REV. SHARPTON IN DETROIT TO DEFEND VOTING RIGHTS ACT, MOBILIZE FOR NATIONAL MARCH JUNE 22, 2013

Rev. Al Sharpton, head of the National Action Network, discusses Voting, N.A.N, Freedom March – – A No Struggle, No Development Production! By KennySnod *Videographer for Voice of Detroit 

Kenny Snodgrass at 2011 Detroit demo.

Kenny Snodgrass at 2011 Detroit demo.

Rev. Al, Sharpton, President of National Action Network (NAN) was in Detroit Feb. 16, 2013 to 1) discuss the need and importance of going to Washington, D.C., to support the National Voting Rights Act against a challenge in Shelby County, Al v. Holder . The Supreme Court is to hear  oral arguments on the case February 27, 2013 2) To discuss the National Action Network’s upcoming Convention in New York – April 3 – 6, 2013 and 3) “The Commemorative March Toward Freedom” June 22, 2013. – – 

A No Struggle, No Development Production! By Kenny Snodgrass, Activist, Photographer, Videographer, Author of 1} From Victimization To Empowerment… www.trafford.com/07-0913 eBook available at www.ebookstore.sony.com
2} The World As I’ve Seen It! My Greatest Experience! {Photo Book}

 

YouTube: I have over 370 Video’s, over 127,321 hits averaging 4,100 a month on my YouTube channel @ www.YouTube.com/KennySnod

Lawyers committee

SHELBY COUNTY V. HOLDER

By Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights

Young member of Lawyers' Committee.

Young member of Lawyers’ Committee.

In April 2010, Shelby County, Alabama (a largely white suburb of Birmingham) filed suit in federal court in Washington, DC asking that Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act be declared unconstitutional. Shelby County, Alabama v. Holder, No. 1:10-cv-00651 (D.D.C.). The county asserts that Congress exceeded its constitutional authority when, in 2006, it reauthorized Section 5 for another 25 years.

Map of Alabama; Shelby County in green.

Map of Alabama; Shelby County in green.

Section 5 requires that certain States and localities, located primarily in the South and Southwest, obtain federal preclearance for all voting changes before they may be implemented. To obtain preclearance, a jurisdiction must demonstrate that the change neither has a discriminatory purpose nor a discriminatory effect.

On August 25, 2010, the Lawyers’ Committee intervened in the lawsuit to defend the constitutionality of Section 5. The Lawyers’ Committee is representing Bobby Lee Harris, a former council member of the Town of Alabaster, Alabama (located in Shelby County). Attorney General Holder is the named defendant in the case and other Shelby County residents also have also intervened as defendants (represented by the NAACP LDF and the ACLU Voting Rights Project).

(For more on Bobby Lee Harris, who contends he lost his seat on the city council of Alabaster, Al. due to violations of Sec. 5 of the Voting Rights Act, click on http://blog.al.com/spotnews/2013/02/voting_rights_act_defenders_di.html)

Black voters' rights are under attack nationwide.

Black voters’ rights are under attack nationwide.

On September 21, 2011, the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia upheld the constitutionality of Congress’ 2006 reauthorization of Section 5, rejecting Shelby County’s challenge. The opinion can be found here. An analysis of this opinion can be found here.

On May 18, 2012, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit affirmed the district court ruling, by a vote of two to one. The court summarized its decision as follows: “Congress drew reasonable conclusions from the extensive evidence it gathered and acted pursuant to the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments, which entrust Congress with ensuring that the right to vote-surely among the most important guarantees of political liberty in the Constitution-is not abridged on account of race. In this context, we owe much deference to the considered judgment of the People’s elected representatives.” The opinion can be found here.

Bobby Harris (center) was previously assistant principal of Thompson High School in Alabaster, AL. He is shown here with others opening school time capsule.

Bobby Harris (center) was previously assistant principal of Thompson High School in Alabaster, AL. He is shown here with others opening school time capsule.

Shelby County then appealed to the Supreme Court, and the Court accepted the case. On January 25, 2013, the Lawyers’ Committee filed its brief in support of the lower court rulings. We argued that Congress appropriately found in 2006 that pervasive discrimination in voting has persisted in the areas subject to Section 5, and therefore Congress properly concluded that there is a continuing need for the preclearance remedy. We further argued that Congress also appropriately determined that voting discrimination elsewhere in the country is much less severe, and therefore Congress properly concluded that the Section 5’s geographic coverage should not be altered. Oral argument will occur on February 27, 2013, and a decision is expected by the end of June. Continue reading


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STOP GOVERNMENT FORECLOSURES OF OUR HOMES: HURRICANE FANNIE-FREDDIE; PACK HEARING WED. FEB. 20, 2PM, U.S. JUDGE NANCY EDMUNDS

Rev. David Bullock addresses crowd at Kick-Off Rally to Stop Government Foreclosures of Our Homes, Feb. 13, 2013.

Rev. David Bullock addresses crowd at Kick-Off Rally to Stop Government Foreclosures of Our Homes, Feb. 13, 2013.

 U.S. govt. agencies behind majority of 16 million foreclosures, evictions

Ground-breaking federal ‘due process’ Mandry case to be heard Wed. Feb. 20, 2 pm, before U.S. District Court Judge Nancy Edmunds

By Diane Bukowski 

February 15, 2013 

Fannie Mae Freddie MacHurricaneDETROIT – Foreclosed homeowners, community leaders, and activists from the metropolitan Detroit area rallied Feb. 13 against what they called “Hurricanes Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac,” the federal agencies currently responsible for most foreclosures and evictions. They demanded that President Barack Obama issue an executive order declaring a moratorium on all such actions. 

The group also announced a ground-breaking federal lawsuit demanding Fifth Amendment “due process” hearings before foreclosures, which can expose bank fraud and predatory lending. U. S. District Court Judge Nancy Edmunds will hear a motion by federal agencies and the Bank of America to dismiss the case on Wed. Feb. 20, at 2 p.m. at 321 W. Lafayette. The case was filed by Attorney Jerry Goldberg on behalf of Ray Mandry of Canton, Michigan, a disabled Vietnam veteran. 

Attorney Vanessa Fluker

Attorney Vanessa Fluker

“This was a set-up,” Attorney Vanessa Fluker told a packed auditorium at the Metro Detroit AFL-CIO headquarters in downtown Detroit. “The government bailed out the banks during the mortgage meltdown, then gave them the power over loan modifications instead of giving it to the people. It took over Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, which then insured toxic, predatory loans so that the banks would get paid the full mortgage balance instead of the market value of the homes.” 

Fluker, whose practice is devoted to foreclosures and evictions, testified before a House Judiciary Committee panel in Washington, D.C. in 2010. 

“People are still being thrown out on the streets every day,” Fluker explained. “We don’t go to court with them because we will win through litigation, we go to court to fight what is being done with our tax dollars by the Federal Housing Finance Agency [FHFA—the conservator for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac] to evict millions of people. Entire communities are being destroyed. I challenge everyone to take this another step. We need people in the streets. There have been 10.9 million foreclosures since 2007, and it is estimated there will be another six million from 2012-13.” 

Angela Crockett

Homeowner Angela Crockett

The rally featured personal testimonials from homeowners who have fought foreclosure and eviction, assisted by the Moratorium NOW! Coalition, People Before Banks,  Detroit Eviction Defense, Occupy Detroit, and others. 

Angela Crockett of Detroit said she was making payments on her mortgage through an assistance program beginning in June, 2011, with the promise she would not be subject to foreclosure.

