There was no forensic or ballistics testimony given to identify the guns, bullets, or trajectories. Two police officers are still set to testify at a continuation of the exam Jan. 2, 2015. Defense attorney Longstreet moved for production of the court file at the end of the session, indicating that it was evidently not available at the time. He reserved comment for after the conclusion of the exam.

Eviction at gunpoint is profoundly illegal.

Eviction at gunpoint is profoundly illegal.

Both employees appeared to be traumatized by the event. Williams said he told those involved, “It doesn’t have to be like this,” before he ran out.

Although both employees said the younger Franklin bought the home in an October Wayne County tax foreclosure auction, Wayne County records show the elder Franklin purchased the home, which is registered in his name under Quit Claim Deed 2014439726, dated Nov. 10, 2014. (See Howard Franklin QCD.) VOD was not able to locate an eviction proceedings file on the address in 36th District Court.

“The police came up with a peaceful resolution,” Sgt. Woody told VOD. “They had no more duties at the scene. We train our officers always to refer a landlord-tenant issue to the courts, because it is a civil matter.”

Attorney Jerome Goldberg, who handles many foreclosure and eviction cases, said the new owners had no right to go to the home without initiating the eviction through 36th District Court. (See Eviction Procedures at 36th District Court Eviction procedures.)

Agnes Hitchcock

Agnes Hitchcock

Even the Wayne County Treasurer’s auction bidding rules say with regard to a winning bidder, “Occupied structures should not be entered without the occupant’s permission.” (See Wayne County Treasurer Bidding_Rules.)

Community activist and homeowner Agnes Hitchcock, who attended the hearing, said, “I would blame the Treasurer. They should make clear to people who have the highest bid that they have no legal right to an occupied property without going through the courts, even if they have a deed in hand. It’s unfortunate they were strapped, because that gives a sense of power, and things don’t always work out the way they expect.”

The proper process takes weeks. If affirmed with a Writ of Eviction signed by a judge, Wayne County Bailiffs, not Detroit police, are responsible for the eviction.

Attorney Jerome Goldberg.

Attorney Jerome Goldberg.

“The police should have told them to get away from the property, to go through the courts first,” Goldberg said. “A chandelier and blinds aren’t ‘fixtures.’ They could very well have belonged to the original owner. Don’t people have a right to defend themselves when someone enters their property with a gun?”

Detroit Police Chief James Craig has repeatedly encouraged “law-abiding” citizens to arm themselves and obtain CCW’s. He said such action “translates into crime reduction.” He was featured on the cover of the June, 2014 issue of the National Rifle Association’s magazine as a result. Shootings by homeowners of people they suspected were trying to enter their homes  escalated after his remarks. In this case, however, the Prosecutor’s office appears to have blamed the occupants, not the intruders.

Goldberg said the events were particularly tragic because the State of Michigan just got another $100 million in Hardest-Hit Funds from the federal government, to distribute to cities in the state.

Note Michigan is not among the states

Note Michigan is not among the states

“Over 32,000 occupied homes are going into tax foreclosure now,” he said. “What’s owed in taxes doesn’t approach the real value of the home. The Hardest Hit funds, which are meant to keep people in their homes, should be used to pay delinquent city and county taxes, benefitting both the governments and the homeowners.”

Instead, he said, the city is using them for “blight removal,” to demolish houses, with no objection from the Obama administration.

Goldberg noted that the City of Detroit paid $82 million in “chargebacks” to Wayne County this year, after homes the county purchased from the city were sold at auction at a lesser value than the county paid. The city also paid $21 million in chargebacks on delinquent water bills attached to the properties.

Some of 6,000 homes included in the Detroit "blight bundle" for single purchaser, likely for demolition.

Some of 6,000 homes included in the Detroit “blight bundle” for single purchaser, likely for demolition.

“That’s the largest item in the city’s budget and should have been looked at during the bankruptcy proceedings,” Goldberg said. He added that he asked Assistant Wayne County Treasurer David Szymanski last year to initiate a moratorium on tax foreclosures, but Szymanski refused to do so.

