DETROIT BANKRUPTCY ELIGIBILITY DECISION UNPRECEDENTED: ‘WORST IN THE COUNTRY’

Detroit Residents Say No To Bankruptcy! Federal Judge Rhodes Say Yes! – – A No Struggle, No Development Production!  Published Dec. 3, 2o13

Kenneth Snodgrass, Voice of Detroit videojournalist

Kenneth Snodgrass, Voice of Detroit videojournalist

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

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YouTube: I have over 486 Video’s, 343 Subscribers, over 219,000 hits, now averaging 10,000 monthly on my YouTube channel @   www.YouTube.com/KennySnod  

 

Protesters rally outside federal courthouse Oct. 23, 2013 at start of eligibility trial (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)

Protesters rally outside federal courthouse Oct. 23, 2013 at start of eligibility trial (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)

Judge Rhodes hits pension rights, declares EM law PA 436 constitutional

Retirees, residents, workers stunned; cities across U.S. in danger

Pension systems, unions request immediate appeal to 6th Circuit Court

Detroit Debt Moratorium calls for mobilization in the streets

December 7, 2013

Analysis

 By Diane Bukowski 

U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Steven Rhodes at Oct. 10, 2012 forum on Chapter 9 bankruptcy and EM's, dominated by pro-EM speakers including Charles Moore of Conway McKenzie, chief witness at eligibility trial.

U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Steven Rhodes at Oct. 10, 2012 forum on Chapter 9 bankruptcy and EM’s, dominated by pro-EM speakers including Charles Moore of Conway McKenzie, chief witness at eligibility trial. Rhodes refused to recuse himself despite clear conflict of interest.

DETROIT – Detroiters reacted with horror and outrage to U.S. Bankruptcy Court Judge Steven W. Rhodes’ ruling on the city’s eligibility for Chapter 9 bankruptcy, handed down orally Dec. 3 and in writing Dec. 5. In his opinion, Rhodes for the first time nationally threw a dagger directly into the heart of state-protected workers’ pension rights. 

He also upheld the constitutionality of Public Act 436, the state’s hated “emergency manager” (EM) law, arrogating to himself what objectors have said belongs in the realm of U.S. District and other higher level courts. 

His ruling was so severe that even the city’s mainstream newspaper, The Detroit Free Press, published an editorial, “Snyder Must Uphold State Constitutional Protection of Pensions.” 

1961–1962 Constitutional Convention—The Michigan Constitution we live under today was written at the Lansing Civic Arena. The Michigan Legal Milestone plaque was first dedicated in 1989, at the Arena at the corner of Walnut and Washtenaw streets.
The 1963 Michigan Constitution was written at the Lansing Civic Arena. This Michigan Legal Milestone plaque was first dedicated in 1989.

“The City of Detroit made promises to its workers, promises it can no longer keep,” wrote the Freep’s editorial board. “And in 1963, the residents of Michigan chose to approve a constitution that protected pensions. Gov. Rick Snyder took an oath to uphold that constitution. And now he must. That’s the thing about oaths. You have to keep them, even when it’s difficult, or inconvenient. Or not politically expedient.” http://www.freep.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2013312050030

The Freep even called on Snyder to “pick up the tab for the pension debt” if Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette fails in his appeal of the ruling. 

RHODES: ‘FOREGONE CONCLUSION’

The ruling was the direct outcome of a years-long conspiracy among the banks holding Detroit’s debt, the U.S. government, Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder, and Detroit EM Kevyn Orr, with Judge Rhodes himself a key plotter. 

Banks UBS AG and Siebert Brandford and Shank, with help of (l to r) former Detrot CFO Sean Werdlow, Joe O'Keefe of Fitch Ratings, Stephen Murphy of Standard and Poor's, and former Deputy Mayor Anthony Adams foist disastrous $1.44 billion POC loan on City Council Jan. 31, 2005. Werdlow then joined Siebert as top manager in Novf. 2005. Cancel the criminal debt!

Banks UBS AG and Siebert Brandford and Shank, with help of (l to r) former Detrot CFO Sean Werdlow, Joe O’Keefe of Fitch Ratings, Stephen Murphy of Standard and Poor’s, and former Deputy Mayor Anthony Adams foist disastrous $1.44 billion POC loan on City Council Jan. 31, 2005. Werdlow then joined Siebert as top manager in Nov. 2005. The debt later ballooned to $2.28 billion after 2008 global economic crash. Cancel the criminal debt!

“Was the city’s bankruptcy filing a foregone conclusion?” Rhodes asked during his oral summary. “Yes it was, for a long period of time. . . .The Court must conclude that the bankruptcy filing by the City of Detroit was a foregone conclusion during all of 2013.” (See article below with key elements from Rhodes’ decision and related factors he failed to cite.) 

In his opinion, Rhodes overruled an objection requesting an investigation of apparent blatant criminal fraud by global banks involving the city’s $2.28 billion Pension Obligation Certificates (POC or COPS) debt. He earlier refused to recuse himself for chairing an Oct. 2012 forum on Chapter 9 and Emergency Managers. All but one of the forum’s six speakers were active supporters of the state’s EM laws. They included accountant Charles Moore of Conway McKenzie, a chief witness for Orr during the trial. No one from Detroit’s pension systems, unions, or community-at-large spoke.

Forum on Ch 9 and EM's Oct. 10, 2012:  Frederick Headen of state treasury, participant in dozens of takeovers; Atty. Edward Plawecki, Judge Rhodes, Attys. Douglas Bernstein and Judy ONeill, both EM trainers, with O'Neill a co-author of PA 4, Accountant Charles Moore of Conway McKenzie, a chief witness for Orr at the eligibility trial who admitted that his claim of $3.5 billion pension  underfunding was never finalized.

Forum on Ch 9 and EM’s Oct. 10, 2012: Frederick Headen of state treasury, participant in dozens of takeovers; Atty. Edward Plawecki, Judge Rhodes, Attys. Douglas Bernstein and Judy ONeill, both EM trainers, with O’Neill a co-author of PA 4, Accountant Charles Moore of Conway McKenzie, a chief witness for Orr at the eligibility trial who admitted that his claim of $3.5 billion pension underfunding was never finalized.

“This is the worst decision in the country,” said Attorney Jerome Goldberg, who represents city water department retiree and objector David Sole, a leader of the Detroit Debt Moratorium Coalition. 

Atty. Jerome Goldberg

Atty. Jerome Goldberg

“It gives the green light for municipalities all over the U.S. to take similar actions,” Goldberg explained. “Judge Rhodes bought the arguments of Jones Day attorneys [hired under state control to represent the city] lock, stock and barrel. He made no mention of the global banks’ role in the destruction of Detroit. He summed up the malevolent character of his decision at its end, where he said that retirees, who have worked all their lives for their pensions, should now look to charitable institutions and social services to survive.” 

The cities of Stockton and San Bernadino CA, which have so far preserved California Public Employees Retirement Systems (CalPERS) pensions in their plans of adjustment due to state constitutional protections similar to those of Michigan’s, may now re-consider. The judges in those cases did not make a ruling on pension rights in their eligibility decisions, leaving that to be worked out in the plan of adjustment. 

Protester outside Detroit Mayor Dave Bing's State of the City address. Bing tried three years ago to take over the city's pension funds.

Protester outside Detroit Mayor Dave Bing’s State of the City address. Bing tried three years ago to take over the city’s pension funds.

“Even though Stockton left its CalPERS payments untouched and made debt-restructuring deals with most of its other creditors in October, the city still hasn’t reached agreement with one major lender, Franklin Templeton,” the Sacramento Bee reported. “The Detroit decision could give the Franklin firm an opening to demand that Stockton officials treat CalPERS like every other creditor . . .” 

For a plan of adjustment to be approved under bankruptcy, the majority of creditors must agree, or the bankruptcy judge can exercise the so-called “cram-down” provisions of  Chapter 9 to force a resolution. 

Goldberg, who told VOD earlier that he thought Rhodes would not rule on the pension issue until the “plan of adjustment” phase of the bankruptcy proceedings, said it is clear that the battle for retirees and for the city of Detroit itself will have to be fought in the streets. 

“The rights of working and poor people have never been determined in the courts,” Goldberg added. “The struggle isn’t over. It’s time for mass mobilization.” 

Darrell Freeman is Captain of Engine 59 (Active) of the Detroit Fire Department and President of the Phoenix, which represents Black city firefighters. He is 49 and has been a firefighter for 29 years. 

Detroit firefighters protest outside court during bankruptcy hearings. AP ohoto

Detroit firefighters protest outside court during bankruptcy hearings. AP ohoto

“We pretty much knew that the bankruptcy was going to happen,” Freeman said. “But we weren’t expecting the Judge’s ruling on our pensions or his statement upholding the Emergency Manager Act. Nobody is looking at how firefighters have given their lives for the city. I have put in 29 years and still to this day we are keeping our part of the bargain by doing our job, even though health care benefits have been eliminated for anyone who retires before the age of 55. We don’t get Social Security when we retire—what about our future, our families, our kids? It seems like no one cares about us.  Hopefully the U.S. Supreme Court will see things differently.” 

The Emergency Medical Services unit of the Fire Department includes Emergency Medical Technicians (EMT’s) and Paramedics. 

Chokwe Lumumba (l), famed Detroit revolutionary activist, now Mayor of Birmingham, Ala, with Cornell Squires (r) at court hearing.

Chokwe Lumumba (l), famed Detroit revolutionary activist, now Mayor of Birmingham, Ala, with Cornell Squires (r) at court hearing.

Cornell Squires began working there in 1981 as an EMT. He was forced to take a leave due severe stress in 1993, in part related to retaliation for reporting inadequate EMS trucks and equipment. He is still fighting for his vested pension, after being denied duty disability retirement three times and then denied non-duty disability. 

“EMS technicians and paramedics suffer more injuries and heart attacks from stress than any other classification I know of,” Squires said. “Many die before they are even eligible to retire. I myself know more than ten who have died before retirement, including Kenny Parker, who hired on with me.” 

Parker was a union steward with the International Union of Operating Engineers Local 547 and a co-founder of the Coalition to Stop Privatization and Save Our City in the 1990’s. Another co-founder of that Coalition, Al Phillips, President of AFSCME Local 457 (Detroit Health Department) died of a heart attack at the age of 57 in 1994 while fighting privatization there.


REACTION OF AFSCME ATTORNEY SHARON LEVINE  TO RHODES RULING

A Detroit WXYZ TV report in August featured William Hardman, who suffered a heart attack taking a heart attack patient to the hospital, and survived only because he himself was at the hospital. EMS worker Lee Hardy testified on behalf of the prosecution at the trial of police officers Walter Budzyn and Larry Nevers after they beat Black Detroiter Malice Green to death in 1992. He was constantly harassed by police afterwards and eventually left the job as well. 

Detroit casino workers are worried about their jobs since retirees make up a large portion of casino customers.

Detroit casino workers are worried about their jobs since retirees make up a large portion of casino customers.

“Others have had heart attacks in their 40’s,” Squires, himself a heart attack victim since he left the job, said. “Two workers I know had to have their knees replaced. Getting more trucks is all well and good, but after all these years saving people’s lives, who’s going to save our lives?” 

Casino workers discussing the ruling as they waited in line at a downtown credit union expressed concern for their jobs as well, saying retirees from the city and elsewhere spend a large amount at Detroit’s three casinos. Other residents pointed out that a loss of pension benefits to those living in the city will result in an increase in home foreclosures, evictions, poverty and crime. A state Secretary of State worker said workers there are fearful as well. 

Attorneys for AFSCME, which represents the majority of city workers, and the pension funds, among others, have filed motions for leave to appeal the eligibility ruling directly to the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals, arguing that a speedy appeals process would benefit both sides. 

Protest at start of eligibility trial Oct. 23, 2013.

Protest at start of eligibility trial Oct. 23, 2013.

“The Court held that the City of Detroit is eligible to be a Chapter 9 debtor and can seek to discharge accrued pension benefits in a plan of adjustment,” wrote Attorney Robert Gordon of Clark Hill on behalf of the retirement systems. 

Robert Gordon of Clark Hill, attorney for retirement systems

Robert Gordon of Clark Hill, attorney for retirement systems

 “The Court’s eligibility ruling is exceptionally important and warrants certification for a direct appeal to the Sixth Circuit. . . Swift resolution of whether the City may proceed in Chapter 9 bankruptcy is of paramount importance to the City, the State, the public, and those municipal employees and retirees whose livelihoods depend on the accrued pension benefits that they earned and that the City seeks to discharge in bankruptcy.” 

Judge Rhodes has not yet ruled on whether he will authorize certification to the Sixth Circuit Court.

The path to Detroit’s bankruptcy began years before, with a report on the coming necessity for municipal Chapter 9 filings written by Jones Day partners in 2010. (Click on Jones Day white paper on Chapter 9.) Following is a broad timeline showing the introduction and role of its key planners.

Note that Detroit’s Chapter 9 filing would not have been possible without the intervention of an Emergency Manager, which is why Jones Day worked with Miller Buckfire and the state as early as March, 2012 to ensure the passage of PA 436 in the event PA 4 was defeated in the Nov. 2012 referendum, as it indeed was. Emails showed that Jones Day raised the idea of including an appropriations clause to ensure that PA 436 would be referendum-proof.