“Then the insurance agent told me they were not making payments into escrow any more against foreclosures,” Crockett said. A Sheriff’s deed was issued at the end of 2011, but Crockett said she began a court fight with the assistance of attorneys Fluker, Jerry Goldberg, and Bob Day. 

Homeowner Ray Mandry

Homeowner Ray Mandry

“Don’t ever sign a consent agreement in court,” Crockett warned. “You give up all your rights. You have a right to fight and defend yourself against eviction, against losing your home. I thought about the fact that mine and my mother’s tax dollars were being used to put us in the street. I encourage people not to be afraid, to be warriors.” 

Ray Mandry’s lawsuit, to be heard Feb. 20, says that because Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are governmental agencies, they are subject to the Fifth Amendment, and therefore must give due process before foreclosure and eviction. 

Bob Goss

Homeowner Bob Goss

“I lost my job in 2010,” Mandry said. “I was looking for work. We sold my wife’s car, furniture and jewelry, did whatever we could to pay the mortgage. In March 2011, we contacted the Bank of America for a loan modification. They wanted everything, W-2’s, tax returns, blood samples, but when they asked for stool samples, I decided to fight,” he added sarcastically. 

“They sent me a letter they were not going to meet with me or grant a modification. Then they snuck the sheriff in in the middle of the night, but we’re still fighting. The bank did not provide everything they were supposed to do by law. They don’t have the right to take our homes and property without due process. You are warriors, fight, don’t roll over.” 

Jerome Jackson

Homeowner Jerome Jackson

Bob Goss of Troy said he asked his bank for a loan modification, supposed to be guaranteed under President Barack Obama’s TARP (Troubled Asset Relief Program), which bailed out the banks. He said he repeatedly sent all the documents required, but the bank kept claiming they had lost various pages. He contacted numerous government officials to no avail, and his house was sold five days before he even knew there was a sheriff’s deed on it. He and attorney Fluker are continuing to fight his case in court. 

Other homeowners speaking were Jennifer Britt and Jerry Cullors of Detroit, as well as Jerome Jackson of Inkster. Their struggles have been covered in Voice of Detroit. For the sake of brevity, links to those stories are included at the end of this story. 

Jennifer Britt

Homeowner Jennifer Britt

Attorney Joe McGuire and Steve Babson of Detroit Eviction Defense and People Before Banks said the coalition has been conducting weeks-long encampments in front of homes, to physically stop evictions as masses of people did during the 1930’s Great Depression. 

They said they organize neighbors, who have carried out actions like parking their cars all over the streets and property to stop a dumpster from being placed, and filling dumpsters with debris. In one case, a homeowner laid in her doorway until a representative of the bank involved agreed to meet with her. 

Attorney Joe McGuire

Attorney Joe McGuire

“The best lawyers can do is fight in court while we fight in the streets,” McGuire said. “We get the public as well to pressure the banks through emails, fliers, phone calls and the internet. The banks don’t want their dirty laundry aired in public.” 

He noted that homeowners in Spain just won a two-year moratorium on foreclosures during this global economic meltdown. 

Attorney Jerry Goldberg of the Moratorium NOW! Coalition to Stop Foreclores, Evictions and Utility Shut-offs, analyzed the struggle to date. He said the group first asked former Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm to declare a state of emergency in Michigan so a moratorium could be declared, but that Granholm responded, “The banks wouldn’t like it.” 

OD Moratorium 12 6 11

Groups blocked eviction of homeowner Dec. 6, 2011.

“In the 1930,’s, Michigan had a five-year moratorium on foreclosures and evictions,” Goldberg said. “Such moratoriums were enacted in 25 other states as well. They involved an automatic stay on foreclosures, with a mandate that a judge hear the case to give the homeowner an affordable payment schedule.” 

Attorney Jerome Goldberg

Attorney Jerome Goldberg

Goldberg said Hurricane Fannie-Freddie is chiefly responsible for the devastation of Detroit. 

“Detroit wouldn’t have lost 250,000 people, neighborhoods wouldn’t look like bombs had been dropped on them, if Granholm had enacted our demand for a moratorium in 2007,” Goldberg said. “Today, the case for a moratorium is stronger than ever. In 2008, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac were taken over by the federal government. The Federal Reserve spent $2 trillion dollars to buy out defaulted mortgages; there has been $180 billion of taxpayers’ money paid to the banks. This is a complete government takeover of the mortgage industry.” 

He reiterated a demand that the Moratorium NOW! Coalition has been making for several years, that President Barack Obama issue an executive order declaring an emergency moratorium on all foreclosures and evictions because housing is a “fundamental human right.” 

Upcoming events:

fc events

 JJ funds_0002

 

For further information: 

Detroit Eviction Defense @ https://twitter.com/EvictDefense or DetroitEvictionDefense@gmail.com

People Before Banks @ http://www.peoplebeforebanks.org and Steve Babson at 313-882-4009

Moratorium NOW! Coalition @ 313-744-7912  and https://www.facebook.com/pages/Moratorium-NOW-Coalition/243268662379197

UAW Local 600 c/o AJ @ 313-429-5009

Related VOD articles:

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2012/07/12/fannie-mae-stop-eviction-of-jennifer-britt-let-her-pay-actual-value-of-home/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2012/05/31/flagstar-stop-the-britt-family-eviction/

Related documents:

To see the enormity of the government’s effort to stop Ray Mandry’s precedent-setting 5th Amendment countersuit, click on Ray Mandry federal docket. Copy of initial complaint will be appended shortly.


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FIRST-TIME HOMEBUYERS ASSISTANCE AVAILABLE

TG flier


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LAPD MANHUNT PUTS SPOTLIGHT ON RACIST AND MURDEROUS BRUTALITY OF POLICE

Posted by TheBlackList eNewsletter

By Steve Yip

February 17, 2013

View Blog 

Former LAPD officer Christopher Dorner is shown with photo of police hunting him before he died.
Former LAPD officer Christopher Dorner is shown with photo of police hunting him before he died.

 Over the last week, the news has been filled with stories of the massive manhunt for former LAPD officer Christopher Dorner for allegedly killing three people connected to police. This has caused great turmoil in society, including within top levels of the LAPD and city government.

One thing which stands out—and which has been noted by the New York Times and other major media—is the impact Dorner’s accusations and depictions of racist brutality and discriminatory practices of the LAPD have had in many different corners of society. It has especially resonated with many who have been subjected to widespread police mistreatment. And it has given rise to societal discussion and thinking about the underlying problem of systemic police abuse, brutality, and mistreatment that Black and Latino people—and many others—experience at the hands of the police across the country.

Rodney King after brutal beating by LAPD cops, which led to a widespread rebellion by the Black community.

Rodney King after brutal beating by LAPD cops, which led to a widespread rebellion by the Black community.

Without speaking to the particularities of the acts this person has been accused of carrying out, the fact that someone like this, who was “on the inside” and part of the machinery of the LAPD, considered the problem of racist brutality and corruption, on the part of the LAPD, so intolerable (citing things such as the Rodney King beating and the Rampart scandal—and saying that things have not gotten better, or may have even gotten worse, since then) and that this person, in this position, was driven to such extremes, speaks to the reality of the racist and murderous brutality of the police and the whole apparatus of repression of this system, which is widespread, continual, and systematic, and which is not simply a particular feature of the LAPD but is characteristic of police and the “injustice system” in the country as a whole, in the service of a brutally oppressive system, a system which has white supremacy build into its very foundation and structure.