Meanwhile, every tax foreclosure auction, which includes numerous “blight bundles” of properties, brings wealthy speculators from across the globe and other bidders, including non-profits, out of the woodwork like termites to feast on the wreckage of the city’s neighborhoods.

(See  2014 DETROIT BLIGHT_BUNDLE_AuctionItems for list of Detroit properties bundled for purchase by one bidder, for demolition. THERE ARE 118 PAGES OF PROPERTIES LISTED.)

Cornell Squires

It is questionable whether most of the homes in the auctions have been legally foreclosed.

Bidding rules say, “The Treasurer assumes no liability for any lien, encumbrance, or easement, recorded or not recorded, which was not cancelled by the Foreclosure Judgment of the property under MCL 211.78k. It is the responsibility of the bidder to research the existence of any liens or encumbrances . . . .”

Cornell Squires, of We the People for the People, which assists many homeowners facing foreclosure, told VOD that many Sheriff’s deeds are illegally executed, with unsworn county employees operating both as deputy sheriffs to sign the deeds, and as notaries.

“I think the charges were brought against the young man because of the image of young Black men being portrayed in the media,” Squires said. “How are we going to protect our young Black men?”

Attorney Vanessa Fluker.

Attorney Vanessa Fluker.

Noted foreclosure attorney Vanessa Fluker said she has fought hundreds of illegal evictions, including one involving an elderly woman whose senior citizen tax exemption was not taken into account by the Treasurer’s office.

“What would you do if someone showed up on your porch with a gun?” she asked.

The Moratorium NOW! Coalition to Stop Foreclosures, Evictions, and Shut-offs, which fights such actions on a broad level, can be reached at 313-680-5508 or 313-319-0870. Its website is at http://moratorium-mi.org/. We the People for the People can be reached at 313-460-3175.


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U.S.-CUBA TO RESTORE DIPLOMATIC TIES; EMBARGO CONTINUES AS U.S. ADVOCATES PRIVATIZATION

U.S. Pres. Barack Obama and Cuban President Raul Castro shook hands at Dec. 2013 memorial for Nelson Mandela. Brazililan President Dima Roussef watched.

U.S. Pres. Barack Obama and Cuban President Raul Castro shook hands at Dec. 2013 memorial for Nelson Mandela. Brazililan President Dima Roussef watched.

Cuban Five are free; travel, trade and third country restrictions eased; U.S. to review Cuba’s designation as a State Sponsor of Terrorism

White House statement stresses expansion of private sector, Cuba “human rights” issues, despite UN condemnation of US police, prison terror

White House wants expansion of internet facilities in Cuba

Issue of political refugee Assata Shakur not addressed

HAVANA, Cuba

December 17, 2014

Fidel and Raul Castro; Fidel retired in 2008 due to health reasons and his brother assumed his duties.

Fidel and Raul Castro; Fidel retired in 2008 due to health reasons and his brother assumed his duties.

STATEMENT BY CUBAN PRESIDENT RAUL CASTRO ,

Fellow countrymen:

Since my election as President of the State Council and Council of Ministers I have reiterated in many occasions our willingness to hold a respectful dialogue with the United States on the basis of sovereign equality, in order to deal reciprocally with a wide variety of topics without detriment to the national Independence and self-determination of our people. This stance was conveyed to the US Government both publicly and privately by Comrade Fidel on several occasions during our long standing struggle, stating the willingness to discuss and solve our differences without renouncing any of our principles.

The heroic Cuban people, in the wake of serious dangers, aggressions, adversities and sacrifices has proven to be faithful and will continue to be faithful to our ideals of independence and social justice. Strongly united throughout these 56 years of Revolution, we have kept our unswerving loyalty to those who died in defense of our principles since the beginning of our independence wars in 1868.