Other cities and entities which have filed, including Stockton, CA and Montgomery County, ALA, have so far left pensions intact. In Stockton, some corporate creditors have taken up to 50 percent cuts in debt payments; in Montgomery County, which earlier sued Chase Bank over fraudulent loans to its water system, Chase was forced to forego payment of 75 percent of its debt.

Bankruptcy chart

RHODES’ DETROIT BANKRUPTCY RULING: KEY ELEMENTS V. REALITY

By Diane Bukowski

December 7, 2013

(Click on DB eligibility ruling 12 5 13 to read 150-page written opinion.)

DETROIT’S ECONOMIC DECLINE

Protest demanding that the banks and corporations pay for city services, cancellation of debt May 9, 2012 in downtown Detroit.

Protest demanding that the banks and corporations pay for city services, cancellation of debt May 9, 2012 in downtown Detroit.

RHODES: Population 1.85 million in 1952, building half the world’s cars. Since then, dwindling population, employment, revenues, decaying infrastructure, excessive borrowing, mounting crime rates, spreading blight. No basic police, fire EMS services; government wasteful and inefficient.

REALITY: The auto companies’ abandonment of the city; privatization of public services and profiteering by contractors; state destruction of school system; state revenue sharing slashed; corporate tax bills not paid estimated at over $800 million; corporate tax abatements. Role of banks: massive predatory lending and illegal foreclosures destroying neighborhoods; predatory lending to city itself accompanied by Wall Street ratings agencies’ debt downgrades, which have allowed banks to charge progressively higher interest rates on money city borrow.

Wallace Turbeville, Senior Fellow at Demos
Wallace Turbeville, Senior Fellow at Demos

 

WALLACE TURBEVILLE, SENIOR FELLOW AT DEMOS IN NOV. REPORT:The City of Detroit’s bankruptcy was driven by a severe decline in revenues (and, importantly, not an increase in obligations to fund pensions). Depopulation and long-term unemployment caused Detroit’s property and income tax revenues to plummet. The state of Michigan exacerbated the problems by slashing revenue it shared with the city. . . . In addition, Wall Street sold risky derivatives financial deals to the city, which now threaten the resolution of this crisis.” (Turbeville is to testify at Dec. 17 trial on Barclay’s loan, at the invitation of objector David Sole and his attorney Jerome Goldberg. See Demos report at Demos Detroit bankruptcy report.)

THE CITY’S DEBT

RHODES: City claims $18 billion debt: $3.5 billion in unfunded pension obligations; $5.7 billion retiree health benefits; $1.43 billion “for certificates of participation (COPS) related to pensions;” $346.6 million for swaps related to COPS; $651 million general obligation bonds; $300 million in worker-related expenses and lawsuits.

Objectors say much lower pension underfunding amount [under $100 million] No proof submitted. Unnecessary to resolve pension issues because any figure in range plus other liabilities would make city eligible for Ch. 9. . . .

Morningstar, independent  investment research firm, says Detroit retirement systems are 91.4 percent funded, second highest level in country.

Morningstar, independent investment research firm, says Detroit retirement systems are 91.4 percent funded, second highest level in country.

RHODES ON COPs (PENSION OBLIGATION CERTIFICATES) DEBT
. . . . the City estimates that as of June 30, 2013, the following amounts were outstanding: $480,300,000 in outstanding principal amount of $640,000,000 Certificates of
Participation Series 2005 A maturing June 15, 2013 through 2025; and
$948,540,000 in outstanding principal amount of $948,540,000 Certificates of
Participation Series 2006 A and B maturing June 15, 2019 through 2035. (Rhodes left out interest amount owed, which brings POC debt to $2.28 billion.)

REALITY:

Former State Treasurer Andy Dillon, who helped engineer takeover of Detroit, testified that he has no final figures to counter retirement systems' actuarial reports.

Former State Treasurer Andy Dillon, who helped engineer takeover of Detroit, testified that he has no final figures to counter retirement systems’ actuarial reports.

Charles Moore of Conway McKenzie, chair of the shadowy “Pension Task Force,” and former State Treasurer Andy Dillon testified there has been no final determination by anyone other than the pension plans’ actuaries Gabriel, Roeder and Smith (GRS), including outside consultant Milliman, Inc., of any amount of pension underfunding. Proof WAS submitted: GRS 2012 reports are part of trial record. Additionally, the 2013 report released by independent investment research analyst Morningstar finds that Detroit pension plans are 91.4 percent funded overall, with $643.75 million Unfunded Acrued Actuarial Liabilities (UAAL). Of twenty top cities, Detroit has the second highest level of funding, exceeded only by Washington, D.C. (Click on Morningstar cities pension 1311 for full report; see page 11 for Detroit figures.)

2005-06 COPS, with interest now figuring in at $2.28 billion since 2008 global economic crash, are NOT tied to pensions;  retirement systems were not underfunded at the time, Wall Street simply tricked the city into making a risky bet for its own profit by borrowing 30 years of pension obligations at one fell swoop, at a fixed lower-than-market interest rate. During the 2008 crash, however, rates crashed far below that figure, and the city lost the bet.

Joe O'Keefe of Fitch Ratings and Stephen Murphy of Standard and Poor's finagle the City Council into approving pension obligation certificates loan in 2005.

Joe O’Keefe of Fitch Ratings and Stephen Murphy of Standard and Poor’s finagle the City Council into approving pension obligation certificates loan in 2005.

Loans of questionable legality were not set up by pension systems, but secured by separate “Service Corporations” set up for that purpose. They were vehemently opposed by pension boards, unions, retirees. Even Kevyn Orr in his “Report to Creditors of June 14, 2013” says ‘The City has identified certain issues related to the validity and/or enforceability of the COPS that may warrant further investigation.”

Lenders were UBS AG, global bank facing billions in fines and criminal charges for interest-rate rigging, and Siebert, Brandford & Shank. Detroit CFO Sean Werdlow, point man in the deal made in Feb. 2005, hired by Siebert in Nov. 2005, still there. In a highly unusual move deserving of legal scrutiny, Wall Street ratings agencies Fitch Ratings and Standard and Poor’s abetted Werdlow at the Council. VOD editor Diane Bukowski filed an objection calling for a criminal investigation. Rhodes did not respond to this objection in his opinion. In a footnote, he said, “Nevertheless, the Court is satisfied that this opinion does address every argument that is worthy of serious consideration. To the extent an argument is not addressed in this opinion, it is overruled.”

Debt amount invalidly includes DWSD: Rhodes additionally does not address objectors’ contention that $5.7 billion of the debt as cited by the city belongs to the Detroit Water & Sewerage Department, an enterprise agency. It is revenue-backed and does not constitute a debt of the city.

TURBEVILLE: Turbeville says that the main issue in Detroit’s eligibility for bankruptcy is not the purported $18 billion in debt, a figure he considers inflated, but simply a $198 million cash flow shortfall.

Interest rate "drop" resulted from global predatory lending meltdown of 2008. Chase just paid $13 BILLION to the USDOJ, admitting its guilt in the catastrophe. The banks owe Detroit far more.

Interest rate “drop” resulted from global predatory lending meltdown of 2008. Chase just paid $13 BILLION to the USDOJ, admitting its guilt in the catastrophe. The banks owe Detroit far more.

RHODES ON SWAPS: Some of the COPs paid a floating interest rate. To protect the Service Corporations from the risk of increasing interest rates, they entered into hedge arrangements with UBS A.G. and SBS Financial [Siebert, Brandford and Shank] converting the floating interest rates into a fixed payment up to a certain amount. . . .In the event of a default by the City, the Swap Counterparties could demand a potentially enormous termination payment. In 2008, interest rates dropped dramatically. As a result, the City lost on the swaps bet. Actually, it lost catastrophically . . . . The bet could cost the City hundreds of millions of dollars. The City estimates that the damage will be approximately $45,000,000 per year for the next ten years.

REALITY: The 2008 drop in interest rates was a direct result of the global economic meltdown which began with the collapse of Lehman Brothers and was directly due to long-time predatory mortgage lending by banks in the U.S. and globally. Ernst & Young (E&Y) the accounting firm which handled Lehman Brothers’ books, faces lawsuits by the states of New York and New Jersey over their losses in the crash. However, E & Y was retained by the city of Detroit in 2011, when it met in secret session with the City Council and ended up declaring the city would run out of cash by the end of that fiscal year. Gustav Mulhatra of E & Y was a chief witness at the eligibility trial. Rhodes admitted his testimony on the city’s economic state and that of Charles Moore of Conway McKenzie and Kenneth Miller of Miller Buckfire, all city consultants. Rhodes admitted they did not qualify as “expert” witnesses.

BANKS INCLUDING BARCLAY'S AND UBS AG RAKED IN ILLEGAL PROFITS BY INTEREST-RATE RIGGING INVOLVING $800 TRILLION IN LOANS AND SECURITIES.

BANKS INCLUDING BARCLAY’S AND UBS AG RAKED IN ILLEGAL PROFITS BY INTEREST-RATE RIGGING INVOLVING $800 TRILLION IN LOANS AND SECURITIES.

Trial on Orr’s proposal to borrow $3.46 million in “post-petition financing” from UK-based Barclay’s to pay off the swaps, committing 20 percent of Detroit’s revenues from income and casino taxes for the next ten years, is set for Dec. 17, 2013. Barclay’s is one of the chief perpetrators in the global LIBOR scandal, involving interest-rate rigging by the banks sitting on the London-Interbank Offered Rate board since at least 1991. (See story to come.)

RHODES:

Rhodes declares himself judge over all, including higher state and federal courts.

Rhodes declares himself judge over all, including higher state and federal courts.

• THE BANKRUPTCY COURT HAS THE AUTHORITY TO DETERMINE THE CONSTITUTIONALITY OF CHAPTER 9 OF THE BANKRUPTCY CODE AND PUBLIC ACT 436;
• CHAPTER 9 DOES NOT VIOLATE THE U.S. CONSTITUTION
• PUBLIC ACT 436 DOES NOT VIOLATE THE MICHIGAN CONSTITUTION

Several objecting parties challenge the constitutionality of chapter 9 of the bankruptcy
code under the United States Constitution. Citing the Supreme Court’s decision in Stern v. Marshall, 131 S. Ct. 2594 (2011), these parties also assert that this Court does not have the authority to determine the constitutionality of chapter 9.

Several objecting parties also challenge the constitutionality of P.A. 436 under the
Michigan Constitution. Some of these parties also assert that this Court does not have the authority to determine the constitutionality of P.A. 436.

The Official Committee of Retirees filed a motion to withdraw the reference on the
grounds that this Court does not have the authority to determine the constitutionality of chapter 9 or P.A. 436. It also filed a motion for stay of the eligibility proceedings pending the district court’s resolution of that motion. In this Court’s denial of the stay motion, it concluded that the Committee was unlikely to succeed on its arguments regarding this Court’s lack of authority under Stern. In re City of Detroit, Mich., 498 B.R. 776, 781-87 (Bankr. E.D. Mich. 2013).

REALITY

Gail Wilson (second from left), a member of the Retirees Committee, with son Leamon E. Wilson, leave funeral of their husband and father, longtime militant  AFSCME Local 312 president Leamon Wilson.

Gail Wilson (second from left), a member of the Retirees Committee, with son Leamon E. Wilson, leave funeral of their husband and father, longtime militant AFSCME Local 312 president Leamon Wilson.

EM Kevyn Orr requested the establishment of the Official Committee of Retirees, despite the existence of the city’s elected pension boards and unions which represent the retirees. However, the committee as represented by Dentons LLP and other law firms turned around and adamantly opposed Rhodes’ right as a l0wer-level bankruptcy judge to decide the matters cited above. It did not challenge the constitutionality of the Chapter 9 bankruptcy code as such. It said “. . . if Chapter 9 is as broad as the Emergency Manager [Kevyn Orr] contends, then Chapter 9 is unconstitutional and the City cannot be a debtor in Chapter 9.” In his opinion, Rhodes several times sets out his presumptions as to how the Michigan State Supreme Court and higher level federal courts would rule on the constitutional questions, while holding city retirees and residents captive in his lower level court.

Two federal lawsuits pending in front of U.S. District Judge George Caram Steeh, filed by Phillips et al (parties from across the state) and the NAACP were stayed by Rhodes’ order. He then granted the Phillips motion for relief from stay if they excluded Detroit since it was in bankruptcy court; the plaintiffs did so, indicating that once arguments on PA 436 were fully played out in Steeh’s court, a separate motion could be filed in Rhodes court regarding Detroit’s situation. Snyder et al appealed even that decision, saying that no lawsuit against Gov. Snyder or other state officials should be brought on behalf of ANY residents of Michigan as long as the Detroit bankruptcy case is pending. 