As BA has summed up in BAsics 1:24:

The role of the police is not to serve and protect the people. It is to serve and protect the system that rules over the people. To enforce the relations of exploitation and oppression, the conditions of poverty, misery and degradation into which the system has cast people and is determined to keep people in. The law and order the police are about, with all of their brutality and murder, is the law and order that enforces all this oppression and madness.

Sandra Hines and Cindy Darrah of Detroit get ready to ride to court hearing on Detroit "consent agreement" lawsuit.

Sandra Hines and Cindy Darrah of Detroit get ready to ride to court hearing on Detroit “consent agreement” lawsuit.

We are building a movement for revolution—a revolution which, in order to have a real possibility of winning, would need to involve millions of people who have become convinced of the need for this revolution and who, with the emergence of a deep-going revolutionary crisis in society, would be determined to fight to carry out such a revolutionary struggle and to fight to win. All of the work we are doing is aimed at contributing to the development of such a revolutionary movement, guided by this strategic understanding, orientation and approach. If people want to learn more about our strategy for revolution—as well as why we think such a revolution is urgently needed by the masses of humanity, and why and how it is possible—they should come to the premiere of the film BA Speaks: REVOLUTION—NOTHING LESS!

Steve Yip, P.O. Box 941, Knickerbocker Station, New York, New York 10002-0900 * 866-841-9139 x2670, yipzzz@gmail.com

Click on Dorner-Manifesto-FULL-TEXT to read Dorner’s account of police brutality and racism in the LAPD.


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GROUP SUES FOR DETROIT’S DEBT DOCUMENTS, STATE REVIEW TEAM LEAKS NEGATIVE FINDINGS

Moratorium NOW! marchers outside Coleman A. Young Municipal Center May 9, 2012.

Moratorium NOW! marchers outside Coleman A. Young Municipal Center May 9, 2012.

By Diane Bukowski 

Feb. 17, 2013 

DETROIT – The day before a state review team leaked information about a negative report on Detroit’s finances, the Moratorium NOW! Coalition filed suit on Feb. 14 in Wayne County Circuit Court demanding “release and copies of the City of Detroit’s bond issues and interest rate swaps with the banks.” The city’s debt totals $16.9 billion through 2032. It paid $597 million on that debt in the last fiscal year. 

David Sole (r) holds sign while Rev. Charles Williams Sr. addresses rally against banks May 9, 2012.

David Sole (r) holds sign while Rev. Charles Williams Sr. addresses rally against banks May 9, 2012.

“The lawsuit is to launch an independent review of the City’s massive debt service payments to the same banks which caused the financial crisis in the city with their racist predatory lending practices that resulted in 150,000 foreclosures from 2005-2010,” said Dave Sole, the named plaintiff in the suit, in a release. 

“The Emergency Manager Act guarantees the banks ‘payment in full of the scheduled debt service requirements on all bonds, notes and municipal securities,’ even if it means selling city assets such as Belle Isle and the Water Department, laying off more workers, cutting more city services, or attacking the pension system for retirees. Governor [Rick] Snyder’s and Mayor[Dave] Bing’s ‘financial stability agreement’ incorporates these guarantees to the banks by giving the banks direct control the city’s finances.”

The Detroit Free Press reported Feb. 17 that the Financial Review Team completed its report Feb. 15. 

Detroit Mayor Dave Bing (l) and Michigan Treasurer Andy Dillon, who heads Financial Review Team.

Detroit Mayor Dave Bing (l) and Michigan Treasurer Andy Dillon, who heads Financial Review Team.

“The report, which the state-appointed review team completed after meetings in Detroit on Friday, outlines monstrous debts and a chronic inability to reverse course, highlighted by infighting and disagreements between Bing and the council,” said the Free Press. 

It added, “State officials and others would not release the full report before Snyder reviews it this week. The report is the culmination of weeks of the review team’s work scouring Detroit’s books after the governor ordered an emergency financial review of the city as it faced adding $90 million more to its accumulated deficit.” 

Sole said the Moratorium NOW! Coalition is demanding a people’s audit of those same books and debts. 

Joe O'Keefe of Fitch Ratings and Stephen Murphy of Standard and Poor's at Detroit City Council table Jan. 31, 2004, foisting $1.5 billion loan on city.

Joe O’Keefe of Fitch Ratings and Stephen Murphy of Standard and Poor’s at Detroit City Council table Jan. 31, 2004, foisting $1.5 billion loan on city.

“We are doing this to mobilize and educate the people regarding the role of the banks in destroying our city,” said Sole, a retired Detroit Water and Sewerage Department worker and union leader. “We are contacting other organizations and individuals to join in forming a broad coalition. This takeover of Detroit is the result of a conspiracy by ratings agencies such as Standard and Poor’s, which the Federal government has accused of fraud in a $5 billion lawsuit, and banks such as UBS, which foisted a $1.5 billion pension obligation certificate loan on Detroit in 2004 and just agreed to pay a $1.5 billion penalty for criminal interest-rate rigging in the LIBOR lawsuit.  These loans and ratings downgrades have triggered defaults and financial penalties even including the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department, which is an enterprise agency.” 

Sole said the group will be recruiting experts to analyze the documents once they are received. He first filed a Freedom of Information Act request for the documents in January, but despite a promise from the city that it would respond promptly, it has failed to do so. 

Snyder reacts angrily after voters repeal PA 4 last November, 2012.

Snyder reacts angrily after voters repeal PA 4 last November, 2012.

With regard to the review team, Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder appointed it Dec. 18, under provisions of Public Act 72, the predecessor to Public Act 4, repealed by voters in November. He did so despite the Detroit City Council’s majority cave-in Dec. 11 to all demands by his and Dillon’s offices. 

The Michigan Supreme Court on Jan. 13 refused to hear an appeal of a suit filed by Robert Davis against Detroit Public Schools Emergency Financial Manager Roy Roberts, which said that PA 72 is dead according to state law. 

The legislature and Governor enacted another emergency manager law during its December lame duck session. It includes appropriations to pay EM’s, a provision which allegedly makes it exempt from voter repeal.  It will take effect March 27, 2013.

Demo against banks May 9, 2012.

Demo against banks May 9, 2012.

In response to VOD’s request for a copy of the review team report, Snyder’s press secretary Sara Wurfel said, “[We] don’t have and haven’t seen [the] report, and my understanding is it’s not final  yet either.  Soonest slated to receive is Tuesday. Sorry, bottom line is that it’s certainly not appropriate for me to comment on anything Gov/we haven’t gotten or seen yet. RT [Review Team] hasn’t completed work by sending to the Governor either, which also makes any comment from me even more inappropriate and completely speculative.”

Ken Whipple (center) and Darrell Burks (rear) of Financial Advisory Board also sit on Financial Review Team.

Ken Whipple (center) and Darrell Burks (rear) of Financial Advisory Board also sit on Financial Review Team. They are shown here announcing more furlough days for city workers.

VOD has nonetheless filed an FOIA for a copy of the report with the Governor and State Treasurer Andy Dillon, who heads the review team. Its other members are state Auditor General Thomas McTavish, Ken Whipple, board chairman of Korn/Ferry International; Darrell Burks, a senior partner with PricewaterhouseCoopers; Ronald Goldsberry of Deloitte Consulting; and Frederick Headen, a legal adviser for the state Treasury Department. 

Whipple and Burks are also members of the Financial Advisory Board appointed under a Public Act 4 consent agreement with the city of Detroit. The FAB just imposed additional furlough days on unionized city workers, despite the fact that negotiations are ongoing with the city’s unions and that the continued existence of the FAB and the consent agreement are legally questionable.