Cuban children in 1991 as workers, on paid leave from their regular jobs, were building their own new apartments at La Guinera. Photo: Diane Bukowski

Cuban children in 1991 as workers, on paid leave from their regular jobs, were building their own new apartments at La Guinera. Photo: Diane Bukowski

Today, despite the difficulties, we have embarked on the task of updating our economic model in order to build a prosperous and sustainable Socialism. As a result of a dialogue at the highest level, which included a phone conversation I had yesterday with President Obama, we have been able to make headway in the solution of some topics of mutual interest for both nations.

As Fidel promised on June 2001, when he said: “They shall return!” Gerardo, Ramon, and Antonio have arrived today to our homeland. The enormous joy of their families and of all our people, who have relentlessly fought for this goal, is shared by hundreds of solidarity committees and groups, governments, parliaments, organizations, institutions, and personalities, who for the last sixteen years have made tireless efforts demanding their release. We convey our deepest gratitude and commitment to all of them.

Cuban students leave class; education through the college level is free in Cuba.

Cuban students leave class; education through the college level is free in Cuba. Photo by Diane Bukowski, 1991

President Obama’s decision deserves the respect and acknowledgement of our people. I wish to thank and acknowledge the support of the Vatican, most particularly the support of Pope Francisco in the efforts for improving relations between Cuba and the United States. I also want to thank the Government of Canada for facilitating the high-level dialogue between the two countries.

Cuban workers, also on paid leave from their regular jobs, pitch in to help develop agriculture in the countryside. Photo : Diane Bukowski, 1991

Cuban workers, also on paid leave from their regular jobs, pitch in to help develop agriculture in the countryside. Photo : Diane Bukowski, 1991

In turn, we have decided to release and send back to the United States a spy of Cuban origin who was working for that nation. On the other hand, and for humanitarian reasons, today we have also sent the American citizen Alan Gross back to his country. Unilaterally, as has always been our practice, and in strict compliance with the provisions of our legal system, the concerned prisoners have received legal benefits, including the release of those persons that the Government of the United States had conveyed their interest in.

Obama has executive authority to modify blockade 

We have also agreed to renew diplomatic relations. This in no way means that the heart of the matter has been solved. The economic, commercial, and financial blockade, which causes enormous human and economic damages to our country, must cease. Though the blockade has been codified into law, the President of the United States has the executive authority to modify its implementation.

______________________________________________________________

Cuba embargo54 years since U.S. trade embargo of Cuba imposed.

$1.1 trillion cost to Cuban economy

Cost to US economy $1.2B a year

Source: US Chamber of Commerce, Cuba Foreign Ministry. _______________________________________________________________

We propose to the Government of the United States the adoption of mutual steps to improve the bilateral atmosphere and advance towards normalization of relations between our two countries, based on the principles of International Law and the United Nations Charter. Cuba reiterates its willingness to cooperate in multilateral bodies, such as the United Nations. While acknowledging our profound differences, particularly on issues related to national sovereignty, democracy, human rights and foreign policy, I reaffirm our willingness to dialogue on all these issues.

Young Cuban women on Malecon, 1991. We saw excellent teeth on everyone in Cuba due to free health care. Photo: Diane Bukowski, 1991

Young Cuban women on Malecon, 1991. We saw excellent teeth on everyone in Cuba due to free health care. Photo: Diane Bukowski, 1991

I call upon the Government of the United States to remove the obstacles hindering or restricting ties between peoples, families, and citizens of both countries, particularly restrictions on travelling, direct post services, and telecommunications. The progress made in our exchanges proves that it is possible to find solutions to many problems. As we have reiterated, we must learn the art of coexisting with our differences in a civilized manner. We will continue talking about these important issues at a later date.

FROM THE NEW YORK TIMES

Obama Calls Cuba Embargo a Failure

Pres. Obama speaks on ties with Cuba.

Pres. Obama speaks on ties with Cuba.

President Obama said from the White House that 50 years of isolating Cuba had not worked and it was time for a new approach.      “This policy has been rooted in the best of intentions,” Mr. Obama said. “It has had little effect.”

The president said the United States was encouraging more resources for Cuba and said that increased commerce would be good for both countries.