THE TENTH AMENDMENT CHALLENGES TO CHAPTER 9 ARE RIPE FOR DECISION AND THE OBJECTING PARTIES HAVE STANDING

Tenth AmendmentRHODES:  The United States argues that the creditors who assert that chapter 9 violates the Tenth Amendment as applied in this case lack standing and that this challenge is not ripe for adjudication at this stage in the case. 19 The Court concludes that the objecting parties do have standing and that their challenge is now ripe for determination.

REALITY: Rhodes invited the U.S.  in to testify about the constitutionality of Chapter 9, which was never contested as a whole by the objectors. Here he overrides their opinion that the issue of the right to public pensions under state law, which the Tenth Amendment to the Constitution in turn protects, is not ripe until a move has actually been made to cut pensions. Setting himself above even the federal government itself, Rhodes was clearly anxious to make a name for himself by being the first Chapter 9 bankruptcy judge to declare pensions fair game during the eligibility phase.


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AS DETROIT BANKRUPTCY DECISION LOOMS TOMORROW, STILL NO CRIMINAL INVESTIGATION OF CITY’s $2.8 BILLION POC DEBT

Likely partners in crime: (l to r) former Detroit CFO Sean Werdlow, Bill Doherty of SBS, Joe O'Keefe of Fitch Ratings, Stephen Murphy of Standard and Poor's, and former Detroit Deputy Mayor Anthony Adams press disastrous POC deal on City Council Jan. 31, 2005.

Likely partners in crime: (l to r) former Detroit CFO Sean Werdlow, Bill Doherty of SBS, Joe O’Keefe of Fitch Ratings, Stephen Murphy of Standard and Poor’s, and former Detroit Deputy Mayor Anthony Adams press disastrous POC deal on City Council Jan. 31, 2005.

Kilpatrick’s CFO Sean Werdlow engineered deal, then hired by lender SBS, recently promoted to SBS COO

EM Orr cited deal as key factor in city’s crisis

Detroit defaulted after 2008 economic crash

Kilpatrick in prison, why not Werdlow, UBS, SBS, Fitch, S&P, others?

THE_GAVEL_WILL_COME_DOWN_ON-page0001-process-s600x776

 December 2, 2013

DETROIT — On the eve of U.S. Bankruptcy Court Judge Steven Rhodes’ decision on Detroit’s eligibility for bankruptcy, there has still been no criminal investigation of a predatory $2.8 billion Pension Obligation Certificate (POC) deal, cited by Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr as a key factor in the city’s alleged debt crisis. 

Under Public Act 436, Michigan’s “emergency manager” (EM) law, Orr is obliged to investigate possible criminal dealings which may have helped cause the crisis. 

Sean Werdlow on cover of Ticker magazine in 2008, prior to the fall of Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick.

Sean Werdlow on cover of Ticker magazine in 2008, prior to the fall of Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick.

The deal’s point man, Sean Werdlow, Detroit’s Chief Financial Officer at the time, spoke at a Wayne State University Law School symposium about the disastrous deal Nov. 21, according to a Detroit Free Press article. He blamed it not on himself, hired by one of the POC lenders after the deal in a clear conflict of interest, but on the pension boards, which vehemently opposed the loan in 2005. 

The loan was not taken out by the pension boards, but by two “non-profit” corporations formed at the time of the loan. The legality of that situation has also been challenged. 

“Werdlow said the 2005 deal was prompted by a ‘rogue’ pension system and that without the deal Detroit city government would have gone bankrupt years ago,” Freep business reporter John Gallagher wrote.  He quoted Werdlow, “We would have been having this discussion in this auditorium back in 2005 but for that transaction.” 

First protest demanding cancellation of Detroit debt to criminal banks May 9, 2012.

First protest demanding cancellation of Detroit debt to criminal banks May 9, 2012.

Gallagher said further, “when. . . . the financial industry collapsed [in 2008] . . . . the city’s debt stemming from the pension deal swelled to $2.8 billion for principal, interest and insurance payments over the next 22 years.” 

SBS just promoted Werdlow to Chief Operating Officer (COO) and Managing Director (“coincidentally,” according to Gallagher), although he has only a bachelor’s degree in corporate finance. Neither he nor the SBS public relations firm Butler and Associates had responded to a request for comment on this story before press time. 

“The current GRS Board has made decisions that have resulted in a top quartile performance for the last several years,” Tina Bassett, spokesperson for the Detroit General Retirement System, said. “In fact, today, Detroit pension funding levels are among the top three cities of the top 25 cities in the USA.” 

Her statement along with the following explanation was sent to Gallagher at his request, but he barely cited it in his article. 

City retirees protest at federal court Aug. 19, 2013.

City retirees protest at federal court Aug. 19, 2013.

“First and foremost, the mandate of the GRS Board of Trustees of the City of Detroit is to best serve the interests of its members and beneficiaries,” Bassett explained. “The benefits provided and authorized by the Board must be consistent with the approved Plan benefit provisions adopted by the City and various unions. The Board of Trustees does not negotiate benefits or have the discretionary authority to grant benefits not authorized by the retirement plan.  Simply, the Board administers the approved Plan benefits. 

“GRS Board members adhere to the Boards’ Trustee Education Policy of achieving and maintaining proficiency for prudent administration of the retirement system and investment of funds through professional educational programs and conferences throughout the year.”  

Former CEO of UBS during POC deal, Sergio Ermatt.

Former CEO of UBS during POC deal, Sergio Ermatt.

Werdlow had said of the boards, “They don’t take orders. They don’t listen to the City Council. They don’t listen to the mayor. They’re completely on their own.” 

VOD, and earlier, the Michigan Citizen, have published dozens of articles regarding blatant and likely criminal conflicts of interest involved in the POC deal. They included Werdlow’s hiring by the loan’s junior partner Siebert Brandford and Shank (SBS) nine months after he and Wall Street representatives got the Detroit City Council to approve the original loan of $1.44 billion in Feb. 2005. 

The chief POC lender was UBS AG, which faces charges globally over fraudulent lending practices on a mammoth scale. Several of its agents from Japan and New York City have been criminally convicted. It has also paid the U.S. Department of Justice a $1.5 billion fine. 

(l to r) Vickie Thomas of WWJ Radio, Diane Bukowski of VOD, and other reporters question Orr after Proposal to Creditors meeting at Airport June 14, 2013..

(l to r) Vickie Thomas of WWJ Radio, Diane Bukowski of VOD, and other reporters question Orr after Proposal to Creditors meeting at Airport June 14, 2013..

VOD has repeatedly questioned Orr about the POC deal at press conferences, and reported it to the U.S. Department of Justice. VOD editor Diane Bukowski gave explicit testimony in writing and verbally before Judge Rhodes as an official eligibility objector. 

This writer was at the City Council, reporting for the Michigan Citizen, during heated discussions on the loan in 2005.  Councilwoman JoAnn Watson asked Stephen Murphy of Standard & Poor’s, “If the transaction is approved but the stock market goes south in the following years, what would that do to the city’s bond rating?” 

Detroit City Councilwoman JoAnn Watson at Moratorium NOW! rally against banks May 4, 2013.

Detroit City Councilwoman JoAnn Watson at Moratorium NOW! rally against banks May 4, 2013.

She cited negative influences on the economy, including competition from automakers in China, and the war in Iraq.

“That would be a significant problem,” Murphy said. He said that for the deal to succeed, the pension boards would have to resist demands for better retiree benefits and distribution of excess profits (the “13th check” city retirees used to receive, which Gallagher cites as a negligent practice of the pension boards in his article). 

“This is a very risky transaction,” then Councilwoman Sharon McPhail, who sat on the Detroit Police and Fire Retirement Board, told Mayor Kilpatrick during a follow-up session Feb. 4, 2005. “Your own people at your economic forum called this one of the seven deadly sins of municipal finance. If the deal doesn’t do what is expected, we could face receivership under the local government Fiscal Responsibility Act. If the stock market does well, that $1.2 billion in unfunded pension liability could go away, but we’d still owe it in bonds.”

Detroit bankruptcy advisor Ernst & Young, bookkeeper for Lehman Brothers, was sued in their collapse for cooking their books. The collapse  triggered the 2008 economic crach

Detroit bankruptcy advisor Ernst & Young, bookkeeper for Lehman Brothers, was sued in their collapse for cooking their books. The collapse triggered the 2008 economic crach

But Werdlow told the WSU audience, “Nobody anticipated you would have a financial meltdown,” referring to the global 2008 economic crash that began with the collapse of Lehman Brothers. (Ernst & Young, the bookkeepers for Lehman Brothers and currently one of EM Orr’s chief advisors on the bankruptcy, was later sued by the states of New York and New Jersey for losses they suffered as a result of the collapse.) 

Murphy and Joe O’Keefe of Fitch Ratings were at the Council table in 2005 at Werdlow’s invitation. Werdlow told the Council regarding the highly unusual practice of ratings agencies advocating for a bank during municipal government proceedings, “It took a lot to get them here.” 

Former Councilwoman Barbara Rose Collins.

Former Councilwoman Barbara Rose Collins.

In fact, then Council President Ken Cockrel, Jr. ordered the Detroit police to roust recalcitrant council members boycotting the vote from their homes. Councilwoman Barbara Rose-Collins came to the table in a wheelchair. 

The Council eventually caved, without a clear explanation from its previous opponents, and agreed to the deal. 

Of hundreds of other debt documents obtained by the Detroit Debt Moratorium Coalition through a Freedom of Information Act request, a large number involve Siebert, Brandford and Shank, leading to the question of the firm’s further involvement in predatory lending to the City of Detroit. The documents are online at http://detroitdebtmoratorium.org/

A 2007 magazine cover from Ticker featured Werdlow, calling him “Mr. Bond.” According to the article, he and SBS partners Suzanne Shank and Napoleon Brandford also formed another company to manage municipal funds in partnership with Ambassador Capital. The new company was known as BSW Partners. 

“We want to make Detroit more of a major financial cen­ter,” Werdlow told the writer, R.J. King. King said Werdlow “chooses his words wisely. Case in point: Mayor Kwame Kil­patrick once dubbed Werdlow the ‘Grim Reaper’ for his abil­ity to deal forthrightly with bad financial news.”

Related articles:

Ex-Detroit official defends 2005 pension deal blamed in city’s downfall http://www.freep.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2013311210149

DETROIT POC DEAL STORIES FROM MICHIGAN CITIZEN BY DIANE BUKOWSKI, BANKOLE THOMPSON

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2013/11/05/detroit-bankruptcy-testimony-retirees-get-16-cents-wall-street-gets-billions-assets-stolen/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2013/10/27/a-thousand-take-streets-to-stop-detroit-bankruptcy-repeat-action-mon-oct-29-12-n-as-snyder-testifies-rhodes-should-recuse-self-led-pro-em-forum/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2013/10/09/constitutional-civil-human-rights-before-detroit-bankruptcy-groups-say-protest-tues-oct-15-10-am/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2013/09/23/detroit-retirees-residents-committee-blast-bankruptcy-filing-at-court-hearings/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2013/09/17/official-retirees-committee-in-detroit-bankruptcy-blasts-em-orr-gov-snyder-asks-for-stay-pending-higher-court-ruling-what-will-judge-rhodes-do-sept-19/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2013/08/20/detroit-bankruptcy-objections-raise-possible-bank-crimes-related-to-poc-debt-and-casino-tax-deal-hundreds-protest-banks-in-downtown-detroit/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2013/07/03/sign-petition-to-request-us-doj-fraud-investigation-of-ubs-re-predatory-1-5-billion-detroit-loan/

JUDGE TO RULE ON DETROIT BANKRUPTCY PETITION TUES. DEC. 3, 10 AM

U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Steven W. Rhodes (center with red tie) with participants in Oct. 10, 2012 forum on Chapter 9 and Emergency Managers (l to r) State Treasury official Frederick Headen who has participated in the state takeovers of numerous majority-Black cities and school districts, Edward Plawecki, Douglas Bernstein and Judy O'Neill, who trained EM's, with O'Neill co-authoring Detroit's original EM law  PA 4, and Charles Moore of consultant Conway McKenzie, a major witness for Detroit EM Kevyn Orr during the bankruptcy trial.
U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Steven W. Rhodes (center with red tie) with participants in Oct. 10, 2012 forum on Chapter 9 and Emergency Managers (l to r) State Treasury official Frederick Headen who has participated in the state takeovers of numerous majority-Black cities and school districts, Edward Plawecki, Douglas Bernstein and Judy O’Neill, who trained EM’s, with O’Neill co-authoring Detroit’s original EM law PA 4, and Charles Moore of consultant Conway McKenzie, a major witness for Detroit EM Kevyn Orr during the bankruptcy trial. No representatives of pension systems, retirees, unions, or Detroit residents were on the panel.

 

By Joseph Lichterman

Nov 25, 2013 5:56pm EST

DETROIT (Reuters) – The judge overseeing Detroit’s historic bankruptcy petition set December 3 as the date for issuing his decision on whether the cash-strapped city qualifies as bankrupt under federal law, according to a court filing posted Monday.

U.S. Judge Steven Rhodes will hand down his ruling in federal bankruptcy court in Detroit at 10 a.m. EST on that day. [VOD: time is per updated notice from court.] A written decision will be available shortly afterward, the court filing said.