Related documents and articles:

PR lawsuit for Detroit debt docs

foia complaint filed

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2013/02/06/usdoj-slams-standard-poors-with-5-billion-fraud-lawsuit/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2013/01/18/the-gang-rape-of-detroit

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2013/01/14/banks-bailed-out-people-sold-out-in-u-s-settlements/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2012/12/19/ubs-admits-fraud-in-1-5-billion-libor-rigging-settlement/


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LIFETIME LIES AND FACT VS. FICTION — MOVIE “BETTY AND CORETTA”

Promotional still from Lifetime movie "Betty and Coretta," with Angela Bassett (l) and Mary J. Blige (r).

Promotional still from Lifetime movie “Betty and Coretta,” with Angela Bassett (l) and Mary J. Blige (r).

COMMENTARY

By Richard B. Muhammad

February 13, 2013

Movies are fiction, not fact and fiction comes from the minds of people with motives, aims and agendas. It would be a critical mistake to miss take the Lifetime movie “Betty and Coretta” as fact and a critical error to accept it and its wicked mischaracterizations of Nation of Islam Minister Louis Farrakhan as anything other than lies and misrepresentations.

Min. Farrakhan unequivocally had nothing to do with the murder of Minister Malcolm X, though he has admitted speaking into an environment created by the enemy to disrupt and destroy Black movements as Malcolm X turned against his teacher and leader, the Honorable Elijah Muhammad.

CointelproHarsh words were spoken by those who took sides in a split welcomed and fostered by the U.S. government through the Counterintelligence Program [COINTELPRO] of the Federal Bureau of Investigation and J. Edgar Hoover. Those who sided with Malcolm spoke against Elijah Muhammad and those who sided with Messenger Muhammad, including a blood brother of Min. Malcolm’s, spoke against their former comrade in the struggle.

“We didn’t voluntarily split from each other. There was manipulation. There was stimulation of our own pettiness, of our own weaknesses by outside forces and the government is that outside force. The FBI is that outside force. So Betty and I shouldn’t be here alone. The government has to answer for what has happened. We know the hurt of the prominent ones among us. But what about those other families? Families of the unnamed ones that are broken to pieces. Daughters who were virgins destroyed. Young men and women that had hope in a movement destroyed. Thousands of lives ruined because the government feared our unity. We carried no weapons. We threatened no laws. We broke no laws. But because we had an ideology and a philosophy that the government did not like we were targeted by the government. They didn’t need laws passed by Congress to tap our phones, to follow us around, to harass us day and night,” said Min. Farrakhan, in 1995 at the Apollo Theater in New York.

[On May 6, 1995, Dr. Betty Shabazz, Minister Louis Farrakhan and a host of others attended an historic public rally at Apollo Theater, shown in video above. The fund-raising rally was held on behalf of Quibilah Shabazz who was set-up in an FBI entrapment scheme via one of its informants, Michael Fitzpatrick. ]

Malcolm X and Louis Farrakhan

Min. Malcolm X (El-Hajj Malik Shabazz) speaks (l) with a young Min. Louis Farrakhan by his side (r).

In the end, there was an unfortunate death that created a wound inside Black America that has never healed. It is a wound that those truly responsible for the death of Malcolm X, and who are his actual killers, have tried to exploit as Louis Farrakhan has grown in influence and restored the Nation of Islam after its destruction.

So the Lifetime movie, Betty and Coretta, pointing the finger at Min. Farrakhan as involved in the death is purposely false. It is another attempt to defame Min. Farrakhan and incite murder for him in the hearts of the ignorant and set the stage for his murder by a government tied to the murders of Malcolm X and Dr. Martin Luther King. Both men were considered enemies of America and were under surveillance until their deaths. A government informant and police officer, Gene Roberts, was on stage with Malcolm X when he was shot. According to one biography of Malcolm X, agent Roberts’ first assignment was to infiltrate the newly formed Muslim Mosque Inc., founded by Malcolm X. A military defense agency was in Memphis tracking civil rights leader King when he was killed. A noted civil rights photographer, with tremendous access to Dr. King, has also been identified as a government informant. Facts not fiction.

Min. Louise Farrakhan with Rev. Jesse Jackson, 1996.

Min. Louise Farrakhan with Rev. Jesse Jackson, 1996.

The women involved in the movie, including Mary J. Blige, are not the enemy; they are actresses who are likely doing their best to portray two Black women important to the struggle of Black America.

But the enemy remains those forces against Black liberation and in particular members of the Jewish community who have fought Min. Farrakhan since his 1984 defense of Rev. Jesse Jackson for remarks made about Zionists, Israel and Palestinians while running for president. From that opening salvo the Jewish onslaught has been relentless and largely unproductive in moving the Black masses away from Farrakhan. And at one time it was easy for these Satanic demons to use the “Farrakhan Litmus” test to scare away Black leaders, politicians and activists but it is a little harder today—though sadly some still kowtow to Jewish masters.

Coretta Scott King and Dr. Betty Shabazz.

Coretta Scott King and Dr. Betty Shabazz.

More evidence that we need to separate fact from fiction: The portrayal of the main characters in the movie has even brought criticism from the families of the late Dr. Betty Shabazz and Coretta Scott King. Neither family, and certainly not Min. Farrakhan and his family, were allowed to play a part in making the movie or influencing it. Why not? When a person has an evil motive and an evil mission, the last thing they want is for someone with knowledge and truth to have access to their product. It creates another hurdle and could disrupt their plan. If complaints from the families of the principals came out before the film, it could raise pre-release doubts. If the criticisms came out before the film, many would not watch and others would watch with an awakened eye.

Speaking after its release puts those armed with truth in the unenviable position of chasing the lie which has spread halfway around the globe before the truth gets started.

Qubilah Shabazz (center) with Attorney William Kunstler (r)

Qubilah Shabazz (center) with Attorney William Kunstler (r)

The fiction also plays into the narrative of a Farrakhan-Shabazz blood feud. This is a dangerous lie and totally omits steps toward reconciliation between the widow of Malcolm X and the minister of the Nation of Islam in 1995, following a U.S. Attorney’s indictment of one of the daughters of Malcolm X and Dr. Shabazz. Qubilah Shabazz was charged in a murder for hire plot against Min. Farrakhan. I was personally sitting with Min. Farrakhan at his home at one point as media coverage of this January 12, 1995 federal indictment exploded. He said publicly later what he said to me privately: Qubilah Shabazz was the smallest part of any conspiracy against him. He knew both he and she were victims.

With the media camped out outside his home in Chicago, the Minister had his chief of staff make a statement to the press. Leonard Farrakhan Muhammad emphatically stated that the FBI was no friend of Farrakhan, nor the Black community, and demanded everything about the indictment be released—and declared forcefully that nothing should happen to the Shabazz family. The Minister also demanded once again that all the government files related to plots, surveillance and the murder of Malcolm X be released. Those files are still unreleased. Fact not fiction.

[Read Final Call article on the frame-up of Qubilah Shabazz at http://www.finalcall.com/artman/publish/Perspectives_1/article_9579.shtml.]

mother-khadijah10-26-2010

Min. Louis Farrakhan and Queen Mother of the Nation of Islam Khadijah Farrakhan in 2010.

Qubilah Shabazz had been lured to Minnesota by a onetime schoolmate, Michael Fitzpatrick, who was also Jewish and a government informant. Instead of finding a new life, she found herself under indictment for a murder plot. Informant Fitzpatrick also had a onetime affiliation with a radical Jewish organization. Ms. Shabazz was facing a possible 90 years in prison and $2.25 million in fines if convicted. Dr. Betty Shabazz said “her daughter was framed, The Associated Press reported. ‘It is unfortunate that anyone would do that to a young woman,’ she said. ‘And it says how quick people are and how they will do anything to get their political ends,’ ” the New York Times reported January 13, 1995.