Release from White House Office of Press Secretary 

December 17, 2014

FACT SHEET: Charting a New Course on Cuba < http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2014/12/17/fact-sheet-charting-new-course-cuba>;

Today, the United States is taking historic steps to chart a new course in our relations with Cuba and to further engage and empower the Cuban people.  We are separated by 90 miles of water, but brought together through the relationships between the two million Cubans and Americans of Cuban descent that live in the United States, and the 11 million Cubans who share similar hopes for a more positive future for Cuba.  It is clear that decades of U.S. isolation of Cuba have failed to accomplish our enduring objective of promoting the emergence of a democratic, prosperous, and stable Cuba.

Cuban workers housing in 1991. Sign says to U.S. imperialism: we are not afraid of you! Photo: Diane Bukowski, 1991

Cuban workers housing in 1991. Housing is a constitutional right in Cuba. Sign says to U.S. imperialism: we are not afraid of you! Photo: Diane Bukowski, 1991

At times, longstanding U.S. policy towards Cuba has isolated the United States from regional and international partners, constrained our ability to influence outcomes throughout the Western Hemisphere, and impaired the use of the full range of tools available to the United States to promote positive change in Cuba.  Though this policy has been rooted in the best of intentions, it has had little effect – today, as in 1961, Cuba is governed by the Castros and the Communist party.

We cannot keep doing the same thing and expect a different result.  It does not serve America’s interests, or the Cuban people, to try to push Cuba toward collapse.  We know from hard-learned experience that it is better to encourage and support reform than to impose policies that will render a country a failed state.  With our actions today, we are calling on Cuba to unleash the potential of 11 million Cubans by ending unnecessary restrictions on their political, social, and economic activities.  In that spirit, we should not allow U.S. sanctions to add to the burden of Cuban citizens we seek to help.

Pedro Ross (center), head of the Cuban Trade Federation, with AFSCME officials Harold Mitchell from Cleveland and Diane Bukowski from Detroit. Along with thousands of union delegates from across the hemisphere, we attended a three-day conference with the slogan, "Cuba is not Alone!" All Cuban workers are unionized.

Pedro Ross (center), head of the Cuban Trade Federation, with AFSCME officials Harold Mitchell from Cleveland and Diane Bukowski from Detroit. Along with thousands of union delegates from across the hemisphere, we attended a three-day conference with the slogan, “Cuba is not Alone!” All Cuban workers are unionized.

Today, we are renewing our leadership in the Americas.  We are choosing to cut loose the anchor of the past, because it is entirely necessary to reach a better future – for our national interests, for the American people, and for the Cuban people.

Key Components of the Updated Policy Approach: Since taking office in 2009, President Obama has taken steps aimed at supporting the ability of the Cuban people to gain greater control over their own lives and determine their country’s future.  Today, the President announced additional measures to end our outdated approach, and to promote more effectively change in Cuba that is consistent with U.S. support for the Cuban people and in line with U.S. national security interests.  Major elements of the President’s new approach include:

Cuban community center sign says: WE ARE HAPPY HERE!

La Guinera Cuban community center sign says: WE ARE HAPPY HERE!

Establishing diplomatic relations with Cuba- The President has instructed the Secretary of State to immediately initiate discussions with Cuba on the re-establishment of diplomatic relations with Cuba, which were severed in January 1961. In the coming months, we will re-establish an embassy in Havana and carry out high-level exchanges and visits between our two governments as part of the normalization process.

As an initial step, the Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs will lead the U.S. Delegation to the next round of U.S.-Cuba Migration Talks in January 2015, in Havana. U.S. engagement will be critical when appropriate and will include continued strong support for improved human rights conditions and democratic reforms in Cuba and other measures aimed at fostering improved conditions for the Cuban people. The United States will work with Cuba on matters of mutual concern and that advance U.S. national interests, such as migration, counternarcotics, environmental protection, and trafficking in persons, among other issues.

Adjusting regulations to more effectively empower the Cuban people

Workers at La Guinera Community Center, which provides day care, a polyclinic, and recreational facilities for young and old.