Rhodes evidently makes a strong point at EM/Ch 9 forum, despite his assertion that he only chaired and did not actively participate in the discussion.

Rhodes evidently makes a strong point at EM/Ch 9 forum, despite his assertion that he only chaired and did not actively participate in the discussion.

No matter how Rhodes rules, it is expected that his decision will be appealed. Rhodes also is considering a request from one of the objectors, the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, Detroit’s largest union, which asked the judge earlier this month to allow any appeal to go directly to the U.S. 6th Circuit Court of Appeals, bypassing the U.S. District Court in Detroit.

Rhodes’ ruling will cap months of anticipation, since Detroit filed its bankruptcy petition on July 18. During a nine-day trial that wrapped up on November 8, Detroit sought to prove that it is bankrupt.

Under Chapter 9 of the federal bankruptcy code, it is Detroit’s burden to prove it is insolvent, it had proper approval to file for bankruptcy and that it negotiated in good faith with creditors or that negotiations were impractical.

City retirees and their supporters protest outside federal court in downtown Detroit during bankruptcy hearing Aug. 19, 2013.

City retirees and their supporters protest outside federal court in downtown Detroit during bankruptcy hearing Aug. 19, 2013.

The city’s unions, public-sector retirees and two pension funds have objected to Detroit’s bankruptcy filing, arguing that Kevyn Orr, Detroit’s state-appointed emergency manager, purposely drove the city into bankruptcy court and did not negotiate with creditors for an out-of-court settlement.

The trial included a rare appearance from a sitting governor on the witness stand as Michigan Governor Rick Snyder, who approved the city’s bankruptcy filing, testified. Orr also testified along with a long line of other government officials, consultants and union leaders.

Mich. Gov. Rick Snyder and Detroit EM Kevyn Orr discuss bankruptcy filing July 19, 2013.

Mich. Gov. Rick Snyder and Detroit EM Kevyn Orr discuss bankruptcy filing July 19, 2013.

City lawyers argued during the eligibility trial that Detroit acted in good faith prior to the bankruptcy filing, but that negotiations were impractical because of the large number of creditors and an unwillingness on the part of union, retiree and pension fund negotiators to make concessions.

Bruce Bennett, one of the city’s lead bankruptcy attorneys, said in his closing arguments earlier this month that the city recognized it would be nearly impossible to negotiate with creditors, but decided to try anyway.

“You absolutely can believe in your head that this is never going to work, but try anyway,” he said. “And I think that is the situation in this case.”

With $18.5 billion in debt and liabilities, Detroit is the largest U.S. city to file for bankruptcy. Its liabilities include $5.7 billion for healthcare and other obligations, and $3.5 billion involving pensions, the city says.

[See report from the national think tank Demos which strongly disputes the figures above and will be cited in tomorrow’s VOD articles at Demos Detroit bankruptcy report.] 

Stockton bankruptcy in California resulted in no cuts to public pensions due to strong state law  like Michigan's. Elected officials there and in other cities have agreed to preserve pensions, unlike the unelected EM Orr.

Stockton bankruptcy in California resulted in no cuts to public pensions due to strong state law like Michigan’s. Elected officials there and in other cities have agreed to preserve pensions, unlike the unelected EM Orr.

The unions, retirees and pension funds have argued that Michigan’s constitution protects city pensions from being cut, but Orr has said pensions are likely to be reduced as part of the city’s restructuring.

Bankruptcy opponents also argued Detroit rushed into court without providing enough time or information to facilitate negotiations between the city’s release of its initial proposal to creditors on June 14 and when it filed for bankruptcy in July.

(Reporting by Karen Pierog; writing by Dan Burns; editing by James Dalgleish and Matthew Lewis

Related Reuters article on Stockton CA bankruptcy results, which protected pensions and exacted 50 percent debt cuts from some corporate creditors, while enacting a regressive sales tax on residents, at http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/11/04/stockton-bankruptcy-idUSL2N0IP1UZ20131104.


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BLACK FRIDAY AT WALMART: HERE’S HOW YOU CAN HELP

Walmart Black Friday strike.

Walmart Black Friday strike.

From Rashad Robinson, ColorOfChange.org (info@colorofchange.org)

November 26, 2013

Did you hear about how Walmart is “helping” workers? An Ohio Walmart was caught holding a canned food drive for its own underpaid employees, who don’t make enough to afford Thanksgiving dinner.1 Wouldn’t it be better if Walmart just paid workers a living wage?

This holiday season, Walmart workers are demanding dignity and respect.

Unhappy Holidays at Walmart

Share this image to show your support for striking workers and ending labor exploitation at Walmart.

Click Here

It’s this type of shameless behavior from America’s largest employer that has more and more people coming together to say enough is enough. Fed-up workers have walked off the job at Walmart stores in Dallas, Seattle, Chicago, Miami and Southern California.2 And Walmart is facing federal prosecution for its pattern of illegal firings and threats to workers across at least 13 states.3

Momentum to end exploitative wages and poor working conditions at Walmart is growing — but with more protests planned this week to coincide with the kickoff of the crucial holiday shopping season, workers need to know we’re with them now.

Be a part of the movement to hold Walmart accountable to workers: Share this image with family and friends today.

Walmart Ohio donation boxes for its own workers.

Walmart Ohio donation boxes for its own workers.

With 1.4 million US employees, Walmart is the single largest private employer of Black workers in the country.4 The company’s exploitatively low wages, unfair scheduling, wage theft and aggressive worker retaliation make Walmart a critical battleground in the fight for improved economic outcomes for Black families and communities nationwide.

walkout on walmartWalmart reported a profit of $15.7 billion last year, yet Walmart workers must rely on food stamps, Medicaid and other anti-poverty programs to put food on the table and keep the lights on. Taxpayers

It’s this type of shameless behavior from America’s largest employer that has more and more people coming together to say enough is enough. Fed-up workers have walked off the job at Walmart stores in Dallas, Seattle, Chicago, Miami and Southern California.2 And Walmart is facing federal prosecution for its pattern of illegal firings and threats to workers across at least 13 states.3

Momentum to end exploitative wages and poor working conditions at Walmart is growing — but with more protests planned this week to coincide with the kickoff of the crucial holiday shopping season, workers need to know we’re with them now.

Be a part of the movement to hold Walmart accountable to workers: Share this image with family and friends today. 

Walmart Chicago strike.

Walmart Chicago strike.

With 1.4 million US employees, Walmart is the single largest private employer of Black workers in the country.4 The company’s exploitatively low wages, unfair scheduling, wage theft and aggressive worker retaliation make Walmart a critical battleground in the fight for improved economic outcomes for Black families and communities nationwide.

Walmart reported a profit of $15.7 billion last year, yet Walmart workers must rely on food stamps, Medicaid and other anti-poverty programs to put food on the table and keep the lights on. Taxpayers subsidize this worker exploitation to the tune of $900,000-$1,750,000 per store,5 and there are over 4,700 Walmart and Sam’s Club stores in the US.

Protests are ramping up for Black Friday, with demonstrations expected at more than 1500 stores across the country: Stand with workers by sharing this image now.

Thanks and Peace,

–Rashad, Matt, Arisha, Aimée, Johnny, Kim and the rest of the ColorOfChange.org team
November 26th, 2013

Help support our work. ColorOfChange.org is powered by YOU — your energy and dollars. We take no money from lobbyists or large corporations that don’t share our values, and our tiny staff ensures your contributions go a long way.

References 

1. “Walmart Store Holding Thanksgiving Food Drive For Its Own Workers,” Huffington Post, 11-18-13
http://act.colorofchange.org/go/3091?t=9&akid=3191.1465449.wwfVl2

2. “Walmart Strikes Spread to Miami Ahead of Black Friday Protests,” Colorlines, 11-25-13
http://act.colorofchange.org/go/3112?t=11&akid=3191.1465449.wwfVl2

3. “National Labor Relations Board to Prosecute Walmart For Violating Workers’ Rights,” ThinkProgress, 11-18-13
http://act.colorofchange.org/go/3087?t=13&akid=3191.1465449.wwfVl2

4. “Walmart Retaliates Against Black Friday Activists,” AlterNet, 11-22-12
http://act.colorofchange.org/go/3113?t=15&akid=3191.1465449.wwfVl2

5. “Are Wal‐Mart’s Low Wages A Drag On The Economy? New Report Says Yes,” Forbes, 05-31-13
http://act.colorofchange.org/go/3115?t=17&akid=3191.1465449.wwfVl2

Walmart strike in California

Walmart strike in California


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HOW WALL STREET TURNED AMERICA INTO INCARCERATION NATION

Detroit co-czar Dan Gilbert's vision of a restored Capitol Park. Seniors and the poor are currently being moved out of the area, as is currently happening with the Griswold Apartments,  to make way for young upwardly mobile suburbanites.

Detroit co-czar Dan Gilbert’s vision of a restored Capitol Park. Seniors and the poor are currently being moved out of the area, as is currently happening with the Griswold Apartments (seen to the right) to make way for young upwardly mobile suburbanites.

 

alternet_logo_darkAlterNet / By Les Leopold

Nov. 25, 2013

Transforming poorer neighborhoods into desirable real estate for the new elites often requires getting rid of the poor: jail becomes the new home for many.

VOD: This article is particularly germane to present-day Detroit, as shown in the photos added by VOD.

 The U.S. leads the world in prisoners with 2.27 million in jail and more than 4.8 million on parole. Minorities have been especially hard hit, forming 39.4% of the prison population, with one in three black men expected to serve time during their lifetimes. How is it that our land, supposedly the beacon of freedom and democracy for the rest of the world, puts so many of its own people into prison?

We usually attribute the prisoner increase to a combination of overt racism and Nixon’s war on drugs, followed by Rockefeller’s “three strikes” legislation in New York, and then the 1984 Sentencing Reform Act with its mandatory sentences. While racism and these laws certainly provide ample opportunity to incarcerate millions for violating senseless prohibition laws, they do not tell the whole story.

Prisoners at Ryan Correctional Facility in Detroit.

Prisoners at Ryan Correctional Facility in Detroit.

Racism was just as virulent, if not more so, long before the dramatic rise in prisoners set in during the 1980s and 1990s. Just because there are draconian laws on the books, it doesn’t explain why they are so dutifully enforced. It also doesn’t explain why so many are willing to risk prison, knowing the increasing odds of getting caught.

If we dig deeper, we’ll see that the rise in incarceration corresponds with the rise of financialization and the dramatic increase in Wall Street incomes. Of course, just because trend lines on charts rise and fall together doesn’t mean one causes the other. But this correspondence is much more than coincidence.

In fact, we could show you a dozen other trends lines about financialization, wealth and the rising incomes of America’s elites that follow the same patterns over similar years as the incarceration rate. What is the connection?

‘Unleashing’ Wall Street destroys manufacturing, older urban areas and Black America’s upward mobility

By the end of the 1970s, our policy establishment embarked upon a new experiment to shock the nation out of stagflation (the crushing combination of high unemployment and high inflation). To do so, neo-liberal economists successfully argued that Wall Street should be deregulated and that taxes on the wealthy should be cut to spur new entrepreneurial activity that would enrich us all.

Historic Dodge Main Plant in Detroit was the first out of dozens to close.

Historic Dodge Main Plant in Detroit was the first out of dozens to close.

Entrepreneurial activity certainly increased, and with a vengeance. Rather than create new jobs and industries that would promote shared prosperity, a new and invigorated Wall Street set about to devastate American manufacturing. Its goal was, and still is, to make money from money, not to make money by producing tangible goods and services. Wall Street’s main product for America is debt. And its profits derive from loading up the country with it, and then collecting compound interest.

Wave after wave of financial corporate raiders (now politely called private equity firms) swooped in to suck the cash flow out of healthy manufacturing facilities. Wall Street, freed from its New Deal shackles, loaded companies up with debt, cut R&D, raided pension funds, slashed wages and benefits, and decimated well-paying jobs in the U.S. while shipping many abroad. The released cash flow was used to pay back the financiers, buy up stock to drive up its price, and pay out dividends. Nearly half the raided companies failed as America’s heartland in a few short years turned into the Rust Belt.

But Wall Street prospered as its profits rose to account for nearly 40% of all corporate profits by 2003, up from less than 10 percent in 1982 (It would take more space than we have here to explain why this had little to do with “unfair” foreign competition. We could also show that so called free-trade agreements were designed by financiers to promote their interests, not ours.)

Massive police raid on Colony Arms apartments on East Jefferson in Detroit. Many young Blacks live here, some supporting themselves and their families through the "underground economy," primarily sales of marijuana.

Massive police raid on Colony Arms apartments on East Jefferson in Detroit in early November. Many young Blacks live here, some supporting themselves and their families through the “underground economy,” primarily sales of marijuana. Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy later said there was insufficient staff in her office to process all those arrested, and expressed concern that some caught up in the sweep may be innocent.