Million Man March

Million Man March

I went to Minnesota to cover the initial hearing for Qubilah Shabazz but the Minister’s blast of truth was so powerful, the false case crumbled. A deal was quickly brokered and the Apollo event that was supposed to be a legal fundraiser turned into a celebration. It was billed as “A New Beginning.” Steps were taken toward reconciliation. I saw the warm hug from Nation of Islam First Lady Khadijah Farrakhan as she embraced her sister Dr. Shabazz. To me the love was palpable, it was genuine, it was deep and it was real. She and Dr. Shabazz sat together at the Apollo. I watched as a young member of the Junior Fruit of Islam presented Dr. Shabazz with a lovely bouquet of flowers and I felt the joy in seeing another plot of the enemy dispatched. Fact not fiction.

“ ‘Minister Farrakhan, may the God of our forefathers forever guide you on your journey,’ Betty Shabazz said to cheers from more than 1,000 people at the Apollo Theater in Harlem,’ ” the Los Angeles Times reported of the May 6, 1995 event. “She also thanked Farrakhan for his ‘gentle words of assurance’ for her daughter, Qubilah Shabazz, who was accused in January of hiring a hit man to kill Farrakhan. Farrakhan has defended Qubilah Shabazz, saying be believes she was entrapped by a federal informant. As Betty Shabazz left the stage, Farrakhan shook her hand and began his speech,” the Los Angeles Times said.

By October 1995, Dr. Shabazz was one of the select mothers of Black America who spoke at the Million Man March in Washington, D.C., convened by Min. Farrakhan. Fact not fiction.

Lastly, there is no statute of limitations on murder, which the government knows. If you have evidence of a murder by Louis Farrakhan, charge him, arrest him, try him. But you have nothing except wicked lies and fiction which you hope to impose on people who don’t know the truth. Your lies won’t win today and we, by Allah’s grace, will never cease in our defense of an innocent man and the truth. Fact not fiction.

(Final Call editor-in-chief Richard B. Muhammad can be reached at editor@finalcall.com . You can also follow him on Facebook and @RMfinalcall on Twitter.) 


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U.S. JUDGE RULES ALL MICHIGAN JUVENILE LIFERS ELIGIBLE FOR PAROLE

 

Some of Michigan’s 371 juvenile lifers involved in current litigation: (l to r, top through bottom row), Cortez Davis and Raymond Carp, awaiting re-sentencing under USSC decision; plaintiffs in USDC case Henry Hill, Keith Maxey, Dontez Tillman, Jemal Tipton, Henry Hill, Nicole Dupure, Giovanni Casper, Jean Cintron, Matthew Bentley, Bosie Smith, Kevin Boyd, Damion Todd, and Jennifer Pruitt; Edward Sanders and David Walton, in prison since 1975 at the age of 17; (photos show some lifers at current age, others at age they went to prison).
Some of Michigan’s 371 juvenile lifers involved in current litigation: (l to r, top through bottom row), Cortez Davis and Raymond Carp, awaiting re-sentencing under USSC decision; plaintiffs in USDC case Henry Hill, Keith Maxey, Dontez Tillman, Jemal Tipton, Henry Hill, Nicole Dupure, Giovanni Casper, Jean Cintron, Matthew Bentley, Bosie Smith, Kevin Boyd, Damion Todd, and Jennifer Pruitt; Edward Sanders and David Walton, in prison since 1975 at the age of 17; (photos show some lifers at current age, others at age they went to prison).

 

 USSC ‘Miller’ decision that JLWOP is unconstitutional ruled retroative;    State AG Schuette, appeals court fight to keep prisoners until death

By Diane Bukowski 

February 10, 2013 

DETROIT – A federal district court judge ruled Jan. 30 that the U.S. Supreme Court decision, Miller v. Alabama/Jackson v. Hobbs, which made mandatory juvenile life without parole sentences unconstitutional, is retroactive and applies to all of Michigan’s  juvenile lifers. They are those sentenced to death in prison while they were children, under the age of 18. 

U. S. District Court Judge John Corbett  O'Meara.

U. S. District Court Judge John Corbett O’Meara.

The decision means all juvenile lifers are now eligible for parole, says Deborah LaBelle, attorney for the plaintiffs, calling it a significant victory. Click on Hill 1 30 13 highlighted to read U.S. District Court Judge John Corbett O’Meara’s entire ruling.

According to varying sources, there are from 362 to 371 juvenile lifers in Michigan’s prison system, 70 percent of them prisoners of color. Many have spent decades behind bars. Michigan has the second highest number of  juvenile lifers among the states. Before the Miller decision, the U.S. was the only country in the world that allowed juvenile life without parole. 

“Indeed, if ever there was a legal rule that should – as a matter of law and morality – be given retroactive effect, it is the rule announced in Miller,” said Judge O’Meara, ruling in Hill v. Snyder“To hold otherwise would allow the state to impose unconstitutional punishment on some persons but not others, an intolerable miscarriage of justice.” 

Although Hill v. Snyder is not a class action case, involving just 13 named plaintiffs, Judge O’Meara extended the reach of his ruling, setting precedent for all Michigan juvenile lifers. 

Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette: Heil!

Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette: Heil!

Judge O’Meara said he did not have jurisdiction to grant the  plaintiffs’ request for re-sentencing. But he ruled, “The court declares M.C.L. 791.234(6) [Michigan life without parole statute] unconstitutional as it applies to these Plaintiffs . . . As a result, Plaintiffs will be eligible and considered for parole. It remains to be determined how that process will work and what procedures should be in place to ensure that Plaintiffs are fairly considered for parole.” 

Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette and a state appeals court, ruling in Michigan v Carp, had contended that the Miller ruling applies only to new sentences, dashing the fervent hopes of Michigan’s juvenile lifers.

Judge Michael Talbot was appointed to the appeals court in 1998 by Gov. John Engler.

Judge Michael Talbot was appointed to the appeals court in 1998 by Gov. John Engler.

On Jan. 16, an appeals court blocked the anxiously awaited re-sentencing of Cortez Davis, set for Jan.25 in front of Wayne County Circuit Court Judge Vera Massey Jones. The re-sentencing was set prior to the Carp decision. The appeals court in Davis was headed by Judge Michael Talbot, the chief appeals judge as well as the original sentencing judge in the Carp case. 

Click on Cortez Davis COA 1 16 13 for the Davis ruling.

“We are reviewing the [Hill] decision and considering options for appeal,” Joy Yearout, Schuette’s director of communications, said in a statement. “Attorney General Schuette … will continue to fight for crime victims and their families, who should not be forced to relive these horrific crimes at parole hearings.” 

Most recently, Schuette trumpeted his success in making Michigan a “four strikes and you’re out” state. 

“Gov. Rick Snyder has signed into law the Violent Offense-Fourth Felony (VO-4) legislation, which requires at least 25 years in prison for violent repeat offenders. Attorney General Bill Schuette proposed the law as part of his public safety plan,” his office said in a release. . . . SB 1109 is now Public Act 319 of 2012.”

Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder.

Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder.

 This act will likely swell the ranks of Michigan’s prison population, which the MDOC reported as 42,904 at the end of 2011. Michigan spends over $2 billion a year on its prison system, one-fourth of the state’s general funds, and is one of only four states in the country to spend more on prisons than education.

O’Meara noted the recalcitrance of Michigan’s state courts and government in his decision. 