Workers at La Guinera Community Center, a public facility which provides day care, a polyclinic, and recreational facilities for young and old. Obama statement stresses ‘private property ownership.’ Photo: Diane Bukowski, 1991

The changes announced today will soon be implemented via amendments to regulations of the Departments of the Treasury and Commerce.   Our new policy changes will further enhance our goal of empowering the Cuban population. Our travel and remittance policies are helping Cubans by providing alternative sources of information and opportunities for self-employment and private property ownership, and by strengthening independent civil society.  These measures will further increase people-to-people contact; further support civil society in Cuba; and further enhance the free flow of information to, from, and among the Cuban people.  Persons must comply with all provisions of the revised regulations; violations of the terms and conditions are enforceable under U.S. law.

Facilitating an expansion of travel under general licenses for the 12 existing categories of travel to Cuba authorized by law- General licenses will be made available for all authorized travelers in the following existing categories: (1) family visits; (2) official business of the U.S. government, foreign governments, and certain intergovernmental organizations; (3) journalistic activity; (4) professional research and professional meetings; (5) educational activities; (6) religious activities; (7) public performances, clinics, workshops, athletic and other competitions, and exhibitions; (8) support for the Cuban people; (9) humanitarian projects; (10) activities of private foundations or research or educational institutes; (11) exportation, importation, or transmission of information or information materials; and (12) certain export transactions that may be considered for authorization under existing regulations and guidelines.

Mass Puerto Rican rally against privatization of public services.

Mass Puerto Rican rally against privatization of public services.

Travelers in the 12 categories of travel to Cuba authorized by law will be able to make arrangements through any service provider that complies with the U.S. Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) regulations governing travel services to Cuba, and general licenses will authorize provision of such services.  The policy changes make it easier for Americans to provide business training for private Cuban businesses and small farmers and provide other support for the growth of Cuba’s nascent private sector Additional options for promoting the growth of entrepreneurship and the private sector in Cuba will be explored.

Facilitating remittances to Cuba by U.S. persons- Remittance levels will be raised from $500 to $2,000 per quarter for general donative remittances to Cuban nationals (except to certain officials of the government or the Communist party); and donative remittances for humanitarian projects, support for the Cuban people, and support for the development of private businesses in Cuba will no longer require a specific license. Remittance forwarders will no longer require a specific license.

Forbes private business conferenceAuthorizing expanded commercial sales/exports from the United States of certain goods and services- The expansion will seek to empower the nascent Cuban private sector.  Items that will be authorized for export include certain building materials for private residential construction, goods for use by private sector Cuban entrepreneurs, and agricultural equipment for small farmers.  This change will make it easier for Cuban citizens to have access to certain lower-priced goods to improve their living standards and gain greater economic independence from the state.

Authorizing American citizens to import additional goods from Cuba- Licensed U.S. travelers to Cuba will be authorized to import $400 worth of goods from Cuba, of which no more than $100 can consist of tobacco products and alcohol combined.

Facilitating authorized transactions between the United States and Cuba- U.S. institutions will be permitted to open correspondent accounts at Cuban financial institutions to facilitate the processing of authorized transactions. The regulatory definition of the statutory term “cash in advance” will be revised to specify that it means “cash before transfer of title”; this will provide more efficient financing of authorized trade with Cuba. U.S. credit and debit cards will be permitted for use by travelers to Cuba. These measures will improve the speed, efficiency, and oversight of authorized payments between the United States and Cuba.

Assange on Facebook GoogleInitiating new efforts to increase Cubans’ access to communications and their ability to communicate freely- Cuba has an internet penetration of about five percent—one of the lowest rates in the world.  The cost of telecommunications in Cuba is exorbitantly high, while the services offered are extremely limited. The commercial export of certain items that will contribute to the ability of the Cuban people to communicate with people in the United States and the rest of the world will be authorized.

This will include the commercial sale of certain consumer communications devices, related software, applications, hardware, and services, and items for the establishment and update of communications-related systems.  Telecommunications providers will be allowed to establish the necessary mechanisms, including infrastructure, in Cuba to provide commercial telecommunications and internet services, which will improve telecommunications between the United States and Cuba.