The catastrophic collapse in manufacturing jobs was particularly tragic for Black Americans who during the first two decades after WWII had seen their standard of living rise as they entered higher paying industries. As the Wall Street vultures sucked the life out of these industries, Black Americans found themselves in dying urban areas where the next best jobs paid less than half what manufacturing once paid. If lucky, young minority men and women could find work in the public sector which still was unionized. More typically, scarce jobs might be found in fast-food chains, box stores, warehouses, and in the lower ranks of the healthcare system. Overall, however, unemployment rates soared, especially for minority youth. Participation in the underground economy often became the only means of survival.

Financialization, gentrification and the removal of low-income residents

Not only does financialization destroy middle-income manufacturing jobs in urban areas, but the process also removes low-income neighborhoods through gentrification. The rise of high-income financiers (and the desire of banks to loan more money to them) creates upward pressure on housing prices in urban areas that cater to elites, like New York, Chicago and San Francisco. As land values rise rapidly, lower-income residents are squeezed out of their neighborhoods, which are revamped into fashionable townhouses and apartments for the wealthy. (Typically, the children of the well-to-do unconsciously serve as forward troops as they flock into lower-income areas in major cities, seeking to support themselves as artists and young professionals.)

Rendering of new Red Wings arena north of I-75 in downtown Detroit, set in the midst of the poor Cass Corridor neighborhood. Rendering does not show co-czar Mike Illitch's plans to raze the surrounding area and replace it with upscale housing and retail complexes.

Rendering of new Red Wings arena north of I-75 in downtown Detroit, set in the midst of the poor Cass Corridor neighborhood. Rendering does not show co-czar Mike Illitch’s plans to raze the surrounding area and replace it with upscale housing and retail complexes. The City Council is holding a cursory, belated public hearing today on extension of the Downtown Development Authority area to include that area north of I-75. The project is 61 percent publicly funded, including the last of the federal Empowerment Zone funds.

As hundreds of neighborhoods are transformed, higher income residents require more protection from the alternative low-income economy, called “crime in the streets.” As mayors cater to these new elites, police patrols increase and incarceration rises through “stop and frisk” programs which invariably target minorities.

Simply put, for financial interests to transform poorer neighborhoods into desirable real estate for the new elites, it is necessary to get rid of the poor. Jail becomes the new home for many.

East-side Detroit neighborhood destroyed by massive predatory lending and foreclosures.

East-side Detroit neighborhood destroyed by massive predatory lending and foreclosures.

The housing bubble and bust further destroyed lower income neighborhoods and decent-paying public sector jobs. Not only did financial interests feast upon productive firms, but they thrived on consumer debt (yet another chart that mirrors the incarceration rate).

The housing bubble, which was entirely engineered by Wall Street, created enormous demand for junk mortgages to package into securities which then turned toxic. When the bubble burst, the biggest losers were lower-income homeowners who thought they had finally gotten a piece of the American dream. With declining housing prices they found themselves underwater and/or living in neighborhoods with hundreds of abandoned homes. Their debts, remained, while, as we all know, the richest of the rich were bailed out.

Detroit city retirees protest Detroit bankruptcy filing outside federal court Oct. 28, 2013. Signs depict Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder as the devil. He teamed up with Wall Street banks represented by Jones Day law firm, which has been hired to represent the city, to attack assets and pensions of the city through Chapter 9 bankruptcy.

Detroit city retirees protest Detroit bankruptcy filing outside federal court Oct. 28, 2013. Signs depict Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder as the devil. He teamed up with Wall Street banks represented by Jones Day law firm, which has been hired to represent the city, to attack assets and pensions of the city through Chapter 9 bankruptcy.

Because of the Wall Street crash, revenue-starved urban areas in the Rust Belt were hit once again. With unemployment higher than anytime since the Great Depression, business and worker tax revenues fell, leading to cuts in public employee jobs and benefits—the very jobs middle-income minorities were fortunate to find as manufacturing declined over the previous decades.

Detroit became the poster child for the ravages brought about by financialization. First corporate raiders and private equity firms squeezed the life out of manufacturing all over Michigan. Then the Wall Street crash destroyed more jobs and undermined the tax base, leading to urban bankruptcy and more job loss in the public sector.

Wall Street’s Jobs Program: Incarceration

What will happen to all those unemployed, given the massive shortfall in jobs? What will happen to those trapped in neighborhoods crammed with foreclosed homes? Where is the jobs program for the millions who need it?

High finance has the answer that is now the de-facto government policy—put the dislocated, the unemployed, the “surplus” youth in jail.

That’s because financial interests and their crony politicians have no interest at all in traditional jobs programs that could put millions of young people to work. Instead, they are doing all they can to bring austerity policies to America. The less government spends on public services and safety net programs, the more money it has to support Wall Street. As government services are cut, state and local governments must turn even more to Wall Street in order to finance infrastructure projects (where the total cost including interest payments is usually several times the initial costs of construction).

MacDonald’s workers April Jones (l), with baby, and Tequila VanHorn (r), lead Detroit march during national fast food workers strike as it takes the streets.

MacDonald’s workers April Jones (l), with baby, and Tequila VanHorn (r), lead Detroit march during national fast food workers strike as it takes the streets.

Wall Street’s super-profits can only continue if public and consumer funds are transferred to high finance via interest payments on loans. So public jobs programs are out of the question, and both parties have been “convinced” (with campaign contributions) that we can’t afford them.

So that leaves us with one and only one jobs program—incarceration—which is also a growth opportunity for Wall Street. As public revenues falter, pressure will mount to privatize more and more correctional facilities and law enforcement functions, opening up lucrative opportunities for more privatization and more Wall Street loans to make it happen.

So by all means, let’s legalize drugs, get rid of mandatory sentencing and prohibit “stop and frisk.” But until we tackle financialization and its destruction of neighborhoods and jobs, we will channel another generation into the underground economy—and into jail.

Les LeopoldLes Leopold is the drector of the Labor Institute in New York. His latest book is How to Make a Million Dollars an Hour: Why Hedge Funds Get Away with Siphoning off America’s Wealth (Wiley 2013)

Related articles:

http://blog.thedetroithub.com/2013/03/28/look-dan-gilbert-lays-out-vision-for-downtown-detroit/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2013/11/18/developers-hud-non-profits-collude-to-move-detroit-seniors-disabled-out-of-downtown-griswold-apts/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2013/09/09/illitch-plans-881-million-red-wings-stadium-project-with-public-funds-despite-detroit-bankruptcy-filing/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2013/05/11/detroit-fast-food-workers-strike-demand-15hr/


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DEVELOPERS, HUD, NON-PROFITS COLLUDE TO MOVE DETROIT SENIORS, DISABLED OUT OF DOWNTOWN GRISWOLD APTS.

Some of the Griswold Building's residents. Photo/Deadline Detroit.

Some of the Griswold Building’s residents. Photo/Deadline Detroit.

Council to consider tax break for developer Tues. Nov. 19

“This is nothing but white supremacy to the max”—community activist

By Terrence Ellis

November 18, 2013

DETROIT – Are wealthy out-of-town developers, in collusion with HUD and non-profit housing placement agencies for the poor, using federal tax dollars to displace largely Black senior and disabled tenants in downtown Detroit in favor of a young, upwardly mobile mainly white population? 

Birmingham-based Broder and Sachse Real Estate employees/Photo B & S website.

Birmingham-based Broder and Sachse Real Estate employees/Photo B & S website.

The Detroit City Council will vote Nov. 19 on a “Commercial Rehabilitation [tax] Exemption Certificate, on behalf of 1214 Griswold Apartments, LLC.” during its regular full meeting. The LLC recently purchased the historic 127-unit, 12-story building, designed by famed architect Albert Kahn and located on Capitol Park. The Birmingham-based Broder & Sachse real estate firm, which is described as a “property management” company on its website, formed the LLC. 

The developers told the current tenants they will have to leave by March 31, 2014 after the building’s Section 8 subsidy expires. Sachse Construction has done renovation on downtown co-czar Dan Gilbert’s newly-acquired buildings, but Paula Silver, a spokesperson for Gilbert, said he is does not own or have any plans to own the Griswold building. 

The developers plan to re-do the building into upscale apartments with a minimum monthly  rent of $1,123. 

Historic Griswold Apartments, designed by Albert Kahn.

Historic Griswold Apartments, designed by Albert Kahn.

“There’s all this hubbub about a ‘new Detroit,'” said Griswold resident Recardo Berrien, 58, in a May 3, 2013 article by Bill McGraw of Deadline Detroit. “I was born and raised in Detroit. For us not to be part of this ‘new Detroit’ is absurd. We don’t see ‘us’ in none of this. No elderly and poor. We are nowhere in the plans of anyone down here.” 

McGraw noted in his article that the residents had a May 15 meeting scheduled with the non-profit United Community Housing Coalition “to explore their options.” 

Griswold Apartments has long housed low-income seniors and disabled individuals, under Section 8 provisions allowing them to pay 30 percent of their income in rent. It has also been one of the few buildings in Detroit that accepted individuals with no income. 

Campus Martius park near Griswold Apts.

Campus Martius park near Griswold Apts.

The building is in walking distance of many new amenities provided for downtown residents as the area gentrifies, including free jazz concerts at Campus Martius Park, Hart Plaza events, the Winter Fest, and new restaurant and retail start-ups. 

At a Nov. 14 meeting of the Council’s Planning and Economic Development Committee meeting, a representative of 1214 Griswold, LLC sat side by side at the Council table with Ted Phillips, Executive Director of UCHC, and Marilyn Mullane, executive director of the non-profit Michigan Legal Services (MLS). 

They jointly touted a “Memorandum of Understanding” (MOU) reached between the Neighborhood Service Organization (NSO) and the developers, in which NSO said it is collaborating with UCHC on re-location of the current tenants.  NSO did not have a representative at the meeting. Click on 1214 Griswold MOU 2 to read full MOU.

Earlier photo of Ted Phillips, Exec. Director UCHC

Earlier photo of Ted Phillips, Exec. Director UCHC

The MOU provides for only five current residents to remain on extended Section 8 vouchers, with only one year guaranteed. HUD would make up what the five residents cannot pay of the minimum rental cost in “extended” vouchers. 

“The NSO memo has been signed,” Phillips told the Council.  “We have met with residents who want to relocate, which is the majority. They are supportive of the relocation benefits. We’ve talked with NSO and will work cooperatively with them. Nothing limits any legal rights residents may have beyond what’s here.”

He added there is some dissatisfaction among the residents regarding the fact that only five are being allowed to remain. 

Mullane said there are “more than 5” residents who would like to stay and suggested devoting an entire floor to Section 8 residents, a proposal the developer said was unacceptable. 

Council member James Tate (r) with current Council President Saunteel Jenkins,
Council member James Tate (r) with current Council President Saunteel Jenkins,

 Council members James Tate and JoAnn Watson expressed concern that the deal will lead to further “hemorrhaging” of residents from Detroit and ended up moving the proposal out of committee without a recommendation.  Phillips said he has a list of about 100 currently available Detroit Housing Commission units which he hopes the residents “will find acceptable” so they can stay in Detroit. 

UCHC recently received a HUD Tenant Resource Network grant of $480,000, in which MLS, the Michigan Poverty Law Center, and the University of Michigan are included as partners. That grant is funding the non-profits’ participation in the 1214 Griswold project.

“The Tenant Resource Network is designed to help working families who are at greatest risk of being priced out of their rental market,” HUD’s Acting Assistant Secretary for Housing Carol Galante said in a release. “The whole purpose of this program is to empower families living in HUD-assisted housing, giving them the information and options they need to stay in their homes.” Click on HUD AWARDS 5 MILLION THROUGH NEW TENANT RESOURCE NETWORK for full release.

Joyce Moore

Joyce Moore

An email was sent to a representative of HUD regarding the project, but had not been answered by press time.

Joyce Moore, a former Charter Commissioner and long-time community activist, who is herself a senior, said, “I absolutely believe this is nothing but white supremacy to the max. The mindset white people had during 400 years of slavery has not changed to this day.”

She added, “Are the non-profits using their title as a front and betraying their original mission? Is the tax money we provide to HUD being used against our own people?”

Cornell Squires of We the People for the People, a human and constitutional rights organization, joined in Moore’s objections.

Cornell Squires

Cornell Squires

“This is nothing but a smokescreen for the takeover of Detroit, where the poor people are supposed to lose everything,” Squires said. “It’s part of what Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr and Gov. Rick Snyder are doing, giving housing and every other necessity away to the corporations. All these non-profits are in cahoots, and the majority of them are run by Caucasians.”

The MOU signed by NSO provides for the developer to reimburse that non-profit for its expenses on “assessments” of the residents, housing searches and inspections, amounting to a total of 640 hours.

It says the owner will pay a total of $157,000 for NSO expenses, security deposits for residents in their new locations, moving costs, utility deposits, packing assistance, and replacement of furniture deemed not usable due to bedbug infestation.

The agreement appears to assume that many of the residents are not fully capable mentally, indicating they will be assessed for their ability to live independently, under the PATH (Projects for Assistance in Transition from Homelessness) Program.

PATH is described on Detroit Central City Community Mental Health’s website as “an outreach program which links homeless, mentally ill adults to on-going mental health services while securing short and long-term housing. The populations served by PATH does not avail him/herself of services in a traditional manner. These persons have usually experienced difficulty remaining in traditional mental health settings.”