“It may be that Plaintiffs are granted new sentencing hearings in state court, which mayobviate the need for changes in the parole system,” he said. “It appears, however, that the State and state courts (see Carp) intend to resist granting such hearings. Under these circumstances, the court believes that compliance with Miller and Graham requires providing a fair and meaningful possibility of parole to each and every Michigan prisoner who was sentenced to life for a crime committed as a juvenile.” 

DamionTodd (r) with brother John Meyers and mother Pamela Todd.

DamionTodd (r) with brother John Meyers and mother Pamela Todd.

Damion Todd was sentenced at the age of 17 to life without parole in 1986, for his role in a shoot-out between two groups of youths which resulted in the death of a 16-year-old bystander. He also faced Judge Michael Talbot, who gave him not only life without parole, but said he should serve it in solitary confinement and at hard labor, provisions which are not used by the Michigan Department of Corrections. 

“I was totally overwhelmed,” he reacted. “I guess the best way that I can describe it was surreal. The morale is high with the men that I have spoken to. Even those who aren’t directly affected by this decision have congratulated me and expressed how pleased they were with Judge O’Meara’s decision. I, along with several men I have conversed with, are extremely grateful for Judge O’Meara’s decision, and we are humbled with the confidence that [attorney] Deborah Labelle will present a just recommendation to Judge O’Meara on our behalf.

Highland Park youth outside teachers meeting protesting lay-offs, April, 2004.

Highland Park youth outside teachers meeting protesting lay-offs, April, 2004.

He continued, “From a personal standpoint, while never glorifying this tragic ordeal, I yearn for opportunity to educate not only at-risk youth, all youth. The consequences of one bad choice will not only change the course of your life, but it will also administer so much psychological harm and pain on the lives of people that you don’t even know. As a man, I refuse to allow anyone’s life that has been tragically lost go in vain, and not at least try to open the eye’s and ears of some at-risk youth. So Judge O’Meara’s decision, the work of Deborah LaBelle and all the lawyers who have assisted her with the body of work that she has put forth, is monumental.”

Attorney Deborah LaBelle, who represented the plaintiffs on behalf of the Michigan chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union, explained the outcome in detail to VOD.

 DL Hill

 In the wake of the Miller ruling, LaBelle has coordinated a coalition of progressive attorneys and organizations which have pledged to represent every one of the state’s juvenile lifers, pro bono if need be. The organizations include the ACLU, the State Appellate Defenders’ Office, the University of Michigan Juvenile Justice Law Clinic, and the Criminal Defense Attorneys of Michigan.

For more information on the legal campaign for Michigan’s juvenile lifers, contact attorney Deborah LaBelle’s office at  (734) 996-5620 or email her at deblabelle@aol.com.


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JUVENILE LIFER REFLECTS ON ‘HILL’ RULING BY JUDGE O’MEARA

Juvenile lifers in prison

Inmates at the Department of Youth Services juvenile boot camp wait to go outside for physical training in Prattville, Alabama.

By Edward Sanders

February 7, 2013   (also see earlier article below)

Prisoners at Chippewa Correctional Facility next door to Kinross in Upper Peninsula

Prisoners at Chippewa Correctional Facility next door to Kinross in Upper Peninsula

God is Great. I am very elated with the court’s decision and order. The opinion was well written and to the point. It acknowledged this as a constitutional issue and demonstrated its willingness to effect change for the good. This now puts Michigan’s law makers in the position to act and get off the side-lines. All the former youths are elated as well here at Kinross Correctional Facility and hoping for change soon. No more file reviews, no more five year reviews, no more not giving reasons for passing over us. Both the court of appeals and the U.S. federal court there have agreed that the Michigan lifer law statute is unconstitutional as it applies to youth serving life without parole.

Sheldry Topp, Michigan's oldest juvenile lifer at 67. He is also incarcerated at Kinross.

Sheldry Topp, Michigan’s oldest juvenile lifer at 67. He is also incarcerated at Kinross.

This also puts in question those youth who are serving parolable life as well as well as youth who have long sentences that are virtually equivalent to life. Michigan legislators have failed to act on recent bills to reform this very statute in amending the provisions that allow successor judges to veto parole board review and public hearings. They now must act if in fact they do not want a federal judge overseeing a state parole board that is burdened with constitutional failings that allow no review of parole board decisions and no appeal by prisoners where victims and prosecuters are allowed appeals. The oldest former juvenile lifer is here at KCF is in his 70’s and has been recently denied parole review which means in effect an order to die in prison,  but for the expedition of this courts recent opinion and soon to be issued order to reform michigan lifer law anew.

Black youth in prisonThis is clearly a human rights issue. all of us juvenile lifers pray that our state will think and act in a progressive way that will demonstrate that we believe children are different than adults and have less culpability. Even though the Miller decision is procedural it nevertheless addressed culpability of the youth offender which is normally part of the standard of review when deciding to apply a ruling retroactively even though they usually describe it as the guilt or innocence. A person can be guilty but less culpable and this is the case with a child versus an adult.

USCCBWe were also elated that the Catholic Church Council of Bishops has taken a supportive stance, along with the many other national and international organizations that are supportive of this issue including the ACLU, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch as well many others. I should also inform you that I received a letter from the ACLU of michigan dated Feb. 4 informing that the counsel for Mr. Carp filed an application for leave to appeal in the Michigan Supreme Court on Jan. 9th, 2013, and an application for leave to appeal in the Michigan Supreme court in People v. Davis is imminent as the court of appeals reversed the trial judge’s decision to re- sentence Mr. Davis.  She also noted legislatively, bills have not yet been submitted in the house or senate which is astonishing. Ms, Labelle is currently part of a legislative working group that meets bimonthly to discuss legislative remedies to comply with the Miller decision.


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MICHIGAN’S PAROLE PRACTICES MUST BE OVERHAULED TO COMPLY WITH ‘MILLER’ AND ‘HILL’

VOD: On Jan. 30, U.S. District Court Judge John Corbett O’Meara struck down Michigan’s parole statutes with regard to those serving juvenile life without parole.  (See article above.)

Michigan is among the most merciless states in the nation in its sentencing practices and treatment of those who are incarcerated.,

Michigan is among the most merciless states in the nation in its sentencing practices and treatment of those who are incarcerated.,

The related article below was written by Edward Sanders, a juvenile lifer who is among the longest-serving in Michigan. Incarcerated at 17 in 1975, he is now 55. He reflects here on the need for a complete overhaul of Michigan’s parole system if both the U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Miller/Hobbs of June 25, 2012, and the Michigan federal district court ruling in Hill v. Snyder of Jan. 30, 2013, are to be substantively applied.

Sanders, who during his years behind bars has become an accomplished “jail-house lawyer,” cites a previous federal class action filed in 2005 on behalf of “parolable lifers,” titled Kenneth Foster Bey, John Alexander, Waymon Kincaid, William Sleeper, Robert Wisenauer, Eric McCullum, Gerald Lee Hessel, et. al v. John S. Rubitschun, et. al (the last being parole board members at the time.). Click on Foster Bey parolable lifers to read original lawsuit in full.

Former Michigan parole board chair Stephen Marschke testified in 1999 regarding parolable lifers, "It has been the longstanding philosophy of the Michigan Parole Board that a life sentence means just that–life in prison . . . Good behavior is expected and is not in and of itself grounds for parole." As Berrien County Sheriff in 1994, he was the last person to see Black teenager Eric McGinnis, 16, alive before the child's body was found in the St. Joseph River which separates the white town of St. Joseph from nearly all-Black Benton Harbor.