Updating the application of Cuba sanctions in third countries- U.S.-owned or -controlled entities in third countries will be generally licensed to provide services to, and engage in financial transactions with, Cuban individuals in third countries.  In addition, general licenses will unblock the accounts at U.S. banks of Cuban nationals who have relocated outside of Cuba; permit U.S. persons to participate in third-country professional meetings and conferences related to Cuba; and, allow foreign vessels to enter the United States after engaging in certain humanitarian trade with Cuba, among other measures.

Pursuing discussions with the Cuban and Mexican governments to discuss our unresolved maritime boundary in the Gulf of Mexico- Previous agreements between the United States and Cuba delimit the maritime space between the two countries within 200 nautical miles from shore.  The United States, Cuba, and Mexico have extended continental shelf in an area within the Gulf of Mexico where the three countries have not yet delimited any boundaries. The United States is prepared to invite the governments of Cuba and Mexico to discuss shared maritime boundaries in the Gulf of Mexico.

Summit of the Americas involves primarily members of the Organization of American States (OAS), which suspended Cuba from participation in 1962.

Summit of the Americas involves primarily members of the Organization of American States (OAS), which suspended Cuba from participation in 1962.

Initiating a review of Cuba’s designation as a State Sponsor of Terrorism- The President has instructed the Secretary of State to immediately launch such a review, and provide a report to the President within six months regarding Cuba’s support for international terrorism.  Cuba was placed on the list in 1982.

Addressing Cuba’s participation in the 2015 Summit of the Americas in Panama- President Obama will participate in the Summit of the Americas in Panama.  Human rights and democracy will be key Summit themes.  Cuban civil society must be allowed to participate along with civil society from other countries participating in the Summit, consistent with the region’s commitments under the Inter-American Democratic Charter.  The United States welcomes a constructive dialogue among Summit governments on the Summit’s principles.

Unwavering Commitment to Democracy, Human Rights, and Civil Society

Meanwhile, in U.S. police clashed with protesters against murder of Michael Brown Aug. 9. Grand juries later exonerated killer cops Darren Wilson and Daniel Pantaleo in brutal deaths of Brown and Eric Garner in New York City.

Meanwhile, in U.S. police clashed with protesters against murder of Michael Brown Aug. 9. Grand juries later exonerated killer cops Darren Wilson and Daniel Pantaleo in brutal deaths of Brown and Eric Garner in New York City. The UN Commission on Torture condemned the large number of police killings of African-Americans, and conditions in U.S. prisons including solitary confinement. A separate UN committee condemned the shut-offs of water to thousands of families in Detroit, and the massive foreclosure crisis which has left thousands more homeless.

A critical focus of our increased engagement will include continued strong support by the United States for improved human rights conditions and democratic reforms in Cuba.  The promotion of democracy supports universal human rights by empowering civil society and a person’s right to speak freely, peacefully assemble, and associate, and by supporting the ability of people to freely determine their future.   Our efforts are aimed at promoting the independence of the Cuban people so they do not need to rely on the Cuban state.

Slavemaster Governor Rick Snyder in Michigan has disenfranchised over half of the state's Black population. A popular vote repealing his first Emergency Manager law was disregarded and replaced with the bulletproof  PA 436. Meanwhile, the country's largest Black majority city, Detroit, and other Black majority cities in Michigan have been stripped of virtually every asset.

Slavemaster Governor Rick Snyder in Michigan has disenfranchised over half of the state’s Black population. A popular vote repealing his first Emergency Manager law was disregarded and replaced with the bulletproof PA 436. Meanwhile, the country’s largest Black majority city, Detroit, and other Black majority cities in Michigan have been stripped of virtually every asset.

The U.S. Congress funds democracy programming in Cuba to provide humanitarian assistance, promote human rights and fundamental freedoms, and support the free flow of information in places where it is restricted and censored.  The Administration will continue to implement U.S. programs aimed at promoting positive change in Cuba, and we will encourage reforms in our high level engagement with Cuban officials. The United States encourages all nations and organizations engaged in diplomatic dialogue with the Cuban government to take every opportunity both publicly and privately to support increased respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms in Cuba.