Related articles:

http://www.deadlinedetroit.com/articles/4721/meet_the_downtown_residents_who_say_they_are_being_pushed_aside_for_the_new_detroit

http://www.freep.com/article/20130502/BUSINESS06/305020093/ 


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DROP CHARGES AGAINST CODY HS STUDENT ARNAZ COLVIN; FIRE CRIMINAL DETROIT COP JASON TONTI

Defend Arnaz ColemanDEFEND CODY D.I.T. JUNIOR ARNAZ COLVIN!

Drop the charges against Arnaz Colvin !  Fire officer Jason Tonti! ****

No more police harassment of Arnaz Colvin (or any student) at bus stops or walking to and from school!

Stop the policy of treating all large groups of youth as gangs! 

End the police intimidation, threats, searches, arrests and beatings of Cody students and all Detroit youth! 

We are students, not criminals! Police out of Cody now!  

Submitted by Defend Arnaz Colvin

Nov. 17, 2013

Arnaz Colvin and friends show support for west side of Detroit.

Arnaz Colvin and friends show support for west side of Detroit.

On Oct. 23rd at 4pm, Arnaz Colvin, Junior at Cody D.I.T. High School was beaten and arrested at the bus stop on W. Chicago & Faust st. after trying to get his younger brother, Chris, who has epilepsy, to safety during a fight among students.

Arnaz, who was trying to break up the fight when 5 squad cars arrived (from DPD, DPS, Gang-Squad and Wayne County), was singled out of the group of around 20 of us at the bus stop. Rather than attempt to break up the fight, Police started beating students with night sticks and Arnaz was thrown to the ground by a white DPD cop named Jason Tonti, his knee slamming into Arnaz’s back as he was handcuffed and beaten, even though Arnaz wasn’t struggling.

Tonti, who has a history of violence, was calling Arnaz the N-word as he threw Arnaz in his squad car and drove him to Rouge Park, where he was met by another man, also white, in plain cloths who provided Tonti with a gun. Tonti put the gun to Arnaz’s head and threatened to shoot him and throw him in Rouge River.

Detroit cop Jason Tonti

Detroit cop Jason Tonti

Tonti then took Arnaz to jail and held him for 3 days with no access to a lawyer or medical treatment. They refused to tell Arnaz’s mom and sister where he was and police continued to threaten Arnaz until he was finally released and was taken to Henry Ford Urgent Care where he was treated for “Lumbar contusion, chest wall pain, contusion to the chest and back, right ankle and left wrist.” Suffering from chronic pain 3 weeks after Arnaz was attacked, he went to Children’s Hospital of Michigan ER and X-ray showed he had sustained a fracture to his vertebra where Tonti’s knee slammed into his back. Arnaz has also suffered insomnia, flash-backs and anxiety, making leaving the house and going to school a daily battle.

Arnaz is seen as a leader at Cody and was targeted as an attempt to intimidate our optimistic and fighting spirit by making an example of him. Yet despite this Arnaz was not intimidated, and when he was released he joined the growing group of us who are a part of The Coalition to Defend Affirmative Action, Integration and Immigrant Rights and Fight for Equality By Any Means Necessary (BAMN), and told everyone what happened to him, as a victory story, because, despite his bangs and bruises, he had stood up to the cops and won.

How DPS sees Cody D.I.T. High School

How DPS sees Cody D.I.T. High School

But on Nov. 6th at 3:56pm, Arnaz and a group of about 11 of us were waiting at the same bus stop after school again.

Eleven squad cars (from DPD, DPS and Gang-Squad), pulled up, 21 cops surrounding us, while 3 students (including Arnaz) were searched, even though there was no fight, we were just waiting to catch the bus home. This was caught on video despite the cops trying to delete it from our phones.

We were then told to disperse (even though this is impossible because we need to wait at the bus stop to get home). Arnaz and a group of 4 other students began walking home, the other 6 students further down the street, when 4 of the squad cars, including officer Tonti began to follow Arnaz, cursing and cracking jokes at him, calling him the N-word.

They expected Arnaz to cower and act afraid, but when he just kept calmly walking, they arrested him again, making up the warrant afterwards, held him for 2 1/2 days and charged him with “resisting, obstructing an assaulting an officer” and forced his family to pay an outrageous $7500 bond.

Arnaz’s court date is currently being re-scheduled and we will let everybody know as soon as we find out what day his case will be heard. Whenever it is, we will need to protest outside and pack the courtroom.

Come to Arnez’s hearing @ 36th District Court!

MEET AT CODY HS, DATE/TIME TO BE ANNOUNCED

Free transportation to/from school provided

Family and friends welcome!

Arnez Colvin, Junior, Cody D.I.T. High School

When we fight for Arnaz, we are building the movement we started when we went to Washington D.C. By now everybody has heard about the march on Oct. 15th when BAMN’s case to restore affirmative action, minority political rights and win immigrant rights was heard before the U.S. Supreme Court in D.C. Over 80 Cody students went, and those that didn’t go wish they did! In D.C. we led by example, marching in greater numbers than any other school from the Detroit area.

Detroit students march to support affirmative action in Washington, D.C. 2013.

Detroit students march to support affirmative action in Washington, D.C. 2013.

On Nov. 19th, as many have already heard, we’ll be marching in Ann Arbor at the University of Michigan to continue the fight we started in D.C. to restore affirmative action, minority political rights and win immigrant rights, and now we will also protest at the court and fill the courtroom at Arnaz’s case, whatever day it is eventually scheduled for: Whether in Ann Arbor or in 36th District court we will be all be fighting for the justice, dignity and equality that we need and deserve. Join us!

Build the new, youth-led, civil rights/immigrant rights movement to win Cody High School the funding and programs students need and deserve to have an equal, integrated, quality education with same dignity, respect and opportunities of white suburban schools!

Coalition to Defend Affirmative Action, Integration, and Immigrant Rights and Fight for Equality By Any Means Necessary 

www.bamn.com  Instragram:joinbamn  facebook:bamn Twitter:@followbamn email@bamn.com 

Liana: (313) 806-1485 Maria: (313) 980-7075 

Jason Tonti was with three-time killer cop Eugene Brown when he shot Darren Miller (r) to death without justificaion; his family won a $3.5 million settlement. Also shown are Brown's other victims, Rodrick Carrington (l) and Lamar Grable (center).

Jason Tonti was with three-time killer cop Eugene Brown when he shot Darren Miller (r) to death without justificaion; his family won a $3.5 million settlement. Also shown are Brown’s other victims, Rodrick Carrington (l) and Lamar Grable (center).

****VOD editor: Jason Tonti was the partner of the notorious three-time killer cop Eugene Brown in 1999, when Brown killed his third victim, Darren Miller. On the night of January 22, 1999, Miller and his wife Sandra were getting ready to go home from the Free Wheelers motorcycle club, located on Lynch Road west of Van Dyke, next door to the offices of UAW Local 961. A scout car occupied by Eugene Brown and Tonti drove up and Brown asked them what was going on. When Miller and his wife told Brown that they were going home, the scout car left, but then returned.

Three time killer cop Eugene Brown at ceremony promoting him to sergeant.

Three time killer cop Eugene Brown at ceremony promoting him to sergeant.

Police claimed that Miller and his wife were fighting and that when Brown approached
Miller in the vestibule of the club, Miller swung a sledgehammer at him and Brown fired in self-defense. 

However, a lawsuit said that Miller and his wife were on the other side of a locked door when Brown fired through the open weave metal grate at the top of the door, hitting Miller twice in the head.  The lawsuit says that “miraculously” the bullets missed Sandra Miller, but that “the impact of the bullets caused Mr. Miller’s head to explode with blood, spurting and covering Sandra Miller.” The lawsuit was settled for $3.5 million shortly after a jury awarded the family of Lamar Grable, 20, killed by Brown with his partner at the time, Vicki Yost, in 1996, a $4 million civil settlement. Yost was just appointed deputy chief by current Police Chief James Craig, a 28 year veteran of the notorious LAPD.

Former Police Chief Jerry Oliver.

Former Police Chief Jerry Oliver.

Former police chief Jerry Oliver suspended Tonti and nine other officers without pay  in 2003 for ignoring an order to halt a 17-mile chase of a stolen car through Detroit and Grosse Pointe. The chase resulted in the death of  Melvin Woodyard, 45, and injuries to his mother, Priscilla Woodyard, 67, after one squad car crashed into their Ford Crown Victoria at the intersection of Mt. Elliott and Vernor.  The officers, all members of the Tactical Services Unit, were Richard Neinhuis, Courtney Anderson, Scott Barrick, Jason Criner, Jason Tonti, Glenn Anderson, Timothy Barr, D’Clarence Reynolds, Aaron Kraszewski and Alexis Sukey.

Apparently the indefinite suspension had little effect on Tonti. According to federal court filings, Tonti and his partner Jeffrey Elbert were sued for pulling an unarmed Clinton Frazier from his car and shooting him in the neck without cause on Nov. 21, 2004. The city paid out $10,000 in a lawsuit brought by Kevin Johnson for injuries received June 29, 2006.

Another lawsuit was filed by Dion D. Brown against Tonti and officers Kimberley Gibbs, Michael Garrison and Enrico Rubino for stopping him in 2006 based on knowingly false information. Tonti pointed a gun at the 15-year-old’s head, arresting him, and failing to notify his parents.  The lawsuit was later settled for $21,500.

ODCAPB good 10 21 13

Related articles on what can be expected under Detroit Police Chief James Craig, appointed by Detroit Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr:

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

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2013/10/18/httpvoiceofdetroit-net20131018chief-craig-intensifies-detroit-police-state-march-mon-june-21-9-am-as-trial-of-aiyana-jones-father-opens-in-frank-murphy-to-new-dpd-hq/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2013/08/09/uprising-in-miami-beach-after-police-taser-teen-who-dies-detroit-chief-craig-wants-tasers-here/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2013/07/16/freep-photographer-arrested-for-filming-police/


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RENISHA MCBRIDE’S KILLER THEODORE WAFER CHARGED WITH 2ND DEGREE MURDER, OTHER FELONIES; FREE ON BOND

Wafer shotgunned Detroit teen in face as she sought help on his porch

Pros. Kym Worthy: “We obviously do not feel .  .  . that the defendant acted in lawful self-defense”

Killer freed on $250,000, 10 percent cash or surety bond

Parents call for his conviction, life in prison

By Diane Bukowski

November 15, 2013

Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy, flanked by assistant prosecutors and other officials, announces charges against Renisha McBride's killer Nov. 15, 2013.

Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy, flanked by assistant prosecutors and other officials, announces charges against Renisha McBride’s killer Nov. 15, 2013.

DETROIT—Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy today announced charges of second-degree murder, manslaughter and felony firearm against 54-year-old Dearborn Heights homeowner Theodore Paul Wafer, in the Nov. 2 death of 19-year-old Renisha McBride of Detroit, who wandered on to his porch after an earlier car accident seeking help. Police reports showed she was unarmed and had not tried to break into the house.

“We obviously do not feel that evidence in this case shows that the defendant acted in lawful self-defense,” Worthy said, surrounded by a phalanx of assistant prosecutors, police, and other judicial officials.

Photo from Renisha McBride's funeral program.

Photo from Renisha McBride’s funeral program.

Wafer used a 12 gauge shotgun to shoot McBride in the face after opening his solid inner front door. According to a police report, McBride was wearing a “blue zip-up hoodie.” After his arraignment that day, Wafer was freed on a $250,000, 10 percent cash or surety bond.

The case has brought international cries of outrage, and comparisons to the Trayvon Martin case in Sanford, Fla. Wafer is white and McBride was Black. A jury acquitted George Zimmerman of Martin’s death last year, leading many to express fear that it is now open season on Black youth.

Theodore Paul Wafer, 54, at arraignment.

Theodore Paul Wafer, 54, at arraignment.

Since Wayne County Circuit Court juries are predominantly comprised of white suburbanites, despite the County’s 42 percent Black population, it is not a given that Wafer will be convicted.

“Thirteen days ago, 19-year-old Renisha McBride was involved in a car accident in Detroit,” Worthy said at the outset of the press conference. “At the accident scene, witnesses reported that she was bloodied, disoriented and appeared to be confused. She left the scene on foot. Hours later, her lifeless body was found by the police near the porch of a Dearborn Heights home. She was found with a very large (emphasis Worthy’s) gunshot wound to the face. It’s alleged that she was shot to death by the homeowner after she knocked on his locked front screen door. By all reports she was unarmed and there were no signs of forced entry to the home.

She announced the following charges:

• Second degree murder, which carries a penalty of any term of years
• Manslaughter—death by weapon aimed with intent but without malice, which carries a penalty of up to 15 years in prison, and
• Felony firearm, which carries a penalty of two years mandatory consecutive.

Mossberg 500A 12 gauge pistol grip pump shotgun like that used by Wafer to kill McBride, who was unarmed.

Mossberg 500A 12 gauge pistol grip pump shotgun like that used by Wafer to kill McBride, who was unarmed.

Worthy said Michigan’s self-defense law does not equate to Florida’s notorious “Stand Your Ground” statute.