Former Michigan parole board chair Stephen Marschke testified in 1999 regarding parolable lifers, “It has been the longstanding philosophy of the Michigan Parole Board that
a life sentence means just that–life in prison . . . Good behavior is expected and is not in and of itself grounds for parole.” As Berrien County Sheriff in 1994, he was the last person to see Black teenager Eric McGinnis, 16, alive before the child’s body was found in the St. Joseph River which separates the white town of St. Joseph from nearly all-Black Benton Harbor.

In October, 2007, U.S. District Court Judge Marianne O. Battani ruled unequivocally on behalf of the plaintiffs and against what had become the parole board’s mantra, “Life means life,”  as follows:

“The change in the make-up of the Michigan Parole Board, the Board’s understanding of why the change occurred and how it was to exercise its discretion, its redefining of the eligibility procedure for nonmandatory lifers, and changes to the timing and intervals of the interview and review process, when considered in total have significantly disadvantaged the class and constitute a violation of the Ex Post Facto Clause.”

Click on Foster Bey order granting plaintiffs motion 12 07 to read Judge Battani’s full ruling

.In other words, such sentences, meant by most judges to be parolable within 10-15 years, were made significantly more severe after the fact of the plaintiff’s sentencings. The Parole Board and the State, however, fought Judge Battani’s ruling and subsequent remedial orders every inch of the way. They appealed to the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals, which  affirmed her ruling in part, reversed it in part, vacated it in part, and remanded it to Judge Battani for further proceedings.

Kenneth Foster-Bey
Kenneth Foster-Bey

 To date Kenneth Foster Bey, sentenced in 1975 and now 59, John Alexander, sentenced in 1981 and now 51, Waymon Kincaid, sentenced in 1976 and now 55, and Eric McCullum, sentenced in 1976 and now 64, remain incarcerated according to state records.

Michigan continues to spend $2 billion a year on corrections, “nearly one fourth of the state’s general fund and $600 million more than it invests in higher education,” according to a recent Detroit News article. Besides having the nation’s second highest-number of juvenile lifers, Michigan is one of only four states in the nation to spend more on prisons than education.

http://www.detroitnews.com/article/20130206/POLITICS02/302060362#ixzz2K7ct58L7.

http://www.mlive.com/news/index.ssf/2008/02/michigan_is_1_of_4_states_to_s.html

Write Edward Sanders at:

  • Edward Sanders #141545 
  • Kinross Correctional Facility
  • 16770 S. Watertower Drive  Kincheloe, MI 49788

REMEMBER ‘FOSTER-BEY’ IN RULINGS ON ‘HILL’

By Edward Sanders

February 2, 2013

Edward Sanders

Edward Sanders, juvenile lifer.

In Re: Hill v Snyder, in the U.S. District Court, in Ann Arbor, I am hoping the judge takes into account the facts noted in the Foster-Bey case formerly before the Hon. Marianne O. Battani. That was an ex post facto claim, that included [as drastic changes in Michigan parole procedures]:  parole reviewed every other year in the old law and then changed to every five years; no longer entitled to an in-person hearing under the new law; written reasons for denial not required, but were before the change in the law; a statement of no interest or a pass-over is no longer considered a formal Board decision subject to judicial review; and the Board has changed from an independent entity to one under the direct authority of Michigan’s executive department.

All these changes were made retroactive to those who were serving parolable life before the new law went into effect. The facts are relevant even still to the Hill case e.g., the very small number of parolable-lifers that are paroled. In many cases even where the parole board wanted to hold a public hearing it was vetoed not by the sentencing judge but his or her successor. There is a House Bill (HB 5575) sponsored by Rep. Ellen Cogen Lipton (D., Huntington Woods) that would eliminate the authority of a successor judge to veto the parole board from releasing a parolable lifer. CAPPS (Michigan Coalition on Prisons and Public Spending) executive director Barbara Levine has noted, changes to this process could have significant consequences for the hundreds of parolable lifers who are now eligible for release, as well as for the parole board’s ability to make release decisions in cases it has carefully reviewed.

John Alexander.

John Alexander, parolable lifer.

Still a prisoner is not truly eligible for parole until each and every one of the statutory conditions has been met. See MCL 791.234(6). These include the parole board interview, public hearing, and  hurdles set by possible objections of the sentencing judge or the judge’s successor. Of the 156 public hearings scheduled for 2007 through December 2011, 39 (25%), were cancelled because of judicial objections. Of these, 14 objections were based solely on the offense or its effect on the victim; only 13 were based, even in part, on current information about the prisoner; 12 gave no reason at all. Five of the objections were in cases where the board’s interest in proceeding was based on medical problems that left the prisoner wholly incapacitated. All but one objection was by a successor judge.

Paul D. Reingold is a clinical professor of law at the University of Michigan Law School and was lead counsel in the Foster-Bey case, challenging the post-1992 drop in lifer paroles as a violation of the ex post facto clause. He noted, parole-eligible lifers tend to share a number of characteristics. They are much older than the average prisoner. Although nearly 100 were younger than 18 when they committed their offenses, and more than 200 were under 21, their median age is now around 55.

Waymon Kincaid, parolable lifer.

Waymon Kincaid, parolable lifer.

There are more than 800 parolable lifers here in Michigan. In regard to the House Bills relating to JLWOP, sponsored by  they may be unconstitutional because they would only allow a judge to make a decision between a frst degree sentence of life without parole and parolable life. This should be a decision of a jury and not a judge where a person demanded a jury trial which is the case in almost all these cases I would think, if not all of them. I would think the bills need amending. (VOD: this standing also violates the U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Miller/Hobbs, which held that each juvenile lifer must have a chance at individual consideration during sentencing based on seven factors.)

The Court of Appeals has issued an order of stay in People v Cortez Davis, in regards to his resentencing. I am not informed what his attorneys will do at this point, they may appeal the order to the Michigan Supreme Court (MSC) or wait on the outcome of the Carp case once it goes before the MSC.

PERSONAL REFLECTIONS

Eric McCullum, parolable lifer.

Eric McCullum, parolable lifer.

I have been spending much time considering what it means to be contrite and I wish not to be distracted by the turn of events relating to this case law or bills before the state law makers. I love the subject of law – religious and or non-religious, just as much as morals. My own errors in life have caused me not only to reflect but also to grow as a person. I know that my errors have Affected others in ways that I never foresaw or intended. I’m now very sorry and feeling heart felt about my actions. I know that I did not live up to what was given to me from my family and community. I just did not see it the way I do now. I’m sorry I believe that I did things that my family should have disowned me for, as well as my community, but I’m sure they never did. I’m thankful for that.

I know what the story of Adam is about (Allah knows best). He was young too, and given much and was careless with what he had and his status in creation and he had a great fall. But he did acknowledge his mistake and ask forgiveness of his Lord. My accepting Al-Islam is my asking..I would also like to ask the same of the victim’s family members I remember his mother and sisters were at my trial the whole time, from beginning to end. His oldest sister would look at me as if she was my big sister with this question on her face–why? She did not have a look of being mad but very concerned and sorry for me, it was a look of care. She could have been a member of my own family, she could have been my own sister. I have always been thankful that she did look at me like that because she made me think about what I had been a part of with my actions.