Ultimately, it will be the Cuban people who drive economic and political reforms.  That is why President Obama took steps to increase the flow of resources and information to ordinary Cuban citizens in 2009, 2011, and today.  The Cuban people deserve the support of the United States and of an entire region that has committed to promote and defend democracy through the Inter-American Democratic Charter.

From the ANSWER Coalition: 

The Cuban Five prisoners are now freed from U.S. prisons after a long campaign.

The Cuban Five prisoners are now freed from U.S. prisons after a long campaign.

The Cuban Five at home with families and Cuban President Raul Castro/

The Cuban Five at home with families and Cuban President Raul Castro/

At last! The Cuban 5 are free. After 16 years of imprisonment, the United States government has released the final three members of the Cuban 5: Gerardo Hernández, Ramón Labañino and Antonio Guerrero

The imprisonment of the Cuban 5 for the last 16 years has been a grave injustice. Their freedom has been a focal point for struggle by people around the world who demanded their release.

The Cuban 5 came to the United States to expose and prevent terrorism directed against their country from within the territory of the United States.

They were never terrorists; they were always fighting terrorism.

U.S. invaded Cuba at the Bay of Pigs among many other terrorist anti-Castro plots.

U.S. invaded Cuba at the Bay of Pigs among many other terrorist anti-Castro plots.

The imprisonment of the Cuban 5 has been one chapter, one battle in a decades-long war directed against the Cuban people and the Cuban Revolution.

The Cuban people have been blockaded, invaded and subjected to all kinds of terrorism, and yet have remained resolute in defending the independence of their country and the social system that puts people before profits.

Congratulations to Cuba, to the Cuban 5 and their families, and to all of those who have rallied in support of their freedom around the world.

The ANSWER Coalition has organized scores of demonstrations, rallies, campus events, mass petitions, letter writing to Congress and other activities as part of the movement to free the Cuban 5. We thank all of the ANSWER Coalition supporters and volunteers who have dedicated so much time and effort to this noble cause.

Movements from the grassroots can make change. In fact, power is in the people if we are organized and mobilized. We will continue to fight for justice.  It is time to end the war against Cuba. It is time to end the blockade of Cuba and to normalize relations with Cuba.

WHAT ABOUT CUBAN ASYLUM FOR ASSATA SHAKUR?

VOD: Pres. Obama’s statement says this country’s designation of Cuba as a “State Sponsor of Terrorism” will be reviewed. For many years, Cuba has given political asylum to an internationally-renowned heroine of the Black liberation movement in the U.S., Assata Shakur. The FBI has designated her its number one “domestic terrorist.” Various right-wing Congressmen and others have demanded that Cuba extradite her back to the U.S. Cuba has always strongly refused to do so. Her continued protection in Cuba is absolutely essential at this time, as a mass movement grows across the country, condemning the racist police murders of Mike Brown, Eric Garner, Tamir Rice and hundreds of others.

JUSTICE FOR ASSATA SHAKUR AND THE OPPRESSED BLACK AND BROWN PEOPLES OF THE U.S.! NO EXTRADITION FROM CUBA!

Poster from the 1991 International Conference held in Havana, Cuba.

Poster from the 1991 International Conference held in Havana, Cuba.

(As an officer of AFSCME Local 457 in Detroit, VOD editor Diane Bukowski participated in the 1991 U.S.-Cuba Labor Exchange, visiting Cuba for one week, touring the country, and meeting its people.

Most inspiring was a two-day conference of thousands of union delegates from the entire Western hemisphere including Canada and Mexico, who lauded Cuba as a model which they wished to establish in their own countries. The conference took place just prior to the U.S. invasion of Panama. Its major topic was global “neo-liberal” policies which were destroying the public sectors of many Latin American countries, worsening conditions for the workers, and services for the people. The U.S.-Cuba Labor Exchange is at laborexchange@aol.com)


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