“Under Michigan law,” Worthy explained, “there is no duty to retreat in your own home, however, someone who claims self-defense must honestly and reasonably believe that he is in imminent danger of either losing his life or suffering great bodily harm, and the use of deadly force is necessary to prevent that harm. “

VOD and the Huffington Post were the only newspapers to report the defendant’s name prior to Worthy’s announcement. VOD obtained the information from county tax records of his home at 16812 W. Outer Drive and Dolphin.

At a press conference an hour later, McBride’s parents called for Wafer to spend the rest of his life in prison.

Monica McBride (center) and Walter Ray Simmons, Renisha McBride's parents, speak at press conference as family attorney Gerald Thurswell listens. Photo: Carlos Osorio/AP:

Monica McBride (center) and Walter Ray Simmons, Renisha McBride’s parents, speak at press conference as family attorney Gerald Thurswell listens. Photo: Carlos Osorio/AP:

“I want to thank the community for standing out and speaking on justice on behalf of my daughter,” said Monica McBride, Renisha’s mother. “I thank Kym Worthy for her verdict and taking her time and getting the accurate evidence and all the facts before she made any decision. I was very patient and prayerful and faithful that she would come to the right charges to charge this man. I know her father called him a monster but I’m not going to call you a monster. You said it was an accident. When you accidentally do something to someone you say you’re sorry or you apologize. You did no accident. You took a life, you took a beautiful life that was starting to blossom into a beautiful woman and for that I hope you stay in jail for the rest of your life, because I have to go on with my life, and her father, without our daughter.”

Pastor W.J. Rideout is interviewed outside Frank Murphy Hall after prosecutor's press conference.

Pastor W.J. Rideout is interviewed outside Frank Murphy Hall after prosecutor’s press conference.

They said Renisha graduated from Southfield High School, worked at Ford Motor Company, and has two sisters. They added that she loved animals and soccer.

Senior Pastor Willie J. Rideout of “All God’s People Ministries” in Detroit, a prominent civil rights activist, said, “I am very pleased at the charges, but I’m also absolutely surprised, because I was expecting something like manslaughter only. No one needs to be shot down like a dog. I feel that race was involved. The man looked out his window and saw her on his porch and grabbed the most powerful weapon he had. He has not apologized for the killing. But these charges show that if you are in the Detroit area, you shouldn’t feel like you can shoot someone and get away with it.”

He added that Dearborn Heights police should have arrested Wafer on the day of McBride’s killing.

“If that had been an African-American shooting someone there, they would have been under the jail,” he said.

Judge Mark Plawecki

Judge Mark Plawecki

Wafer, a tall well-built man with a prominent mustache, was arraigned that afternoon in front of Judge Mark Plawecki of 19th District Court in Dearborn Heights. He stood mute on the charges and a preliminary examination date of December 18 was set. No one from his family was present. .

He is now free once again on a $250,000, 10 percent cash or surety bond, after having been released by the Dearborn Heights police the day of the killing. Judge Plawecki set the bond after a whispered bench conference with attorneys for the prosecution and the defense. The prosecution did not object to the bond.

Calling Wafer “Teddy,” his attorney Pat Carpenter said, “My client has a very strong defense to this charge. He has no history of substance abuse or mental illness, just a couple of 20 year old drinking and driving charges. He is currently working at the Wayne County airport, where he has been for 10 years in the highest security class. He cares for his 81-year-old mother. His brother Tim was supposed to be here today, but isn’t.”

Earlier police reports indicated that Wafer lives alone.

Theodore

Theodore Wafer’s death house at 16812 W. Outer Drive in Dearborn Heights. Outside front screen door has been replaced with a glass door; it is not known if the screen door was taken as evidence.

His attorneys have alleged that he will be exonerated, referring to a medical examiner’s report that showed McBride had a .0218 toxicology reading, twice the legal limit in Michigan for alcohol, along with trace amounts of marijuana. They have also stated variously that Wafer feared for his life and that the shooting was accidental.

Attorney Gerald Thurswell, representing McBride’s family, countered, ““There was no physical confrontation. We know she was intoxicated, but that does not give anybody the right to blow off her head.”

Worthy said during the press conference that Dearborn Heights police did not test Wafer for alcohol or other substances after the incident, despite his earlier history.

Long-time criminal defense and appellate attorney John Royal, of Detroit, said the inclusion of “manslaughter” in the charges “preserves the option” for a jury to convict Wafer of that instead of second-degree murder.

Michigan law says capital cases generally result in remand without bond.

Michigan law says capital cases generally result in remand without bond.

Regarding the bond set for Wafer, Royal said, “There is a provision in the Michigan constitution that anyone in a capital case, where the penalty is up to life in prison, where the proof is evident and the presumption is great, must be remanded with no bond.”

He said however that other factors enter in, including age, links to the community, and any history of not appearing for scheduled court hearings. He said he has gotten some bonds lower than that for second-degree murder charges. He added that the Assistant Wayne County Prosecutor at the hearing would likely have consulted with Worthy before agreeing to the bond.

RM shooting mapRegarding the failure of the Dearborn Heights police to test Wafer for alcohol, Royal said, “I would be critical of that. During a thorough investigation, it would be appropriate for him to submit either voluntarily or through a court order to a blood test for alcohol use. I would also hope that they did a gunpowder residue test on his hands and arms; even if he is admitting that he fired gun, that should be a routine procedure.”

The police case report indicates that several witnesses were interviewed at the scene of McBride’s earlier accident in Detroit, on Bramell near Warren Avenue. Click on RM police report for full report.

The report says a woman sitting in a car next to the one that was hit reported that “victim exited her Taurus (airbags had depoyed) alone (wearing jeans and a hoodie) and walked away, then came back and tried to drive away, and then walked south on Bramell, turned east, and rounded the corner of Warren Ave.”

Warren runs into Dearborn Heights; Wafer lives just off Warren there.

It says the individual tried to get McBride to stay at the scene, and offered help because McBride did not have a cell phone, but McBride left, bleeding from a cut hand. The remainder of the witness statements are redacted, as was much of the report before release.

Rally for Justice for Renisha at Dearborn Hts. Police HQ Nov. 7, 2013.

Rally for Justice for Renisha at Dearborn Hts. Police HQ Nov. 7, 2013.

Related articles:

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

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


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WORTHY HAS RENISHA MCBRIDE POLICE REPORT; SIGN PETITION TO BRING FULL CHARGES VS. KILLER

Pallbearers carry Renisha McBride to her final rest.

Pallbearers carry Renisha McBride to her final rest.

 UPDATE NOV. 14, 2013:  911 CALL RELEASED:

UPDATE NOV. 14, 2013  The 911 tape re: Ms. McBride’s slaying above was published today by the Detroit News.

UPDATE NOV. 13, 2013: Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy’s office today released the following statement:

“Renisha McBride Case- The Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office has now received the additional investigation from the Dearborn Heights Police Department. The warrant review process is continuing. News will be released when a charging decision has been made.”

From The Color of Change

Click on http://colorofchange.org/ to sign petition on McBride case.

The life of Renisha McBride, cut short at the age of 19.

The life of Renisha McBride, cut short at the age of 19.

The tragic killing of unarmed 19-year-old Renisha McBride has left her family and supporters across the country seeking answers and demanding justice. More than a week after Renisha’s death the shooter has not been arrested and he may not face proper prosecution because of Michigan’s so-called “Stand Your Ground” or “Shoot First” law.1

Shoot First laws have been under intense scrutiny since the tragic killing of Trayvon Martin by George Zimmerman – who “got away with murder” – because Florida’s Shoot First prevented a proper investigation and controlled the instructions given to the jury.2 These laws, when combined with the daily reality of deep-rooted racial prejudice, create a culture of fear and violence where Renisha McBride — a young Black woman perceived as a threat — can be killed without consequence. 

Protest against murder of Trayvon Martin. Now young Detroiters must wonder "Could I be the next Renisha McBride?"

Protest against murder of Trayvon Martin. Now young Detroiters must wonder “Could I be the next Renisha McBride?”

Renisha’s family deserves justice and an end to a culture that does not value Black lives. Please join us in calling on Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy and the Dearborn Heights police department to fully investigate Renisha McBride’s killing and bring the shooter to justice.

Shortly after the news of Renisha’s death broke, local residents of Detroit and nearby areas rallied for justice — condemning racial profiling and violence against women. Demonstrators referred to Dearborn Heights as a “sundown town”, a mostly white suburb outside of Detroit that has a history of being hostile to Black folks.3

Michigan enacted “Stand Your Ground” in 2006 and its law closely resembles Florida’s.4 In this case, the law can protect Renisha’s shooter from criminal prosecution if he believes that he was in danger, even if his belief is wrong and rooted in racial bias. But this tragedy and the countless others like it are preventable, if enough of us continue to speak up and demand justice.

Demand that Wayne County Prosecutor and the Dearborn Heights police department fully investigate and bring Renisha’s killer to justice. And when you do, please ask your friends and family to do the same.

Thanks and Peace,

–Rashad, Matt, Arisha, Kim, William, and the rest of the ColorOfChange team
November 11th, 2013

References

1. “Michigan’s ‘stand your ground’ law mirrors Florida law more than any other state,” Michigan Radio, 7-15-13
http://act.colorofchange.org/go/3078?t=8&akid=3186.871662.xvTUPg

2.”7 Mind Blowing Moments From Zimmerman Juror B37′s First Interview,” ThinkProgress, 07-16-13
http://act.colorofchange.org/go/2799?t=10&akid=3186.871662.xvTUPg

3. “Detroit activists demand justice for Renisha McBride,” The Grio, 11-08-13
http://act.colorofchange.org/go/3079?t=12&akid=3186.871662.xvTUPg

4. See reference 1.

Dearborn Heights death house owned by Theodore Paul Wafer at 16812 W. Outer Drive, Dearborn Heights,MI.

Dearborn Heights death house owned by Theodore Paul Wafer at 16812 W. Outer Drive, Dearborn Heights,MI. Wafer did not have to open his solid door and was clearly in NO DANGER from an unarmed young woman standing on his porch.

VOD editor: VOD does not believe that any stand your ground law applies in Renisha McBride’s case. As stated in our earlier article, the homeowner, Theodore Paul Wafer, even if he did fear for his safety, did not have to open his door, which he did. All he had to do was call 911.

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

Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy with top asst. prosecutor Robert Moran at her side, at state legislature. She has testified there against relief for juveniles sentenced to life without parole.

Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy with top asst. prosecutor Robert Moran at her side, at state legislature. She has testified there against relief for juveniles sentenced to life without parole.

VOD’s stance is that this was cold-blooded premeditated murder on its face and that Wafer should be charged with first-degree murder. The Wayne County Prosecutor’s office has a disgraceful history of filing inadequate or NO charges against those who murder or kidnap Black children, as in the cases of Aiyana Stanley Jones, 7, and Ariana Hakim-Godboldo, 13.

Aiyana’s killer, Detroit cop Joseph Weekley, was charged only with involuntary manslaughter. Due to the outright and evident neglect of Asst. Prosecutor Robert Moran during his first trial, the jury was hung.

Aiyana Stanley Jones and her little brothers.

Aiyana Stanley Jones and her little brothers.

Weekley shot Aiyana, 7, in the head with an MP5 assault rifle as she slept with her grandmother Mertilla Jones on a front room couch, during an early morning, military-style police raid on her home. Photos at the trial showed that police had to have seen the numerous toys outside the home while surveilling the premises for nearly an entire day. Aiyana’s cousin Mark Robinson, who the police threw to the ground outside, testified that he screamed, “There’s children in the house” as the “Special Response Team” crashed into the home. Not only Aiyana, but her two baby brothers, her mother and father, grandmother, uncle, and great-aunt were also in the house.

Also read http://voiceofdetroit.net/2013/07/17/detroit-marches-in-wake-of-zimmerman-verdict/ which compares the prosecutor’s conduct in the Weekley trial to that of the prosecutor in the Zimmerman trial.

Also read http://voiceofdetroit.net/2013/09/15/medical-examiner-in-zimmerman-case-sues-for-100-m-claims-prosecution-threw-case/ regarding the medical examiner’s lawsuit in the Trayvon Martin case which claims that the prosecutor deliberately threw the case.

Maryanne Godboldo speaks at rally July 7, 2011.

Maryanne Godboldo speaks at rally July 7, 2011.

In Ariana’s case, her mother Maryanne Godboldo was arrested in 2011 after a night-long stand-off with police and a child protective services worker who sought to seize Ariana based on what was held by two judges to be an illegitimate document not even signed or reviewed by a judge. The CPS worker wanted to force Godboldo to put her daughter back on a dangerous drug not approved for use in children or youth.  Those judges, 36th District Court Judge Ronald Giles and Wayne County Circuit Court Judge Gregory Bill, emphatically dismissed serious criminal charges against Godboldo. Worthy appealed their decisions and an appeals court ruled in her favor, re-instating the charges.