Portrait of American political activist and radical civil rights leader Malcolm X (1925 - 1965) as he holds an 8mm movie camera in London Airport, London, England, July 9, 1964. Shortly after breaking his affiliation with the Nation of Islam, and just days after his formation of the Organization of Afro-American Unity (OAAU), Malcolm X was in London en route to Egypt to attend a meeting of the Organization of African Unity and to meet with the leaders of various African states. (Photo by Express Newspapers/Getty Images)

Portrait of American political activist and radical civil rights leader Malcolm X (1925 – 1965) as he holds an 8mm movie camera in London Airport, London, England, July 9, 1964. Shortly after breaking his affiliation with the Nation of Islam, and just days after his formation of the Organization of Afro-American Unity (OAAU), Malcolm X was in London en route to Egypt to attend a meeting of the Organization of African Unity and to meet with the leaders of various African states. (Photo by Express Newspapers/Getty Images)

I am very sorry for my part in the loss of a life and a family member taken from his family, friends and his own life. I wish that I had been more responsible, that I had taken a leadership role when it counted. I could have changed that situation that night. I ask forgiveness of him, his family, friends and my own family and friends and our Lord (Allah).

Do you know who also was killed on Feb. 21th [the date of the killing for which the author was sentenced]? El-Hajj Malik Shabazz. Then to be told that I look like him and to be called by his former name by other inmates since I was about 18, I have been unable to forget Feb. 21, 1975 and my own behavior that evening. It helps me to be more progressive because of my mistakes that evening, I like to believe that I learned something from my failures in life.

I also remind myself, that 17 is not like one’s older years. Decisions are not made the same way (Allah Willing). I now look back and I don’t see my youth as who I am today. That is not to say that there were no good decisions that I made in my youth and that I don’t own up to them. There were and I do. It’s the bad ones that I dis-own and yet I accept them as learning. I would like to get beyond my errors in my youth. They say you do adult crime, you do adult time. The young in fact do more time. In 20 years, you are still young and no one is saying time’s up. However, the adult that says to him or her 20 years is a long time it’s up, you may go old man, but the youth who came in to the prison system at 14-19 he or she may do 40-50 years and their time may not still be up.

There is a former youth here at Kinross Correctional Facility that is about 70 years old who committed his crime at about 16 or 17. No one is telling him time is up. The parole board may see him again in 5 years if he is alive and still not let him go. I pray Allah that is not the case.

Edward Sanders as a youth.

Edward Sanders as a youth.

I am now 55 as of Jan 8, 2013. I came in at 17. The board just looks at my file every five years. No person-to-person contact. It’s like I am not human. It’s like there is only the file that speaks for me. This is a prison that makes note of your every error, all mistakes are recorded. What you may do of merit is not. You are told you can keep that for your file. It means nothing. This is what your tax money is used for. I once had a parole hearing where the board member spoke to me about actions that I had never been accused of and I pointed this out he said, I have your file here, I am reading it. After my continued protest he accepted that he was wrong and ended my five year review.hearing. I once had a member of the public (Richard Berry) come and he was told that it was not clear if he could be at the hearing so he was not allowed to sit in.

VOD: Below is a video of  a conversation with the oldest juvenile lifer in Michigan, to whom Sanders refers, Sheldry Topp, published with an MLive.com article by Jonathan Ostling at the address below. MLive.com ran an  excellent series on juvenile lifers in Michigan.

http://www.mlive.com/news/index.ssf/2011/11/aging_michigan_inmates_sentenc.html

 


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POSTMASTER GENERAL TRIES TO KILL SATURDAY DELIVERY

Postmaster General Donahoe today announced plans to eliminate Saturday letter delivery, starting in August. Activists in the Bay Area are among those waging a raucous fight to save the postal service from death by a thousand cuts. Photo: Patricia Jackson.

Postmaster General Donahoe today announced plans to eliminate Saturday letter delivery, starting in August. Activists in the Bay Area are among those waging a raucous fight to save the postal service from death by a thousand cuts. Photo: Patricia Jackson.

 

Labor Notes logoBy Alexandra Bradbury 

February 06, 2013  

The Postmaster General startled postal workers today by announcing that letter delivery will drop to five days a week in August. Packages, but not letters, will still be delivered on Saturdays.

Postal workers heard the news from their managers early this morning.

 In this Sept. 6, 2011 file photo Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington.   The U.S. Postal Service will stop delivering mail on Saturdays but continue to deliver packages six days a week under a plan aimed at saving about $2 billion, the financially struggling agency says.  (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)

In this Sept. 6, 2011 file photo Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington. The U.S. Postal Service will stop delivering mail on Saturdays but continue to deliver packages six days a week under a plan aimed at saving about $2 billion, the financially struggling agency says. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)

“Everyone’s been running up to me all morning really angry and scared, asking me what they can do,” said Manhattan letter carrier and shop steward Frank Couget.

“My response is we need to fight,” Couget said. He suggests workers should treat it as a lockout and show up to work as usual Saturday August 10, inviting community allies and news reporters along.

Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe has made no secret of his ambition to cut Saturday service, but it is not clear whether he has the legal authority to make the move without Congressional action. He acknowledged he expects a legal challenge.

The cut is supposed to save 45 million work hours and $2 billion per year. Yet Donahoe said this morning that he hopes not to cut the hours of any “non-career” employees because “they’re young people. They need jobs.”

Instead, he plans to cut back on career workers’ overtime and offer them buyout incentives to retire—affecting 22,500 jobs altogether.

A growing share of postal work is already assigned to non-career employees, who work alongside career employees, doing the same work—but for much lower pay, and without health benefits, pensions, or even access to progressive discipline.

Postal workers protest in Detroit two years ago.

Postal workers protest in Detroit two years ago, after Pres. Barack Obama first announced plans to cut postal service.

The one saving grace of these perma-temp positions is that they offer a way to accumulate seniority into a career position, Couget said. But cutting Saturday delivery further erodes the already dwindling chances that any career job opportunities will be available.

“This should be a wake-up call—for all the people in the community, and for the workers—that Donahoe has no qualms about destroying the post office,” Chicago letter carrier Melissa Rakestraw said.

Obama Could Solve with Stroke of Pen

Pres. Barack Obama could stop postal service cuts.

Pres. Barack Obama could stop postal service cuts with an executive order.

All four postal unions—the American Postal Workers, Letter Carriers, Rural Letter Carriers, and Mail Handlers—condemned the move. The Letter Carriers called for Donahoe’s resignation.

But postal worker activists say that’s not enough.

“The strategy of the unions all along has been lobbying Congress and having polite rallies,” said New York mail handler John Dennie. “This strategy has failed.”

Communities and Postal Workers United (CPWU), a network of activists involved in grassroots fights against post office closings and other cuts, has been calling for a national, multi-union march in Washington, D.C.

Despite Donahoe’s bemoaning of falling mail volumes in the Internet era, the major causes of USPS’s financial troubles are simple accounting issues. In 2006 Congress required the Postal Service to prefund its retiree health benefits 75 years into the future—far beyond what other federal agencies or private companies do. Postal activists say the onerous requirement was meant to create a budget deficit, and thus opportunities to privatize profitable parts of the service. The Postal Service has also significantly overfunded its pensions, to the tune of billions of dollars.

So the unions call for Congress to repeal the prefunding mandate, and for President Obama to sign an executive order refunding the pension money, which would be enough to solve the immediate budget shortfall.

“[Obama] has the power to solve this crisis, at least for the short term, with the stroke of a pen,” Couget said.

Whack-a-Mole Attacks

Postal workers' hunger strike June 29, 2012.

Postal workers’ hunger strike June 29, 2012.

The cuts are part of a multi-pronged attack on the postal service, including closing or cutting back hours at rural post offices and closing processing plants where mail is sorted. In local fights where postal workers and community activists have gotten organized, they’ve been able to stop some of the cuts.

CPWU members have staged rallies, civil disobedience actions, and two hunger strikes on the National Mall to call attention to their demands. Continue reading


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