Read: http://voiceofdetroit.net/2013/06/01/michigan-court-re-instates-criminal-charges-against-maryanne-godboldo/

Most of Worthy’s top prosecutors are white males who live in Oakland County. Worthy has never prosecuted a Detroit police officer in a killing other than Weekley, although there have been many other cases of unjustified killlings by Detroit cops while she has been in office. Statements from so-called “advocates” for Renisha McBride that they have “faith” that Worthy will enact justice in this case are, sadly, likely to prove unfounded.


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DEMONSTRATE VS. SNYDER/ORR $250 MILLION – $1.5 BILLION GIVEAWAY TO BANK OF AMERICA, UBS TUES. NOV. 12 NOON @ DETROIT BOA

 Cancel debt banner 2

DEMAND: FUND PENSIONS AND SERVICES –NOT THE CRIMINAL BANKS 

TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 12, 2013 – 12 NOON @ BANK OF AMERICA, 500 GRISWOLD (at Congress, downtown Detroit)

Release by: Moratorium Now! Coalition

Nov. 10, 2013

VOD Editor Note: THIS AGREEMENT WOULD PREVENT DETROITERS FROM RECOUPING THE CITY’S LOSSES DUE TO PREDATORY, FRAUDULENT $1.5 BILLION PENSION OBLIGATION CERTIFICATES LOAN FROM UBS AG, SBS 

Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder, Kevyn Orr celebrate dismantling of Detroit.
Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder, Kevyn Orr celebrate dismantling of Detroit.

Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr and Governor Snyder negotiated a sweetheart deal with Wall Street banks that would increase Detroit’s debt by $350 million by paying $250 million to Bank of America (a client of Orr’s law firm Jones Day) and UBS (United Bank of Switzerland). Barclays, the new lender, would then have a super-priority lien on Detroit’s assets and income tax revenue.

Under this swindle, 20% of Detroit’s income tax revenues, $48 million per year for six years, will be pledged to these banks even after the bankruptcy is completed. At the same time, workers’ pensions are subject to being reduced to 16 cents on the dollar.

This scam is intended to pay off the interest rate “swaps” Wall Street banksters sold to the City.

Former UBS AG banker Peter Ghavami  leaves the Manhattan Federal Court in New York July 24, 2013; he has since been convicted and incarcerated. REUTERS Eduardo Munoz

Former UBS AG banker Peter Ghavami leaves the Manhattan Federal Court in New York July 24, 2013; he has since been convicted and incarcerated. REUTERS Eduardo Munoz

Bank of America and UBS, two of the main predatory mortgage lenders who destroyed our neighborhoods with massive home foreclosures, and whose executives have been jailed (UBS) and indicted (Bank of America) for their municipal bond crimes, already have pocketed $250 million in profits off Detroit city tax revenues on this scheme, even before this new deal goes into effect. UK-based Barclay’s is one of the chief banks indicted in the global LIBOR interest-rigging scheme.

While City Council unanimously voted this deal down, Snyder and Orr are once again ignoring the democratic process. They have already filed a motion to have this deal approved by Bankruptcy Judge Steven Rhodes. Rhodes has set a hearing for Dec. 10, 2013, 

DEMONSTRATION CALLED BY:

Moratorium Now! Coalition http://www.moratorium-mi.org  313-671-3715

Detroiters Resisting Emergency Management (DREM)

Retirees and supporters demonstrate outside federal court as Gov. Rick Snyder testifies in Detroit bankruptcy trial.

Retirees and supporters demonstrate outside federal court as Gov. Rick Snyder testifies in Detroit bankruptcy trial.


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JUSTICE FOR RENISHA MCBRIDE, DETROIT’S TRAYVON MARTIN; DEARBORN HTS. HOMEOWNER IS THEODORE PAUL WAFER

Celebrating The Life Of Renisha McBride! * * A No Struggle, No Development Production!

By Kenny Snodgrass

Published on Nov 8, 2013

Renisha McBride #1

Funeral program/Photo Kenny Snodgrass

At Renisha McBride’s funeral, her family asked others to be patient as investigators determine whether to file criminal charges against the Dearborn Heights man who had shot 19-year-old Renisha on his porch a week ago.

McBride was shot in the face Nov. 2 as she stood on the porch of a home on Outer Drive around 3:40 a.m. Her family said she was seeking help after being involved in an auto accident that night.

The family’s comments came as several civil rights leaders, including the Rev. Al Sharpton, and U.S. Rep. John Conyers, D-Detroit, today called for justice and a thorough investigation in the case.

A No Struggle, No Development Production! By Kenny Snodgrass, Activist, Photographer, Videographer, Author of

From funeral program; photo by Kenny Snodgrass

From funeral program; photo by Kenny Snodgrass

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 482 Video’s, 323 Subscribers, over 210,000 hits, now averaging 10,000 monthly on my YouTube channel @ www.YouTube.com/KennySnod

Life of Renisha McBride from funeral program

Life of Renisha McBride from funeral program/Photo Kenny Snodgrass

 JUSTICE FOR RENISHA MCBRIDE—ARREST AND CHARGE HER KILLER

Sign Color of Change petition to Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy at http://act.colorofchange.org/sign/renisha_mcbride/?akid=3184.202798.7ON75z&rd=1&t=3 

Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/justiceforrenishamcbride

By Diane Bukowski

November 9, 2013 

Rally at Dearborn Heights Police HQ Nov. 7, 2013
Dream Hampton speaks to protesters outside Dearborn Heights Police HQ Nov. 7, 2013

Black teen shotgunned to death Nov. 2 on porch of Dearborn Heights home belonging to Theodore Paul Wafer  

Youth at rally compare McBride case to that of Trayvon Martin, call for killer’s immediate arrest, charges to be brought 

“If a white woman had come into a Black neighborhood seeking help, we would have helped her”—child at rally

Isaiah at rally: "If a white woman had come into Detroit for help, we would have helped her."

Isaiah at rally: “If a white woman had come into Detroit for help, we would have helped her.”

DETROIT – The killing of Renisha McBride, 19, on Nov. 2 by a white Dearborn Heights man on the porch of a home owned by Theodore Paul Wafer, has sparked an outcry across Detroit and the nation. Many are comparing it to the vigilante-style killing of Trayvon Martin by George Zimmerman in Sanford, Fla. last year.

The story has received coverage from major newspapers across the U.S., as well as wire services.

Others, predictably, are trying to quell the storm by persuading people to wait for an investigation and expressing faith in a “justice” system which failed Trayvon and his family. One “activist” said, “We want to bring the tenor down a little bit and let them do their job,” referring to the police and prosecutor.

“Justice too long delayed is justice denied,” Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. countered in his “Letter from a Birmingham Jail” in 1963. The homeowner, who blasted McBride in the face with a shotgun as she stood on his porch seeking help, has not even been arrested. Dearborn Heights police sent a warrant request to Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy, whose spokesperson Maria Miller said, “We have requested further investigation by the police that must be submitted to our office before a decision will be made.”

This young man, 20, said he feels he is targeted every day.

This young man, 20, said he feels he is targeted every day.

 McBride, an African-American Detroiter who graduated from Southfield High School and had just gotten a job with Ford Motor Company, had wandered into a largely white and Arab-American neighborhood looking for help after a car accident since her cell phone wasn’t working, her family and police have said. 

“The press often just reports what the police say,” Dream Hampton said, during a rally outside Dearborn Heights police headquarters Nov. 7, which included many youth. “We’ll take up a collection for gas money if they need it to go to the scene of the crime. We need someone in handcuffs for shooting a 19-year-old with a shotgun. The killer was not a rape victim who had to have his identity protected. We know how we are criminalized. They even criminalized the corpse of Trayvon Martin.” 

Dearborn Heights death house owned by Theodore Paul Wafer at 16812 W. Outer Drive, Dearborn Heights,MI.

SCENE OF THE CRIME: Dearborn Heights death house owned by Theodore Paul Wafer at 16812 W. Outer Drive, Dearborn Heights, MI. Photo by Diane Bukowski

The rally was called by Hampton, activist Yusef Shakur, and rapper Invincible. 

Shakur told VOD, “This killing shows the reality that Black life is not valued in this country. The majority of the more than two million people who are incarcerated in the U.S. are Black.  The real narrative is about white supremacy.” 

Yusef Shakur addresses rally Nov. 7 at outset.

Yusef Shakur addresses rally Nov. 7 at outset.

Another woman cried out, “Black women are being murdered, raped, beaten and shot all the time. I’m sick of the apathy in the community and in the media. Where is this man, who is he connected to? Why is he not in jail? Wherever he is, he needs to come to judgment.” 

“If a white woman had come into a Black neighborhood seeking help,” a youngster named Isaiah said, “we would have helped her. All the stereotypes they put on Detroit are wrong. Detroit is not a bad place.” 

Another woman said, “I have a twelve-year-old daughter. I don’t want to hear this kind of news about her. We have a Black President, but it is still open season on us. I’ve been working since the age of 14 and have three college degrees, but people still stereotype me, following me around as I’m shopping.” 

Malcolm X: Everything below Canada is the South.

Malcolm X: Everything below Canada is the South.

Another speaker called to mind the racist history of Dearborn, which is currently 89.1 percent white, and Dearborn Heights, which is 86.1 percent white according to the U.S. Census. Dearborn was originally founded by Nazi sympathizer Henry Ford to house white Ford Motor Company workers. 

“Where we’re standing is in a city of restrictive covenants,” the speaker said. “It’s fertile ground for a new apartheid. Malcolm X said anything below Canada is the South. We must organize like we did in the days of Emmett Till. We don’t want anymore strange fruit.” 

Daily media has refused to release the name of the killer, ostensibly because he has not yet been charged. But Dearborn Heights tax records and other online sources show that the owner of the home involved, located at 16821 W. Outer Drive, is Theodore Paul Wafer, 54, who has also lived in Livonia and Dearborn. Dearborn Heights police have reported the killer is a 54-year-old man living by himself. 

Dearborn Heights Police Headquarters on Michigan Ave.

Dearborn Heights Police Headquarters on Michigan Ave.

Little else is known about Wafer at this point. His date of birth is Feb. 8, 1959.  He was arrested by the Dearborn Heights Police in 1988 and 1994 for “traffic offenses,” according to State Police records. According to non-criminal Third Judicial Circuit Court records, he has an ongoing case related to a “stalking charge” he brought against a woman in 1995, which was just re-assigned Sept. 3, 2013. Dearborn Heights 20th District Court does not carry online criminal and non-criminal records.

The corporate media publishes the names of Black crime suspects before they are charged every day. In the case of Aiyana Stanley-Jones, 7, shot to death by Detroit police on May 16, 2010 during a horrific military-style raid on her home, reporters asked her family only a week afterwards whether her father, Charles Jones, gave a gun to Chauncey Owens to kill Detroit teen JeRean Blake two days earlier. 

Charles Jones with daughter Aiyana before she was killed by Detroit police May 16, 2010.

Charles Jones with daughter Aiyana before she was killed by Detroit police May 16, 2010.

The media continued to publish Jones’ name in connection with that killing, claiming  without written back-up that Owens named him in a plea deal. But Jones was not actually charged until 17 months after he rushed out of a bedroom with Aiyana’s mother Dominika Stanley and their infant sons to hear his mother Mertilla Jones, who had been sleeping on a front room couch with the child, tell him, “They just blasted your baby’s brains out.” 

Neither Jones nor Owens have yet been tried, let alone convicted. 

VOD has not been able to reach the killer or his attorney, who has claimed he shot McBride in self-defense, thinking she was breaking into his home. 

Dearborn Heights Police Lieutenant James Serwatowski said in a published report that the killer said he did not even see the person he shot. However, the door to the home is solid, with no window, and a clear glass outer door. Both remain intact, meaning the killer would have had to at least open the inside door. Wafer also has a large plate glass window from which he may have viewed McBride before opening the door. There is also a large globe porch light next to the door.

Door of home owned by Theodore Wafer at 16812 W. Outer Drive in Dearborn Heights, MI.

Door of home owned by Theodore Wafer at 16812 W. Outer Drive in Dearborn Heights, MI.

Protesters at the rally noted he could have called 911 if he feared for his life, and did not have to open his door.

VOD obtained a statement from police headquarters after the rally, written by Serwatowski Nov. 4. 

It says, “In the early morning hours of November 2, 2013 the Dearborn Heights police were called to a shooting in the 16000 block of Outer Drive. A Nineteen year old Detroit woman was fatally shot while standing on the front porch of the home. The case is currently under investigation. The Dearborn Heights Police have identified the person who fired the shot and killed the woman. This incident occurred on the front porch of the home. The decedent was not ‘dumped’ as some have reported. A final report will be forwarded to the Wayne County Prosecutor’s office for review in the near future.” 

Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy's top asst. prosecutors are white males living in Oakland County.

Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy’s top asst. prosecutors are white males living in Oakland County.

Serwatowski said later that McBride was shot in the face as she stood on the porch around 3:40 a.m.

“She wasn’t shot leaving the porch in the back of the head,” he said in published reports. “She was shot in the front of the face, near the mouth.”

Other earlier comments from Serwatowski left the impression that McBride was a long way away from the house when she had the accident, although later reports said she was only four blocks away.

To date, Worthy has not even issued a press release regarding her intentions.

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